Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What Makes This Book Trailer So Effective?

If you missed yesterdays post, scroll down and take a quick read and check out the Duma Key Trailer. (The Jeopardy music is on)

Here’s the follow-up:

This trailer gets your adrenaline pumping. (grips your emotions) It’s exciting and suspenseful (since it is a mystery) and it leaves many questions unanswered (the curiosity factor in action).

So, in all of 32 seconds (a flash) we’ve just seen one of the best sales pitches, ever. It makes you want to run out and order the book. Why? Because suddenly, we want to find out what this is all about, but more importantly, we need to know how it will end. So far we’ve only seen a glimpse of the trouble to come. Bloodshed, a drowning, cadavers, and so on.

In mere seconds, we feel involved and we want to be a part of this story already. We want to see it unfold and we want to be swept away and scared by it. (For all of you thrill-seekers out there. Mostly somewhere around a 20 to 35 years-of-age demographic. And that means a book trailer like this would be advertised within those target markets, almost exclusively.)

Let’s Break it Down:

Notice how this trailer starts with an innocent, serene beach scene, framed by lovely palm trees. And then to top it off, that innocuous image is reinforced with the mellow sounds of Hawaiian strings. Oh…how peaceful and tranquil. Just another wonderful day at the beach.

The Headline reads: Need To Escape?

So far, the first few seconds seem quiet and relaxing enough…UNTIL blood starts to drip around the corners of the screen.

Next line: Then Take a Vacation You’ll Never Forget

You now have a powerful opening that juxtaposes two very different happenings. Calmness against bloodshed. Very effective. Now that they’ve got your attention, the blood goes from drips to covering the whole frame, little by little as the music becomes ominous, a sheet of blood covers the screen.

We know something awful is about to happen, or just did. But first, an introduction of the master of mystery and suspense.

The name (Stephen King) appears under water. This builds the suspense.

Next line: (Stephen King) Invites You To Get Away (As the music escalates and becomes even more ominous.)

And then, suddenly, everything goes blank, and just as quick, images of doom and gloom flash about:

A paintbrush mops blood across the screen
A pirate’s ship lost in turbulent seas
A doll’s face rolls its eyes ( a “Chucky” the killer doll, reminder or inference)
A ghostly cadaver takes a deep breath

And then, the Book’s Title is shown under water, drenched in blood, as was the author’s name a few frames before.

Suddenly…the music builds and then slowly comes crashing down and…BOOM. A shot of the book against some of the elements that will play out in the story:

Stormy skies, artists paintbrushes in a can, and so on.

Again…another build-up of music and…BOOM.

Visit Duma Key…Return Trip Not Guaranteed

A short pause and then…the date the book debuts.

Fade to black.

You’ve got to admit that this is highly effective marketing. Notice how in a short 32 seconds, they’ve managed to stir-up emotions and questions inside of you that all of a sudden, you want answers to. And how do you get those answers? You buy the book, of course. BTW, those short 32 seconds create a false sense of urgency and impulse that further escalates your desire to dig deeper and see how this story will play out.


That’s what all book trailers are supposed to do right? Sure. But instead, what we usually see is the opposite. Most Book trailers want to show and reveal too much. Therefore taking out all the suspense and mystery that the book has to offer. They answer too many questions, so there’s nothing left for you to find out. Nothing for you to wonder about. Big mistake.

Your book trailer or better yet, Book Teaser as it is more appropriately called should do just that. It should tease you and entice you and motivate you to take action, because now you want to know more about what you’ve just seen. They’ve whet your appetite and you’re hungry for more information, more thrills, more fun. You now want to be a part of the story. You want to buy the damn book. And you want it Now!

And BTW, the NOW factor is another marketing technique. Otherwise known as “buying on impulse”, before your emotions cool off and you loose interest, or get side-tracked and forget the whole damn thing. They want you to buy NOW, not later, because later, may be too late for them to make the sale, close the deal, or in layman’s terms, cash-in. Ca-ching!

That’s why they try to get at your deepest emotions because that’s where they reach deep inside you and make you go gah-gah over their products. So they hit you hard, and you become attached to the message and they blind-side your sense of reason and rape you…and…Oh…the horror -- the horror! And…uh…well you get the idea.

It can get any sillier than that folks.

Here’s the whole enchilada wrap-up:

Find something in your story that hooks readers and use that in your book teaser. Don’t have a hook in your story. It’s never too late. Come up with one, weave it into your MS and then use it…everywhere.

