Aug 23 2008

How can you make book trailers work?

Some authors are now marketing their books with videos (book trailers). Frequently they emphasize Hollywood-lite visuals over elements that would speak well of the book. For example, this one for Christine Feehan’s Dark Curse uses a live-action dragon and bats at a decent production level. But the trailer’s writing is atrocious. There’s no dialogue and the text that shows up on the screen is almost too bad to believe.

FROM New York Times BEST-SELLING AUTHOR CHRISTINE FEEHAN.

THE TIME HAS COME

TO FIGHT THE EVIL

TO RECLAIM A BIRTHRIGHT

TO CLAIM A HEART

TO SAVE US ALL

AT ANY COST

FROM THE…
DARK CURSE.

Are you kidding me? This trailer probably cost thousands of dollars and has accomplished virtually nothing. It tells us that the book has vampires, dragons, sex and fighting. A remotely competent cover could have done all that and more. This trailer should have accomplished what a cover can’t: showcase the author’s style and develop the characters through dialogue and action. Instead, we get action sequences with cheesy captions and absurd sword-poses.

I would rewrite this trailer by replacing the awful rock music in the background with snippets of dialogue featuring the male and female leads. I can’t imagine why anyone would use low-grade rock music to sell a romantic fantasy novel with vampires, swords and dragons.

On Youtube, I also saw a video made by a video producer trying to sell her services, which start at $200. The first sample of her work begins at 1:12.

Christ, if I had paid $200 (or more!) for this, I would be angry. It sounds like the person reading the script has been directed to speak as though her audience doesn’t understand English. The lifeless narrator really betrayed this book. From what I can tell, this book is fiction with a visceral, political undertone: the politicians sold us out in Vietnam. Narrating this trailer with Bryant Gumbel on Valium was a colossal mistake. I would have rewritten this trailer by…

  • Replacing the announcer with clips of the author speaking and reviews from servicemen. You only need to find one soldier out there who’s willing to say “hot damn, this shit is real!”
  • Using patriotic backdrops would be cheesy but would probably underscore the political message.
  • Rewrite the lines to make them more personal and stylish. It boggles my mind that anyone would use the phrase “the hunter becomes the prey” for a paying customer. That’s a slap in the face.

I liked the musical accompaniment, even though it wasn’t nearly as kickass as the Halo theme.

Do you have any thoughts about how to turn book trailers into an effective marketing tool?

34 responses so far

34 Responses to “How can you make book trailers work?”

  1. Sheilaon 23 Aug 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Copy doesn’t have to tell a full story. You are giving an impression of what something is about, not re-hashing back cover copy.
    Dark Curse’s text flows over visuals the help give people an idea that something is going on. Having your text and visuals tell the same story is a waste of precious time when you need to capture people’s attention within a minute or two.

    The goal of the trailer is to give an impression of romance, fantasy, vampires and a quest. The trailer does that. The goal is also to bring in a wider, new audience.

    30 seconds of the video will play in movie theaters, transit buses and television. It will play on Lifetime and SciFi. It has been picked up by every major bookstore to play on their own site.

    Reviewing the copy out of context I can see where you might not “get it”. But the goal of the video addresses your question of how to turn book trailers into an effective marketing tool. The goal? Have a plan. Know who you want to see the trailer. Know what you want that audience to feel about it. Know where you want it to play. Follow the goal. If you attain your set goal, then the trailer was effective.

    Over 10 million people will see this trailer and I would put money on the book hitting in the top 10 on NY Times.

    I understand that, people new to trailers, might think that they all need to follow some formula like a movie trailer. That’s not true. You write copy or choose visuals according to what you want the trailer to do. There are some trailers with no text or narration at all that did quite well online.

    I can’t really speak to any of the other trailers listed here. But I can address the Dark Curse stuff.

    Saying the trailer “accomplished nothing” when you then go on to list what the book is about is contradictory. And since booksellers, book clubs and specialty sites are playing it I would venture to say that makes it effective.

