Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for Youtube

I've had lots of people ask me about videos, and a lot of marketing advisors will say, "Get on Youtube". And I know we've all spent hours watching videos - videos that have gone viral - and we think, "Look at all those views! I want to be that popular!"

But here's the thing: Youtube only works for authors if you do it right. And many people don't do it right.

Here are the most common mistakes I see from youtube marketing *I'm talking about all author youtube videos whether it's an interview, a book trailer, a writer's workshop, video blog etc. :

  1. There is no goal of the video. If you are posting a book trailer for a book that is not yet represented and not yet published, why are you doing so? Are you trying to get an agent from this? Are you just sharing your book so that you can get other people to say nice, supportive things? Have a goal. 
  2. The video doesn't capture anything unique. The next step after having a goal is deciding on a video that will help realize that goal in a new, fresh way. Maybe I have followers but they aren't really engaged with me. And maybe I'm a funny person. Then creating a video that shows off my personality could be a good step. Like this video from author Mindy McGinnis (warning: you will laugh and may have to rewatch). 
  3. There is no drive to get people to view the video. Think about your blog. You may have thought it was an "If I build it they will come" situation, but it wasn't, was it? Same with videos. You have to build your videos views by inviting people to watch it. Invite them from Twitter, Facebook, your email contacts, your blog. Invite, invite, invite.
  4. The video does not have universal entertainment value.  Get feedback. Have people watch your video. Is it interesting? Is it funny? Is it only appealing to people who know you? Just like your book, you need to get some beta viewers.
  5. The video is too long. However long your video is, you probably should cut it in half. Most of the time, the joke or cool factor is exposed within the first 30 seconds and the next 3 minutes are BORING. Edit, edit, edit. Watch people view it, if possible. See when they stop laughing or look away or fidget. That's when your video should end.
  6. Writers spend too much time making videos. Make sure there is value in the time you spend on your video. Good videos take longer than a good blog post. Jackson Pearce has great videos (like this one) but you can see it took time to edit and put together. Always make sure you are not losing time that should be spent writing.
Even if a writer manages to avoid all those mistakes, the biggest problem with authors on youtube is that the time and energy spent far outweighs the expected results. Yes, videos can drive readers to your blog or book, but not as much as other things that you can do at far less cost of resources. Just keep that in mind when embarking on a video campaign.

Personally, I write so that I can hide my face. I'm camera shy.

What do you think about youtube? What do you use it for or what would you use it for?


Tasha Seegmiller said...

I really like the book trailers that have been coming out lately, but more often than not, I will still base my decision on reading a book on friends reviews.

AlexJCavanaugh said...

My publisher does my trailers and so far they've only been about a minute long. (I think they're cool.!) I do post them on my blog and promote at least once or twice.

Mindy McGinnis said...

Thanks for the mention! Glad you liked it!

Jemi Fraser said...

I'm with you! I doubt I'll ever make a video :) And I rarely check out videos or vlogs - I can read pretty fast, but I can only watch at one speed!

Susanne Drazic said...

I like adding videos to some of my blog posts, but then I'm looking for something specific. I don't have lots of time to just sit and watch videos. I'll check out the book videos I find in blog posts, especially if they are about books I might like to read. As far as my ever doing a book video, I don't know? I'm not published or even close to it, so right now I don't know. Have a wonderful day!

Misha Gericke said...

I watch YouTube for entertainment, but I don't know if I'd actually put a trailer or something like that on. Just seems that I never buy books because of a trailer that I saw...

Stacy S. Jensen said...

No. 5 kills me. I admire those who do vlog posts or YouTube videos, but I don't like them over a minute. I can skim a post, but can't a video. We mostly use YouTube for entertainment. Sometimes it's for education. I do enjoy a good book trailer, but I mostly discover the book trailer after I find the author.

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

I have used YouTube for book trailers with pretty limited success. They've had some views, especially one of them, but I can't say I've gotten the impression they've helped my book sales. If you're bored and want to watch them and tell me what I can do better next time, please feel free :)

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