In the Duma Key teaser, the hook is… Are you ready for this?

Drum roll please…

And you thought I was going to repeat the same old thing but in short bulleted sentences. Right?

Drum roll again please…

And the hook in the Duma Key teaser is…
…that life is like a box of chocolates? Scratch that, right idea, wrong movie.

Let’s try that again:

And the hook in the Duma Key teaser is…

…that life is uncertain? There you go. You never know what can happen. Just when you thought everything was fine and dandy, and the water was so blue and so still…


It’s all over. A great metaphor for life is what it is. And that’s the subtle, but effective hook. That’s why you crave to know more, because you were not expecting something that horrible to happen -- but it did. That’s also known as misdirection, something you learn in writing your terrific prose along the way. Especially if you write in the mystery and suspense genre.

But wait, there’s more.

That’s right, all these rules of suspense and mystery don’t only apply to that particular genre. Remember that all stories must contain some level of suspense, otherwise you won’t have a very interesting and engaging tale to tell.

So, in other words, every teaser must incorporate these elements, whether they are romances, literary tomes, cowboy and Indian westerns, and so on, and so on..

Like the devil, the element of surprise is always in the details.

Okay, I had another teaser set-up for tomorrow’s post, but for some reason the link is not working so we’ll have to scratch that part until further notice.

Stay tuned for more.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Why Most Book Trailers Suck and How To Improve Yours

So what’s all the fuss over book trailers? Well, here’s a clue. The people who put together many of these marketing atrocities have managed to generate plenty of publicity, purporting the importance of book trailers, in order to sell them to you at very high prices.

Makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, have you ever heard an author praising his Book Trailer from here to eternity because it keeps generating sale after sale? Of course not, and you never will because measuring the success of these trailers is nearly impossible to begin with.

Nobody really knows when a sale has been made as a result of a prospective customer viewing a particular book trailer. Although, yours truly will admit that after viewing the book trailer for Stephen King’s DUMA KEY, I was curious enough and inspired enough to take a look at his book on Amazon and considered buying it. And I’m not even a KING fan. What does that tell you?

Simply this: Either I'm gullible -- or the Duma Key book trailer, and others like it, must have a lasting effect on its fans, and furthermore, it must have led many fans who saw it, to buy the book. Could be a little of both.

So, in other words, YES, book trailers can work and they do work, but only if done properly.

The Real Purpose of a Book Trailer:

1) Your Book Trailer must generate enough curiosity and generate excitement (emotion) that in-turn will lead a prospective buyer to search for more information about your book. And that stimulus will hopefully lead to a sale.

That’s it folks. Don’t look for any other reason under the sun. Yes, fanatics of certain authors may very well go out and buy a copy of a book they just saw presented in a book trailer, BUT, those cases are few and far between. Those kind of authors have been around for some time and have developed a loyal following. Many of their fans await, breathless, and salivating like Pavlovian dogs, for their favorite author's next tome to hit the bookshelves. Most of us don’t have that luxury.

Again: The purpose of your book trailer is not to make a direct sale, but instead, to trigger an emotional response, a hot button, that can lead to a sale. Big difference. Here’s what you need to know:

1) Your BT must arouse curiosity.
You’ve heard this word over and over and that’s simply because without curiosity, you have nothing going for you. You can’t tell your whole story in 30 seconds, or 3 minutes, so don’t try it. It doesn’t work and it’s counterproductive. Find a hook, a gimmick, a phrase, that will push all the hot buttons, or at least one of them.

2) Your BT must excite, move, and inspire, the prospective buyer to take further action. (To buy your book)

3) Your BT must be produced in a way that hits all the right notes. Its graphics, message, music, etc., must all mesh and synchronize as a unit, with one purpose. (To stimulate and evoke a response, and direct someone where to buy your book.)

4) Uh…that’s it. Want more?

You already knew this? Well then, try and apply it and get your Trailer on YouTube and dozens of other sites and start building some credibility at the very least. Remember, in yesterday's post I mentioned the "C" Factor. The Credibility Factor. It's something you have to work on and build upon over the years.

Debut authors have disadvantages. We're unknown, and unproven to "get the job done". To get the masses to clamor and jump, and salivate for our books. (Learn to write first.) That's why publishers have double standards. New authors must pay their dues before they're accepted into the wide, wonderful world of publishing.

But there are filters in place, called Lit Agents, and they're the gatekeepers in the land of publishing. And they're sick and tired of so many lame queries. (I don't query any more.) That's why most queries rarely work, because agents are not even reading them. They know they're usually going to waste their time, and they're right. So how do you get passed the middle man?

