“The trailer’s the thing, by which we’ll prick the interest of the potential readers!”
-Hamlet, sort of
Dear Marketing, You Suck
In last week’s cover reveal, I talked about a cover’s importance in attracting potential readers. That’s not a bold or divisive statement, by any means. Unfortunately, a good cover on its own is rarely enough. Thanks to modern technology and digital storefronts like Amazon, there are a lot of books being published every week. Many of them even have cool covers, because… again… everyone knows how important that is.
So how do you make your book stand out even more? Well, that’s where marketing comes in… and where I start to flounder. Author interviews, book reviews, give-away contests, calls-to-action for your 50k+ Twitter followers… it’s all designed to get the word out about your book and to convert some of those people into new readers.
I don’t have 50k followers on Twitter. To be honest, I’m shocked I even have 1,600… and most of those are fellow authors. It can be difficult to sell books to other authors, many of whom are focused on their own material and perpetually short on time and/or funds. I do have ARCs of See These Bones out to book review services1, and I’m looking into other promotions, but as a debut author, I don’t have interviewers kicking down my door yet. Weird, I know!
So how can I generate buzz, especially when it feels like the number of active readers is shrinking by the day? Hell if I know… like I said, I’m terrible at this stuff.
Luckily, my wife is kind of a badass at thinking outside the box.
Which brings us to today’s Hamlet mis-quote.
Let’s Go To Hollywood!
‘What if we make a book trailer?”
“A what now?”
“A book trailer. Like for the Marvel movies, only it will be for See These Bones instead.”
“Is that even a thing?”
Surprisingly, yes… it is a thing. It’s also a fascinating idea. It’s a way to market your book in an entirely different medium. Maybe someone isn’t going to go seek out chapter samples to read2, but a minute-long trailer? Well, people spend their entire lives watching cat videos on YouTube. Why not a book trailer?
Any sort of film production, however, is really expensive, especially if you’re hiring professionals. As a debut author, I try to be realistic about what I can expect to earn, even should See These Bones be wildly successful3. Covers, review services, contests, ISBNs, PCIP data blocks, even all the setup for Ghost Falls Press… it all costs money. The chance of seeing any real profit is already slight before you throw in something as extravagant as a live-action book trailer.
If it were up to me, I’d probably have just thrown my book onto Amazon, hoped it succeeded on its own, and then been bummed when the sales #s reflected the minimal amount of effort I’d put into marketing it. But my wife has taken this whole book launch as a personal challenge. In her mind, ‘success’ means attracting the highest possible number of readers. Maybe we’ll end up making some money in the process, or maybe this first book becomes a loss leader that gets me the kind of audience that will allow subsequent books to succeed on their own. Either way, she reasoned, this is my debut. Why not go big?
I haven’t made a ton of smart decisions in my life, but marrying her, almost twenty-three years ago, is right at the top of the list.
So we figured… what the hell?
And after almost three months of discussions, shoots, reshoots, and last-minute adjustments, here we are…
The Book Trailer for See These Bones
Those of you who have already read the book will notice some substantial deviations from said book, when it comes to casting and wardrobe. The truth is, this is not the Avengers: Endgame trailer4, and the budget for some things is limited. Additionally, someone else wrote the script treatment after reading my book, and then the director and cast filmed the trailer based on the treatment. That makes for two more layers of interpretation (and artistic license) between the source material and the end product. From what I’ve read, it’s part and parcel of having your book adapted. At least in a trailer5, I don’t have to worry about the studio cutting half the plot for fear that the audience would get bored or confused!
Also, the goal of the trailer is not to perfectly realize everything that’s on the page. The goal is to stir up excitement and interest, so that people who might otherwise never even hear about the book suddenly want to read it. Hopefully, this does the job. I think it’s pretty awesome, but I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Next Tuesday, I’ll post the first chapter from See These Bones here. Next Thursday, I’ll share some behind-the-scenes shots from the trailer filming and go into depth on what the process was like. Every author I know has indulged in fan casting their books in the hope6 that someone will make a movie of it. So how did this experience compare to the fantasy7? Stay tuned and find out.
- The first three have already come back and are–thankfully, for both my stress levels and mental health–extremely positive. Look for them to show up on the Amazon listing soon.
- Speaking of which, I’ll be posting sample chapters from See These Bones starting next Tuesday, and every week until the release
- The winter bungalow in the Maldives will have to wait!
- Versus a feature-length film.
- We all like to dream!
- Beyond just having to cast someone other than Robert Downey, Jr. as the dean at the Academy of Heroes