How to Use YouTube to Sell More Books

Writing your book, is in fact, not the hard part.

All those hours you spent pouring into the book are nothing compared to the marketing efforts it will take to actually sell your book — no matter how great it is.

Fortunately, social media has created incredible opportunities for us to sell our books more easily than ever before. We can do a lot of the promotions ourselves—and for free— without needing to rely on major publishing houses and thousands of marketing dollars.

If you want to sell more books, which I’m sure you do, YouTube is one of the best sites you can leverage and it's not one of the commonly covered places to publish your book. In this article, I’ll show you how.

In this article, you will learn:

  • How to decide which content from your book is best for YouTube
  • How to create videos that people love and share
  • How to set up and optimize your Author YouTube Channel

Let’s get started.

Plan Your Videos Around Your Book

This seems like common sense, right? Create video content around the subject of your book so users will be interested in both and you can build a fan base. It can provide a natural path to get users to buy your book when all you have to say is “see more case studies” or “read the full chapter” in the full-length book.

This is how to plan your videos around your book in 4 easy steps:

1. Perform A Content Audit

Performing a full content audit is always a good idea before launching any type of marketing campaign. In this case, you’ll want to closely examine your book and write out exactly what types of content the book contains. Break it down into specific subjects and lists, such as “how-to content” and “examples.”

If you already have a YouTube channel, Facebook Page, or blog, you’ll also want to take a look at which content you’ve shared on these platforms has performed the best. This can give you great insight into what your audience wants to see.

2. Evaluate Content for Repurposing

You’ve got your content all laid out in front of you, hopefully in nice, neat, organized lists. Now you need to take a look at which content will be ideal for repurposing. In general, fact-based, actionable content will perform best. While hypothetical examples work great to illustrate a book’s point, they shouldn’t be the focal point of a video on their own.

Caption: Break your content down into small, easily-digestible parts that YouTube users can watch quickly.

Let’s look at an example.

Let’s say you’ve written a book about tips for men who are doing online dating. In the book, you may have chapters on subjects like how to improve your dating profile, how to send a great first message, which pictures to choose, and tips for taking the interaction into the real world.

All of these could be YouTube videos. You could also create content like “Top # Mistakes Men Make Online Dating,” collecting mistakes from the book even if it wasn’t a specific chapter, or “# Things All Women Want to See on a Dating Profile.”

3. Create a Professional YouTube Channel

Now that you’ve got ideas for your content mapped out, you’re ready to create your YouTube channel (or update the one you have). If you write under a pseudonym, make sure you create an account for that name.

To optimize your channel and make it look as professional as possible, there are a few steps you can take. The first is to use the page description as your author bio. This may be the first place new readers come into contact with you, so you want to make it easy for them to get to know you immediately. Gary Vaynerchuk’s About description is a fantastic example.

Next you want to add your author photo as your Channel’s picture. You can do this by changing your Google+ profile picture. Once you do this, you can focus on creating a high-quality banner that advertises your book and you. Your banner may be the first thing users see when they visit your site, so it needs to be good. Use only high-quality images that will scale well, and make sure that the image is sized correctly so it won’t have valuable information cropped off.

Kristina Webb’s YouTube banner, pictured above, does an excellent job detailing her brand and promoting her products. In this case, she’s driving traffic to an app with digital content that can complement her coloring books. The example below from Adam Grant is another fantastic one to learn from, with an image of his book next to a strong testimonial.

You can also use Fiverr and find an artist there.  Just type in “Youtube Banner” and select the one that feels like they have the best style  in conjunction to what you're looking for.  If you use this tactic though, make sure you have a good idea of what you're looking for – it will ensure you actually get what you want.  Basically, use the tactic that Dave details in this article, showing authors how they can get good book cover designs for cheap.

4. Set Up Playlists for Each Book

Many authors have multiple books, and that’s great! If you want to successfully sell all of them, the best way to do so is to set up individual playlists for each book. This way users will be shuffled from one relevant video to the next, continuing to see the value of that one particular book and encouraging them to buy.

Create High-Quality Videos

Your book is fantastic! It’s engaging, exciting, informative, and valuable. You want your YouTube content that’s promoting the book to be exactly the same. To do that, you need to create high-quality videos that are modified for this medium. Here’s how to do just that.

1. It Actually Doesn't Take Pricey Equipment to Do Right

All you really need is a recent smartphone (they all have great camera's nowadays), a lavalier mike, and some lights.  Most of that is super easy.  But I'll warn you, the lighting is the hard part.  It takes a little time to figure out what is the best lighting scheme and angles.  But once you figure it out, you're set!

If you want to take it to the next level, you can always create a cheap YouTube studio that can produce almost the same results as a professional setup.

And, if you're wondering what Dave Chesson uses for his studio, you can find out on his super unofficial journal website.  It's so unofficial that he hasn't even designed the theme to look good.

2. Keep Videos Concise

If you want to create YouTube videos that lead to some sort of conversion (like selling your book), you want to keep them short. Ten minutes or less is the ideal timestamp for this purpose, giving you enough time to offer value without losing the user’s interest before they get to your CTA that sends them to purchase.

