So, the age of technology has finally caught up with me, or I've caught up with it, not sure which!
I spend a great deal of time promoting my books, and during the Covid-19 pandemic, I've seen many fellow authors turning to videos and live streams on Facebook.
Unfortunately, I live out in the sticks of rural Cornwall, and my wifi is too pathetic to allow live streaming even for only a few minutes.
But I did want to harness the power of visuals - watching an author, hearing an author - and after experimenting with my own digital radio station a couple of years ago for the same promotional reasons (sadly a bust; great fun, but wildly expensive and hardly anybody listened!) and podcasting (again, most people seem to prefer pictures to audio, though I freely admit I didn't make as much of an effort with my podcasts as I could have done) I felt I had some hard-won skills with audio editing and arranging that I could bring across to video editing.
I already had a Jane Holland Author Youtube channel with about 10 subscribers. Bit rubbish, but I'd only posted half a dozen videos in ten years! You get back what you put out, I guess. :)
So I recorded some new book promo videos and also some 'how to write' videos, which I felt might draw in some new punters. In my video 'blurb' or description, I put links to my Amazon Author page and my social media, hoping to pick up at least a few extra readers over a long period of time. This has been a slow process, but I have noticed a small uptick in sales soon after new videos are released, so that's a sign that it's working. But my viewing figures are still too small to really make a difference. If I start hitting 100's of views per video, at some point in the misty future, that may change. Fingers crossed!
There are two types of YouTube content, in general. The first is topical, relying on a 'moment' for views - a book launch, for instance, or news item. You may get a flurry of views when it first goes live, but not much further down the line. The second is 'evergreen content' and this - as the name suggests! - deals with a more longterm issue, such as 'how to write' topics, and may not be so sensational, but is useful for bringing in new views and subscribers long after the video is published. For instance, your channel 'trailer' is evergreen content, a slow burn perhaps, but should keep getting views over the years, while book promo videos barely get any new views after the first year or so.
In general, it's best to aim for a mixture of topical and evergreen videos. If reading an extract from your book, it's a good idea not to make this too long, though this may work for some authors with a big following. Try to be personable and informal, but give good content - everyone loves an insight into an author's lifestyle or working methods!
Now, I also happen to have a Certificate in Astrology from the Faculty of Astrological Studies (UK, London-based) that I passed back in the mid-90's. Ever since, I've been reading new astrology books, looking at astro charts and generally developing my skills there, and I even anonymously run an Etsy side-hustle as a horary astrologer (don't ask) which brings in a few extra quid most months.
So I decided to also launch an astrology channel, as these are quite popular and I follow a number of big name astrologers there myself. And in the video description, I put the SAME links to my author page and social media, trying for a double whammy effect. This is because my particular astro channel caters for creative or artistic people like myself - novelists, artists, actors, playwrights etc.
This new astrology channel - Jane Holland Creative Horoscopes - has been rather more successful than my straight author channel. It seems in these troubled times that people are hunting for answers wherever they can find them, and astrology does provide an interesting alternative view on our current situation, so fair play to them.
My set-up is fairly simple. I use the webcam from my computer - because I can't afford a 'proper' vlogging camera, frankly - and a Blue Yeti mic. (I experimented with a wireless clip-on mic, but it kept cutting out and distorting my voice. Others may find them more useful.)
For most of my videos, I have a prepared script and run it via a Teleprompter app on my iPad, which plays behind the camera on a tripod while I record, as I found reading it from the actual computer screen made me look shifty!
It's early days yet, but I expected that. It can take several years to grow an audience on YouTube, even with regular concerted effort. But I have committed to posting at least 12-14 videos every month for my astrology channel, and 2-3 for my regular author channel. It's fun at the moment, though hard work, but it's one way of keeping my name in the public eye during a time when few of us are able to get out and about. And it also keeps my brain active - never a bad thing!
Here's one of my specific book promo videos - this one for my spooky thriller THE HIVE. Look at the expression on my face! Gulp ...
The big thing with Youtube is getting more likes, views of videos and new subscribers. THOSE are the things that drive traffic to a channel. The more you get, the more likely YouTube is to show your content to new people browsing the site or searching for keywords. And that means the more people see your name or your content, and are more likely to ... yes, you've guessed it ... to buy your books!
So please visit one or both of my channels above, 'Like' some of my videos and Subscribe to my channels - you'll need a Google or YouTube account to do this - and hit the bell for notifications of new videos as they arrive.
Do YOU have a YouTube channel, maybe to help you sell your books or for some other purpose? Let me know in the comments below, feel free to link to it, and let me know how it's been going for you.
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Many thanks, Jane Holland