The Kobo Writing Life team is excited to announce our latest Live Q&A on November 24th 2020. From 12:00 PM-1:00 PM EST, our takeover guest, Dale Roberts of YouTube’s Self Publishing with Dale, will be answering all your questions on the Kobo Writing Life Facebook and YouTube pages. If you can’t make the takeover, feel free to comment on this post with your questions and we can ask them for you! Keep reading to learn Dale’s top tips for marketing your books on YouTube.

How to Market Your Book on YouTube

While many authors struggle to make ends meet and any sensible earnings in the publishing business, a select few have figured out how to make it work. These successful authors harnessed the power of video on YouTube to build and grow their following. You need little mental bandwidth or discretionary time to learn how to market your book on YouTube. All you need are a few good ideas and the best practical first steps to get your YouTube channel off the ground and running.

Why Video is King

In 2018, 85% of all internet users in the US watched online video content across all devices.[i] Since the recent shift in lockdowns and social isolation, we can all agree the viewership percentage may have risen. While viewership grows, opportunity flourishes.

But what can authors do with this information? Is it as simple as setting up a YouTube channel, shooting some videos, and calling it a day? Well, that might trivialize the entire process, so let’s at least focus on what you need to do most of all—start.

Even if you skimmed through the subheadings, formed your own assumption, and then started, you’re one step ahead of most authors today. Any author who equips themselves with video is at a greater advantage than those without this medium. Why? Accessibility.

The more accessible you become as an author, the easier it is to build the know, like, and trust factor in your ideal readers. While video isn’t for everyone, it can be for most anyone willing to step outside their comfort zone and connect with a wider audience.

What Do You Need for YouTube?

Do not overcomplicate the process with a ton of technology or flashy videos. Use what you have at your disposal and upgrade as you go. All you need to start includes:

  1. YouTube account – if you have a Gmail account, it’s as simple as signing into YouTube and opening your channel.
  2. Mic – decent sound is mission-critical. If all you have is your built-in microphone on your laptop or phone, then that’ll do. When you have the discretionary expense, upgrade this first.
  3. Camera – again, a built-in camera on your phone or computer will work.
  4. Lighting – a halfway decent camera can appear great so long as you have adequate lighting. Ambient outdoor lighting is ideal, and any floor lamps can work.

That’s it! Now, simply point, shoot, and upload. Don’t worry about having to spend hours crafting the perfect video so you draw in more viewers. You’ll get that in due time. Learning how to market your book on YouTube comes more from experience, and you can’t get that by simply thinking about it.

Video marketing expert and YouTube Development Strategist Derral Eves once shared how he built his YouTube channel with the tools at his disposal and about 16 minutes per week. He couldn’t afford much at the time. Now, Derral has over 600,000 subscribers and coached the biggest influencers in the video creator community. Take a cue from Derral—just get started.

How to Market Your Book on YouTube

Have you ever been to a mall or shopping center where a kiosk worker assaults you with their fragrances, sea salts, or lotions? It’s a jarring experience, and in most instances, people dislike it. Why is that? People just don’t like being sold anything. Though we love to buy things, we don’t like it when other people control the situation.

Where you might think publishing videos all about your books on YouTube might be a good idea, I’m going to advise against it. You need subtle ways of promoting your book. Coming right out and saying, “BUY MY BOOK,” will not win you any new readers.

You must build your presence on YouTube first and sprinkle in aspects of your writing life viewers might find fun and insightful. Theodore Roosevelt once said it best:

People don’t care what you know until they know how much you care.

The best idea is to be yourself, relax, and connect with your ideal viewers and readers. Share you’re an author and the books you publish, but make sure it’s not the centerpiece of everything you do in your videos. But what do you create if you can’t directly market all your books?

Here are five ideas to grease your creative wheels and create video content viewers will enjoy.

#1 Vlogging

Short for video logging, vlogging is the path of least resistance and is possibly the easiest first step to creating a YouTube channel. Essentially, you’re allowing your viewers and readers deeper insights into who you are as an author and human being. People trust other people, so why not share a bit about yourself?

When you get out from behind your keyboard and become willing to share yourself, more viewers and potential readers will want to connect with you. In turn, you’ll see more book sales through this indirect video marketing strategy.

