Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Orphan Book Rescue Society

It's a crying shame, but there it was. That poor book stood proud among the other rejects and misfit books in the Dollar Store bargain bin. It had a magnificent cover, an intriguing title, and a great story concept. What's wrong with this book, I wondered?

I turned to the back cover and read all the glowing reviews, opened to the back flap and saw the Random House logo in all its glory, along with the author's photo and short bio. Everything was certainly in place and the book was in pristine condition. No remainder marks, no stains, no dents, no curves, a straight spine. It was a brand new hardcover book in perfect condition.

I flipped to the first chapter and began reading. Sounds like a good story, a strong opening, filled with intrigue. Nice first chapter cliffhanger. Gotta have it. WTF! Why is this book in the bargain bin? Beats me. I've never heard of it though, or its author. What gives?

Then it hit me. As an author, peddling my own literary mystery novel, is this what I have to look forward to? Uh, yeah. Why should I expect my story to do any better, especially these days? Can things possibly get any worse than for a great book to wind up in the bargain bin of a Dollar Store? I thought the Dollar Store was already a bargain.

Hey, it's not all that bad though. The books weren't tossed about like yesterday's trash. They were neatly stacked and displayed with a good measure of dignity. They just looked like lonely orphans waiting for someone to rescue them. They seemed helpless. I rescued all 37 of them and took them home where they stand tall in my library. I'll keep my favorites and give the others away as gifts.

Come to think of it, some day I hope to reach this level of success in today's publishing world. The Dollar Store dollar bin. Heck, might even be a step above self-publishing.

You see, I knew there was a bright side, after all.

But, the real question is. What's an "emerging author" like me doing at the Dollar Store anyway? Oh, I get it. I'm not the next James Patterson. Right.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book Trailer Tutorials: How To Improve Your Teaser

The following is a three-part book trailer tutorial. Here's what you'll learn:

  • You'll learn what the most important element in your book teaser is and how to make it work for you. 
  • The number one reason book trailers fail to sell books.
  • How to build an exciting book trailer readers will love.

PART ONE: What Makes Book Teasers Tick?

Book Teasers are like perpetual marketing machines. Set ‘em up and let them work their magic. But, to understand how this kind of marketing really works, we have to see our marketing machine in slow motion and study all its moving parts, one by one. Let's take our machine apart and get familiar with everything that makes it move. We'll then rebuild it, stronger, faster, and design it to work effectively, persuasively.

If one picture is worth a thousand words, than many pictures are sure to be worth much more. But there's a big difference between one picture and a motion picture. Yet, each has to tell a story, which means that your book teaser must focus and center around one concept, just like a movie, except that it’s more than a movie. It’s a visual presentation wrapped around a sales message. Sorry to break the news to you, but yes, book teasers are not just eye candy. They should be appealing but you must also design them to sell, and that means you must design them to function as effective sales tools.

Your message must be short, powerful, and persuasive. Your teaser is not an epic movie or a novel. In fact, it's a very short story. Ideally, about 30 seconds short, to be exact, and certainly no longer than 90 seconds. Why so short? Two main reasons: One is because of people's short attention spans, especially on the internet where readers click at the speed of light. People are in a hurry. They're busy. They have much to read and see during their limited time surfing the web. There’s just too much to get to. Every second counts. Every moment is limited by a myriad of interruptions outside the world wide web. So you have to hit ‘em and hit ‘em hard. No mercy, and by that I mean, your message must be on point, like a laser.

Secondly, and unlike sales copy, the less you tell, or say, the more readers will want to know, as long as it's relevant. That's what teasers do, they tease the reader's imagination and leave them wanting more. That wanting curiosity is what leads readers to keep on clicking. You must instill an urge to find out more about your book, but that happens only if you've raised a question they want answered. That question, or series of questions you've planted in the readers mind with a series of photos, words, and audio must be backed with the right soundtrack and sound effects too. That's a heck of a lot to accomplish in 30 seconds flat. Let's break it down.

"Your sales message must 
be subtle and unobtrusive."

