It’s the classic question, especially when it comes to anything speculative fiction. But can it serve an effective promotional purpose? Watch and find out!
First, you see the book cover with a tinkling sort of music in the background, very disconcerting. Then, you’re blasted with “What If…”
A “what if” question has to be strong enough for someone to want to answer it. First, the question has to be strong enough for the writer to want to answer it, and strong enough for the answer to be worth the effort. When posed directly to the reader, it has to intrigue the reader, so the reader will want to know the answer. In short, a “what if” question needs to be provocative!
“What if the past 200 years of your history were never supposed to happen? Would you sacrifice everything to repair the continuum? Or would you do nothing…and take your chances…with the coming apocalypse?”
Is that provocative enough for you?
It works for me! I want to know more. I assume, at this point, that somebody (or bodies) is fighting to repair the continuum, while somebody else wants to keep what they have and bear the consequences. I assume these two forces are going to go at each other, trying to get their way.
And I’m interested.
Another thing you’ll notice with this video is that, despite an obviously low budget, it hits MOST of the markers for a good trailer. It uses the book cover as the visuals, which provides visual stimulation AND announces the book and author. It provides a brief synopsis of the plot, which although it leaves you wanting with regard to character, that works for this book, because it’s a concept-driven story and there are (presumably) multiple characters who answer the question in different ways and with different answers. It uses direct reader’s quotes to add to its credibility (without making unbelievable claims in the process). And, finally, it provides a way for interested readers to get more information.
It accomplishes all of this in 1 minute and 7 seconds, for the cost of the author’s time and maybe permission to use the music. (While it’s possible the author hired someone to do the video, I suspect there would be more visuals if the author had.)
So, I would say, “Yes, it can be done!” You can use a “what if” question effectively in your promotional material—if you have a strong enough “what if” question to work with; and you can make an effective book trailer on a low budget. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s effective! What if we could all do that?