September 7, 2021
Note From Rochelle
How are you doing with overcoming distraction and writing?
It’s hard work. Mostly because we’re distracted by important tasks. We juggle a whole list of tasks that all scream, “Do this now!” It’s hard to focus when we’re trying to remember everything we need to do. And even if we have a to-do list, we might wonder when we will get around to crossing tasks off the list.
It can be helpful to schedule our tasks. Instead of simply blocking out time to work, set aside time to do each task on your to-do list. That way, when you’re feeling distracted, you can remind yourself that you’ve set aside time for that task. Take a deep breath, and keep on working!
Many of these tools are in my book, Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity. But if you need a more help, consider setting up a consultation with me.
Today I’m delighted to welcome Amanda Zieba to the blog to talk about one of the key dilemmas: when it comes to being an author, it’s hard to juggle all the things! She’s found that YouTube is a helpful tool for promoting her work—and she tells you how to do it!
Writers@Work: Promoting Your Book on YouTube
By Amanda Zieba
As an author we are tasked with a lot of roles. We are told that if we want to be successful, we need to do alllll the things. This is true for authors who are traditionally published, but it is especially true for those of us who choose to self-publish.
Write the books, promote the books, post on social media, go on podcasts, write a blog, do guest posts, reach out to other creators and do collaborations and oh yeah… write that next book.
It’s a lot. And it’s hard. But possibly even harder than doing all the things is deciding which things to do. Which extra-curricular activities are going to “move the needle” when it comes to the success of one’s author career?
I’ve been at this writing, self-publishing, and solo marketing thing for about eight years now, and I’ve learned a few things. But one of the most surprising things, is the success I’ve found using YouTube.
Side note: YouTube, as a revenue stream, is a long game. You need 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time before Google will pay you for the ads they place on your videos. If that’s your goal, great. It’s totally doable (with some consistent hard work). BUT, even if you don’t have that as a goal, this platform has a lot to offer you.
Think about it this way. Maybe you are like me: a midwestern author, far from the publishing hubs of the coasts. You are well known within your family, friend, and co-worker circles as a writer, but it’s not like you are getting stopped at the grocery store because someone recognized you from the picture on your bio page or the back of your book. (Okay it happened like that one time, but that was it.) You work to be present in the literary community by speaking at events and attending conferences. You do occasional guest blog posts, enthusiastically respond “yes!” when someone asks you to lead a session at a retreat and have even nervously recorded a podcast interview or two from your basement office. You are a WORKING WRITER or a SIDE GIG WRITER.
But despite all the work and all the hustle, even YOU wonder, “Why should someone pick my book? Why, when they have dozens of household names to choose from, should they honor me with their cold hard book buying cash?”
The answer is because your books are good.
Let me tell you a story. When it was my friend’s turn to pick the next book for her book club, she chose mine (Champion Chocolatier). Nice, right? (https://amzn.to/3BK3InU)
After a few cocktails at a holiday party, she told me, “You know, at first, we were just trying to be nice and support a local author. But your book… was actually good.” She felt like she was giving me a compliment, but what she really told me was she’d had low expectations and I exceeded them. She wasn’t trying to be mean, but it wasn’t really a compliment either. But you know what? My book is good. That book in particular has over 70 four- and five-star reviews on Amazon. (They can’t all be from my mom and aunties, right?) And when the sequel to that book that was “actually good” came out, my friend (and many of her book club members) bought it. They bought the third one in the series as well and when the fourth one comes out in a few months, I’m hopeful they’ll buy that one as well.
This is what I want you to know. Just because you don’t have a big fancy publishing company distributing your books doesn’t mean you aren’t talented. So what if your books aren’t reviewed by Kirkus or show up in the School Library Journal? That doesn’t mean your writing is trash. Just because Reese Witherspoon has not told everyone and their sister that they MUST READ YOUR BOOK, doesn’t mean it isn’t a great story or worthwhile or of high-grade literary quality. It just means you don’t have the typical and most widely accepted forms of validation. That’s it. That’s all it means.
