Trailer Time: Stolen Pawns, Missing Punch

Writing is a great talent and being able to write is an important part of writing a great book, but when it comes to book trailer, you need some additional skills.

Check out this trailer to see what I mean:

The trailer is minimalistic.  The two primary elements are text and sound.  Together, they express the concept of abduction, war, and slavery (the last bit is implied by the sounds, just in case that doesn’t translate outside American culture).  We learn the concept: 11,000 American teenagers are abducted to participate in someone else’s war—similar to what happens in all-too-many third world countries, but with a sci-fi, interplanetary/interdimensional twist.

That’s all fine and good.  But it’s not a story.  It’s just a concept.

Now, if you view the trailer from the YouTube page, you get a much stronger sense of the story:

“In one day, over eleven thousand American teenagers go missing. This is the story of where they went.

Child soldiers: war-driven abductions of children who are forced to join murderous armies and trained to kill are nothing new in other countries. But it’s about to happen within the United States on an inter-planetary scale.

When over 11,000 teenagers who happen to have the same date of birth are simultaneously reported missing on their sixteenth birthday, no explanation offered can help console a struggling nation.

Joshua and Gabriel are twin brothers among the missing. When they awake in the parallel world of Askival, they are told of a precarious conflict with a rival country and are asked to participate in a war to help prevent the annihilation of an entire race.

Under the influence of a mysterious airborne drug, most of the abducted teens eventually embrace their new calling, but Joshua, Gabriel and their friend Heather are among the few who have nagging suspicions of folly. If their suspicions are correct, that means all eleven thousand were meant to serve as a brainwashed army on the wrong side of the war, and time is running out before they are sent to the front lines.”

Now, that has back-of-the-book appeal, and it includes concept, characters, problem, and a taste of theme.  It sells the book much better than the trailer.  But if you viewed the trailer from my site, you never saw it and that’s the problem.

And the thing that really gets me is that there’s plenty of room in the trailer to include a taste of this information, seeing that the trailer “stops” at 1:02, but keeps going for another whole minute.

So, if we were to derive rules from this trailer:

  1. Visual appeal is a very important element of a trailer and it’s not achieved by placing text as the primary visual with only a few seconds (out of 2 minutes) of images.
  2. The advantage of a book trailer is that it can be shared, which means it can “go viral,” and so all the important information has to be in the trailer itself, not buried on the YouTube page.
  3. When you stop showing new, moving information, then it’s time to stop your trailer…don’t let it run on…and on…and on…

A good trailer can be a great boon for your book sales, but that doesn’t mean you HAVE to have a book trailer, especially if the best you can produce is a mediocre one.  A book trailer—a good trailer—requires a different skill set that authors either need to develop or buy.  It also needs a different approach—a visual approach.

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About Stephanie Allen Crist

Stephanie created and produces ComeSootheYourAchingSoul.com in answer to a call from God to use her experiences and gifts to help others. Stephanie is also the author of www.StephanieAllenCrist.com 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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4 Responses to Trailer Time: Stolen Pawns, Missing Punch

  1. acflory says:

    I agree that the trailer went on too long and that it could have included some of the back of the book titbits but… I still found it very compelling. In fact the book blurb almost put me off until it got to the bit where you realise that the young soldiers may end up fighting for the wrong side.
    Waking up somewhere else and being recruited to fight against evil is such a common theme that my automatic reaction was ‘bleh’. For that reason if for no other I think the scarcity of information in the trailer is a good thing. It’s a teaser rather than a trailer but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

    • Teases generally work best under one of two conditions:
      1) The tease is so engaging and so cryptic it leads people to seek out more information.
      — This provides too much information to make an effective tease in that sense.

      2) The person/business doing the teasing has enough of a following to generate name recognition and support.
      — Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve never heard of this author before.

      In a marketing sense, teases should also lead to something that satisfies the tease rather than expecting the tease to prompt a sales impulse. You tease to interest the audience in the marketing materials, then the marketing materials sell the product/service.

      Your reaction to the blurb is understandable, because the story is presented as a concept-driven narrative (whether or not that’s accurate) and in a concept-driven narrative the concept has to be new and engaging all on its own. And it has to be engaging right from the start. That’s why focusing on the characters (even more than in the blurb) would be an effective way to grip the readers–if the characters are appealing. If you have to wait for a plot twist for something to be intriguing, then you’re going to lose a LOT of readers.

      • acflory says:

        Good points all of them Stephanie and I especially have to agree with your last one about the characters – I’ve never been very fond of pure, plot-driven anything. 🙂

  2. Neither am I. Stories can be driven by concepts, by worlds, by plots, or by themes, but unless I care about the characters I just won’t care. I mean, really, if what’s going on is supposed to be interesting, then wouldn’t the people involved be interesting, too? Boring people usually don’t do exciting things, and when they do they are usually so highly motivated that we care. Yet some writers get so focused on what’s going on that they forget (or never realize) that all of their wonderful events and situations have to be happening to somebody and not just anybody.

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