7 Reasons Why Writers Need To Start Using Video For Book Promotion

A few weeks ago Simon & Schuster told authors they should blog, social network … and use video sites. You might be freaking out at the thought of being on video, and consider YouTube a waste of time, but here’s why you should seriously consider getting your face, and your books on screen:

  • Video search is increasing and you want to be found. People go online to find information and entertainment so if your videos are there, people will find them. If you have a lot of videos on a particular topic, you will become a place people subscribe to and come back to. Videos are also highly ranked in Google (which owns YouTube). You will often find videos at the top of a topic search.
  • Future technologies will soon be reality. Google is developing voice recognition and automatic captioning, so that soon videos will be easily searchable through text. This means your ranking for a particular topic could be fantastic if your videos are on a theme. This would be great for non-fiction authors with a particular niche, as well as fiction authors talking about writing and their book ideas.
  • Book sales are all about a human connection. If people know you and trust you, they are more likely to buy your book. Video is fantastic for creating an instant connection. When people see your face and your expression, when they hear your voice, they will make a decision as to whether they like you. The greatest proportion of communication is in non-verbal cues, which can’t be communicated in plain text.
  • Video can be the basis of your platform. Video may suit your style and personality. If it does, you will certainly stand out as an author as most are shy, retiring types! Gary Vaynerchuk got his 10 book deal with Harper Collins on the basis of his video blog and online platform. Or you can use it in addition to your text/audio blogging which adds a new dimension and another way people can find you. I personally don’t like watching video all the time, but I definitely check out videos of authors if I can find them.
  • Video drives traffic to your main author site. You can pique someone’s interest in your book with a book trailer or an interview, then direct them to your site in the notes next to the video or with a website embedded in the video itself. This increases your traffic and hopefully your subscriber list, and potentially your sales.
  • The demographics for video may surprise you. YouTube (and other video sites) are not just teenagers loading funny videos. Check out the demographics here. YouTube has analysis for channel videos and mine shows that 60% of people watching my YouTube channel are 45-64 and around 50:50 split between men and women.
  • Video is not ubiquitous yet and you still have a chance to be at the forefront. Authors are not very techy people and are often slow on the uptake with technology. (I get so many comments about hating computers when I speak!) Therefore, in the writing/book niche there are not many videos compared to say the internet marketing, technology, health or wealth niches. Certainly, very few authors are producing much video. So you can stand out and be seen as well as get known through video.

So how do you make a video and get it online?

Here are some quick tips, with a full post to come:

  • Basic quick start for talking head video. Buy an iPod Nano or a Flipcam, they are cheap (under $200) and just talk into it. Plug in and upload to YouTube. You may also have video capability on your cellphone, or you can use the webcam on your laptop or PC as YouTube has a recording facility.
  • How to get your video online. Lots of free info from video guru Gideon Shalwick at GetYourVideoOnline.com (warning, pop up video on start so mute first if in public). We will be having Gideon on the podcast in the coming weeks to explain this in more detail.
  • Screen Capture. If you want to make teaching videos, you need screen capture video. I have used Camtasia on the PC but it costs to buy the program. You can also use Screenr which is free but only for short videos. You could also try JingProject.

Personal note: I need to practice what I preach, and fully intend to post more video in 2010. Here’s a video I did last year on How print on demand has changed my life. Do you feel you know me better after watching even 30 seconds of it?

How will you use video in your promotion activities?

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  1. says

    I’m using YouTube as a platform – I’ve already got a few vlogs up and I’m filming a live action book trailer at the end of the month. This is a great post – more people should use video to get out there!

  2. Ivan Walsh says

    Hi Joanna,

    Most people are afraid of making a video. They think others will laugh at them or that they’ll sound funny…like the first time you heard yourself on the answering machine.

    And maybe they’re right. But, so what? The rewards are always greater than the losses.

    Here is a short video I made that takes the mystery out it this.

    How to Speak Naturally When Being Recorded & Avoid Stage Fright at http://www.youtube.com/ivanwalsh#p/a/u/2/IY2_DhYJ3aE

    And if I can do it…


    • says

      Hi Ivan, yes, I was petrified the first video I made. I hate my voice and the way I looked – I think everyone does. But then you realise that people just like people – it’s human nature. So video is a great medium for communication!

      • Ivan Walsh says

        Hi Joanna,

        A small tip is to shoot the video above your eyeline, i.e. so that the camera is looking down at you.

        Most ladies know this anyway (y’know, from putting on makeup in the mirror) but for the guys on this blog, make sure you’re looking up at the camera.

  3. says

    I’m enjoying watching video more and more so I now have the gear I need to start making more videos and screencasts of my own.

    Best way to get over the fear? Just starting making some. Nobody has to see/hear your mistakes, you can just do a re-take or edit bits out afterwards. My first screencast was 6 minutes of raw footage edited down to just over 2 minutes when I removed all the mistakes.

  4. says

    I’ve been considering adding video to my blog for a while now. And after reading your post, I’m pretty much convinced I need to get on that. In particular, the idea that writers still have a chance to be at the forefront of the YouTube/video arena — well that’s motivation to get started right there. Thanks for sharing this!

    • says

      Glad you found it useful Heather – I definitely think authors that get into this will stay ahead of the pack. I’ll see you on YouTube!

  5. Jamie Pohlman says

    I would LOVE to see my favorite authors doing videos for their books. Even their older titles. They don’t have to be the brand-new releases. Tell us some background of the book, what you were thinking about/listening to/struggling with when the book was written. It would be great!

