Using YouTube to promote your books

David Craig draws on his own experiences to explain how You Tube can be used to promote books.

We all know that the Internet gives us many new ways of promoting our books. One of these is YouTube. I had been thinking for some time about producing a short video for YouTube, but didn’t know how to do it myself and couldn’t possibly afford to pay for a professional production.

So, one day, I asked readers of my daily blog www.snouts-in-the-trough.com if they knew some young computer whizzkid who might be able to help out for a modest payment. I was immediately contacted by someone who said they weren’t young, (I think they’re in their fifties) but would like to have a go as he supported the work I was doing.

Our first video made four weeks ago was based on one chapter from my book THE GREAT CHARITY SCANDAL and is aimed at exposing the huge amounts of foreign aid to Africa that are stolen by Africa’s rulers.

And now we’ve just released our second YouTube video – a spoof party election broadcast with David Cameron begging UKIP supporters to “come home”. This is promoting my book GREED UNLIMITED.

My first two videos are a bit rough around the edges. But I think they still do a great job in bringing my books to life.

I’ve no idea how these videos are actually made. But it’s my understanding that there’s plenty of software available for making them and, with the younger generation being so computer savvy, any 16 to 20-year old could knock one of these out in a couple of hours or less. So, if you’re not techie enough to make your own YouTube video, you’ll probably find that your children or your friends’ children would bee delighted to make videos for you, possibly for a small financial consideration.

Having now made two of these videos, my main advice would be keep them short (ideally less than 3 minutes – I think mine are slightly too long) and make sure they grab viewers’ attention right from the start (so avoid slow build-ups).

Of course, the big question is – do they help sell books. My first video has been out for a month and viewed by almost one thousand people. The second one was released on Tuesday 28 April so by the evening of the first day only about one hundred people had watched it.

In advertising, companies doing direct mail campaigns generally reckon on a one percent conversion rate - one in every hundred people contacted will buy what they’re selling. Any direct mail company would be overjoyed if they can achieve two percent. I think YouTube videos can probably reach maybe two percent to three percent conversion rates. So, you’d have to get around ten thousand views to shift a couple of hundred books. That means your video would have to “go viral” to make a noticeable contribution to your book sales.

My videos haven’t ‘gone viral’ yet. But I’m going to keep trying. And who knows, maybe one day I can produce a video that reaches or even breaks through the critical ten thousand views level.

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David Craig

For over 20 years, David Craig has worked for and competed against some of the world's best and worst management consultancies. He has sold consulting in 15 countries in Europe, US and Asia to almost 100 organizations, including Disney, Mobil, Dupont, Roche, Air France, Eurotunnel, The NHS, CapGe...More about David Craig