Seeing Is Believing: How Indie Authors Can Promote Books with Video
A regular column from BookWorks.
How do you go about creating a video about your self-published book that is going to make readers stumble over each other to get their hands (or eyes) on it?Here are a few eye-opening facts for anyone who has ever wanted to self-publish or who has actually jumped into the ring and self-published a book or two. Did you know that:
- Websites that include videos rank significantly higher in Google’s search engine algorithm than those with no video component?
- Videos are much more likely than text to go viral in social media?
- If you post your videos on YouTube it saves bandwidth, and visitors can download them quickly from your website or wherever else you have posted them?
The fact is, according to a recent study by ROI Research, “users interact with content that incorporates heavy use of images or video at twice the rate of other forms of content, and 44 percent of respondents are more likely to engage with a brand if they post a picture.” That’s a pretty impressive conversion rate, don’t you think?
Why is this happening? Apparently, it is because so many of us are now using smart phones and tablets for updates on everything from who won last night’s game to how to transplant a hibiscus, and our overloaded brains tend to absorb and retain visual information much more easily than a big block of text. In case you’re interested, the Pew Research Center reports that over half of all Americans now own smart phones and 34 percent of us own a tablet. And, what’s more, Pew also reports that 72 percent of us use social media. What this means, it seems to me, is that if you combine video promotion with social media exposure you are probably going to sell a lot more books than if you don’t.
How To Create Your Own, Cool Videos
Okay, you’re sold. But how do you go about creating a video about your self-published book that is going to make readers stumble over each other to get their hands (or eyes) on it? There are two things to consider: quality and content.
Of course you want your videos to be the best they can be -- just as you worked hard to make your manuscript the best it could be -- but don’t get hung up on fancy, expensive equipment. All you really need is a small video camera -- an iPad or even an iPhone will do -- a tripod to help with stability, and a quiet spot with decent, natural light. Make sure you are not sitting in front of a window with strong backlight behind you, and that there is not a lot of clutter behind you or anywhere in the frame. Try not to sit right in the middle of the frame but a little to the left or right of center. Get yourself set up, get comfortable, and you are ready to go.
This is the biggie. Everyone says content is king and they are right. Spend some time on this. Know exactly what you want to say, to whom you want to say it, and what you want to achieve. I’d suggest you write a script, read it through a couple of times, and then read it aloud. Keep track of how much time it takes, and do your best to keep it under three minutes if you want to encourage online traffic. People tend to have short attention spans these days, and anything over three minutes could discourage many potential viewers. Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind when it comes to content.
- Sell Benefits -- let your viewer know whom this video is for and what they can hope to get out of it. Think of this as a video version of your elevator speech.
- Tell a Story -- everyone loves a story, what’s yours?
- Behind-the-Scenes -- invite the viewer back stage. Show her what went in to the creation of your book. One author we know took a video camera and drove through the streets of L.A. where his novel was set. It was a huge success on YouTube.
- What to Video -- your speeches, personal appearances, trips to the market to buy ingredients for your lemon soufflé recipe.
- Show, Don’t Tell -- this is the mantra of developmental editors, and it works with videos, too. If you are describing how to change a tire, or put on silver-green eye shadow, let the viewer see how you do it. If you are describing how your protagonist felt when she knew the killer was right behind her on the bridge, that’s more difficult. Just try to look scared when you talk about it.
- Offer Something -- perhaps announce that the first 20 people to order your book will receive an autographed copy, free. You might not feel comfortable with this, but it is something to think about.
- Make It Fun -- entertain your viewer as much as you can. Keep it lively, upbeat, clear, and engaging.
- Tag It -- by including hash tags that are a form of metadata used as a way of organizing your Tweets for a Twitter search. Place a “#” in front of a term to create a hash tag. For example #BookWorks or #PWSelect can be hash tags. Before making your own, research Twitter and popular blogging sites for pre-existing hash tags used to denote certain areas of interest or online subcultures such as: #selfpub, #amwriting and #epub. Include appropriate hash tags in the description of your video.
- Keep It Short -- three minutes max, if possible. Leave them wanting more.
- Just Do It -- it is a lot easier than you think. Ask for help if you need it. Leap right in. Make some videos. Post them on YouTube and your website and everywhere your niche audience looks for information. You may have a big surprise waiting for you.
Also, please check out our blog at BookWorks.com. We are planning several more detailed blogs on how to make videos in the coming weeks, and we would love to hear from you about your videos, your questions, and your whole self-publishing adventure.
Betty Kelly Sargent is founder and CEO of BookWorks.