“I’m gonna make a book trailer that’s ten minutes long,” I said, feeling so much pride.
Stephen just cut his eyes sideways and studied me a long minute. At least it seemed like a long minute. Probably only about 10 seconds or so.
“Jack, I know you want to put the entire book into the trailer, but that’s just not a good idea,” Stephen said.
“No, no. There’s no way I could possibly fit the whole book into a ten minute trailer. I mean, I’d have images just flashing before their eyes,” I said, feeling good about my rebuttal.
“Uh, yeah. That’s the idea,” Stephen said.
I pondered Stephen’s insightful answer for just a second. “Do you mean the idea is the ten minutes or the flashing images?”
“Look, Jack,” Stephen began, “Would you want to watch a ten minute video trailer to advertise a two hour movie?”
“Well no. If I’m gonna watch ten minutes, why not just watch the movie?”
“Exactly,” Stephen said as he patted my shoulder like I was finally getting a clue.
I sported a wide grin as I said, “Ok, I’ll go five minutes!”
“Uh, not quite, my dear Jack.” Stephen took in a deep breath, apparently out of frustration. Or something. “Jack, how long is your attention span? How long can you focus on something that’s whole purpose is to advertise something else?”
“Psshh. A few seconds maybe.”
Stephen grinned. “Yet, you want other people to focus on that for five or ten minutes?”
“Yeah, but I’m not like everybody else. I’m not interested in advertisements.”
Stephen cleared his throat. “And you think I’m interested in advertisements?”
“Well no. But then, you’re not like everybody else, either.”
“Do you think Aunt Mabel is interested in advertisements?”
I sighed. “No, Stevey. I don’t. But you’re missing the point.”
“Really. And what might that point be, Jack?”
“People. In general. They like to be sold things. They like advertisements.” I felt brilliant. I had Stephen now.
“Uh, yeah. No.” Stephen chuckled. Like he knew something I didn’t. He looked me deep in my eyes. Freaky, actually. “Jack, people do like to be sold, but they don’t want to know they’ve been sold. They want it to be natural. Or at least to feel natural, like they decided all on their own.”
I thought for a minute about this profound statement from my buddy Stephen.
Stephen continued. “There’s an art to it, Jack. Give them a reason that makes them feel like they HAVE to have your book. A reason so compelling that they can’t say no. What is in your book that they HAVE to find out and will only know by reading it?”
Stephen had me deep in thought now. What makes my book so special?
“Ok, next year, once you have that point figured out,” Stephen paused, as if I was supposed to catch something subtle. “The next thing you need to understand is, you can’t let an image just sit in front of their eyes. Things have to move. And they have to move pretty fast.”
“Lightning!” I exclaimed.
“Uh, yeah. No. Not lightning. People do actually need to understand what they are seeing. They need to be able to figure out there’s a message there. And that message is that they need to buy your book,” Stephen explained.
“Stevey, I know you’re my friend and all, so I say this out of love. You’re contradicting yourself. Do you even realize that?”
Stephen chuckled again. “Jack, you don’t want the images moving so fast that no one knows what they are. But you don’t want them moving so slow that people get bored with each image, either. See, it’s a little something we intellectuals like to call . . . balance.”
“Balance, huh? Ok. I’ve got to figure that one out.”
Stephen laughed now. “Yes. Yes you do.”
“Alright, so I need whatever this thing is that you call balance. I need some moving pictures. Obviously I need audio too. You said ten minutes and five minutes are too long.”
“Yeah. Yeah, I did.” Stephen spoke, but otherwise seemed to pay me no mind.
“So, Jack, how long does it need to be?” I asked myself.
“I don’t know, Jack,” I answered myself. “If ten and five are too long, surely a few seconds is too short.”
“Yes, I would think a few seconds would be too short, Jack,” I told myself.
“Jack . . . “
“One minute, tops. That’s what it needs to be. Ok? Does that make sense to you, Jack, buddy?”
“One minute, tops. Gotcha, Stephen, buddy.” I looked Stephen in the eyes. “Are you frustrated or something? I’m picking up on something.”
Stephen let out what sounded like a mixture of a laugh and a cough, then turned his head away from me. Then stretched. Then turned back to me. “Don’t worry about it, Jack. It’s ok.”
“Ok, to sum this up, one minute tops, right balance of speed for the moving pictures, and music somehow needs to be mingled in there, too.”
“Yes. Yes music. Can’t forget music,” Stephen said. “Music makes people feel things. Music finds its way into your blood. It moves you. About like a knife heading toward you will make you move.”
“A knife. What a visual. Wow, you’re good Stevey boy.”
“Tell my wife that.”
“What else was I forgetting? I know there was something else ultra important. Like, crucial, even.”
“Yep, that would be the hook. The one thing that makes people HAVE to buy your book,” Stephen said. “Think you got it now, Jack? Or should I write it down for you.”
“Nah, I’m good.” I smiled at Stephen. “You might actually be a good teacher one of these days if you work on your people skills a bit more.”
* * * * *
L.A. Tripp is the author of All Jacked Up. He lives in the Twin Cities of Southern Indiana and Northern Kentucky with his wife and their two kids. One day he dreams of living out his retirement in Southern California or Florida. Until then he enjoys the beautiful wet weather of his region and keeping the kids in all day. If you manage to get a chuckle out of his work, he’d very much like to hear from you at www.tripp-author.weebly.com