You’re probably thinking, “sales tool?” or “sales pitch?” That’s tacky and so transparent. Surely you don’t want me to say something that sounds like an advertisement. Absolutely not. That’s the whole point. When you watch a movie, the director doesn’t want you to think about the movie-making process. The director wants to involve you in their carefully written story. They want you to take the journey, not just with the protagonist, but the director’s goal is to get you to become the star, or inhabit the protagonist’s mindset.

They want to wrap you inside their story bubble, the protagonist’s world, his or her wants, needs, desires, and dreams. Wow, now we’re talking. When you walk out of a movie theater and hit the streets after inhabiting someone else’s world for 120 minutes or more, you might feel a bit foolish and realize it’s all been a “clever ruse” on the director’s part. He had you hooked for almost 2 hours. Not only were you entertained, but you’ve been sold something other than a movie ticket. You’ve been sold a location, a city or a country, a way of life, the products used by the actors, and so on.

Hey, this is commerce folks. Everything’s for sale, including your books. Your sales message must be subtle and unobtrusive. It cannot be an obvious sales pitch. If we take a clue from our movie analogy, aside from a few cleverly presented product placements, nobody screamed a sales pitch at you. What the director did, ever so slyly, was to stir your emotions in such a way that you might respond to the movie in a positive way.

"If you remember nothing else 
about marketing, remember this: 
Sales is all about 
emotional responses and nothing else."

The difference between a movie and your book teaser is that nobody expects you to run out of the theater and buy something you saw in the movie. But that’s exactly what the purpose of your teaser is. It’s not a mini movie. Your book teaser needs to sell your book, or at least get readers to think about buying it, and there’s only one way to accomplish that.

Just like a movie trailer, your teaser must grab the viewer’s attention with something entertaining, interesting, or curious, and then, it must persuade them to buy. Not a movie ticket, but your book. That decision to purchase comes only when you’ve moved your viewers on an emotional level, in their gut.

Come on, on top of everything else, an emotional investment in 30 seconds? What’s next? Good question, and as far as your teaser goes, a moving presentation is all you need. That’s a mouthful. Here’s how to get it:

If you remember nothing else about marketing, remember this: Sales is all about emotional responses and nothing else. No emotion means no response and no sale. Sound simple enough, but it’s not so simple to execute. Here’s what you need to know.

Evoking an emotional response from your reader means that you must trigger a desire in their mind. Without getting too heady on the psychology of buying, we all have needs, wants and desires. Feeding ourselves is a need. Craving a hamburger is a want. The search for happiness is a desire. Not only is the search for happiness a desire, it is the ultimate human desire. It’s the one desire human beings are constantly searching for and funny thing is, just when we think we’ve found it, something or someone comes along and bursts our happiness bubble, or maybe our perceived happiness fades, and we’re back to square one, searching for that elusive moment, all over again.

"The endless search for happiness 
is the reason we buy stuff..."

The endless search for happiness is the reason we buy stuff and try to acquire whatever we think will bring us all this elusive happiness. Our quest is endless, and as part of the scheme of things, your book can be part of that quest.

People try to fulfill their desire for happiness in many ways. Through love, acceptance, friendship, favorite foods, fine wine, vacations, products of all kinds, like fast cars, fancy houses, flat screen TV’s, computers, books, maybe even your book. Wow, that’s a long way around just to get to your book, isn’t it?

Well, yes and no, because considering how important emotional responses are to your marketing, all or nothing, in fact, it’s certainly worth mentioning. Okay, now that you realize how important people’s emotions factors into our perpetual marketing machine, next week we’re going to get to the business of evoking those feelings so that we can trigger those emotional hot buttons and persuade readers to click and buy your book.

Come back for Part Two of this exciting tutorial next Monday.
Here’s what we’ll cover:

1.     Find the hook: We all know what a hook is and what it does, right? Well, I’m going to demystify that term and break it down so you get what it really means.

2.     Translate words and images into meaningful concepts: Putting together a video presentation that conveys your sales message is easier said than done. We’ll cover everything you need to know.

