From CJ:

So, you all know I had a book that came out a few weeks ago....in a world where it's ever more difficult to reach readers given all the distractions and clutter out there, writers have to try harder and harder to grab their attention.

And no, I don't mean with our prose. I mean just so folks know that the book is out there to look for!

In other words, advertising. So, I tried an experiment. Instead of a longer book trailer, I did a shorter (but less expensive) 30 second commercial and used the money I saved to purchase TV time with a southeast cable company. Here's the final version:

(BTW, if anyone saw my commercial, I'd love to hear your thoughts!!!)

But as someone who rarely pays any attention to commercials, I had my doubts.

I went searching for some great commercials and found that the best seem to follow the same rules of storytelling as writing a good book does. Here are a few of the ones that stood out to me:

How many people actually buy things--especially books--from commercials? How effective are they?

And quick quiz--what three products were the commercials promoting? Did you already forget?

Thanks for reading!

About CJ:
About CJ:
As a pediatric ER doctor, CJ Lyons has lived the life she writes about in her cutting edge suspense novels. Her debut, LIFELINES (Berkley, March 2008), became a National Bestseller and Publishers Weekly proclaimed it a "breathtakingly fast-paced medical thriller."

The second in the series, WARNING SIGNS, was released January, 2009 and the third, URGENT CARE, October, 2009. Contact her at http://www.cjlyons.net

Videos courtesy of Youtube.com


  1. What a fantastic movie ! Awesome in a word !
    Most probably I will enjoy it again.
    Thanks for your nice blog job.
    have a nice time
    Dog Life Jackets

  2. Great post CJ! I like your book trailer! I think if done well a book trailer can make you want to buy the book - just like a movie trailer can make you want to see the movie - it just pushes those buttons. Those are a trio of great commercials you've listed. One of my fave ad campaigns is the one for Apple computers - I love the two actors playing the Mac and the PC - they're very cute and the commercials really reflect the psyche of a Mac user. What makes many commercials works is the endings - whether it's a punchline or an emotional resonance that sticks with us or a happy ending. And even though commercials get in the way of our entertainment - they often become the entertainment when done well. ;D

  3. I love that you did a trailer for your book that is actually a commercial. Personally, I'd rather see this for a trailer,than the long ones. I'm usually bored by the time the trailer has finished. This high quality 30 sec is awesome.

  4. I love your commercial! Very effective. Good job!

  5. Joanna,
    you're right--I think there's a lot to learn about storytelling from successful commercials....same goals, just shorter and different format.

  6. Thanks, Jamie! I wrote the script but the credit goes to the wonderful designers who made it come to life!

  7. Glad you enjoyed it, Sherri! Thanks for stopping by.

  8. Ooh, CJ, you're upping the ante for the rest of us! :) Great commercial, I agree it's very effective in intriguing a reader. Now I have to work on better trailers!
    Some commercials are very thought-provoking (the insurance one) but by the time it's over, the message overrules the promotion (the insurance one). Others are entertaining but ditto, I forget what product they represent. To truly stick in the public's mind, I believe, commercials have to be both relevant to the product and catchy too.
    Congrats on your new release! Hope the commercial boosts sales (hope you'll let us know how it works for you!)

  9. Really well-done commercial for your books, CJ - I love the way the four women pop out at us, at the half-way point. It looks like it's going to be a TV show - and then it's a book!

    I'm actually a fan of well-done commercials. I end up keeping an eye out for them specifically. Of course the funny ones are my favorites. Right now in Canada, the Reitmans series of ads for women's clothing are among my favorites:

    Designed for real life

  10. CJ: Thanks for the post.

    I can't remember ever buying a book because of its TV commercial. There isn't time in a thirty-second spot to provide the information I need to determine whether or not I'd want to read it. In these hard times, when readers must be very choosy about what they buy, I suspect there are more and more people like me.

    Stop me if you already know this, but I've read that advertising in all its forms is designed to do what it does best. According to extensive scientific research, that's not to attract new consumers to a particular product---or, in the case of books, a particular type of product.

    Rather, advertising is designed to reinforce consumer loyalty in those who are already buying the product or type of product. It aims to make those who are in the habit of purchasing something keep it up, and not be lured into buying competing items.

    Therefore, it's important for advertisers to target their audience. And with a product as specialized as a medical-setting murder/suspense/mystery thriller novel, I doubt that television---with its broad, diverse audience---is the most cost-effective venue.

    Anyhow, keep up the good work!

  11. Thanks, Mary Anne, that's very interesting--very different from what the marketing folks shared with me.

  12. Good luck with the commercial.

    I thought it was really good.

    I loved the story in the first sample commercial, but I didn't pay attention to what they were selling because of it. Candy bar?

    Thank you for sharing.

  13. Thanks, Lynne--I agree, I couldn't remember what they were selling either, I was caught up in the cute story!

  14. I love the idea of book trailers/commercials. It lets reader view books that they might not know about. It's almost impossible to be able to see every book available for one to read at a bookstore without spending hours and hours there. I have overlooked so many great books. So heck yeah, lets see more books trailer!!


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