5 YouTube Promotion Tips for Authors

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Whether you’re creating book trailers, video interviews, behind-the-scenes clips about your writing process, or shooting footage of your latest public reading, YouTube has become one of the most powerful promotion tools for authors.

Ten years ago, who would have have thought—VIDEO as an affordable and accessible means of selling the written word!?

In the age of smartphones, almost anyone can shoot a video, post it to YouTube in minutes, and share it with their readers via their blog and social networks. But since this technology is available to everyone, you’ve got to make sure you’re doing it RIGHT in order to cut above the clamor!

Here are a few things to keep in mind to help you make the most of your video presence:

1. Add links at the top of the description field for each video

Make sure the viewer knows where they can purchase your book, read more about you, and sign up for your email newsletter. Simply enter the URL to your blog or website at the very beginning of the video description field (to ensure that it’s visible to all viewers). YouTube will hyperlink it automatically.

2. Make the first 15 seconds count

As the saying goes, “Don’t bore us. Get to the chorus.” You’ve got to hook viewers right from the start. YouTube videos are like pop songs; they’re best enjoyed and shared when short and catchy. YouTube is proving there’s some truth to Andy Warhol’s saying, “in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Only now, 15 seconds may be all you get.

To help you capture your audience’s attention, the Official YouTube Blog has offered some good advice on how to make the first 15 seconds of your video irresistible:

Make compelling content first…

• Start off with something that will immediately grab attention, whether it’s what you say or a stunning visual.

Make it clear what your video is about early on, so viewers aren’t confused about what they’re watching.

• Tease the rest of the video so the audience is intrigued to see where you take them.

…share your channel branding later.

• A flashy intro may look cool, but it’s not the star of the video — let them see you, or your great content, first.

• Make your branding compelling by making it entertaining or unique to each video

3. Add tags to your channel and videos

Tags are important. Tags are keywords that help people find your video in YouTube’s search engine. What will your readers type into YouTube to find your video content? Tag your videos with your book name, YOUR name (both the correct spelling and misspellings), literary genre, and other relevant keywords. Then when someone types in a search for you, your videos have a much better chance of coming up first.

4. Choose great titles for your videos

Not many people on YouTube are going to be searching for “Reading at LAT FoB-ver.2 w/o intro.” We don’t like mystery when we’re searching for something on YouTube, so make it clear! Include your author name and any other relevant info to quickly describe what someone is about to see.

For instance: “Stephen King Reads from It at the LA Times Festival of Books”

5. Respond to every comment

Responding to comments will not only make your viewers/readers feel appreciated, it will also inspire others to comment on your videos. Try sparking conversation by asking a question, or by pointing out something interesting in the video.

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Have you used YouTube to promote your writing career? What’s worked for you? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Chris Robley is an award-winning poet, songwriter, performer, and music producer who now lives in Portland, Maine after more than a decade in Portland, Oregon. His music has been praised by NPR, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” Robley’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Magma Poetry, and more. He is the 2013 winner of Boulevard's Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2014 recipient of a Maine Literary Award in the category of "Short Works Poetry."

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