3.     How long should your book teaser really be? I’m going to lay this one to rest once and for all. I’ll cover all the reasons for both short and longer trailers and which format is best for your trailer and why.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Get Your Free Book Trailer Analysis Today

Analysis? Hell, I'm not sure if that's even spelled right. Whatever. You know what I mean. You've spent hours, no, no, weeks working on your book trailer and after all that blood, sweat, and tears, you're not sure if the damn thing is any good. By that I mean: 

Will it really help you to promote and sell your books? Who's to say?

Uh, me? Yes, of course. Who'd you expect, the Count of Montecristo? (Bad reference, I've never even seen that movie.) Never mind. Just point me to the link where I can see your masterpiece so I can have a few laughs. Not at your work, I mean at your concept. It is funny isn't it? (Yes, there's a hint of sarcasm in there somewhere.)

Listen, life's too damn short, baby needs a new pair of booties, and my pig heart valve is about to rupture. Why reinvent the wheel? You've got books to promote don't you? I thought so. Problem is, your marketing materials suck. There it is, I said it. Big deal, you know it's true. You were not born with 25 years of marketing experience and a foul mouth like I was. (Thank you, mother.) Hmm, come to think of it, neither was I. But somehow I got that way.

Okay, enough of that. Let's get to it before my meds wear off and I come to my senses. Where was I? Ahh, your book trailer. Of course. You've come up with a great concept, problem is, it's off the mark. Not quite what you expected, and you know it hasn't done a thing to promote your new book. Why?

Because it lacks emotion.

Emotion? Yeah, that's what has you riled up right about now, wondering who the hell I am and why you're still reading this crap. But rest assured, I've not escaped from the local psycho ward (again) I'm just a marketing cuckoo bird that loves a good challenge. Go ahead, send me your book trailer link and if I can't improve it in any way, I'll send you one million dollars.

You get the idea. No, there's no million dollar prize, (really?) but you can find out if I can help or not. Let me put it this way: If I can't improve your book teaser concept, I'll shut down this annoying blog once and for all. (Wow, just the thought of that sends tingles up my spine. Caribbean breezes, Mojitos, bikini clad Spanish mamitas, hmm, I just might throw the next one.)

This is a good time to email me. I'm busy, but not too busy to take a break and see what you've got.

(I promise to only laugh on the inside.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Book Trailers and Teasers - What's The Secret?

Here are two new Book Teasers that I just finished. One is for Vincent Zandri's "GODCHILD", the other is "Promised Valley Rebellion", a historical novel by Ron Fritsch.

You'll notice the difference in length for these teasers. Godchild is just over 60 seconds, while Rebellion is 90 seconds. Let me say that it's difficult to keep teasers like these so short at 30 seconds. Sometimes, 30 seconds is just not enough time. Everything depends on how much information you need to put out.

Historicals, in particular must run longer, especially if the soundtrack is slower. It takes more time to tell that way since everything seemingly runs in slow motion. Again, 90 seconds should be your longest for any genre. I've gone over on occasion, but only because I've managed to keep readers interested long enough.

My goal is either 30, 60 or 90 seconds, depending on the genre and soundtrack tempo. I think these new teasers work to keep readers hooked to the end of the presentation and ultimately, motivates them enough to keep clicking for more information that will hopefully result in a sale.

The important thing is that your teaser does its job, and that is, to generate excitement for the book. Anything that happens or doesn't happen after readers click on the teaser link, is beyond your control, such as the landing page and the quality of its sales copy and its relevant content.

Getting your book teaser to the point where it does its job, meaning that readers will click on it for more information or follow the book's website link, is your goal. What happens after that is what I call, the doorstop effect.

The doorstop effect is my way of saying, "What readers do once they click the teaser links and buy your book is up to them, even if they use it as a doorstop. Your sales job is done, at least up to that point since the content of your book, especially if it's a non-fiction, must be loaded with plenty of sales copy if you want repeat sales. But that's another topic entirely, which I plan to delve into some other time.

