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Making Illustrated Video Talks as Part of Your Author Strategy

[1]In this strange stay-at-home year, publicity and marketing for authors has been more difficult than ever. It’s not just that physical in-person launches, events, school visits and festivals have had to be cancelled, postponed or streamlined to be shifted online. It’s also harder to get publicity materials into the usual outlets, and social media has also seemed less receptive to the usual kind of book news. Book people generally have had to invent new ways of connecting with readers and spreading the word about new books whilst providing an entertaining and engaging distraction from the general news.

In my case, as I described in a previous post [2], I’ve been experimenting with different kinds of online presentations, but what I want to discuss is a form of online presentation which I’ve really enjoyed creating. I call it an illustrated video talk for want of a better, more elegant phrase (any suggestions as to that gratefully accepted!). It’s a mix of PowerPoint slides and audio commentary, turned into a simple video which is easy to make and upload to You Tube or other video channels. The primary focus of these videos is not straight-out book promotion per se–though hopefully they will arouse interest in the book or books discussed in the video. Instead, I intend them to be intriguing, informative and maybe even useful–glimpses into my creative process, inspirations and the writing life generally. Thus they would fit within an overall author strategy, rather than just single-book promotion or even multi-book promotion.

The beauty of these illustrated video talks is that you do not need to be a professional video-maker to create them, or to have access to expensive high-quality equipment. Of course you won’t have the ‘live’ feel of the ‘talking head’ video, but you also avoid issues like mediocre web-cam quality, umpteen takes, large file sizes, etc. And in my opinion you get the ‘storytelling voice’ across more strongly, as there’s less to distract you.  Don’t expect them to get you lots of ‘hits’ unless you are very lucky, but do expect that you will be creating some very useful and practical resources, not only to put on your sites and social media, but to give out as links to people who might consider booking you for other kinds of presentations, as well as for school visits, for publishers’ marketing, etc. And they are fun to make!

The basics of it are easy: You write a simple script, use Power Point to create the original series of slides based on important pointers in your script, with illustrations, then record your commentary with the Audio function in PowerPoint (you can also add music if you want). After saving the file in PP, export it to an MP4 format, then upload to YouTube, Vimeo, etc.

Of course there’s more to it it you mean to make something that goes beyond a simple ‘hey, look at this book’ notion. So far I’ve made three of these illustrated video talks: one which looks at the inspiration and process behind the creation of several of my picture books [3]; one about the inspirations and sources behind my new retellings of French fairy tales [4]; and one in a great ‘Journey of A Book’ series [5] that looks at how a book is created from first idea to going on the bookshelves.

I have learned a lot from making these and thought I’d pass on a few tips here.

Photo by Sophie Masson

About Sophie Masson [8]

Born in Indonesia of French parents, and brought up in France and Australia, Sophie Masson [9] is the multi-award-winning and internationally-published author of over 70 books, mainly for children and young adults. A bilingual French and English speaker, she has a PhD in creative practice and in 2019 received an AM award in the Order of Australia honours list for her services to literature.