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.