#2 The Go-To Authority

Whether writing fiction or nonfiction, you can leverage YouTube to build your authority as the go-to expert in your niche. Share your insights in fiction writing tips, tricks, and tropes. For nonfiction authors, do what you do best and talk about your expertise.

Authors currently blazing the trail on YouTube as go-to authorities, including Jerry Jenkins, Derek Murphy, and Michael La Ronn (Author Level Up). These guys cemented their legacy in books and videos by dispensing advice relevant to their experiences as authors.

#3 Write with Me

At first, a bizarre concept, Write with Me (aka write alongs), is where authors go live on their channels and have viewers write with them. Whether showing their manuscript or not, the YouTuber hosts this writing session as a way for other authors to work in a structured environment with plenty of encouragement. The best Write with Me live video sessions have a timed element. A timer creates a sense of urgency and additional structure to keep the mission on track.

Though daunting at first, Write with Me live broadcasts are, by far, the easiest to produce since it requires little set up and post-production work. If you’re not tech-savvy, look into services like Restream Studio, Streamyard, or Melon App. If you have a little more patience and more tech know-how, consider using OBS, X-Split, or eCamm for live streaming.

A few YouTube authors doing live writing sprints include Kate Cavanaugh, The Courtney Project, and bytheBrooke. You’ll find quite a few authors willing to collaborate on live writing sprints. Do a little research ahead and see who else plans to go live when you do. Connect with the others and see if you can do a simulcast where everyone can work together. These videos are especially popular during National Novel Writing Month and Camp NaNoWriMo.

#4 Read-Alongs

Similar in concept to Write with Me, Read-Alongs are a way for people to etch out time to read their books with others. The host will set a timer and keep the show on the rails while getting some much-needed reading done.

It doesn’t end there, though. Read-Alongs can include reading your latest manuscript or sharing part of your published work with a live audience. The beauty of reading your work is the viewers get a taste of what to expect in your books. If you hook them enough, they might just demand a copy. An outstanding example of an author killing it on YouTube reading his work is Skully’s House of Thrillers.

Though most instances Read-Alongs are live, you can still read passages from your book in pre-recorded content. As a video content creator, you have a choice between going live or recording your video in advance. Go with what seems most appealing to you and gets you publishing videos right away.

#5 The Book Trailer

Book trailers used to be the bee’s knees for hyping a book. These short-form videos were a way to showcase a book in a commercial-style aspect. Sadly, these commercials haven’t been too effective in converting viewers into buyers lately.

Why exactly would I recommend this among the top five ways to market your book? Well, you have to create a remarkable book trailer that’s more outside the box. While video marketing can be simple, it’s not always easy to grab and keep a viewer’s attention.

You must create something truly remarkable, and this might require a little ingenuity and resourcefulness. For example, popular YouTuber Mat Best launched a video that went viral about his book Thank You for My Service. In the video, Mat blended storytelling with quick shots, hilarious gags, and stunning visuals. While I’m sure Mat invested a ton into this video, you can get away with the same creativity if you take the time to plan it.

Your Next Steps Include…

Now that you learned how to market your book on YouTube, what comes next? Simply get started. Don’t let being new to YouTube stop you from breaking ground here. Much like when you wrote your first manuscript, it’s going to take time and practice before you feel comfortable doing it. Should you get stuck, check out great resources like Nick Nimmin, Brian G Johnson TV, and Live Streaming Tech.

Best of luck!

-Dale L. Roberts, Self-Publishing with Dale

[i] Statista. (22 March 2019). Percentage of internet users who watch online video content on any device as of January 2018, by country. https://www.statista.com/statistics/272835/share-of-internet-users-who-watch-online-videos/

Dale L. Roberts is a self-publishing advocate, award-winning author, and video content creator. Dale’s inherent passion for life fuels his self-publishing advocacy both in print and online. After publishing over 40 titles and becoming an international bestselling author on Amazon, Dale started his YouTube channel, Self-Publishing with Dale. Voted by Feedspot among the Top 50 YouTube channels about self-publishing, Dale cemented his position as the indie-author community’s go-to authority.

Dale currently lives with his wife Kelli and cat Izzie in Columbus, Ohio.

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