    A trailer doesn’t have time to develop characters nor should it try. A trailer is a hook. You send it out into the internet to hook people into either-
    a. buying the book on impulse
    b. coming to the author’s site

    A book cover can accomplish a lot of things, but statistics show that a picture doesn’t get as much attention online as a video. They are apples and oranges.

    As far as the music goes, that’s subjective. Dialog is not preferable to music for so many reasons. Dialog is okay here and there – here is one that has some dialog-
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YTlwh7ogMRk

    Not too much. And the author had a different goal in mind, so narration worked for this piece.

    Trailers should be written and created with a goal in mind. Not just a “I want to sell a million copies” but a firm goal with some identifiable and measurable outcomes.

  2. dianaon 23 Aug 2008 at 8:56 pm

    You obviously have no eye for talent. Not everything has to be black and white for you to understand it… The use of computer generated animation with live actors is what entertainment is all about today. I, for one, would much rather listen to a rock song on a book trailer than a boring love song or elevator music… It gets the reader pumped up about reading a book. If you have actually read a Christine Feehan book, you would realize that her books are not just romance novels but adventures. To her fans, the music is appropriate.

    COSPRODUCTIONS, the creator of all of her trailers, is amazing and far more creative than anyone expects. You apparently haven’t done any homework before you decided to bash this company. COS is the original creator of book trailers. Yes, that means that they created this concept that many others have copied. “BOOK TRAILERS” is a trade marked logo and should be treated as such.

    So before you decide to flame on a reputable company, I suggest you do your homework. Christine Feehan and COSPRODUCTION have many fans and I can bet that you have just pissed them off.

  3. Jacobon 24 Aug 2008 at 7:21 am

    Diana,

    Admittedly, as a male twenty-something I’m probably not in the target demographic for this book, but I feel that a trailer can do a far better job of selling its target audience on an author’s style than this.

    If I could ask a question of you, what are some of the unique characteristics of Feehan’s writing and how did you see them reflected in this trailer?

  4. Jacobon 24 Aug 2008 at 9:04 am

    Thank you for your comments, Sheila.

    I’d to dispute the point that time restrictions necessarily prevent a book trailer from successfully portraying a character. For example, the 1995 trailer for 12 Monkeys develops Willis’ troubled hero, the status quo psychiatrist and the conflict between them… although that’s a movie trailer and not a book trailer, I don’t see any reason a book trailer couldn’t feature the same kind of snippets of dialogue that broadly painted these characters. I mean, Dark Curse already had a best-selling author and two actors at its disposal. The cost of inserting compelling lines of dialogue between the action shots would be essentially nothing.

  5. B. Macon 24 Aug 2008 at 10:28 am

    “”BOOK TRAILERS” is a trademarked logo and should be treated as such.

    My understanding in this area of law is hazy– I haven’t taken the course yet– but I suspect they would lose a lawsuit unless they could demonstrate that Jacob’s use had confused consumers or diluted the trademark. Given that there are 500,000 Google hits for [book trailers], brand dilution feels like a stretch at this point.

    Please see Nolo for more details.

  6. mary eon 24 Aug 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Jacob, the trailer that you think would need voice snippets will be shown on many venues. It only has so much time to capture the audience’s attention. If you add voice, it couldn’t convey enough information in time. It is geared to readers and not film watchers after all. Yes, authors
    have these on their web sites but that is for the enjoyment of fans they already have. They are made as advertisements to bring in other fans, which they do.

  7. Lillithon 25 Aug 2008 at 10:10 am

    I believe the clients have to approve the format before the finish product is finalized. The authors know what their readers like, therefore they help create or agree with COS Productions rough draft of the project. Do you think COS just makes these trailers and say, “here you go?” A good creator works with their clients to create a finished product the client, the clients’ fans, and the creator are happy with. Even Christine Feehan puts on her site a disclaimer about the trailers that they are not a movie trailer, they are a book trailer. Where would you think these need to be more like a movie trailer? And as for the dialogue, before there were audio books, all we did was read. The book trailers stay with that demographic and in no way create any type of falsehood. What would you have them do, hire the voice talents from the audio books to be on the trailer?