Now I realize I might be sounding a little cynical up until this point, and I’m sorry. That is not my intention. I’m not trying to be snarky or rude or laugh in the face of the publishing industry. What I am doing is sharing the reading landscape as I see it through my own lens of experience. I’m trying to be honest. Because when you look at a situation honestly, you can more easily identify ways in which you can change it. If your goal is to improve, grow, and sell more books, thinking the problem and blame belongs on everyone else will not get you where you want to go. And that’s that. I don’t want to stay small. I don’t want to give up. I don’t want to pass the buck.
I want to get sh!t done! I want to sell books!! I want to be a big deal!!! So, I experiment and look for new opportunities. I go off on tangents, ask questions, and collaborate with creatives outside the publishing industry. In the words of my dad, I throw a lot of spaghetti at the wall, and I see what sticks.
So, what can we little not-famous, small-town authors do to convince readers our books are worth their time? We can give them an opportunity to sample our books for free. And if we pick a free, SEO utilizing, user friendly and popular platform… it’s a win-win situation. That platform my author friends, is YouTube.
Here’s how it works.
- Set up a cozy little corner in your office or living room. Bonus points if the atmosphere matches the content of your material. (Got a murder mystery set in a restaurant? Maybe read in your kitchen. A novel about quilting? Sit near your sewing machine with a few bolts of fabric nearby. You get my drift)
- Get out your laptop and read into your camera. You can get fancy equipment if you want, but you don’t need to. If you don’t read aloud often, practice a time or two… Poor reading of your own work will not sell your books.
- Take the footage and upload it into a movie editor (like imovie or HD Movie Maker Pro – that’s what I have… it’s a $10 (one time fee) download). Create a cover image slide in Canva and add that too. These are drag and drop softwares that are super simple to utilize. If you are a total rookie, you can search (yep, you guessed it) YouTube for a quick tutorial.
- Upload the final video to YouTube.
- Share it like crazy. Include it in your press kit. Send it out in your eNewsletter.
- People fall in love with your stories, realize your books are legit, and they buy them.
In addition to letting people try on your story for size these videos have even more benefits and uses. These videos can…
* Be fresh, engaging content for your website and social media channels
* Be sent to book clubs for consideration
* Be sent to contest/residency/writing program applications and help you stand out from other applicants
* Begin to build your presence on a platform that could eventually earn you a passive income
Since uploading my own first chapter videos last summer, they have been viewed 612 times. (Again, they can’t all be my aunties, right?) And I only had to show up once a video… and they’ll continue to be shown, again… and again… and again. For years. While I sleep. While I write. While make dinner and exercise and drop my kids off at school.
Think about the readings you do in bookstores or the schools you visit or the organizations for which you present. Does the total number of people you’ve spoken to about your book in the last year outnumber this count? How about in a normal year when we weren’t forced to cancel everything? How about this past year when our calendars were wiped clean?
Of all the extra things I choose to do to promote my writing, I think YouTube might be the most effective (and it’s definitely the cheapest!). Ready to give it a try?
If you have more questions about marketing your book, check out my YouTube channel () for helpful videos including this series on my Take Action Author Plan. To learn more about YouTube and how to make it work for you, visit my friend and YouTube Guru, Andrea Jean.
About the author. Do you want to know the best thing about a story? Everyone has one to tell. And that’s why, as a word nerd, Amanda has the best job in the world. Amanda has written 11 books for a variety of ages and genres and now coaches people through the process of self-publishing and with the goal of sharing her knowledge with others so that they can achieve their publishing goals faster and with less frustration. To this end, she has created a course called the Take Action Author Plan. in which she teaches others how to self-publish their book, market/sell that book and level up their author career. Amanda is a board member of her local writing group (Mississippi Valley Writers Guild), and also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She lives in Holmen, WI with her husband and two sons.
NOTE: The books links lead to the Write Now! Coach bookstore on Bookshop.com. Write Now! Coach receives a small percentage of your purchase, which helps to support this blog.