The Machinimist Marketer: Low-cost book promotion for authors

Machinima isn’t just for music anymore. People from all different walks of life are finding ways to take advantage of the virally spread mini movies, the latest being writers. I discovered that on a personal level recently as I was looking at ways to promote my freshly released book, End of Mae. Despite being an advocate for using machinima as a marketing tool, I didn’t think of having my own made until I saw a video trailer made for A.F. Stewart’s book, Once Upon a Midnight Eerie.

I was entranced. Her video features beautiful photography treated with overlays to give them a sombre feel befitting her book’s theme. Phrases from the book slide across the screen, setting the reader up with a dark mood ready for some spooky reading. Her video trailers are an excellent tool for marketing, but being the machinima advocate I am, I could see a huge opportunity for the clip creators and the literary world to work together.

The world of fiction is oversaturated, and new writers need to do anything they can to get an edge. Typically they publicize excerpts from their books and have long discussions about their characters and plots whenever they can find a spot to leave a comment. This is good for getting a new name out there, but in this instant gratification cyber world we now inhabit, words alone can be buried in an avalanche of eye candy.

To make things harder, writers typically have low advertising budgets and are often rich in literary skills but not so advanced in the technical and graphic arts. Finding a good machinimist can give a budding author a big step up in getting noticed with a minimum of cost and bother.

One major advantage a machinima trailer has over other film is the ability to create any environment and work over long distance. In my case, my machinimist, Kira S., lives in America while I am in Australia. She decided to feature a scene from the beginning of the book for my trailer, meaning we had to find some New Jersey pinewoods.

Ten years ago this would have been death to the project.

Fortunately we both use Second Life to collaborate on projects together. We built not only the old refrigerator box home in the woods for the first scene, but recreated most of the book for future machinima projects. Time and distance are no obstacle in cyberspace. The complete set was built in less than two days, and putting together a trailer took a few hours (visit in Second Life here).

I have gotten a tremendous amount of publicity from this trailer. In a world full of fiction, I can show my story to potential readers this way, catching their hearts and imaginations and tempting them to explore further. I have found a multitude of places to share this and it has been passed through countless Twitter and Facebook profiles. My author profiles on and Smashwords even have a place for me to include a video. It never fails to spark interest and conversation, the two things I need the most as I push my way into the crowded world of fiction.

As an author it has been such a thrill to see the images in my mind come to life to be shared with everyone else. Machinima allows me to use more than just my words. It is the ultimate feeling of creativity to pluck a vision from my mind, and see it move and ‘breathe’ in animated pixels. This format would be appropriate for any style literature. Now anyone can have a book trailer that is not doomed because you can’t afford, well… Mount Doom.

The best proof of machinima’s value for authors has been a comment from a girl who watched the trailer and then bought the book. She messaged me saying she wasn’t much of a reader, but she just had to find out what was going to happen to the girl in my film, and then asked if “that was really Mae.” What a way to bring a story to life.

Machinima and fictional writers both work in the realm of the imaginary, creating images from nothing but daydreams, and together they are a dream come true.'