  8. Jacobon 25 Aug 2008 at 3:41 pm

    Thanks for commenting, Lillith.

    “Do you think COS just makes these trailers and say, “here you go?” A good creator works with their clients to create a finished product the client, the clients’ fans, and the creator are happy with.” I’m sorry, but that seems like a red herring. My main concern was that the team of COSProduction and their client produced a poor trailer. I don’t care (and can’t determine) which one of the two was primarily responsible.

    You asked “where would you think these need to be more like a movie trailer?” Actually, I think that the central problem of this trailer is that it attempted to be a movie trailer and came off as Hollywood-lite. In my estimation, the trailer used visuals that failed to sell the characters, storytelling or flair. The video’s sound was totally neglected, and the words in the caption seemed unprofessional and hackish.

    I don’t think that book trailers should go Hollywood. For one, they lack the special effects budget and the acting talent available for movie trailers. But a book trailer SHOULD market its book’s story, something that the Dark Curse trailer failed to accomplish. I think that the 12 Monkeys trailer has a style that could easily be used to sell a book: it develops its characters with dialogue and focuses less on stunning visuals than the plot. The first rule of marketing is that you must distinguish your product. How has Dark Curse’s trailer distinguished it from other romantic adventure stories?

    If Feehan or her employer air the first thirty seconds of this on Lifetime and Sci-Fi, it would look extremely unpolished next to the average television ad, let alone a Hollywood trailer. I’d cringe if my product were advertised on TV with text like that.

  9. Sheilaon 26 Aug 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Everyone has the right to critique any artistic endeavor. It doesn’t make them right. Currently, the Dark Curse video is getting a huge positive response from the target audience. You can see that in the comments for the video, on the author’s MySpace site, etc. Her publisher loved it so much that they invested thousands of dollars to have it play on TV and in movie theaters.

    The publisher loved it and felt it was on target. The author loves it and feels it reflects the book. A multi-award winning copy writer wrote the copy and is happy with it. The fans love it.

    You were able to say what the elements of the book is about. How did you know? Did you look it up on the author’s site? Did you go to Amazon? Or, did you reach your conclusion after watching the video?

    I remember, long ago (ack! this totally is going to date me!LOL) watching a popular show that critiqued and rated movies. Siskel and Ebert were discussing how terrible this movie was. They both gave it a thumbs down I think. They went on and on about why it was bad. The name of the movie? ET.

    I rest my case. 😉

    Fun blog Jacob. It’s always nice to debate this stuff. I always walk away feeling like I’ve learned something.

  10. Jacobon 26 Aug 2008 at 8:14 pm

    “[Jacob,] You were able to say what the elements of the book is about.”

    Actually, I’m not sure what the elements of the book are, and that’s one of the indications that this trailer was ineffective. I think the book has sex, vampires, action, dragons and a dark curse. There’s almost certainly more to this book than that, but this trailer doesn’t give me any clues as to what that might be.

    “Did you look it up on the author’s site? Did you go to Amazon?”

    No, I evaluated this trailer without reading anything else. When you show this on TV, most viewers will do the same. In theory, interested viewers will get excited enough to research a successfully marketed product, but this trailer didn’t give me any reason to want to look. I’m really struggling to see why any new viewer would want to invest more time into this book. It feels like the trailer was designed to make the book feel like the Dresden Files, but bad. (And although I liked TDF, it was already very pulpish).

  11. B. Macon 27 Aug 2008 at 2:10 am

    I get your point about the potential for a critic making an unpopular criticism, but for the record, Siskel and Ebert loved E.T. But, more importantly…

    You seem to think that your ad has been objectively successful, Sheila. Do you mind offering conversion rate numbers to back that up? Assuming the ad has been successful, I imagine that your numbers would show that a relatively high proportion of new readers would either buy the book (one measure of interest) or at least check out the author’s page. If the ad has been successful, that would speak well of your company and Feehan.

  12. Sheilaon 27 Aug 2008 at 7:28 am

    B.Mac, since the ad hasn’t ran yet I can’t give you those numbers. But, online it is doing well and the pre-orders will secure a bestselling status.

