Making Video Trailers on xtranormal.com by Pete Morin

Author Pete Morin
Author Pete Morin

Thanks to IndiesUnlimited for inviting me to share some thoughts about book promotion.

The genesis of the invitation itself is worthy of note. As part of my marketing efforts, I spend a bit of time occasionally dropping in to the many LinkedIn writing-related groups. One of the threads was a discussion on what people do to promote their books. I posted a comment with links to several short teasers I composed using the xtranormal.com website. Within minutes, K.S. Brooks messaged me with an invitation to discuss them. So – social networking works.

What is xtranormal.com? Surely you’ve seen the iconic So You Want to Write a Novel! In November of 2010, aspiring novelist David Kazzie uploaded the clip to promote his novel, The Jackpot. Since then, the clip has amassed 230,000 views. There was a time after it came out when it was all over the web. Has it helped sell The Jackpot? Hard to say, but it certainly hasn’t hurt.

As soon as I made the decision to self-publish Diary of a Small Fish, I began to think about a marketing plan. Naturally, one of the spokes to that wheel is social media. As I sketched a plan in my head, I considered the book trailer option, but really, how many effective book trailers have you seen? It’s a very difficult medium in which to catch peoples’ attention. Think of the Superbowl advertisements – thirty seconds put together by some of the best creative minds in the business and half of them stink.

Then I remembered Kazzie’s clip, and went to xtranormal.com to snoop around. It is a playground, with all kinds of different settings and characters to choose from. And even if you’re not a techie nerd, I assure you that xtranormal’s slogan is perfectly true: If you can type, you can make movies! Spend ten minutes fiddling around, and you’ll feel like Martin Scorsese.

So then – how did I come up with the scripts?

The first movie was a little over 2 minutes and entailed a conversation between Paul and Shannon about how he’d gotten into the mess he was in and how he might get out. (There was a little inside baseball at the end, with a crack about Joe Konrath and Amazon’s sweet deal.) Still, it was too long. I had to find a way to say something interesting in one minute or less. Did it have to be a different message? No, I could make the same pitch, but use a different venue for each one.

Clip 1 – Paul and Shannon in the courtroom: This tells the reader that Diary of a Small Fish has courtroom drama.

Clip 2 – Paul and Shannon in the office at night: This tells the reader that Paul is anxious about the possibility of going to jail, and hints that Shannon and Paul have a little something going on.

Clip 3 – Paul and Shannon underground: Just using the setting to riff off the metaphor of Paul digging himself into a deep hole.

Clip 4 – The sex scene: I admit it, I was going for the cheap vote. Sex sells, and a trailer labeled “sex scene” was liable to get some hits.

The total cost of the five trailers I made was about $10.00. Your initial account comes with free cash, so you should be able to make your first movie for free. After that, you buy credits, and they’re cheap.

Of course, you’ll note that none of these videos has gotten a hell of a lot of play. That’s my fault, because after a few weeks, I decided I didn’t want to spend an hour a day tweeting the hell out of them and plastering Facebook with them. I’m pretty sure those of you who do better with Twitter than I do can have good success with them.

What are the fundamentals:

1. Make sure it’s about the book! (I think that’ the weakness of the Kazzie clip – it says nothing about the book)

2. Keep it short – a minute or less

3. Hint at something in the plot that sparks curiosity. What will make someone go to the buy page to read the blurb?

All the considerations that go into writing a blurb can be employed in this task. Find an excellent hook, and riff off it – you don’t need a lot of material, the visual images and sound do all the heavy lifting for you.

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Pete Morin has been a trial attorney, a politician, a bureaucrat, a lobbyist, and an astute witness of human behavior. He combines them all in his debut novel, Diary of a Small Fish, and his short story collection, Uneasy Living. You can learn more about Pete on his website.[subscribe2]

 

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