Friday, May 16, 2014

Authors and YouTube

As we all know, marketing can be extremely difficult for writers. How do you reach a massive audience quickly and efficiently? The answer many authors are turning toward is YouTube. Following in the footsteps of John Green always seems like a great place to start. However, is YouTube really a good marketing tool or are you just wasting your precious time with some fool's gold? Is John Green's success an anomaly or can jumping on the bandwagon reap some of his success? I have come up with a clever little list to help you decide if YouTube is an avenue you should pursue in your marketing and platform building campaign. Have at it and take notes! Or don't, it's not that long...

Consideration #1: Are you a YA author?

I believe YA authors have the best chance at starting a YouTube channel based on the simple fact that 77% of all YouTube subscribers are under 35 ( This plays right into the demographics of Young Adult Novels, so you may be giving yourself a leg up in the eyes of the publishers if you can establish a strong following. YouTube is a great place to start if your demographics match the current YouTube subscribers. This is part of the reason John Green is so wildly successful because he can market to his readers with his additional content on YouTube. Now what if your demographics do not fall into this category or only partially? I would say, if you can say yes to all of the other considerations I have listed, then go ahead and give it a try! But you should also make an effort to go where your chosen demographics will be. For example literary magazines (literary and general fiction), Twitter (everybody!), blogs (genre fiction) or even e-books.

Consideration #2: Do you have the equipment and time?

Yes, I realize that John Green's videos look relatively simple and short. However, he also has employees, sophisticated video editing equipment and vast resources. Check out some of his earlier videos... you will see the difference. If you are getting in your time machine and going back to 2007, yes you could become popular with a basic cell phone camera, natural lighting and simple editing software, but toady it won't cut it. Viewers expect quality these days and if you plan on editing yourself then plan on spending at least an hour for a 2 minute video. The only way you will be able to get away with poor production will be if you are shooting vlogs that follow you around. But even then the content must be exceptional to get attention. Do you really have all that time to shoot and edit videos when you should be writing? Successful YouTubers have hundreds and even thousands of videos. And keep in mind subscribers will expect you to deliver a quality video on a pre-determined schedule. If you don't, they will move on. Is this something you can truly commit to as a professional writer?

Consideration #3: Do you have a unique and interesting idea for endless content?

Here's the kicker: content creation. What in the heck are you going to talk about? As an author should you talk about writing or books? Should you talk about topics relating to young adults? Should you offer advice or demonstration videos? How about video games or celebrities? In my opinion, it really doesn't matter as long as you capture it in a creative and interesting way. John Green talks about topics that interest him, but I don't think too many other people could interest Young Adults with the political situation in the Ukraine. Coming up with a theme or topic for your blog is going to be the most important aspect of your YouTube campaign. Take some time to brainstorm and test some topics out with sample videos. See what you are most comfortable with and choose a general topic where you can come up with hundreds of ideas. But most importantly, choose a topic that you can be creative with, that excites you and will engage your demographic.

Okay. Sounds simple enough right? Personally, I think YouTube is an excellent tool for certain writers to utilize in their author platforms. However, if it is impeding your writing time and still not providing you with enough interest in you or your book, then I think its time for you to hang up your camera and focus on the most important aspect of your platform: writing.



Saturday, May 3, 2014

Is Self- Promotion a Necessary Evil?

Most authors will need to address this question at some point early in their career. And I would conclude that yes, self promotion is a necessary evil despite the sleezy and repulsive feelings that it might conjure up. But who else is going to do it?

So what exactly is self promotion? I say it's anything you include in your author platform: from blog posts to articles or Facebook posts to tweets. It's all promotion if your goal is to find new readers or keep your current readership interested.

Since self promotion can leave a nasty taste in your and your recipients' mouths, I have developed a list of rules to make the experience much more pleasurable for everyone involved.

1. Don't spam.
Nobody is going to take you seriously if you are filling their inboxes or notifications with random items. Look at your promotions from the audiences' perspective: if you wouldn't open it or save it then don't send it!

2. Do provide something of value.
You want your promotions to make an impression. So, there needs to be an informational, educational or entertainment aspect to your promtions. This also means directing your promotions toward the audience that will appreciate it. For example, if you're trying to sell you're self published children's book, it's probably not going to do you much good to send information to your insurance sales guy (unless you know he has kids). The point is that it is much more effective to direct your promotions toward a small group of the right eyes than a hundred shots in the dark.

3. Don't repeat posts.
When I say this I mostly mean on twitter and Facebook. There is no faster way to lose fans and followers than posting the same thing asking them to buy or read something they already have. Only provide links to your work now and again. I know you have unfollowed people for posting those annoying "look at this" post every single day. So, don't be that guy. Or gal. Be more creative than that. 

4. Do engage with others.
If somebody comments on your posts for-the-love-of-everything please respond! You should also be engaging with your peers. Comment on others' posts. Be insightful, but most importantly be available! People are much more likely to return and share your work if they know you appreciate them and their time.

5. Don't be rude or pushy with your friends and family.
By all means share and promote yourself with your friends and family, but don't get upset if they don't or can't share your work. Maybe it's too riske or maybe they just don't know anyone that would be interested. Keep them informed but your best bet is to focus on your defined audience or clientele. 

6. Do share other's work.
It's a two way street out there. You can't expect someone to share your work if you aren't willing to share there's. Find a community of people with similar aspirations and join in. Advocate for them alongside yourself. Someone else's shinning star will not dim your own.

7. Don't be ashamed to ask your audience to share.
Sometimes a reader won't even think to share an article unless you remind them. That is why there are so many share options at the bottom of every article you read. Remind them that if they liked something then they should share it or follow you. Capture the reader before they get distracted by another button or post or email. Ask and you shall receive.

8. Don't post links without a description.
I see this all the time, especially on Twitter. A link. What is it? Exactly. Readers are not going to click on a link without you explaining what it is and why they should read it. Just a link could be a virus or spam or even porn! No reader with any internet common sense will click on it, so make sure you tell us why you are posting the link. We're interested, I promise!

9. Do be creative and thought provoking.
This goes back to providing valuable material. Maybe you're selling something, but bombarding people with advertisements is not effective self promotion. You need to provide them with incentive. Give them an interesting article related to your product. Or offer a contest or give-away. Don't just expect anyone to care about a boring ad. That's why people fast forward through them on their DVR.

10. Do have patience. 
Effective self promotion takes time. Don't expect a 100,000 views or sales from your first attempt. Learn from your efforts and figure out what works best for you and your audience. Listen to feedback and ask for comments or suggestions. And don't be afraid to try new methods. You never know what might be your golden ticket.

Please feel free to argue any of these points or add to them. Please share this post with your own followers and check back for new tips on writing and platform building frequently! Thanks for reading.

-jami lynn