    No one is addressing the fact that fans love it and the comments and ratings for the video are fantastic. It just keeps circling around to personal opinion and nothing is said about all the other facts I’ve stated. The fans love it, the publisher loves it enough to invest in it, booksellers are using it.

    The book is going to do great and then I’ll hear, “That’s because of (insert reason here), not because of that trailer!” The ad will be successful. We’ve never had a Feehan ad NOT be successful.

    I’ll let you know how things go.

  13. Gailon 27 Aug 2008 at 9:09 am

    Jacob, I have no problems with the Dark Curse trailer whatsoever, but that is beside the point. How can you possibly expect a trailer that lasts, at most, a minute or two, to accomplish the goals you have set for it? I’ve not seen any book trailer “showcase the author’s style and develop the characters through dialogue and action”, as you put it. Book trailer are very different from movie and television show trailers. They give hints as to what the book is about, and since you referred specifically to the elements of “vampires, dragons, sex and fighting”, you clearly got the message. To say later on that you are “not sure what the elements of the book are” contradicts what you say in your review.

  14. B. Mac, The Political Scientist from Hellon 27 Aug 2008 at 9:31 am

    I’m not too fond of comments/ratings as a measure of quality. Typically, fewer than 1% of users will rate something, and I would guess that most of these high-interest readers were preexisting fans that were going to buy the book anyway. The click-through rates will probably be more meaningful, because they examine the reactions of all of the viewers. I can wait.

    “We’ve never had a Feehan ad NOT be successful.” There are so many other reasons that Feehan might be a best-seller besides her ads, though. (For example: maybe Feehan is an excellent author with a well-established audience. Maybe her other methods of advertisement are far more effective than this trailer). Focus-group experiments are one way that professionals try to control for those reasons. Does COS use focus groups? Does it make data it collects with focus groups available?

  15. Brenna Lyonson 27 Aug 2008 at 9:32 am

    I think what you might be missing is that this book is FAR into a series (19th book). Those of us who read the Carpathians know precisely what’s going on in that trailer.

    If Christine was to make a trailer for the beginning of the series…Dark Prince or Dark Desire or even Dark Gold, she’d be targeting readers who’ve never seen the Carpathians before exclusively (in contrast to this book, where she’s targeting both established readers and new readers), and someone like me would watch a trailer for an earlier book out of interest but not be sales material, since I own one or two copies of each book that comes before Curse.

    I’d agree that this trailer was made to make new readers QUESTION what’s going on and maybe look deeper, which may bring them to a sale. But, to capture a NEW reader with a book this far into a series, you want what this trailer gives…impressions and not every detail of the book.

    Old readers rivet on what we already know, when we see this video, so it brings us back into a world and refreshes our memory of what happened before. That’s the ‘oh…I remember that scene’ part of the game.

    Obviously, if you intend for new readers to start with a book, you often give a lot more information than they do in this video, but I would always suggest readers hit at least some of the 18 earlier books and not start with Dark Curse. And, a video that makes a reader (new or old) simply want to know more is never a wasted endeavor. It gets the reader to the author site, reading excerpts, reading blurbs… All good for the author and books.

    As far as response… I can tell you that I’ve seen a lot of people saying they’ve already pre-ordered the book on groups and lists (myself included). Now, I can’t say for certain that they are doing it because of the trailer. My copy was ordered before the trailer hit the net, but others…maybe not so for them.

    Brenna

  16. B. Macon 27 Aug 2008 at 9:34 am

    Those are excellent points, Brenna. But why would you advertise for a series’ 19th book on television with an ad that seems more aimed at series regulars? I would be astonished if even 5% of Sci-Fi viewers have read any one of Feehan’s books. It seems like there’s an audience mismatch here.

  17. Melissa Tacketton 27 Aug 2008 at 9:48 am

    I agree with Brenda on several points, and with the main target audience being Paranormal readers I think that this BookTrailer piques the interest enough to go research the author.

