Video is a great way to grab readers’ attention and engage with them in a personal way online. It could lead to an increase in book sales, as shoppers who watch videos are 1.81 times more likely to purchase than non-viewers. And since 92% of mobile video consumers share videos with others, it’s also a great way to gain exposure to new potential readers.
Since video can be such a powerful marketing medium, we wanted to compile some examples of how authors use videos to engage with readers. While creating videos might seem like a lot of work, keep in mind that many of these videos are under one minute long and are not professionally produced nor highly polished. However, they often get thousands of views, and it’s obvious from the comments that fans love them. We hope these examples inspire you if you’re considering creating videos to promote a book or connect with readers.
1. Answer fans’ questions
Debbie Macomber hosted a Facebook Live chat to answer fans’ questions. Facebook Live is a relatively new and exciting way to connect with fans — when you begin a Facebook Live video, people who’ve liked your page receive a notification that you’re streaming live. You can watch the view count go up and see fans’ comments and questions in real time. Afterward, the video is available for anyone to watch on your Facebook page, and later viewers can see the comments come in as though they were watching live, so they get a similar experience.
Susan Mallery published a pre-recorded video answering fans’ questions — a great option if you’re not comfortable using Facebook Live. Susan has a unique approach where she names someone “Reader of the Month,” gives them a personal shout-out, and answers that fan’s questions in the video.
2. Show a sneak peek of an upcoming release
Johanna Basford posted a Facebook Live video providing a sneak preview of her Christmas coloring book. She flips through the pages, showing glimpses of the new artwork her fans would get to color. This video is only 30 seconds long, but it was a Facebook Live video (meaning fans received a notification when the stream began), which helped this video garner 150K+ views.
3. Reveal the title of an upcoming release
Sara Ella revealed the title of her upcoming book Unblemished in a video, with behind-the-scenes information on how the title was selected by her publisher.
4. Reveal the cover of an upcoming release
While authors usually publish their cover reveals in a blog post, Niomi Smart revealed the cover of her upcoming cookbook Eat Smart in a video. In this video, she also included a look at how the cover was created.
5. Introduce new characters
Philippa Gregory published a video introducing three characters from her newest novel, Three Sisters, Three Queens. The video was filmed at a location mentioned in this historical fiction novel, and includes subtitles so fans could watch without sound if they prefer. This is a great example of a more polished video, but is still short and sweet, clocking in at 1:23.
6. Announce a book’s release
Maggie Stiefvater created a one-minute-long video announcing the release of her novel Sinner… while washing her car. Authors do have to be pretty good at multitasking these days.
7. Show copies of books being prepped for delivery
Colleen Hoover published a 15-second-long video of signed copies of her book Too Late being packaged. Again, short videos can help build buzz for a book, and they don’t need to be expertly filmed or polished, either!
8. Reveal contest or giveaway prizes
Brenda Novak built buzz for one of her holiday-themed giveaways by publishing a fast-motion video of one of her books being packaged. A video like this is easy to create, and sound isn’t even necessary.
9. Create a relevant tutorial
Johanna Basford created a tutorial showing readers how they could create a pastel background in her coloring books. This is a longer video providing detailed tips and tricks, and is great for loyal fans who want to improve their artwork.
If you think tutorials aren’t relevant for you since you don’t publish nonfiction or coloring books, think again. Jojo Moyes created a short, fun, and silent video on “How to survive a tearjerker.” Anything can be tutorialized. Get creative!
10. Provide DIY and cooking tips
Debbie Macomber published a one-minute long DIY video for creating a centerpiece for a summer party, which is consistent with Debbie’s author brand. As you can see, you don’t need to publish a long video to get a lot of views and engagement — this short video got nearly 40K views!
11. Get interviewed by another author
In order to promote her new book After You, Jojo Moyes published a video in which she’s interviewed by fellow author Sophie Kinsella. This was a great cross-promotional opportunity, since each author got exposure to the others’ fan base.
12. Do a Facebook Live Q&A from a conference
Harlan Coben did a Facebook Live Q&A from the Library of Congress National Book Festival. This was a great way to build buzz amongst a wider audience, and enabled him to take live questions from readers on Facebook who couldn’t be at the event themselves.
13. Reveal the inspiration for a book
Upon the paperback release date of Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert posted a Facebook Live video explaining what inspired her to write this book. This is a great example of how the video doesn’t have to be perfectly polished to get 400K views — at the beginning of the video, the screen is sideways, and there’s a couple minutes of troubleshooting. If anything, it shows Elizabeth’s down-to-earth, go-with-the-flow personality, which parallels her memoir.
James Patterson published a quick 30-second video where he discusses the inspiration behind his middle grade series, Middle School.
14. Provide a writing progress update
John Green hasn’t released a new book since The Fault in Our Stars in 2012, and in this video, he explains why — even detailing some works in progress he put down. The truth is, no author is immune from pressure and writer’s block, and discussing these things not only provides fans an update, but also makes him seem incredibly relatable.
15. Provide a behind-the-scenes look of a book tour
Lindsay Cummings published a video showing what it was like to go on a school book tour. She filmed all of it herself, so she didn’t even need to recruit anyone to help shoot the footage.
16. Be light-heartedly self-deprecating
Colleen Hoover posted a funny video compiling clips of “what career rock bottom looks like.” She used Snapchat to create each clip, along with Snapchat filters to add to the hilarity.
17. Host a video party
Barbara Freethy had the creative idea of hosting a holiday-themed online video party on her Facebook page. First, she posted a welcome video explaining the party.
Throughout the day, she published a video from other authors on her page. She also ran a giveaway in which a commenter from each video won a prize. This was a great cross-promotion opportunity for all of the authors involved!
18. Share writing tips
Ava Jae has a vlog on YouTube where she publishes a video each week, usually including writing tips. Here’s one on “5 ways to become a better writer” (and you can see how she published this vlog on her regular blog here).
19. Recommend or review other books
Sara Ella recommends and reviews other books on her YouTube channel that her fans might also enjoy. In this video, she recommends standalone books in a variety of genres.
She also provides timestamps of each genre in the description on YouTube, which is a great idea for making longer videos more easily consumable.
20. Crowdsource book ideas
Emily Giffin published this relaxed video calling for ideas from her fans on what she should write her next book about. This was a great way for her to make her fans feel involved in her writing process!
Have you published videos to connect with readers? Link to one of yours in the comments below!
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