In this comprehensive guide, you will learn everything you need to know about video for authors — how to use it to market your books, create an author brand, and grow your platform.
Along with audio, video is currently the fastest-growing medium. YouTube is the world's second largest search engine, and 55% of people view online videos every day.
By 2022, online videos will make up over 82% of all consumer internet traffic—15 times higher than it was in 2017.
What do all those numbers mean? If you're not active on video, you lose traffic, potential readers, and visibility in this online world that relies more and more on the power of “motion pictures”.
There are more perks to using video as an author than raw statistics can reveal. It’s easy, fun, and it's an amazing form of storytelling. And isn’t this who you are at heart? A storyteller?
The best news is: you don’t need to become a Hollywood director to tell stories on film.
That's why I was compelled to write this guide—I love video, and authors either shy away from it or produce videos that need work. In truth, it's easy to create high-quality video content today. You don't have to be afraid of the technology or the process. You can master it with several easy hacks.
This guide is for every author who wants to step up their video marketing game.
In this article, you will learn:
- The misconceptions about video content that are holding you back
- 5 different techniques for approaching video content production
- A step-by-step production list for your videos
- How to use post-production to create the best video possible to grow your author brand
Table of contents
- Part 1: Misconceptions About Video
- Part 2: 5 Powerful Video Marketing Ideas for Authors
- Part 3: Production—How to Make Your Videos Look Hollywood-Professional
- Part 4: The Post-Production—Why “Fix It in Post” Never Works
Part 1: Misconceptions About Video
If you’re still not convinced how important video marketing is, read on.
Video provides traffic and thus, new readers and subscribers. According to OptinMonster, video marketers get 66% more qualified leads per year (OptinMonster, 2019).
Video is also a powerful selling tool. It helps cut through the noise and engage the audience for a longer time. The average user spends 88% more time on a website with video (Forbes, 2018).
Before we move on to the nitty-gritty, we need to address some common misconceptions.
I’m not comfortable putting myself out there on video.
Authentic authors put themselves out there anyway. Our books contain intimate and private thoughts, parts of our past, our lives, and our outlook on the human condition. In this over-crowded world, personal brands win. We look for faces. We look for people who are authentic and human.
If you're still uncomfortable, you can create video without showing your face (I will introduce ideas for that in the next part of this guide). The bottom line is: your writing is personal already, so don't be reluctant to get personal on video. It might feel strange in the beginning, but you will get used to it faster than you think.
The technology is too complicated.
If you're reading this article on Kindlepreneur, you’re probably a technology geek already. Or at least you don't shy away from technology that easily.
Video is not different, and in many ways, it's even easier to use and understand. In this guide, I will show you simple techniques to make your video look professional without breaking your budget. If you know what to look for and have a checklist, video technology becomes simple.
It takes too much time.
Decide how you want to spend your time.
In the beginning, producing videos will cost you much more time. You must figure out the technical part, find your process, and experiment with some possibilities before you settle on how you want your video marketing to look.
If you hate video, don't do it. But remember, it's a powerful way to turn readers into fans because of the personal connection it provides.
Do you believe video is a storytelling medium worth the investment now? If so, you‘re probably eager to get started. But what exactly can you do with video as an author? We'll find out in the next part of this guide.Want to learn more about marketing your books with video content? Check out this cool Video Marketing 101 guide. Click To Tweet
Part 2: 5 Powerful Video Marketing Ideas for Authors
Video is only another medium to tell stories. One that holds countless possibilities.
With video, creative opportunities are only limited by your budget and skills. Consider it another creative outlet you can experiment with—one that prepares you for your future career as the next Stephen Spielberg (when you’ve made the first Netflix movie deal from your book, obviously).
Until then, here are 5 ideas you can use to create video content for your author brand. Feel free to complement the list with ideas of your own!
1. Book Trailers
I love watching movie trailers.
I could binge them for hours and re-watch those I enjoyed the most. I wish book trailers were the same—tension-inducing, nail-biting, epic invitations to an adventure. Today, they could be, if authors stepped up their game.
