While urban fantasy is a harder sell for me, it is also one of the more innovative sub-genres within fantasy today. I guess it shouldn’t be surprised that the trailer I find to be, perhaps, the most successfully creative trailer I’ve seen so far is classified as an urban fantasy.
Check it out!
Now, I’ll admit straight away that I have no idea what it took to produce this trailer. Looking at each of the components separately, it doesn’t seem like it would be too very difficult (for DIYers) or too very expensive (for those of us with no confidence in our own videography skills). After all, it seems like it is just screenshots (trimmed to appropriate sizes) and other PowerPoint pages overlaid over a moving background (which seems a lot like a screensaver), with music thrown in. Again, I don’t know how that was accomplished, but it’s not like it’s a full-fledged video production.
That being said, the video accomplishes much more than the sum of its parts would suggest.
Visual Appeal: One thing that we, as authors, have to remember is that trailers are a visual medium. While text is technically visual, people who are attracted to trailers tend to be looking for something a bit more visually stimulating. This video satisfies!!! You start with this moving background. The idea of mixing different colored fluids seems harmless enough; but, when you add the music to that, then you create an eerie, rather uncomfortable atmosphere. Overlaid on top of that, you get the information. This pushes the atmospheric elements into the background, but also keeps feeding your brain that atmospheric itch. Nice!
Information: Marketing communications are supposed to be informative. To be successful, a book trailer needs to provide the viewer with enough information to act. Sometimes the act required is to seek out more information. Sometimes the act required is to go find the book and buy it. Either way, there has to be enough information to act on. Right at the beginning, you see the book cover: series name, book title, and author. You learn about the setting: “an island with a dark history.” You learn about the plot: “a fate is changed” and “two people are forced together.” You learn about the genre: “new abilities are thrust upon them.” And more about the plot: “they must work together…to reveal the mystery surrounding the unsolved death.”
As a quick aside, I have to say that I don’t particularly like that last screenshot. The question mark is a bit…hokey. The phrasing is awkward. “To reveal the mystery surrounding the unsolved death.” Okay, let’s break that down: They are “revealing” the mystery…so, what, the mystery itself is hidden? Nobody else realizes there is a mystery? Okay, I guess the first step to solving a mystery is to reveal it…but do they even try to solve it? This seems to be a faulty use of synonyms. See, technically “uncover,” which is traditional mystery-genre language, and “reveal” are synonyms. But, their connotations are different. You uncover a mystery; you reveal a killer. If you’re only revealing the mystery, then it will continue to be a mystery until someone solves it. And, along the same lines, “unsolved death” doesn’t work for very much the same reason. What about the death is “unsolved?” Is the death itself—whether or not someone is actually dead—in question? Or is the nature of the death in question—meaning we don’t know whether it was a murder, an accident, or a death by natural causes? See, if you are able to prove that the death occurred and that it was a murder, then the “death” is no longer “unsolved,” but that doesn’t mean justice has been served. Just sayin’, the words you use matter. In fact, they matter more when you only get a few of them, such as in a book trailer!
Anyway, moving on…
The bloody fingers were a nice touch. Not much for gore, really, but they added a bit of visual reality to the storyline as it has been presented thus far. Then, we get the “secluded manor; rumored to be haunted” bit, which further clarifies the genre. We’re not just dealing with urban fantasy, but paranormal urban fantasy. Then, we get “visions, witches, ghosts, murder.” This sets our stage…to be followed by the book cover once again. (It also makes the “unsolved death” bit more frustrating, since it is a murder.)
All very creative and very engrossing. The ONLY problem I see is the lack of character. We get milieu and plot, but no character. Two people forced to work together doesn’t tell us anything about who these people are or why we should care about them and that is a problem.
That being said, we get quite a lot in about 55 seconds. The rest of the video is screen grabs of actual (at least, that’s what we’re going to assume, because I’m not going to fact-check this) reader reviews left on Amazon—all good or better, of course. We do get a picture of the author and a pitch to go to Amazon to buy the book. While a bit about the characters would improve it—we’ve got to have someone to care about—the visual appeal of the trailer definitely makes us pay attention!