Trailer Time

I’m trying something new this month.  Since marketing is such an important part of our sales success, and book trailers are the new, hot way to market our books, I thought we’d take a look at some book trailers throughout the month of March and see which ones work, which ones don’t, and why.

So, here’s how this works:  I find a trailer for a book I haven’t read.  Does the marketing work?  Why or why not?

The book is The MoonQuest: A True Fantasy by Mark David Gerson.  I’ve never read the book and I’m not familiar with the author.

Now, watch the trailer:

The title of the book sparks some warning sirens right off the bat.  This book is a true fantasy, which suggests that other books are—what—false fantasies?  A little bit too much hubris for my tastes.

The opening music creates an ominous feeling, which is good.  But the storyline…  Black-clad armies are good, and the clip of riding soldiers is good, but “In a land where fear rules and storytelling spells death…”  leads to “Only one bard’s imagination can end the tyranny…” makes me wonder if the “true” part of the fantasy is that it isn’t fantasy, as in the genre, but an author’s wetdream of being so cool and so important that he saves a kingdom.

Closing in at 52 seconds, I don’t think I learned enough to justify the time.  What do we really get?  We get an overview of the plot and an ominous feeling that a land is in danger.  But that’s not enough to generate interest in the book.

Who are these people?  What makes this bard so special?  Why should I care?

That a land—a land that isn’t even real—is in danger isn’t enough for me to care (notice that I’m having trouble suspending my disbelief); that stories, which I love, cannot be told in this land without the risk of death isn’t enough for me to care.  Plot alone isn’t enough to make me care.

I want to know that the writer has a character I can care about, not just because of what happens, but because of who that character is, based on the choices he or she makes.  I also want to know the writer has a point and that the point is something I’m willing to spend my time on, and this is where theme comes in.

When you only have thirty to sixty seconds to tempt readers into buying your book, you’re better off focusing on character arc than plot bones.  The difference is subtle, but it’s important.

About Stephanie Allen Crist

Stephanie created and produces in answer to a call from God to use her experiences and gifts to help others. Stephanie is also the author of and two books that can be found on that site. Stephanie strives to share her love, faith, and talents in an inclusive manner to help others who know spiritual pain and who know the bitter taste of the dregs of despair.
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9 Responses to Trailer Time

  1. acflory says:

    I think you are right about the impact of this trailer – on its own – however I found that it did interest me enough to read the rest of the blurb. That intrigued me enough to read the extract and…now I am interested in the main character, so interested in fact that I’m looking for a local copy of the book as it does not have a kindle edition.

    Perhaps my interest was primed by the fact that you pointed me towards the trailer so I was ‘looking’ more closely than I might have done otherwise. Or perhaps it was simply that I had access to further information on the page. As a youtube video though I probably would not have given it a second glance. Very interesting. Very interesting indeed.

  2. My analysis went only as far as the trailer. You’re certainly right that marketing is a whole process, and if the trailer interests you enough to actually check out the other marketing materials available…well, then it’s done it’s job.

    No marketing tool is perfect and no one marketing tool will reach all of a potential audience.

    That being said, I think a stronger trailer would be in this author’s best interests.

    • acflory says:

      This is only the second book trailer I’ve ever seen and the first one was just a series of still images with a musical background so I’m new to the whole concept. Do you think they’ll eventually become as powerful a marketing tool as movie trailers?

  3. I think book trailers have potential, but right now they’re more faddish. I suspect the way book trailers will become most relevant is for works that cross mediums. For example, a fiction author that turns books into games, webisodes, or other mediums to widen the ways fans can immerse themselves in the work are more likely to benefit from book trailers than those who rely on the standard medium of print or even digital books.

    I could be wrong there, but one of the reasons, imo, that movie trailers work so well is because they match the medium of the advertisement with the medium of the product. Therefore, a teaser story or scene is probably going to have more impact than a book trailer as a marketing tool.

    • acflory says:

      Yes, that makes sense to me too. One of my favourite authors is Tad Williams and his Otherland series is being turned into an mmo. The trailers for that will probably draw a whole new generation of readers to the series as well as bringing existing fans to the game. George R.R.Martin is another one of my favourite authors and I know that the HBO series based on his Song of Fire and Ice is bringing more fans to his books.


      • That’s how it works and that’s one of the great advantages of the changing market, especially if you’re established with big publishers. You can get better leverage with the weight of a publisher behind you to do more of those kinds of activities (which doesn’t mean they’re off-limits if you’re self-published, just that you get better deals if you’ve got a traditional publisher’s support).

      • acflory says:

        But of course the catch-22 is getting the publisher in the first place. With ordinary books and ordinary trailers though do you see this form of promotion is really being relevant? Even when done well?

  4. I would disagree that getting a publisher is a catch-22 situation. Unfortunately, a lot of people try getting a publisher or an agent before they’re ready; they don’t do the research to know what publishers want, so they don’t do the work to provide those publishers with what they demand. It’s not simply a matter of having a good story, and yet too many writers submit before their story is even good. They get jaded and publishers get a bad rap.

    Granted, getting a publisher isn’t easy, nor is providing publishers with what they demand. But nor is it easy for other arts-based professions.

    Anyway, as for ordinary books and ordinary trailers, yes, I think they’re relevant. The online culture is merging quickly, and the online marketplace is the best place for most writers to market their work and their platforms, regardless of whether they are self-publishered or traditionally-published. Just about anything you can produce to market yourself that can go viral is relevant, if done well and distributed effectively.

    The difficulty, then, is for an ordinary trailer for an ordinary book to be done well. Trailers are a visual medium. You’re competing with movie and television trailer for a similar audience. Quality is a big issue. Which is not to say that a book trailer has to have the same visual quality as a movie trailer to be worthwhile, but it does mean that an effective book trailer requires more skill than most authors can bring to the table. Someone–a visual designer of some kind–is going to be needed. While hosting and distributing the video are free, making the video should not be.

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