A good trailer is about atmosphere and a glimpse into the story world you created. There are three elements that create this atmosphere:
• Stunning visuals
You can use stock footage (Artgrid.io is an amazing subscription service that has cinematic footage), which is the easiest way to go. If you set out to shoot something yourself, go for more atmospheric visuals rather than “real-life” or action. In this case, atmospheric means: sunset/sunrise, a captivating setting, lots of close-ups, slow camera movements, narrow depth of field, and beautiful lenses (more on that in part 3).
• A professional soundtrack
This also builds the atmosphere, and the right soundtrack is your winning ticket. Make sure it fits the tone of your novel and sounds professional. Licensed music is available on websites like Artlist, Musicbed, or Audiojungle.
• A story
You can tell the story through a voice-over or with text animation.
Here’s an example that goes above and beyond what most people expect from a book trailer. (The book it's marketing tells a collection of stories, so the characters in the video change several times.)
Note: Some adult themes are alluded to (think PG-13), but it's a good example of how to make a book trailer with cinematic quality.
The visuals are simple: beautifully color-graded close-ups of the eyes, flowing water, the girl staring at the landscape. These pictures can be shot in minutes provided you have the right landscape and lighting (dusk or dawn). The tension arises from the voice-over, the music, and the review/social proof inserts.
2. Research and Travel Videos
Your readers love to be part of your process.
And while a blog post or email can be very entertaining, why not take them on a cinematic journey with you?
When I followed the footsteps of my hero for research all across the UK, I took a camera with me and shot a travel video. These are excellent videos to experiment with and show your readers the travel and research that goes into the book.
3. Live Readings
Before the internet, there were book tours and live readings. So why not make a live reading online for all to see? It’s a very simple yet powerful way to connect. You can use Facebook Live or YouTube to read some chapters from your newest book.
4. Behind-The-Scenes Talks
Don’t you love behind the scene documentation of your favorite movie or TV show? You could do the same with your book.
Reveal some inside information about what went into the book, how your writing process works, background information on your characters and story world, and things to come in the future.
5. Day in an Author’s Life Vlog
Vlogs have grown insanely popular in the last few years, and they do very well on YouTube. If you're one of the few brave ones, why not let the readers into a “Day in an Author’s Life” vlog where you show how an average (or not so average) author spends their day?
Depending on the genre you write in, the possibilities are endless. You could get into the topics regarding your non-fiction book, talk about futuristic developments if you write sci-fi, or give relationship advice (to be taken with a pinch of salt) if you’re a romance author.
Part 3: Production—How to Make Your Videos Look Hollywood-Professional
Now comes the fun part: the video production itself. But don’t worry, I’ll walk you through it with a step-by-step checklist.
Step 1: A Powerful Plan
In the film industry, we have a saying: “Preparation is the most important part of film making.”
Never walk in without a plan. Think about what and how you want to shoot. Bring in the power of storytelling. Write at least a rough script. If you publish on YouTube, plan for keywords.
Start the video with an irresistible hook to make sure you drop that click-away number. Build the whole video like a story—with a compelling start, strong middle, and epic ending.
Step 2: The Gear
You need a camera and a microphone. That’s it.
The mic is the more important of those two. We always subconsciously put sound quality over image quality, so invest in a great microphone (my favorites are RHODE mics). The camera itself is not as important as you’d think. Actually, you could shoot the video with any camera.
Still, there are some things to consider:
• You need a proper recording format to record full HD or slow motion (if you want a little variation)
• Make sure the crop factor is not too high unless you want the camera to swallow half of your image
• Pay attention to the light sensitivity of the chip—make sure the camera performs well in darker settings
But what is more important is the lens. This is something worth investing into. Over time, you should get a set of several good lenses with a wide aperture. Contrary to instinct, don’t go with a zoom lens but buy fixed focal length lenses. They are cheaper and create a better image. For starters, go with something around 35mm.
Step 3: The Setup
This where the video is made. You can have great gear but still make a terrible video. This is where professionals are distinguished from the amateurs.
The most important factor in the setup is intention. What do you want to achieve? What emotion do you want to evoke?
If you know that, you can set up your camera.
Light is the most important factor in the setup. The good thing is, it’s available for free. Daylight is your strongest weapon if you know how to use it. Use windows strategically to create beautiful lighting—don’t position the windows behind the main object. What you might need is a bouncer to direct or soften the daylight if you shoot outside. Pick your rooms, places, and daytimes strategically for the most beautiful and soft light.
