How To Promote A Book On YouTube

young woman promoting a book on YouTube

Self-published authors need to promote on social media. Here’s some great advice to help you promote a book on YouTube.

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Although TikTok has become the cool new social media outlet for authors to promote their books, there’s also been a lot of pushback against TikTok lately. Not only are there privacy concerns, but if you’re not writing YA or romance books, there’s a good chance your audience isn’t on TikTok. So, where is an author supposed to turn to promote and sell their books on social media? YouTube.

YouTube is the second-most visited website in the world (behind Google), and it is the number one most popular social media site, having passed Facebook this year. One billion videos are viewed on YouTube every single day, and 500 minutes of video are uploaded to the site every minute. YouTube Shorts (the site’s answer to TikTok) now has 1.5 billion active users, compared to a mere one billion for TikTok.

So the numbers are definitely there. The question is: Is YouTube the best site for you to promote your book, and if so, how do you best do this?

Why you should promote on YouTube

These days you have to have a social media presence to promote your books, otherwise, you’re making it difficult for people to learn about your latest releases and get in touch with you. But with so many social media sites, which one should you be on? The obvious answer is, all of them (and they should all direct people to your author website and Bookshop and/or Amazon page). After all, you want to be easily found by potential readers, and those readers might be anywhere.

But there are only so many hours in the day, so you need to focus on the sites where your readers are most likely to congregate, and YouTube is an evergreen site that appeals to all age groups and demographics. If you are writing children’s books or nonfiction, sci-fi thrillers or mysteries, your audience is likely to be found on YouTube.

So why you should be on YouTube is easy. How to stand out from the rest of the thousands of authors trying to promote their books on YouTube is the tricky bit, but let’s see if we can’t get you started.

Creating your YouTube channel

Before we begin, you should know that to properly promote a book on YouTube, you are essentially signing up for a part-time job. You can’t just post a few videos with a hashtag and expect the masses to follow. This is going to be an ongoing process. You’re going to have to constantly keep things fresh with new content. In addition to your day job, your writing, and whatever other things you have going on in your hectic life, you’ll need to commit time to this to find success.

In order to post videos on YouTube, you need to create your own channel. This is easy to do and you can find the instructions here. Just remember to name your channel after your pen name (if you use one), so fans will know where to find you.

Optimizing your YouTube channel

Once your channel is created, you’re going to want to customize it. Click the blue “Customize Channel” button on your channel homepage and you’ll be taken to YouTube Studio.

These are the things your channel needs to look professional and maintain eyeballs.

1. Banner

Part of becoming a serious player on YouTube is looking professional, and every professional author who is working their YouTube channel has a great-looking banner on their page. Use a professional photograph or illustration here.

You can take a page out of Brandon Sanderson’s playbook and use this space to promote your newest release or, in this case, miniatures.

promote a book on YouTube: banner

2. Trailer

When someone first comes to your profile page, your trailer video will play. You will most likely want to upload your latest video or maybe a trailer for your most recent book.

Brandon Sanderson includes a weekly update. This is a very simple five-minute video where he essentially gives you a hint as to what he’s working on, as well as previewing an upcoming live stream he did for Halloween.

promote a book on YouTube: Sanderson

3. Featured video for returning subscribers

The trailer will automatically play for people who are visiting your channel but haven’t subscribed. For returning subscribers, you can choose to post a “Featured video for returning subscribers.” It’s a good idea to choose a different video for this, as you’ll want to keep your channel page fresh for your returning fans. Note: This featured video will only play once. If a subscriber comes back again, a different video, one grabbed from your “Featured Videos” section, will play instead.

4. An organized feed

Give your fans some structure so they know where to find the videos they want, but your organization will also give them a sense of the kinds of videos you offer. Think of it like the way Netflix organizes its browsing.

YouTuber/million-selling author Mark Dawson offers up tons of content — not about his own books, but about self-publishing. If you aren’t subscribed to him, you should check him out. Mark has broken his videos down into several categories, including “The Self Publishing Show,” “Help for Writers,” “The Self Publishing Spotlight,” and “Self Publishing News.” It’s easy for fans to find the content they’re looking for.

promote a book on YouTube: Dawson

Creating content to promote a book on YouTube

Obviously, if you want to promote your books on YouTube, you’re going to want to make some videos to post there. Be creative and fun. The nice thing about being an author is you don’t have to produce a fancy music video. You can just sit in front of the camera and talk — people just want to see your talent and personality.

1. Post a book trailer

One thing you definitely want to upload is a book trailer, which is a great way to hype your new release. The best book trailers give viewers an idea of what to expect — the main character(s), the setting, and most importantly, the conflict — but not too much info. You want to tease your audiences, get their attention with your hook, and make them desperate to read your book to find out what happens.

Check out this classic book trailer for Ransom Riggs’s novel, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.

Yeah, that’s cool, I can hear you saying, but Ransom Riggs got his start making short films, so obviously he’s going to make a great trailer. Well, you can make one, too. And you don’t have to spend a fortune. In fact, I made a trailer for my first Mr. Pants book — for free — using Apple iMovie. And yeah, it’s kind of hokey, but it’s also for kids, so it works.

