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.