    I too am a long time reader of Ms. Feehan’s and have watched the trailers from practically the first one, and every trailer has entranced me, and keeps me on the edge of my seat wanting more of the book. I had this this book on Pre-Order months before the trailer came out, but now that it is out…. Oh, I just can’t wait for the book. The sensuality between the actors, the vivid special effects with both the dragons and the tatoos and face of the bad guy…. keeps me going back again and again to see what else I can dig out of it until the book is in my hands.

    And why do a trailer for the 19th novel in a series?? To hook more readers into going back and starting with #1. Most of the books can be read alone, but when you put them all together in order, you do get a full understanding of the whole world that has been created.

  18. Brenna Lyonson 27 Aug 2008 at 10:18 am

    B. Mac,

    First of all, I didn’t realize it was on television. I’ve seen it online. A LOT of Christine’s readers are online, so no mismatch there. More or less, it goes viral on the web and people watch it who have an interest. BTW, having seen the one for Curse, I went and looked up all the others I could find on Youtube. That’s what you want your marketing to do, send people looking for more.

    Do you know how many Sci Fi/Fantasy/Horror viewers there are (and don’t discount Fantasy and Horror, because there is a huge overlap, and even Sci Fi Channel dabbles in them all)? Even 5% is a huge demographic, well worth the advertising to reach that percentage of readers of paranormal romance in the group…which you might be surprised to find includes a fair number of men as well as women. Some of my most avid fans are men. One, who is also an author friend of mine, has been reported to me (by his wife) to have heisted some of my titles from her and hidden them in his bookshelves and bathroom. She complained about having to replace one, actually, because he finally frayed the book…so I sent her another signed copy.

    To be honest, you have to keep marketing of ANY type in mind. The average reader, coming in blind, is going to need up to 15 impressions of something new (some product, author or book that he/she has no prior experience with) before deciding ultimately to buy or not. A book trailer is just one of fifteen exposures to what you’re pitching to the reader.

    You don’t want them all in the same place; you want to hit as far and wide as is reasonable. Why? Simple marketing again. Any marketing/promotion you do will reach a percentage of your target audience. Tag lines reach some and not others. Ads in RT reach some and not others. Banner ads on TRS or FAR reach some and not others. Banner ads or cross-links on other author sites reach some and not others.

    However, I will note that advertising of paranormal romance books/paranormal straight-genre books on Sci Fi Channel IS apparently lucrative enough to keep authors doing it. This time LAST year, Douglas Clegg was asking for input (which I gave him happily) ON the Paranormalromance Yahoogroup for cutting his book trailers down to a single 20-30 second slot for Sci Fi Channel. Shrug. They wouldn’t be doing it, if it didn’t seem to be working.

    And as I said…anything that makes people go look for more information is good advertising. That’s what it’s intended to do. Catch interest and HOPEFULLY hold it long enough to make a sale, in the end.

    Brenna

  19. Lillieon 27 Aug 2008 at 10:24 am

    Everyone has made very valid points here, but for me it comes comes down to just one thing. Did I like it? And that answer is absolutely. Study groups, budgets, how they did the special effects, critics’ comments…none of it matters to me. The trailer caught my attention and raised my anticipation level without giving away spoilers. IMHO, that’s what’s important.

  20. Brenna Lyonson 27 Aug 2008 at 10:30 am

    Absolutely, Lillie. The trailer did its job, then. That’s what it’s all about.

    Brenna

  21. Billy & Clydeon 27 Aug 2008 at 1:19 pm

    The trailer is there to bring fans of paranormal interest towards the book of whom several folks out in the world have a great interest in reviewing, watching, and discussing in their fan groups. Ms Feehan (Go Girl & you to Shelia) is alawys telings us to enjoy if we can’t enjoy then go on to something else so we don’t bad mouth something to be constructive. As I voice in the Carpathian Mountains would say call for the Healer or the Kat & the Bee, they can explain it better. But I for one enjoy it and the rest of the series it is there for for.