2. What else can I post?

If you’re wondering how you’re going to come up with ideas to post that much content, here are some starter ideas:

  • Q&A sessions (live streams)
  • Interview other authors
  • Writing tips
  • Read from your books
  • Review other books, especially books you love
  • Talk about films you love in your genre

3. Shorts

As mentioned, Shorts are YouTube’s answer to TikTok. It’s currently more popular than TikTok and its popularity is growing.

Shorts are videos under one minute long and they offer new ways to attract viewers. People who mostly consume shorts are unlikely to stumble upon your long-form videos, so it’s a good idea to produce both.

Until recently, there was a problem with the YouTube algorithm where people who viewed your Shorts weren’t counted with the people who watched your regular videos, but that has been fixed now. Or, at least, it’s being fixed. Here is a helpful video about YouTube Shorts, discussing the recent changes to the algorithm and suggesting why you need to be jumping on the Shorts bandwagon now. It even offers up tips on how to do it.

TubeBuddy offers great how-to content for optimizing and promoting your YouTube channel. TubeBuddy is also an add-on that you can purchase to help you optimize your YouTube channel, discover more powerful keywords, find which videos have become demonetized, and more. Its users seem to like it, though I have not tried it personally.

Shorts content is usually different from long-form content, not just in length, but in attitude and production value. There’s more of a DIY aspect to them. Of course, you can repurpose your longer videos into Shorts. Just find out which parts of your longer videos get the more plays and turn them into Shorts.

4. Release schedule

You should post videos regularly — not less than once a month, preferably once a week or even more if you can. After all, you want people to return to your channel over and over again. Whatever schedule you choose, be consistent so fans will know when to come back for fresh content.

As for what time of day to release your content, be sure to check your channel’s analytics, which will let you know when your fans are most likely to tune in.

Like and subscribe!

Ask people to like and subscribe to your channel in all your videos. Try to find ways to get them to comment. Have them make suggestions or answer questions. Get people involved. And at the same time, stay engaged with them. If someone asks a question in the comments, be sure to respond. People love it when authors write back!

And while you’re at it, interact with content on YouTube. Like and subscribe to other authors and book reviewers. Go out of your way to write thoughtful comments on other authors’ videos. If your comment gets a lot of likes, it may even get pinned to the top, getting you some well-deserved attention.

Optimizing your videos

You not only want to make sure your content is as solid as it can be, you want your video posts to be as effective as possible so the YouTube search engine will find you and your fans will get to the information and/or content they desire.

An optimized video will have a well-chosen title, a description jam-packed with links to all your social media accounts and websites, and finally, keywords.

1. Title

This may seem like a no-brainer, but your title is important, so be sure to give it some thought. After all, your video’s title will show up on search results, so it will play a huge role in determining whether or not someone clicks on your video. In fact, the words you put in your title may even determine if your video shows up at all. So, don’t just put the book title, be sure to list your name and whatever vital keywords you think will cause your video to show up in search results.

2. Description

If people are interested in your video, they’re going to want to know more about what it is they’re seeing. This is where you provide that information, along with links, links, and more links.

Check out this description for a recent video from author and hilarious YouTuber Jenna Moreci. Not only does she have links to her YouTube channel (as well as links to her sponsor), but also links to all of the bookstores where you can buy her books, all of her social media accounts, and links to her merch page, Patreon, newsletter, and more.

promote a book on YouTube: Moreci

3. Keywords

Just like with any search engine, keywords are king when it comes to your ability to be found. I recommended using a keyword search tool earlier. Beyond that, I’m not going to go into much detail about keywords because this kind of thing changes, but here is a good video I found on the subject to get you started.

YouTube ads

Famous authors’ fans are actively searching for their content — you have to draw people in. And one way to do this is through YouTube (Google) ads. Yes, you can afford to buy ads on YouTube, often for just 5¢ per view.

This is a huge topic and we could do an entire article on it, or I can just steer you to a video that offers helpful tips and tricks on how to best use Google ads for your books.

— — —

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, you need to be everywhere. Every social media platform has different algorithms, so what might go unnoticed on YouTube may blow up on Instagram or TikTok.

I know, it’s a lot. I’m a writer, too, and the idea of having to create all of this content in addition to writing my books makes my head spin. But at the end of the day, you’ve got to sell those books you’re writing, and YouTube may just be the best tool in your social media workshop.

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  1. Hey Bob. I’m coming to the completion of my first book that will be finished by spring. I have some experience with producing videos, not to suggest that I’m an expert but I’ve learned a few things along the way. Viewers appreciate realness when it comes to serious topics. My first suggestion to you would be to get some footage of you in action of actually writing your stories. Place the camera at different angles to create atmosphere and dynamics. Don’t concern yourself with doing any talking. You can do a voice over during the editing of the video. Focus on producing short video to begin with. Let the camera roll then edit out what you don’t need. Lots of how to,s on YouTube. Much success to you. Cheers, Noel

  2. I write on various subjects. I have had one story published, THE SILVER AFFAIR, by Bob Sugar. I have lung disease so I am a shut-in. I would love to publish on YouTube, Being a geek I do not know much about getting started or, even if I could.


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