There is little doubt that we are a visual people. There is nothing new about that. Billboards, placards and painted signs have been part of marketing for centuries. The care we give to creating engaging book covers testifies to how visual design and literary marketing go together.
What has changed in the last five years or so, is the growing dominance of video-based marketing. I am not just talking about book trailers gathering cyberdust on YouTube, but also live video, webinars, instruction, authors becoming vlogging celebrities.
One reason for this is the declining cost and complexity of creating videos. You have an entire video studio today right on your smartphone. I’ll be teaching a class about creating a video book trailer using your mobile devices primarily. What used to cost hundreds of dollars, take specialized experts, and many hours to produce can now be produced for free, by anyone, and in just a few minutes.
Let’s look at five ways to use video as a writer.
This is what comes first to mind when most writers think about using video. Sadly, many will spend large amounts of money having one produced and uploaded to YouTube with a Field of Dreams mentality that says if they build it, readers will come. While it is true that some videos can go viral and get thousands of views on YouTube, this is rarely the case with book trailers. Seriously, when was the last time you ran a search on YouTube to find a book?
The real value of the book trailer is in other types of social media like Facebook and Instagram. People go to their newsfeeds to check out what’s happening. Most go every day or at least several times a week. That’s where the book trailer (if you don’t spend a fortune creating it) can be valuable.
Always remember, with Facebook and Instagram (a Facebook company), upload the video directly to those services. Don’t just link to YouTube. There are three reasons for this. First, many people, for security reasons, do not click on links in Facebook posts. Second, the autoplay feature doesn’t work with a YouTube link. Third, Facebook serves “native” content to more newsfeeds than they do links. This last is especially true on your author page.
I’m not saying don’t post to YouTube, you can still pick up some traffic, but that’s like a side lane, Facebook and Instagram are the main roads.
If you can take a selfie, you can use Facebook Live to create a live broadcast in less than a minute. Just click in your status update box and click on the link “Live Video.” You will be prompted to give a topic. Next, you get a screen where you can see yourself. The first time you do this, you might be asked to allow permission to use your webcam and microphone. When you are ready to go, just click the “Go Live” button. You will get a three-second countdown, and you are live. Just click “Finished” when done.
You can use your smartphone, tablet, or desktop/laptop. Unless portability is important to you, I suggest sticking with the laptop. You can adjust the camera a bit better, and you can set it on a stable foundation, so it isn’t shaky.
You can use Facebook live for readings, interviews, or if you write nonfiction, webinars. You can also use it to encourage local followers to come to an event. If you are having a book signing, for instance, you can broadcast live from the bookstore, interview the owner, maybe some of the customers, and invite others to join you.
If you look at YouTube, except for some video phenom, the most popular videos teach something. My go-to place, when I want some quick instruction about some design or production software is Google. I’ll plug in a search term like, “How do I remove objects in a photo using Photoshop.” I’ll get all sorts of tutorials, but I’ll scroll down to the YouTube videos. Once I find one, YouTube will suggest others on the same topic.
I have bought books written by people who have produced instructional videos on YouTube. If you write instructional materials, can be a great way to build your reputation as an expert.
A webinar is similar to an instructional video. The main difference is that it takes place live. There are several places where you can host live webinars. I won’t name any just look up “webinar hosting” on Google, and you will find them. However, you can also do one right on your Facebook Author page using Facebook Live. The main advantage of using one of the hosting services is that they will allow you to use visual materials like Powerpoint presentations and videos. Either way, the idea is to create a live “class” where you people can respond to you in real-time.
The key here is to give people enough information from your book to make the webinar worthwhile in and of itself, but not so much as to make buying the book irrelevant. Always emphasize that you go into greater depth and give more important information in the book
Setting up a video blog, or vlog is a natural extension of the old-style blog for a visual generation. Instead of, or in addition to, a daily or weekly blog, you speak directly to your audience through a video you produce and post on YouTube or Facebook or both. You can encourage people to subscribe to your YouTube channel, so they don’t miss any episodes in your vlog. You can set up the event function on Facebook to announce upcoming vlogs and their topics.
There are five simple ways to use video to help build your social media platform and promote your writing.
Terri will be presenting How to Create YOUR Own Book Trailer at SavvyAuthors starting May 15.
Terri Main has more than 40 years experience writing for publication. She has written novels, short stories, nonfiction books, magazine articles, video scripts, even a radio play. She is also the education director of The Writing Academy ( http://the-writing-academy.teachable.com ). In addition to writing, she has also taught written and oral communication for more than 30 years at all levels from beginner to graduate level. She lives in Reedley, California, with her four cats. “Hey, what’s a mystery writer without a few cats?” she asks.