Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Indie Tuesday—Using YouTube As An Author

Charity Tinnin @CharityTinnin
I must confess, YouTube is the one social media platform that terrifies me. Don't get me wrong, I love watching the original series, book reviews, interviews, and casting videos on it. But ask me to create content for my own channel and watch me squirm. Luckily, my indie mentor Susan Kaye Quinn is a YouTube pro. 

Sue is the best kind of successful indie author - the kind that drops breadcrumbs (or whole pieces of toast!) for those coming behind her. I followed Sue's indie journey years before I considered becoming an indie myself, and when I decided to take the plunge, I devoured her Indie Author Survival Guide. So, let's all grab a cup of chai, take a deep breath, and maybe, just maybe, lose the fear of using YouTube as an author.

Using YouTube As An Author
by Susan Kaye Quinn @SusanKayeQuinn

YouTube is said to be the second largest search engine in the world, and having kids who have favorite "youtubers" whose videos they eagerly anticipate, I know this is true. Yet, I'm ridiculously self-conscious and can't even imagine making YouTube videos ala John Green and the nerdfighters. Or doing video interviews (seriously, I shuddered for hours before doing this one).

Be Yourself (even on YouTube) 
Then I realized I didn't have to do it the John Green Way. I could forge my own path (NEWS FLASH: this is how I do everything anyway *smacksforehead*). I don't do a ton of videos, but the ones I do (whether trailers or webinars) are ones I'm proud of ... and they get a fair number of views, so someone out there is finding them useful. Some are explicit marketing (book trailers, virtual author visits), and some are pay-it-forward help for author friends (webinars), and some are just for fun (playlists for my books). All of them are a way to have a small digital footprint in the wide video world ... in a way that doesn't make me shudder.

Book Trailers 
I've done everything from a professionally filmed, award-winning-director, book trailer (which recently took Best Trailer in the 2014 Illinois International Film Festival) to DIY trailers with stock images. The Mindjack trailer is closing in on 20k views. My other trailers are newer and have less views, but each work to give a feel for what the book is about.

Award-winning trailer for the Mindjack Trilogy.

My DIY trailer for my children's SciFi, Faery Swap
(see my 9-minute virtual author visit video here).

I have a whole post on how to make DIY trailers, but basically you use iMovie, some stock photos/videos (I got my intro clip from a guy on Fiverr), and some kick-a trailer music (Pond5 is awesome for that) to TELL A STORY. Storytelling is more important than high production values or awesome visuals. 

Do Trailers Sell Books?
No. Well ... mostly no. Some people tell me explicitly they bought the book because of the trailer, but most of the views on my trailers come from people who have already read the books (I link to the trailers at the end of my novels). But that's okay for two reasons: 1) views on the trailers raise their visibility, and 2) if the reader already likes the book, the trailer is a fun way for them to enjoy the material again - and to share with others. Producing something shareable is a key way to market. So, if you make a trailer, be unique and make it share-worthy.

I have a book on indie publishing called the Indie Author Survival Guide. I don't promote the book - it's entirely out there for my friends to use if it helps (and I'm gratified by the reviews that say it does). However, I was asked to do a couple webinars, and I think of these as supplements to the book - help in another format, so to speak. 

Facing Your Fears got over 500 views when it debuted at the IndiReCon virtual conference in February.

For those of you who would rather watch the video than read the book! :)

While I had fun making these videos (I use Prezi for the presentation then screencapture it on my Mac), my non-fiction work is mostly pay-it-forward. My main business is fiction writing, so that's where I concentrate my time. (Even though this stuff can be all kinds of fun and threaten to eat up all your time.)

And this post only scratches the surface of how YouTube can be used by authors - there are many others who are more ambitious and do far more with it than I have. I challenge you to venture forth, find your own comfort zone in the visual arts, and go for it!

(Just don't have so much fun you forget to keep writing your books!)

Do you use YouTube? If so, share your channel with us in the comments below. Have you found book trailers or other book related videos you love on YouTube? We'd love to know about them!