    Right Clyde
    He said Go Girl Keep Rocking Shelia

  22. Sheilaon 27 Aug 2008 at 2:19 pm

    BMac

    We actually do beta testing on our book trailers. We also send some of them to booksellers for feedback. We have an online survey that allows people to rate a video on several categories. People are not required to give their name, it is totally anonymous to encourage honest, no-pressure feedback.

    We do an annual review as well. The survey is sent to our beta testers, MySpace friends, booksellers, publishers and anyone else we can rope into participating (especially readers!).

    SciFi and Lifetime have been a great combo for the Feehan trailers. The publisher has seen an increase in sales in the areas in which the videos play on tv. In the last year they have doubled their investment in TV for her trailers. But, unfortunately, they do not share statistics with us, so I can’t tell you much more than that.

    Could it be that we are talking about two different aspects of this trailer? I get the feeling that you and Jacob are talking about perceived “quality” and I’m talking about “effectiveness”.

  23. Gailon 27 Aug 2008 at 4:00 pm

    Bmac, Let me add to what Sheila said about beta-testing trailers (and thank you Sheila, for reminding me of this). I was one of Sheila’s testers some time back for a book trailer which COS produced, and the process went just as she described. I was able to follow the trailer, get an idea what the book was about, and enjoy what I watched.

    Also, with regards to Siskel & Ebert and the film E.T., Ebert did not like the film initially, only to change his mind and rate it as one of the best of the year later on.

  24. ALHon 27 Aug 2008 at 6:14 pm

    First off, let me say I completely support Ms. Feehan and her work. If I look at the trailer objectively, I can see how it seems kind of “B” Movie-ish. Having said that I still loved the trailer, because I have followed this series since the beginning and I know the stories behind the story. I believe Ms. Feehan, her publishers, and the creator of the trailer were targeting individuals who have been a long time fan or even newly read on the Carpathians (The Dark Series) but have some background. And they hit it right with what they did here. They are just trying to give us MORE than what we already get as readers.

    Honestly, I have no opinion on the rest of this post, probably because I only watch book trailers of those authors that I read religiously, in particular those with series. This may be be part of the posters point…

  25. S.G.Kukichon 27 Aug 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Diana, my dear you are right!

    Mac B I am one of the 3000 plus Christine Feehan fans that is royaly “ticked” of at you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    You have NO idea what you are talking about, and its evident to me by your comments, that you have a”brain the size of a pea” ……… [B. Mac adds: Normally I edit comments for grammar and spelling, but I refuse to fix this one.]

    First, COS production was doing “book trailers” when the rest of the world and the industry did not even know what they were!
    Second, when I go to YouTube and look at the book trailers, I can tell right a way,which ones were made by COS Productions, and which were not; the quality in the work is that noticable.

    Third, and NOT the least, but the best is, Christine Feehan has fans all around the globe; of which I am one! Ms Feehans writing is one of a kind. Her stories, as dark as they are, are full of adventure, comedy, mystory and suspence.
    To us, that have read the Dark series books, the special effects have meaning, and we know what to look forward to in the upcoming book…Her greative writing brings us into the world of Carpathians that live on principles of integretiy and loyalty. Its a world I love to read about, and if our world would have 1/3 of that, it would be a much better place.

    S.G.Kukich/”Carpathian Healer”

  26. B. Macon 27 Aug 2008 at 8:12 pm

    SG Kukich, do you usually get upset when people criticize things you like?

  27. S.G.Kukichon 28 Aug 2008 at 12:03 am

    SG Kukich, do you usually get upset when people criticize things you like?

    ************************************

    I do not care about myself! I get upset WHEN Ms. Feehan and other writers get negative criticism. I have great appreciation for writers…. and I am sure you have not read one Carpathian Novel, if you have you would not have written what you did!

    S.G. Kukich/ “Carpathian Healer”

  28. Brenna Lyonson 28 Aug 2008 at 4:19 am

    Just to add an amusing aside… Some of Douglas Clegg’s videos, which I note are some of the highest quality I’ve ever seen, are made by COS, according to the Youtube videos I’ve seen. Douglas does have impeccable taste in his videos.