    • says

      Thanks Jamie – and it is a good tip for writers too. Keep a video diary while writing the book as later you tend to forget where the ideas came from and how it unfolded.

  6. says

    This is a great blog! I am a film maker who KNOWS how important video can be and you have seven reasons why it is so important just for books! We specialize in Films and documentaries, the perfect combination for making books into a reality! With video and social networking you can get the hype out about your book! Thanks for posting!!

  7. Loreen Leedy says

    Excellent post, Joanna, am looking forward to reading your blog (came here via @CynLeitichSmith). I’m a picture book author-illustrator so have used my characters in trailers instead of being onscreen myself. I used my own voice, altered using Audacity. Here’s one example.
    Here’s a tutorial post: http://thedustofeverydaylife.blogspot.com/2008/02/making-video-book-preview-trailer.html

    My two trailers have had over 2,000 views apiece without my doing any real marketing. I definitely need to make trailers for more of my books, thanks for the inspiration!

  8. says

    As a professional Cinematographer I certainly agree that video is driving the Internet and you need a video presence more than ever. However, beware the temptation to just buy a cheap Flip camera and sit in front of it and jabber away. Doing it yourself on the cheap will make you look, well, cheap. These echo filled, vibrating, shaky videos are the equivalent of making business cards with crayons. They toss your credibility out the window.

    Think about it – is this a professional representation of you? No it is not. Now I am not saying you need to go to a studio and pay thousands of dollars, but you must do everything you can to up your production value. Hire a video pro. Or work with a student or someone who is just getting into the business. If doing it yourself, read and study about lighting. Use cameras with a mic that plugs in to get great sound. Choose a nice location like your study, a fireplace, or nice comfy chair. Pay attention to the background (i.e. don’t have a reflective window behind you). It is all the little details that make for a good video. Most important is – do everything you can to get away from the “talking head” videos that most people turn off instantly, or never click on in the first place. Those are reserved for pimple faced teens talking about Lady Gaga and teen fashion. Probably NOT your audience.

    If you present yourself as a professional, people will take you more seriously.

    Success to you!

    Jim Ross

    • Nelson says

      Also, try to have a prepared script. A well thought out presentation is much more effective, and interesting, than one that rambles or repeats a lot. If possible, use a teleprompter to read the script so that you are looking at the camera (run through it a few times before so you are comfortable with the pace and wording).

  9. says

    I think Jim’s advice is both accurate – and excellent! I agree that many authors will be too shy to put themselves out there on video – but the opposite danger is that others will leap in unprepared and the resulting videos will reflect that.
    I was a TV reporter/presenter for many years, and now use some of the skills I learned to produce my own videos – haven’t done any for my books yet, but that’s high on the priority list.
    I just want to say thanks to Joanna as well – for being a fantastic source of advice and inspiration. Please keep up the good work Joanna!

  10. says

    Thank you Joanna for your valuable information and e-mail updates.
    I just published my first novel, Pitching Diamonds, so I am grinding through the promotional tasks, including planning a video trailer. This article in the NY Times about book promotional video awards,
    is an eye-opener. The winner was Dennis Cass, and his video is hilarious. See:

  11. says

    As relevant today as the day it was written! Mac mavens interested in screen capture videos may want to look at Screenflow. Those who will be creating their own videos should invest in a high-quality USB microphone. Viewers may forgive a bare bones picture, but poor sound will sink your ship.

  12. says

    Thanks so much, Joanna. I know I need to do it, but I am still scared! it was lovely to watch even a tiny bit of your video, though – you’re right, I felt like I knew you better (and hence wanted to leave a comment). I assumed you were American – it was only when watching the video I realised you were a fellow Brit. *waving hi from Devon*

    thanks so much for these helpful resources – much appreciated.

  13. Cindy says

    I have to say what a really helpful tips with original content.Thanks for sharing!
    I also want to share this interesting fiverr gig I found.
    This one is, Make 2D cover to Awesome 3d Book Mockup http://fiverr.com/marketingmarvel/create-the-most-realistic-3d-book-cover-with-bonus
    and this is Professional book Promo video service http://fiverr.com/marketingmarvel/create-professional-book-promo-video
    Unbelievably it only cost 5$, its the same cost as a BigMac. Just a really smart investment for authors like us!

  14. says

    Thanks Joanna.
    I am working on my first video and on my first print on demand.
    I am excited and nervous at the same time, and can hardly wait for the experience.


  1. […] Now I don’t have a problem with the author appearing on screen and telling people how good their book is and why you should buy it. It’s always nice to meet the person behind the words, as Joanna Penn wrote in a recent article. […]

  2. […] Why blogging is important so that the author personality is known behind the writing. On video blogging – it helps to show the real person behind the blog. It’s also quicker and easier to produce. Writers can spend a lot of time editing to make things perfect so articles take a lot longer to write, whereas videos can be produced faster. It’s also to get known by editors, agents and publishers as well as selling books – so it is for the author platform and marketing aspect. You are selling yourself as well as your work. You need to stand out so anything you can do is important. It’s also important that you’re easy to work with. Video shows there is a person behind the writing who is easy to get on with. [I also add that search rankings are improving for video search and how this will only grow in the future.] […]

  3. […] Book sales are all about a human connection. If people know you and trust you, they are more likely to buy your book. Video is fantastic for creating an instant connection. When people see your face and your expression, when they hear your voice, they will make a decision as to whether they like you. The greatest proportion of communication is in non-verbal cues, which can’t be communicated in plain text. — Joanna Penn, 7 Reasons Why Writers Need to Start Using Video for Book Promotion […]

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