Unless you’ve been garreted away working on the Great American Novel—and maybe you have!—you’ve probably noticed that video is becoming a big deal. There’s high market demand for it, and we’re all spending more and more time watching video online, which means more advertising money is moving to video. Trend reports indicate that video advertising is now growing faster than social media advertising.
As a result, Facebook is now paying big bucks to celebrities and others to produce high-quality video, in addition to rolling out Live Video functionality to all users.
- Amazon just launched Amazon Video Direct, kind of a cross between YouTube and Amazon KDP.
- Snapchat is the current darling of the media industry, in no small part due to its video storytelling.
- Buzzfeed is investing heavily in video content.
As a writer, should you care? And if you’re interested, what’s next?
Here’s the big problem—for everyone, not just writers: All video starts off wanting to be crap, even more so than a NaNoWriMo first draft. It’s no small thing to shoot, edit, and produce video that people want to watch, even if it’s just a minute’s worth.
Now, you may be blessed with a really entertaining pet (preferably a cute kitten, bunny, or panda), but as the owner of a pretty cute cat myself, I can tell you it hasn’t been easy trying to turn her into a viral sensation. (But allow me to try here.)
In the interest of interacting with readers, and being open to new ways of marketing our work, what should a responsible author do, aside from shoot cat videos? Let’s start with what you shouldn’t do.
1. Forget about book trailers.
Most book trailers are terrible and will not sell a single additional copy of your book. If you have a large production budget and can hire James Franco, then yes, you should create one. But creating a trailer as a teaser or book advertisement rarely works and can be a colossal waste of your time, unless you have some skills in screenwriting or humor—and preferably both.
2. Don’t talk at length in a static shot.
There are some exceptions to this rule, but generally, the worst author video in the world is the kind that features a talking head, and nothing else, with no cuts or camera changes. There are people who can pull this off with cuts (John Green), but you need some serious charisma or super useful information to compel people to watch. And, again, probably some screenwriting skills.
3. Don’t post unedited video that’s longer than a minute or so.
I’ll refer back to my earlier point: all video wants to be crap. It’s near impossible to create a compelling video using an iPhone or tablet unless you break out the editing software (even if it’s just iMovie) once you’re beyond 30-60 seconds.
Now that you know what to avoid, here are a few things to consider. [Read more…]