    Brenna

  29. Jacobon 28 Aug 2008 at 10:09 am

    Hello, Brenna. I just looked at the trailer for Clegg’s You Come When I Call You, which was far better than the trailers I reviewed above. The sound was more evocative, the visuals were powerful and the text feels like it came from a professional writer.

    This trailer did a much better job of establishing the mood, foreshadowing the plot, showcasing the author’s style and hooking new readers into a continuing series.

    The biggest single differences stylistically seems to be that YCWICY used still-frames instead of live action and sounds instead of instrumental music. It’s obviously a vast improvement here, but I’m not sure whether still-frames and sounds usually come off as more professional and well-tailored. What do you think?

  30. B. Macon 28 Aug 2008 at 1:08 pm

    I just spoke with a representative of COS. The production and distribution for Dark Curse cost $8700; You Come When I Call You cost $2500. I was impressed by D.C.’s dragon, but it probably added several thousand dollars to the price-tag.

    Those are both major investments for a novel–well beyond what most publishers would consider for an unproven author– but I think that Y.C.W.I.C.Y’s trailer added something to the book’s marketing that I’d be hard-pressed to replace elsewhere. When we publish our novel, I’d like to shop around for an animated trailer (I’d budget $750-$1500 for that, depending on agent and publisher feedback), but I think it would be best if our writers did the text and script ourselves. My initial assessment is that a cartoon trailer might work for a zany superhero-themed novel.

  31. Jacobon 28 Aug 2008 at 3:24 pm

    What about distribution? If 10 million viewers actually see Feehan’s trailer, then it was probably a wise investment of $8700, even though the ad seemed pretty unimpressive. If the ad is shown enough online, it will pay for itself even if it’s unimpressive.

    If we can assume that we can assume that (say) the trailer’s audiences include conservatively two million prospective readers who wouldn’t have otherwise bought the book, even a mediocre ad would probably pay for itself.

  32. tinuke Olafimihanon 29 Aug 2008 at 9:36 am

    I am not really up on marketing stuff, demographics and book trailers but I have read all the comments. I think that what has probably put some people’s backs up is the way in which some of the comments have been presented, particularly since they feel very subjective, in other words an opinion as to what constitutes an acceptable level of quality in a book trailer. In the opinion of Jacob he felt that the trailer for Dark Curse was, “a pretty unimpressive ad” and presented an ad which he felt did reach an acceptable quality level.

    This is where these things become interesting as I remember the movie trailer for 12 Monkeys and it may well have been a quality trailer but I didn’t go and see the movie for ages as I really didn’t like the trailer. In addition once I had seen the film I felt that the trailer had misled me and I would probably have seen the film much earlier if I had just read about it and not seen the trailer. As you can see this is a strong personal and subjective reaction to that particular trailer.

    (Just as an aside I find lots of film trailers problematical as very often there are scenes which do not occur in the film when it comes out )

    The problem then becomes is the trailer a good/bad trailer, you have argued that it is an example of a good trailer, however in my case it was ineffective as clearly it didn’t do the job it was supposed to, ie get me to see the film so it seems to me that this is not solely an artistic endeavour and therefore some account must be made of your target audience. I am assuming here that I did not fit the demographic for the film trailer and one person against millions of others who did see the trailer and went to the film is clearly not what you are going to take into account.

    I am not sure which is the crucial point that you want to make. That a book trailer should be artistically of a certain standard, or that it should be effective, or that it should be both at which point the subjective view point then comes into play and presumably you are looking at the target audience to define a way forward in terms of quality control and effectiveness.

    I also did the reader survey on book trailers by COS and as usual liked some and didn’t like others, however, I did not feel that there work could be characterised as mediocre. In fact they maintain a very high level of consistency.
    My preference is generally for little dialogue, as you say this is not a movie, and I personally feel that in using a visual medium to market a written medium, I like the images to speak for themselves with just sufficient clues ie vampires sex magic shapechanging and dragons, with minimum text and dialogue leaving me free to then explore further.

