Using Videos

YouTube-logo-full_colorBooks are great. They’re associated with knowledge and adventure. They can be consumed quietly by yourself or can be read together in a book club or something similar. Yet books often lose out to the flashier forms of entertainment (movies, music, TV shows).

But it’s not a complete wash. Authors can still use the same marketing tools that movie studios, singers, and actors use to promote their work. Social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram (often lovingly called #bookstagram) are powerful resources for authors. They have certainly conquered the blogosphere.

What I’m talking about here are videos. If you look at the most popular YouTubers like Jenna Marbles or Tyler Oakley, their videos are events. People get excited for their videos. They combine humor and quality to put out some of the most memorable videos on YouTube. This is what you need to strive for if you plan on using videos to promote your work. Granted, videos are the products Marbles and Oakley are putting out, but the point is that anything you put out to the world should have the same level of quality. That’s rule #1.

Rule #2 is more a list of don’ts. Here’s a list for easy reading:
– have a badly edited video (shaky camera, start off in the middle of a sentence, intro music cut off, sentence cut off, music louder than your voice–none of that)
– record the video with your messy bedroom as the backdrop (clean it up or find another place to record–remember, the state of your backdrop will portray the quality of the product you’re trying to sell as well)
– record in the dark (I don’t want to have to squint to make out your face or whatever it is you’re showing. Videos like that will be skipped off without a second look.)
– look like you just rolled out of bed (for God’s sake, put on a nice shirt and pants!)

If you can keep rules 1 and 2 in mind, you can get pretty creative with your marketing approach. The fact is, people respond better to images than words. This is why book cover reveals and sites like Instagram are so popular.

Here are some ideas for videos to help market your book:
– announcements (New release? Blog tour? Sale? Giveaway? Put it in a video.)
– behind the scenes (Give people a sneak peek of your writing space and your process. Maybe show them a printed proof before it’s available.)
– book shelf tour (Show people what you’re reading and what your favorites are. It’s also a pretty good backdrop for a video!)
– book cover unveiling (Take charge of your book cover reveal and show it off on a video. Talk about what you like about the cover, what direction you were going in, or maybe about the process in general. This is also good for people who are afraid of other people posting the cover prior to release without their consent. By showing it on a video, it makes it harder to copy the image.)
– Q&A session (I don’t know about you, but I love it when my favorite author/artist/actor puts up a video and answers questions. Put up a social media post a week or two before filming the video asking for questions for the video. Include some funny questions–would you rather eat a raw egg or a beetle covered in sugar?–to lighten up the mood of the video.)
– interviews with other authors (Networking opportunities! As with guest blogging, invite other authors to participate in your videos. This will draw more viewers to your site, promote both your books, and establish a relationship with a fellow author.)

The possibilities for videos are really endless. Have some fun. Experiment. Combine some of the ideas I listed above into one. Do you have a giveaway and a cover reveal to announce at the same time? Awesome! The important thing to remember is to make sure the quality of your videos matches the quality of your books. If longer videos aren’t your style, try shorter video apps like Vine or Instagram for short little tidbits.

One thing to beware of when you venture into the world of video marketing is the ROI. Is the amount of time you’re spending on these videos worth it? Are you making sales, gaining mailing list subscribers, more followers on Facebook and Twitter? Remember to keep the main reason for the videos in mind while you create them: You need to sell some books! But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun doing it. People respond better to fun.

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