Book trailers, webinars, & playlists. Oh my! @SusanKayeQuinn talks @YouTube & authors on #IndieTuesday. #indiepub (Click to Tweet)

Not sure how to use @YouTube as an #author? @SusanKayeQuinn gives us the basics on #IndieTuesday. (Click to Tweet)

Susan Kaye Quinn is the author of the bestselling Mindjack Trilogy, which is YA science fiction. Her latest release is Corrections, a short story about a time-traveling psychologist in the Synchronic Time Travel Anthology. Her next release will be Second Daughter, the sequel to Third Daughter (The Dharian Affairs #1), a steampunk fantasy romance which is her excuse to dress up in corsets and fight with swords. And she also has a middle grade fantasy called Faery Swap. It's possible she's easily distracted. She always has more speculative fiction fun in the works. You can find out what she's up to by subscribing to her newsletter (hint: new subscribers get a free short story!) or by stopping by her blog (www.susankayequinn.com).

Indie Author Survival Guide
This book is for every author who's thinking about indie publishing, or has already taken the leap, and wonders why no one told them about the sharks, the life-sucking social media quicksand, or the best way to avoid sales-checking, yellow-spotted fever. This is a guide for the heart as much as the head. Kindle | Nook | Print 


  1. I love the reminder that marketing in the world of social media is ALL about making something shareable. If I'm thinking of spending time on something (other than writing) that's always my first question (what's the share-ability of this?)--then I decide if it's worth the time investment.

    I've been wanting to do a YouTube playlist for my books for awhile now and I think I will after this post. Like you said, it's an easy way to get a footprint in another place that people are searching every single day.

    I know that I discovered Kiera Cass (YA Author/NY Times Best Seller) first through her YouTube videos and I bought her book based 100% on only the fact that I found her fun and engaging in her videos so I was certain her books would be the same (and I was right!).

    I'm *terrified* of vlogging but hope to work up the courage someday. Until then...playlist! Thanks for being our guest today Sue!

    1. Shareable is KEY. And you always want to stretch yourself, but you also have to allow yourself to be YOU... in whatever you do. I'm sure you'll rock it!

    2. I love the idea of a YouTube playlist! I have a Spotify playlist set up for Haunted, but I could easily switch over to YouTube and use that to dip my toe into the second largest search engine (Yikes!). Maybe we can hold each other's hands, Jess :)

      And thanks again, Sue.

  2. Currently, I use YouTube as a way to interact with readers (and other writers) by taking questions on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or wherever and then answering them in a video blog. When I first started making videos it was a way for me to gather thoughts on questions readers were asking me and then put the answers into words as if I were speaking at an author's panel or something. I'm not awesome at public speaking (it terrifies me), and I decided the best way to get better at it was to start speaking on subjects that people might ask me at a book signing or a writer's conference.

    Lately, I'm brainstorming more and more about ways to dress up my YouTube channel and add more helpful content. I'm planning to add trailers and interviews about my books and my writing process in the future.


    Thanks, Susan, for sharing your thoughts on your process. I learn so much from you!!


    1. And now I'm learning from you! (subscribed to your channel!) I love the idea of treating is as a Q&A! Very cool. If the camera didn't terrify me quite so much, that's definitely something I would get into. Keep on rockin it!

    2. I'm with Sue. I LOVE the idea of an author Q&A. I'll definitely be checking out your channel, Heather :)

  3. I have toyed with the idea of doing some of my devotionals into a self published series, but have spaced it off. This doesn't seem to have as much to do with the youtube article, but it does kinda sorta, when you have to start somewhere before the youtube. I thought this post and the samples were very well done. Me being a bookaholic would like very much to purchase everyone of these samples. I noticed the ElfSwap used drawings from the book. (That was my roundabout way to self publishing.) Did you self publish these books? They look very nice.

    1. Yes, my books are self-published, and thank you for the compliments. Enggar Adirasa did the fabulous illustrations/cover for Faery Swap (also used in the video). One of the great things about being indie/selfpublished is that you get to pick your own covers! And editors! And... everything else! Thanks for stopping by!