What Do I Know?

As you can tell by the title, banner and basic foundation of this blog, I’m marketing and selling my two eBooks. As any author (self-published especially) will tell you, this is the hardest part of the gig. But I’m not going to whine about that challenge; I’m writing about an interesting dynamic I’ve discovered with my two titles. (Aside from interesting, the other main descriptor is “obvious”, but I’ll focus on the interesting part.) The first book, 8: The Previously Untold Story of the Previously Unknown 8th Dwarf, is based on a well-known entity. Snow White and the dwarfs have an average Q score of about 512.

The marketing for 8 begins with the title. People get it right away. When they discover the 8th dwarf’s name is Creepy, and he was banished to the cottage basement, that holds them beyond the hook. But I’m not kidding myself – both the hook and the hold are streets paved for me by others: the brothers Grimm with the story and Disney with the y-ending name.

The best evidence of this “Got it. Like it. Moving on.” phenomenon is on Facebook, where the 8: The Untold Story page boasts over 1,700 likes. I’ve achieved that number thanks to my FB ad which shows the book cover and says: An 8th dwarf? Who knew? The 99¢ YA eBook featuring Creepy is for Kindle & Nook. 5-star reviews call it “hilarious” and “ingenious”.

So I have over 1,700 sales? Nope. The vast majority of page likes were clicked on the ad itself from the viewer/liker’s own page. But buzz is buzz, and the buzz for 8 is slowly building. Can’t complain about that.

My second book, The Plight and Plot of Princess Penny is an original fairy tale with modern stuff (rather brilliantly) twisted in. At its launch in February, I so relied on the connective ease of my first book that my blurb for Penny starts with: “From the author of 8: The Previously Untold Story of the Previously Unknown 8th Dwarf …” as if 8 were The Hunger Games or something. It was tactical choice. I understand some will see the blurb and think: “I don’t know about this princess thing, but an 8th dwarf? That’s funny.” The other bit of pure marketing in the teaser blurb is mentioning that the witch in Penny is from The Frog Prince. That nod to a “retelling” puts the story legitimately into the literary trend.

To further explore the point of marketing known vs. unknown entities, I could give examples of book marketing blurbs, transcribing jacket covers from all across the literary spectrum. But why do that when we can just look at cool images from Hollywood?

The teaser movie poster is BIG business. Creating a buzz for a film’s opening weekend is everything, and professional reputations (not to mention millions of dollars) are at stake in this early phase of the process. Does the studio play it safe with a big image of the star’s face (Don’t tease me! Is Tom Cruise in this movie or not? Yes, I believe he is….) or do they take what they would call a risk and create a compelling image that actually teases the movie. Unlike a book blurb, a teaser poster does not sell tickets. It’s only designed to entice the audience to notice to the full poster to be released later and view the trailers (which are also produced in “teaser” and “full” modes). It’s a process, much like the example I use often in conversation: your resumé doesn’t get you a job. Your resumé gets you an interview. The interview gets you the job. (Unless there are unfortunate pictures of you in college on Facebook. Then all bets are off.)

Note: these posters aren’t “the best” in my opinion. Some are favorites from film properties I like, and some are from movies I haven’t even seen. In the latter case, the image struck me as compelling. In other words, the teaser poster worked.

First the known entities. Like an 8th dwarf, these are much more likely to catch the interest of the general public – if done well.

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Ok, this one is my favorite. Even though the film was an incalculable disappointment, this poster is still unparalleled in creating anticipation for a known property. (The long wait helped.)

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This is a tougher sell on a known property because it was already “rebooted” successfully for essentially the same audience. Nonetheless, great image. (And I forgive them for ripping off the name of my Facebook Page. Whatever.)

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Here are two from Disney/Pixar and Disney. One a huge franchise and the other a classic princess fairy tale. Both posters work: an iconic animated character touting a “part 3” and a tongue-in-cheek peek at Rapunzel. (The movie title helps support the tone.)

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And here’s another absolute favorite of mine. A little less daring than it looks because the film was marketed so pervasively. But this is exactly what a teaser should do.

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And now for a few unknown properties.

First, a couple of horror flicks I did not see. But do these images creep you out or what? They don’t have a Batman or Star Wars built-in fan base to rely on. Just one shot at your interest.

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Same with this one. Sure it went on to be a huge franchise, but this is the image that was first given to us way back when. You might remember seeing it and thinking “What’s that all about?”

Exactly.

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This is a British film from 2011 that I also didn’t see. But like Tangled, the title and image work together to make you stop and think. Mission accomplished.

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This one is cool, too. But unlike Shame, this brand-new story has DiCaprio’s star power and Nolan’s touted reputation as marketing angles that transcend the intriguing image and the story concept that is teased in the tagline.

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And lastly, a brand new movie that’s in between points of this discussion. The title and the reference to Poe are obviously known, but this is an entirely made up story – historical fiction – and it gets a look here for being provocative and risky.

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Ok, one more. (I could do this all day. Can you tell?) But you do the talking about it in the comments.

As always, thanks for reading.

Mm

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