3. Open and Close Strong

Just like with your book, your YouTube video needs to open and close strong to keep the reader engaged and get them moving from your video to purchasing. Use an attention-grabbing hook immediately to let users know why they need to watch right away.

You also need to end strong. While you should also have a link to your book immediately visible in every video’s description, you should also end your video with a YouTube CTA (call to action) card that sends users to your site to purchase.

Seriously…don't forget to tell people about your book!

Optimize Your Channel

Once your channel is set up, you need to maintain it and optimize it for continued success. You don’t want to just have one great video and be done; you want to increase subscriber numbers, view counts, and more. Every audience member can only buy your book once (or twice, if they want to give it as a gift), so you need to keep attracting new viewers if you want to make selling from YouTube truly sustainable.

1. Consistency Is Key

If you want to build your channel, you need to post regularly. A lot of times users won’t even bother coming to your channel if you only have a few videos, and if you don’t continue to post regular great content, even viewers who have subscribed will fall flat.

It’s beneficial for many authors to post on a schedule. There are two reasons for this. The first is that subscribers know when your content is coming and they are ready for it. The second is that it holds you accountable, making it easier to remember and force yourself to create new videos.

Have you optimized your Author YouTube Channel #BookMarketing #AuthorpreneurClick To Tweet

2. Stick to a Format

Again, this one is all about consistency. Once you’ve chosen your format, stick with it. This includes your intro, your conclusions, and even your title. When all of your videos are lined up in a playlist, you want them to make sense. If you’re going to have a title image opening one video or a video recap at the end, make sure you have them for each.

If you have different types of videos that belong in different playlists, this would be the exception. Examples include book trailers that would be different from author interviews, which would also be different from “how-to” snippets of content pulled directly from the book. Each subtype of video should be formatted similarly to others in their category.

3. Utilize Strong Headlines

Having an incredible book title is important (and there are great tools available to help you make one), and your videos’ headlines are, too. Headlines are essential for discovery on YouTube. A strong headline will help get you the attention you need.

Your headlines should:

  • Be interesting enough to get users to click
  • Be informative enough to tell them what they’ll see
  • Contain keywords, so the video pops up when users are searching for your topic

Similarly, you should also create strong thumbnails for each video. Your thumbnails should be engaging and interesting enough to grab users’ attention as they can make as much of an impact as the actual headline. Your thumbnail can be the deciding fact between users clicking on your video instead of your competitor’s in the search queue, where everyone’s headlines are similar.

Together, a great headline and thumbnail are unstoppable.

Great Headline + Thumbnail = Unstoppable. #BookMarketing #YouTube #SelfPubClick To Tweet

Case Study: One Video That Made it Happen

Tim Marshall had spent the past 25 years writing on foreign affairs.  Just this past year, he decided he wanted to write a book on the power of national flags. However, if he had used Dave's steps for validating his book idea, he would have realized that there just wasn't a market on Amazon for it.  People weren't going to Amazon and checking on the latest books on flags.

So, like Dave says when you go to write a book that doesn't' have a market on Amazon, Tim Marshall developed a plan in which to find the right market and bring them to his book's sales page.

Using the steps above, Tim realized that one question frequently asked was why the US flag is always backward on US Soldier's uniforms.  Taking that topic, and creating a legitimate-looking video (probably with the help of Business Insider), Tim created the below:

In as little as one month, Tim had over 2 Million views. His sales, which were pretty non-existent before the video, shot up to be the top 100 of Amazon for a while.  Needless to say, that video helped turn a dud of a book, into a one-month sales machine.

Now, important to note, after the fervor of the video and its popularity started to die down, the book's sales dropped as well. This just goes to show that after his device of driving people to the book died, without a continuous existing market on Amazon, he lost the ability to get consistent sales.  So, make sure to validate your book idea before you write your book.

What would it take to make the above video?

Simple…your iPhone (or equivalent), a one color background like a bare wall, a couple of well-placed lights (this takes time) and a cheap lavalier mike. Sound is the most important part to it all.

There's the equipment.  Now, to edit your video to include those words, just go to Fiverr, and hire someone to do it.  You're looking at $10-20…if that.

No, really, that's it.


YouTube is a potential goldmine, and every author should be using the site to build their fan base and sell more copies of their books. This is just as true for a fantasy writer as a business writer.

With an enormous and diverse audience, you can find any type of readership on the site. As long as you keep consistently creating high quality, relevant videos following the tips discussed in this article, you shouldn’t have any problem selling more books through YouTube.

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15 thoughts on “How to Use YouTube to Sell More Books

  1. wade rivers

    Really good article and very informative. I am starting a YouTube channel with the idea of selling my books but also to create discussion on today’s most relevant topics, or should be.

    Wade Rivers

    1. Dave Chesson

      Ah, very cool!

  2. Micah Buzan

    Thank you for this! I’ve been on YouTube for a while but am just now preparing to release my first ebook. Your advice is really insightful.

    1. Dave Chesson

      Awesome and glad you liked it.

  3. Jennifer Theuriet

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to use Facebook or Instagram (not Facebook ads) to promote the launch of a book?

  4. Jennifer Theuriet

    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to use Facebook or Instagram (not Facebook ads) to promote the launch of a book?

Comments are closed.