The focus here is coming up with a great writing concept for your book teaser and inspiring people to click, click, click, and buy.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Book Trailers and Teaser Concepts

Good Ideas are Only the Beginning

Marketing concepts are much more than just clever ideas. Your goal, by the end of your book teaser, is to inspire readers and motivate them to take further action, to buy your book, right now, not later. Later is too late because people not only have short attention spans, they have short-term memory, especially these days since consumers are bombarded with advertising, 360,  24/7. 
Although, that’s why advertisers repeat their ads so many times. People need to see them more than once. They need to process all the information until they understand what you’re communicating, and then they need to take action―they must react to your message. What is your message? Your message must be simple and direct. It must entertain, inform, compel, build curiosity, inspire, and motivate readers into wanting your wonderful product―your book.
Your book teaser must break through all the advertising clutter, and that doesn’t mean that you’ll need big, noisy explosions or fancy special effects. You need to trigger your reader’s emotions and reach them on an emotional level, pushing all the right buttons along the way, and believe me, there are many buying buttons you need to push.
But these buttons are not negative buttons. They are positive buttons, filled not with fear, but with hope, exciting news, and great expectations. What are you selling? A book, yes, but its contents serve a greater purpose. A meaningful statement about the world and how readers process their world through your story to enhance their lives. People don’t just collect books, they buy into the experience your book offers. It is that particular experience you must tap into, distill, and bottle up. It is that essence you must tease out and present in its most curious form, so that readers who come across your ad, your book teaser, are immediately taken by everything it has to offer. What does it offer?
Does it offer a rare insight into the mind of a serial killer? Does it offer a glimpse into the distant future, or someone’s dubious past? Does it arouse the reader’s curiosity and leave them wanting more? It should and it must, if you want your book teaser to succeed in generating sales for your book.
Speaking of serial killers, you hopefully saw and remember the movie, Silence of the Lambs. What a curious title, isn’t it? What do lambs have to do with a serial killer? On its surface, nothing, but dig deeper and you’ll find the hook to this incredible story, and how the serial killer uses that bit of information: detective Starling’s fear of slaughtered lambs on the farm where she grew up. It’s the killer’s ace in the hole to weaken her defenses.
Suddenly, this story has depth and meaning to readers. It’s not just another gory movie, it is a very unusual psychological thriller. This story works on many levels and has multiple layers of meaning. There’s a lot of gold for readers to mine here. That makes it fascinating to watch and unforgettable. Your book teaser must accomplish the same thing, but it must do so in seconds. Not so easy to do.
In order for you to tease out the hook in your story, and play it out in such a way that readers feel the need to find out more, or they’ll die of curiosity, you must act quickly. You must strike like a cobra and infuse your readers, not with venom, but with desire. The magical desire button. The desire to want something so bad, they will go through the process of learning more about it, and go through all the impulsive  steps in the shopping cart purchasing process.
The good news, desire is an easy emotion to evoke. All it takes is an intriguing and urgent presentation of any universal emotion, such as love, jealousy, apprehension, happiness, etc., and the triggers are pulled. These are the buttons you need to push at every turn.  And in turn, a reader’s desire to satisfy their wants, their curiosity, propels them to keep pushing more shopping cart buttons―all the way to the most important button of all, the PLACE YOUR ORDER Button.
Search your story high and low for its crux, a hook, its meaning, and capitalize on those emotional hot buttons by pushing all of them in 60 seconds or less. 
It’s a killer combination that can’t miss.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Here's a new Teaser I recently put together (upper right). Notice how short it is (under 40 seconds) and how it does just what a book teaser should do. It's a curious, jarring spot that leaves you with more questions than answers. That's what you're looking for. You want to wake people up and motivate them to click on your teaser (with an active hyperlink, of course) to find out more.

That being said, you don't have to scream as I've done here (I needed that) but it helps. What you need is to capture your readers attention with curious images and sound, right away, then persuade them with a unique message. BTW, I didn't spend weeks coming up with this concept. All I started with was the screaming part, which captures people's frustration with dull, ineffective book teasers (at least mine).