Depth of field is the other factor that amateurs don’t understand. A narrow depth of field, which means that most of your picture is blurred, creates a feeling of intimacy and connection. A wide depth of field evokes the feeling of action, movement, and also distance. Your lens determines the depth of field by the aperture. A higher aperture (e.g., f/16) widens the depth of field while a lower (1/4) narrows it. This also means the more light you have, the more you can experiment with depth of field.
Spacial depth is another important factor, and the rule of thumb is you always want spacial depth to create layers in your video (so never place yourself or your object right in front of a wall).
Don’t leave the camera angle to chance, either. Eye-level is an angle that connects intimately, below eye-level makes the object appear superior while above eye-level makes the audience feel dominant.
The setup is where the real magic happens. When you know what you want and how you can achieve it, you cross the line from amateur to professional. Like in a novel, everything is there for a purpose, and the audience will subconsciously look for that purpose. So be intentional. Look at what others do and start noticing the light and camera-work in films.
And now that you’re done: Fix it in post-production, right?
Get Your Book Discovered
Look over my shoulder as I show you how to select the best keywords and categories so you’ll make more sales.Click here to Sign Up
Part 4: The Post-Production—Why “Fix It in Post” Never Works
Post-production should be quick and easy. Never allow yourself tons of mistakes because you can “fix it in post.” If you do, you will slow down the process and end up hating video production.
Instead, plan a smooth shoot and do only the necessary things in post-production. Otherwise, you’ll never publish a video.
Step 1: Editing
What software you edit in is not important. What's important is ensuring the process is straightforward. No bells and whistles.
The story is told in the editing, so edit a lot, insert lots of cuts to enhance the speed. Use pacing as you do with words and sentences on the blank page. Be intentional with storytelling in the editing process and don’t be afraid to switch and rearrange things for the story's sake.
Step 2: Color Grading
Determine straight away if you want to use color grading.
I love it because it gives me a very stylized and powerful look that serves my purpose, but it also takes more time. The fastest way to achieve this is to use presets and adjust them. If you use color grading, be sure to change up the picture format in the camera to S-Log (a very low-color and low-contrast setup) because it will give you more freedom and beauty in the grading.
Colors can be powerful, but the choices you make have to be thought through and aligned with the light and the room. Simplicity is key here as well.
Step 3: Intros and Outros
Intros provide recognition value and build a brand. Make sure they are short and sweet and build the atmosphere you want around your author brand. Show what you’re all about on an emotional level.
The outro has only one purpose–to lead the audience to your website or books. Always include an outro that calls to one single action:
Buy my books. Subscribe to my newsletter. Subscribe to my YouTube channel.
Step 4: The export
Export in H.264 format, full HD 1920-1080, 25 frames per second for online videos. Plain and simple. Nothing fancy.
Step 5: Thumbnails
Think about them like a cover for your video. They can make or break a “sale.” Especially for YouTube, they have to be catchy and fit the style of your channel and video. Use faces and big, clear letters that can be read even in a small preview.
Always think about your target audience and don’t forget to write a solid description full of keywords.
Post-production has to be straightforward. If it’s an effortless process, you'll be encouraged to create videos constantly. Otherwise, you will be stuck in the post-production queue forever.
The key is: have a workflow you stick to and optimize from time to time.
Video can be easy to help sell books once you’ve optimized the process.
Think about what your readers would enjoy and how you can provide them with new value through video. Also, work on a strategic plan to gain new readership through the power of video.
Come up with an idea, pick a format, and start. Like in writing, you’ll get better once you get your hands dirty and practice. Don’t give up if your first videos take weeks. You’ll get better. It will be easier.
Video is a tool that is growing whether you like it or not. And it’s a powerful storytelling opportunity that has the potential to grow your author business and help you find readers you would never have discovered otherwise.
Let me know in the comments what your experience with video is and if there’s anything missing in this post!
2 thoughts on “Video Marketing for Authors: How to Use Video to Grow Your Audience”
Is it permissible for an author (or publisher) to upload a promotional video for the book on the Amazon book detail page where one can upload a video under “Related video shorts”?
Never tried it, but I uploaded a book trailer to my author profile and that worked without any problems. Best of luck!
Comments are closed.