There’s inexpensive and then there’s just plain cheap.
Many of us, especially those of us who are just getting started in the publishing world, need to make our trailers as inexpensive as possible. Often, we want to do as much as we can by ourselves, because we have more time (or so it may seem) than we have money to invest in our publishing endeavor.
BUT marketing in any of its many forms only works if it says something positive about our endeavor, which means quality is a big, big issue.
Here is a trailer of questionable quality:
The first thing I noticed is how clearly and obviously this trailer was a Power Point slideshow. Now, there’s nothing wrong with a trailer that is essentially a slideshow. You can do a lot of pretty amazing things with a simple Power Point slideshow if you put some time and effort into it. But it shouldn’t be quite that obvious and it does require more effort and creativity than was used to create this video.
I’ll use a personal example to make the point. When I first started pitching my thesis idea, I created a PPP (Power Point Presentation). I started by sketching the ideas I had out on a couple of slides. The result was quite similar to this video. But I didn’t stop there. I developed the ideas and the text to communicate my ideas to the viewing audience. I smoothed out the transitions and selected some visual elements to complement the message. The result still wasn’t good enough to act as a trailer—I’m not a visually-oriented person and I know that, so I don’t expect to do my own trailer. So, even after I polished mine well beyond the quality of this trailer, it still was a far cry from an effective piece of marketing. In fact, it was just good enough to show to my advisor, but not to a final audience.
For that alone, I’d give this trailer serious demerits; unfortunately, there’s more. First, the only thing we learn is that there are two characters—both aliens—one is trapped, one comes for the one that is trapped. That’s all we know. What this might possibly have to do with Gulliver’s Travels, which I assume it must by the title, we don’t know. Who these characters are and what they want, we don’t know. Whether either of these characters is the hero or villain, we don’t know. Why one is trapped in a castle, we don’t know. What the whole point of the story is, we don’t know.
And I really don’t care. This trailer had a shot to capture my attention and pique my interest, but it didn’t. The quality of the video was too poor to interest me in either the author or the book, and the content that I needed wasn’t in the trailer.
Marketing doesn’t work like that. It is not enough to have a book trailer. A book trailer has to be enjoyable and it has to communicate enough to interest potential readers. Otherwise, you do more harm than good.