    The work that Cos has done in this field is continually developing and though I am not expecting the quality of a big budget movie I like to see that they are using special effects and seeing where they can go with that.

    As a musician the subject of music is one that you could debate until kingdom come. It is extremely subjective and even when one is trying to maintain an objective attitude it is in the knowledge that you cannot get away from your subjective stances.

    A case in point was the Mission Impossible theme tune from the tv series, personally, I felt one of the best pieces of music in that genre, but in the movies they messed with the rhythm in the way it had been arranged. I saw the first film even though I don’t like Tom Cruise as an actor but had to leave not because he did a bad job, actually he was okay, but because of the music.

    Now other people might be thinking how precious but it was a personal thing and I would not call the music or the film mediocre but it did feel like fingernails down a blackboard to me.

    I am just wondering how much of this is subjective as you have already said that you are not really in the target audience or demographic for this kind of material.
    Presumably if Cos were to make a book trailer for you these matters would be of paramount importance deciding who you are attempting to attract and knowing what sort of demographic that you are looking for as well as your own personal taste in putting forward a trailer you could be happy with, which from what you said would probably be not to my taste at all.

    The music for Dark Curse is certainly not something that I would listen to by itself but in the context of the book makes sense, so I neither like or dislike it. There have been trailers where I have stopped simply because I couldn’t bear the music but I’m not sure that would mean that the trailers themselves are bad just I don’t like the music.

    I really enjoy booktrailers and seeing which ones work and which ones I think don’t work and am happy to give feedback on that as I have done for the Cos reader surveys.

    I have found this discussion and comments very useful and have learnt and will be looking again at trailers in the light of this. I hope that your book has a book trailer that you are happy with and I am intrigued as I am first and foremost a sci-fi/fantasy reader who has found a home in the paranormal romance genre.

    I do have to say that I personally totally disagree with you as to the quality and the effectiveness of the Dark Curse Trailer, however, as another blogger has pointed out I have read the whole series and so for me the book trailer works, rather liking having snippets/tasters from chapters, but here, the clues are visual rather than written, so all the things that you mentioned needing would put me off, as in giving to much potentially misleading information and also interfering with the gathering of clues from the images.

    This is rather long winded sorry for that but I really thought this was a great thing to have come up. I love the cinema and film in all it’s myriad forms and I hope that book trailers will go from strength to strength and I know it will if companies like Cos keep producing the quality work that they do.

    Cheers Tinuke

  33. Brenna Lyonson 29 Aug 2008 at 10:40 am

    Jacob,

    I don’t think it has much to do with still picture vs. moving footage. Let me give examples of a couple of VERY different Douglas Clegg trailers, but they are all very professional and striking.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56Uc8IblGAQ

    A lot of storyline in type, moving and still pics…

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMWG6Byf3u4

    Some stills…mostly moving images…music and NO voice-over at all…very evocative, though.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4vZDEUTHYo

    One of my favorites…moving images…voice-over and music…FAB!

    Brenna

  34. Sheilaon 13 Sep 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Wow! I hadn’t come back here for a while. I was waiting to hear how Dark Curse did since I promised to come back here and share that information.

    So happy that you came across the Douglas Clegg videos! Doug has some amazing books out there.

    How did Dark Curse do?

    Let’s take a look at how took the video. Powell’s, BN.com, Borders, GoodReads, Preview the Book, and about another dozen specialty sites and/or blogs. We even had independent booksellers ask us to make a dvd for in-store play. The publisher used it too and the author is thrilled with her fan mail about the trailer. So far, so good.

    Admittedly it only hit #11 on USA Today, but in all fairness, Stephanie Meyer is kicking butt there right now and has most of those top positions.

    But I was just informed that it has hit #1 (yes, one) on the NY Times. Not too shabby.

    Would it have hit #1 without the video? Who knows? The video was seen by millions of people. You can always email the author and ask her what she thinks. Ask her how much fan mail she got from it. Ask her if she is happy that the booksellers featured it on their sites.

    In the end, whether you like a video or not, is subjective. How effective it was, in the opinion of those who paid for it, is what really matters.

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