How to promote your books on Youtube

David Craig explains how authors can produce their own YouTube videos to promote their writing.

Technology has revolutionised the way writers work. Word-processing has made writing and editing infinitely easier than before. Google allows you to research and write a non-fiction book in just a few months from the comfort of your own home. On-line picture libraries like shutterstock .com and istockphoto.com give you access to millions of photos and images for just a few pounds each. On-line music libraries such as karaoke-version.co.uk make almost any song or backing music available for less than £2 a track. And now powerful computer animation programmes mean a freelance animator can make a powerful video promoting your books for £150 or less.

I’ve just had a new video “Charities can we trust them?” made for £200. The reason this one was a little more expensive is that the producer had to pay a singer to record new words I had written to the BeeGees’ song “Tragedy” which I renamed “Charity”:
Charity

Having now had three short (3 to 4 minutes) YouTube videos made promoting some of my books, here are the four stages I go through when commissioning a video.

Step 1 - Storyboard Using Word or PowerPoint, produce an outline of what you want the video to say, what the main images will be and what music (if any) you want to use. The storyboard should not be too detailed, as you need to leave room for the animator to use their creativity and the capabilities of whatever animation programme they are using to enhance your original concept.

Step 2 – Find a freelancer There are quite a few websites where you can advertise your job free of charge. These include guru.com and freelancer.com. But I’ve found the best one is peopleperhour.com. When you post a description of your project, you can attach the file with your storyboard. Once you’ve posted your project, you’ll get quite a few offers from freelancers. Before choosing one, I recommend you either phone them or have an email exchange with them to be sure that they are the right person for the job. I use this exchange to see how flexible and creative they are.

Step 3 – First draft Once you’ve chosen your freelancer you can move ahead with your video. What I prefer to do is to ask them to produce just the first 10 to 20 seconds, so I can see if this matches what I want. Then we can agree changes before the freelancer has done so much that making major changes would be expensive.

Make sure you fully exploit the capabilities animation programmes allow. For example, in this video, I got the freelancer to produce a spoof election broadcast where David Cameron uses words I wrote to ridicule himself:
Election

Whereas in my video “Foreign Aid Farce”, the freelancer used a soundtrack of “Do They Know It’s Christmas” bought online for a few pounds to lacerate Africa’s kleptocratic rulers:
Foreign Aid Farce

One hint would be to never make your video longer than about 3 minutes – the length of an average song. Otherwise, in today’s short attention-span society, people will lose interest.

Step 4 – Upload Finally you can open your own YouTube account free of charge. Then it’s very simple to upload your video. Normally it becomes available to view within a minute of being uploaded.

Now comes the tough part – using your contacts, social media and other methods to get as many viewers as possible watching your video and passing it on to others. Clearly, the more amusing or gripping your video is, the more likely people are to send the link to their contacts.

Making a video is great fun, can be hugely enjoyable if you find an animator with the ability to build creatively on your original concept and hopefully will sell a few books.

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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