Learn your craft and learn it well.

And that folks, is accomplished by doing your homework, polishing your material and finding the right agent that will take an interest in your idea, or someone who can refer you to an agent they already know or have done business with.

So where does your kick-ass book trailer fit into all this? (Cuckoo clock chime right here.)

It's part of your marketing and promotions package, of course. Just like your press release, and your synopsis, and your website and your blog. Plus a zillion other things. And while Book Trailers are not a must at any point in any authors career, they certainly can't hurt either. (Unless they really suck, like most of them do, and therefore the subject of this post.)

Tomorrow we'll discuss the Duma Key Trailer and why it works so well. Plus, we'll look at another book trailer that almost succeeds but falls a little short, and why. Don't miss this post.

Click on the Title Hyperlink to see the Duma Key book trailer.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Can Your Book Be a "Bestseller"?

"There is no threshold of a certain number of copies a book must sell to be a bestseller, there never has been and I doubt there ever will be."

And that quote belongs to Jerry Simmons of Need I say more? Well, yeah, otherwise this is going to be a very short posting, so here goes.

It's all about almighty SALES my friends. Lest we forget that publishing is a business that depends on plenty of sales in order to survive the slim profit margins they're able to allow themselves, especially these days. It's also about marketing, because when you label a book "Bestseller" or "National Bestseller", publishers are almost guaranteed a boost in sales. Why not? The word "Bestseller" in the minds of readers is like a stamp of approval, or a guarantee that they're not wasting their money or time on some worthless drivel that nobody wants to read.

But what allows publishers to determine and use the word Bestseller? Just about anything goes. A spike in sales of a particular title at the local bookstore. A top spot based on popularity in any newspaper's "Bestsellers List", and so on.

It's all about a "join the crowd" mentality and you can't go wrong. That "B" word assures readers that they're not taking a chance because if it is implied that masses of people like the book, then you will most likely enjoy it as well, and you'll buy it "on impulse", preferably. Tough luck if after you get the book you're not satisfied with the story or its outcome.

Although, most readers are smart enough to look beyond the cover of a book and "Search Inside" a book or read a synopsis, or reviews that further explains a book's premise. So, the chances of being disappointed after you buy a book is always debatable and subjective.

So, what does it take for your book, or novel to be labeled a "Bestseller"? Well, for one thing, those wonderful words you've labored over and flung between the covers, must be engaging and offer some kind of benefit to the reader. That way more and more people will talk about it and others will be inclined to buy it. Especially if it's non-fiction and your credentials are impeccable. But what kind of benefit can you offer readers if you've written a novel?

Well, I could leave you hanging right here and leave that for my next posting, but I think it's somewhat obvious. The benefit any reader looks for when reading a novel, or fiction in general is, an escape, of course. Readers want to be transported into other worlds. Not only the fictitious world surrounding your beloved characters, but the world, the voice, the point of view of its author in relation to the story.

I hate to break the news to some of you folks, but that's why publishers market and "brand" their authors. It's why the author's name is the first thing you see on the cover of most books. Readers buy because of the author's style, not just the story they have to tell. And that kind of "branding" takes years to build. Why do you think it's so difficult for new authors to break through? Nobody has ever heard of them. They have no clout and no proof they can "entertain" you. Readers are at "at risk" of wasting their valuable time and GAS money folks. (I know, that was a kill-joy, but funny. Deal with it.)

But those marketing tactics are not exclusive to books, as you already know. I f you're like me, you probably watch just about any movie Denzel Washington stars in, or Robert DeNiro. You know it has to be good if they're involved, because you enjoy their performances. BTW, Ralph Fiennes was, as they say in movie industry lingo, "a revelation" in RED DRAGON.

But back to the point. If you're a debut author of any kind, in any genre, whether fiction or non-fiction, and you want your book to be hailed as a Bestseller, then write a bestselling, quality, kind of book. (Easier said than done, but you can do it.) There are formulas to everything you know. But, and here's the most important thing:

You must be yourself. (With a little of "this and that" mixed in, according to Hollywood. They don't like to take too many chances, and neither do book publishers.)

Click on the Title-Hyperlink for more in-depth facts about "Bestsellers".

Next Post: Why Most Book Trailers Suck And How To Improve Yours

"Oh...Martha," Alberto said. "Is my beverage and bath ready dear? And please don't forget a fresh bar of my favorite soap on a rope. I'll be in need of it."