What type of book commercial would appeal to YA readers, I wondered. Readers who might dig a story about a girl with magical powers, a socially awkward but brilliant biotech scientist, some intense environmentalists . . . super-weird and scary GMOs . . . the green man . . . and plants.
My self-published book needed to be promoted and I had to come up with something affordable (i.e. practically free) that would get some notice.
For our first commercial I found a young actor on Fiverr—for those of you who don’t know about Fiverr, here’s the description:
“Fiverr is a global online marketplace offering tasks and services, referred to as ‘gigs’ beginning at a cost of $5 per job performed, from which it gets its name. The site is primarily used by freelancers who use Fiverr to offer a variety of different services, and by customers to buy those services.”
Adam Russell freelanced there, creating videos for individuals who wanted to sell a product or send a humorous message to a friend. One of his specialties was impersonating Harry Potter. He was funny, creative, energetic, adorable, talented. I wrote to him, told him what I had in mind. He said he’d do it. I sent a copy of Zera and the Green Man to England. We sent him the first commercial, cleverly scripted by my friend, writer Rebekah Shardy. We had great results—I promoted the post on our Zera and the Green Man page on Facebook and it received over 1,100 hits!
That was at the end of January.
Recently, Lisa Repka of the Innovation Team I’m working with at UCCS suggested more videos for our Zera and the Green Man website and Facebook page. She thought they’d be great promotional tools.
I’d thought that too, but had hesitated because of the time it would take to create a series of videos, and, always, expense was an issue. Having her bring it up convinced me to put it on the to-do list.
I wanted something fun, but educational. I came up with an idea. How about “green” riddles? Riddles about plants? If you solve the riddle, your name is entered in a weekly drawing for a book.
The first hurdle was seeing if Adam was up for it. He was. (He’s terrific in every way. 100% professional.)
I researched riddles and found a few in old books, but we needed more. Another member of the Innovation Team, Jordan Yee, came up with three good ones. Zora and I created several more.
I drafted six short scripts and then thought—wait a minute—I need to create a character for Adam. What kind of character should Adam play? What would he be comfortable doing? First I thought of “The Green Wizard,” then, aha, “The Green Riddler.” “The Green Riddler” might be a fun character in the book’s sequel, too! Hmmmm. A film student that Zera meets in Britain while she’s trying to find out more about her family’s history. He could be a film student with a secret identity. Adam liked the idea and brought his own brand of comic zaniness to the mix.
Now, honestly, we don’t know where we’re going with this. It’s an experiment. We don’t have a market research team or anything fancy like that. It’s just a few people with a next-to-nothing budget coming up with the best ideas we can. We don’t know if anyone will even like these videos!
But we like them. We hope you will, too! And if you do, that you will share our little endeavor with friends—and have them go to our Zera and the Green Man Facebook Page and enter in the contest!
If you have the time, we’d love some feedback, too. On Wednesday I promoted this first riddle on Facebook. I spent over $100 on promoting the post to a particular audience (young readers of fantasy, environmentalists, etc.). I’m sorry to say we had dismal results. Dismal! Completely opposite of that first video’s success. It’s a different look, yes, the Harry Potter vibe isn’t there, but the numbers should be better. I’m going to give it another go this next week (and instead of coming up with the new video on Wednesday, I may change that to Saturday). I’ll come up with a catchier one-line post, I’ll see what the Innovation Team thinks . . .
Wish us luck!
And, if you can, please visit our page.