Since YouTube sensation Zoella became the UK’s fastest selling author, Vlogging has become the book marketing technique everyone seems to be talking about. When done properly, a ‘Vlog’ (or Video Log) can be a great tool for reaching readers and building a following.
To find out more, we asked YA author and YouTuber Lindsay Mead for her advice on vlogging for authors.
Why Authors Should Be YouTubers – by Lindsay Mead
I know. I know. You’re thinking that YouTube is only for cats and fail videos, and you’re probably wondering what a “YouTuber” is. Well, let me grab your attention by pointing out that John Green is a YouTuber. Yup, the John Green.
John Green is smart. In 2007, He co-founded a YouTube channel called, VlogBrothers, with his brother, Hank Green. Once a week they would each make a video about some random topic. They rolled into Youtube stardom pretty steadily, hitting 1 million subscribers in 2013.
Vlogging to market books
Now, if you’re wondering what this has to do with being an author, please let me smack you upside the head with this sign that reads, “Marketing!”. John is an amazing writer, but his success is largely tied into his success on YouTube. I found the VlogBrothers back in 2007 and have been an avid watcher. John’s writing regularly came up in their videos. John committed to signing every single pre-order copy of Fault In Our Stars, and put a big thermometer drawing up in his background to track the number of copies he signed. He signed whilst he was filming! Needless to say, the pre-orders poured in.
John Green is not the only Author/YouTuber out there either. Jackson Pierce boasts an impressive 13,000 subscribers and over 2,000,000 views. Then there’s K.C. Hilton, Lindsay Cummings, Kaleb Nation, Epic Reads (Owned by HarperCollins Publishers) showcasing a cast of their YA Authors, and I’m sure there are many other authors-turned-YouTubers that I don’t yet know about. Not to mention the rise in YouTubers-turned-authors. These people have all figured out what an amazing tool YouTube is for reaching new readers, and how your readership and your viewership can play off one another.
Build a dedicated fanbase
I know I’ve thrown a lot of big numbers at you and you might be thinking this is your key to getting rich. You’re wrong. You might be that rare phenomenon that is just going to blow up on your first video and no one will know where you came from. Most likely though, you’ll be like me.
I started making videos in 2007. It was a rocky start with a really bad camera. There were a lot of ups and downs, and many years where I struggled to figure out what kind of YouTuber I wanted to be. As I stand now, I have 1,300 subscribers on my author channel and just over 300 on my daily vlog channel (a channel being the home for all of your videos). Compared to the aforementioned people, that might not seem a lot. But I do have a loyal fan base. Many share and comment everyday. They tell me all the time how excited they are for my debut novel, The Beast. I had a successful crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo, which covered my publishing costs, because of them. These are people from all over the US, UK, and even one in Taiwan. I haven’t met them face to face. Many have never read anything I’ve written. Yet most of them pre-ordered by book during my campaign!
My subscriber numbers steadily climb each week. I have no doubt that my YouTube fans will support my writing career. Because of that, my books will reach new people and those people might subscribe to my YouTube channel.
It should be said that If I’m completely wrong, I will still post videos. Just like I will still write books, even if they never sell. I do it because I love it. YouTube, like writing, is a commitment. You’ll never succeed if you don’t love doing it.
Top tips for authors ready to become YouTubers
1. Pick your name wisely. You can change your display name, but you can’t change your username. This only matters if you pick a name like, ButtUgly222. Your display name may be John Smith, but your URL will still be youtube.com/buttugly222. No one wants to click that.
2. Make videos that you love. You don’t have to talk about books. I make daily videos about my daily life and I love doing that way more then when I posted two videos a week talking about what books I bought. You gotta do what you love. If you don’t, then you won’t do it when people aren’t watching.
3. “Don’t let the praise go to your head or the hate go to your heart.” – Michael Buckley, a very awesome YouTuber. Haters will hate and trolls will troll. Expect them, because they will come. They will be cruel. There is only one way to respond: Delete and block. Do not engage. Grow a thick skin, then reply to every person who says something nice about your video.
4. Post consistently. Whether it’s everyday or twice a week, get on a schedule and keep it. Consistency makes the viewer base go up. Inconsistency makes it go down.
5. Link to everything you do in your video description. Don’t make people search. Always keep them one click away from what they desire, especially your books!
6. Watch other YouTubers. It’s a massive community. Find channels like yours and channels that aren’t. This will help you develop your own style and create connections.
And that’s it. That’s all you really need to know about starting a YouTube channel. So get at it, have fun, and make friends!
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