From there, it took on a monstrous life of it's own. Besides, Frankenstein's the monster that best describes me. We sure look alike anyway.

If this floats your boat, check out the other Frankenstein Amazon spot, way at the bottom.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Book Teasers Are Not All The Same. 5 Tips That Make a Difference:

Have you taken a look at all the new Book Trailer Production Companies out there? Go ahead, search the internet and check out all the big production companies and their book trailer offerings. I can't believe what I'm seeing. These trailers are laughable, and worst of all, they don't work. They won't do a thing to help sell your books. What a gyp!

Listen up folks, before you spend a ton of money and waste your valuable time on something that doesn't work, here's what you need to know:

1) Book Trailers are not Mini Movies:
You can't design a book trailer that runs for 2 or 3 minutes or longer. People's attention span is very short, so ideally you want to keep your trailer or teaser to 30 seconds or maybe up to a minute or so, but nothing longer. Although, if you can manage to keep things interesting, sometimes a minute and a half is okay.

The point is, however, the shorter, the better. The reasoning behind that, aside from short attention spans, is that a short 30 second teaser leaves the reader wanting more. And that's key because if they want more, the next logical thing, as long as you've piqued their curiosity, is that they'll click on the book teaser link to find out more about the book. If you've told too much in your teaser, they have no reason to continue searching.

2) It's All About The Concept:
Book teasers are advertisements, not journalism. You must come up with a curious concept and design that concept around questions instead of answers. You must keep readers guessing--wanting more. Don't give away the whole story.

3) Expensive, Flashy Production is Useless to Readers:
Over-the-top production means nothing. Readers are hungry for a moving story, an emotion. Why would you feed them fancy effects that don't serve the storyline? Chroma keys and vibrating titles are not sales tools.

4) Your Images Must Serve and Sell The Story:
Use images that sell, not tell your story. You've got to be a tough editor and remove anything that doesn't apply to the storyline concept--your hook. Stick to your concept and keep it short.

5) Your Ending Must be Dramatic:
Sure, it's only a 30 second teaser, but those last few seconds must drive everything home because that's what readers will remember. Build it up and end with something meaningful.

I'll be posting more tips and going into great detail about many other things you need to know about designing a successful Book Teaser that gets the job done. And that means, getting readers to click (because your book teaser hooked them) and buy your book.

I've posted articles on my other Blogspot (BookFreak: The ProseFreak Files about impulse buying. When it comes down to it, that's what you want to create--a book teaser that encourages impulse buying. Why make it impulsive? Check out my take on Impulse Purchases here. You'll be glad you did.

My next Post: How To Build a Killer Book Teaser Concept. Don't miss it!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

New Book Teasers Coming Soon

Hey folks, I've been busy lately with 3 new Book Teasers in the works. I'll be posting several of them by the end of this week. One is for a Historical Novel, the other is a Noir Detective novel, plus I've got a few more lined up. Working fast and efficiently as always. You'll want to come back and take a look at these new teasers. Generally, I can put a simple one together in a few days but I like to take my time to tweak and fine-tune everything for about a week, sometimes longer. It all depends on how complex it is.

By that I mean, if it involves voice-overs or film footage of some kind. Voice-overs are great but you have to know what your doing. Most authors tend to overwrite. For a good example of voice-over work, checkout the teaser I designed for James Hayman,"The Chill of Night" (Thriller). He'd sent me the script, he's also a copywriter, so I knew I could trust what he'd write, and it worked out nicely. I managed to get that feeling of suspense in the voice and the soundtrack certainly helped put it all together.

Another example of good voice-overs is my own DFB Teaser, of course. I love the female voice I used for that too. It takes a lot of time to tweak these voices. Can you tell they're computerized? Hard to believe, but they are. Hey, I'm putting a lot of actors out of work. Yeah, I doubt that.

While you're here, checkout the "Deed So" teaser, under Sentimental Novel. It's simple,but very effective and moving. I've got another one similar to it that I really enjoyed putting together. Posting it soon. A lot going on, I wish I could clone myself, but hey, one of me is enough. My ex-wife can attest to that.