We’re on a mission to demystify the often daunting world of book marketing here at ProWritingAid. There are so many things to think about, from your overall book marketing strategy to how to price your book to attract readers.
One area that can seem particularly difficult to break into is marketing your book on YouTube. That’s why we’ve invited one of our favourite YouTubers, Meg LaTorre, to help us work out where to start. In this article, she shares 9 of the ways she uses YouTube to market her books.
YouTube for Authors: How to Market Your Books on YouTube
By Meg LaTorre
As the book publishing industry moves online more and more every year, it’s important for authors to establish an author platform to market their books to their ideal readers.
Most author platforms comprise an author website, a social media presence, a newsletter, and perhaps a few other outlets such as Patreon, Facebook or Discord groups, and so forth.
In 2020, the biggest social media platforms for authors are arguably Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. As a YouTuber with more than 75,000 subscribers (as of September 2020), I’m a big proponent for connecting with readers—and other authors—on this platform.
9 Ways to Market Your Book on YouTube
But how can authors market their books most effectively? Today, I will run through nine ways to market books (primarily genre fiction novels) on YouTube.
Disclaimer: Not all marketing tactics will work for all authors. It’s going to depend on your launch strategy, skill set, and many other factors. For example, my launch strategy relies heavily on creating hype and longer pre-orders (three to six months), while other authors may focus on fast releases and paid advertising.
This article is meant to generate potential ideas for YouTube marketing if you are looking to either start a YouTube channel or if you would like to try different marketing strategies for your current channel. Don’t be afraid to experiment to see what works for you!
1. Content Marketing
Content marketing is where you provide value to an audience (in this case, through video), and you don’t directly promote a product or service.
I like to think of it as “soft marketing” since you are providing value first, as compared to hard marketing, which is where you directly promote a product or service.
To “provide value,” you could educate viewers on a particular topic. You could entertain, inspire, or do a combination of all the above. When in doubt, consider if you can answer your viewers’ questions or address their needs in some way. With readers, that could be escapism, education, or something as simple as a temporary reprieve from boredom. (A noble goal, to be sure!)
For my audience, I created a video titled 17 Romance Tropes I Hate. In this video, I talk about (you guessed it) seventeen romance tropes I don’t like to read. I don’t directly advertise my novel, The Cyborg Tinkerer, which is a steampunk/space opera romance, in that video. However, I mention it at the beginning and the end of the video (for a pre-order giveaway, which I’ll talk more about later).
If the viewers enjoy reading romance and The Cyborg Tinkerer sounds like something they’d enjoy, they might be inclined to check out my book.
2. Cover Reveal
Personally, I’m a big believer in hype. With cover reveals, that means a big splashy cover reveal video where you give your YouTube audience hints and teasers for weeks or months in videos. You could also repurpose these hints and teasers in your newsletter and on other social media platforms leading up to the big reveal on YouTube.
Before I had the pre-order available for The Cyborg Tinkerer, I posted teasers on social media where viewers could see only a small section of the cover, like this:
(Feel free to scroll through my Instagram to see other examples of the teaser images I used.)
This is one example of how you can use other social media to promote your YouTube channel, should you choose to have a big cover reveal on YouTube.
Revealing Your Cover on YouTube
Some YouTubers reveal their covers through something like a book trailer. (Jenna Moreci’s The Savior’s Sister book trailer is a great example of this.) However, you can reveal the cover of your book at the end of one of your regular YouTube episodes, which is exactly what I did.
I revealed the cover of The Cyborg Tinkerer at the end of a video about how to find the perfect cover designer as an author. This uses content marketing to soften the hard marketing of my book—my viewers get useful information, and I get to spread the word about my product. Everyone wins.
If you want to increase the hype around a book, don’t wait until the day of your cover reveal to talk about it. Make sure you are talking about your book in the weeks (or months) leading up to the big reveal.
3. Book Trailers
In the name of transparency, book trailers are not my favorite form of marketing on YouTube. I think book trailers can be epic. (Again, Jenna Moreci’s video is a fantastic example of how you can make an amazing book trailer.) However, I feel that it’s very easy to make a book trailer that looks… cheesy.
Therefore, I recommend considering what your video editing skills are (if you can make a high-quality book trailer on your own) or if you have the budget to hire someone to make one for you. Also, consider the ROI (return on investment). Many authors argue that the ROI for book trailers is low. In that case, consider your budget and whether the investment is worth it for you.
If a book trailer is something you are interested in pursuing, here are a few options:
- Blurb book trailers: These trailers often feature stock videos, and the blurb from the book jacket is shown throughout the video. (Though, the blurb is often shortened.)
- Cinematic book trailers: An actor or cast of actors are hired to act out scenes from your book in this trailer. This kind of book trailer can resemble a movie trailer in format and style.
- Animated book trailers: The sky’s the limit when you hire an animator. Depending on your budget and the capabilities of the individual animator, they could animate the text or the characters. Usually, this trailer is custom-made, and it’s often the most expensive option for book trailers.
To learn more about book trailers, check out Book Marketing: 10 Best Book Trailer Types on The Creative Penn website.
4. Character Art Reveals
To do this kind of video, authors must first either hire an artist to create character art for their novel or they must draw it themselves (if they have the artistic capabilities).
Like book trailers, many authors debate as to whether or not the financial investment for character art is worth it. Again, consider whether this is an investment you can afford and if it would be worth it for you (i.e. the ROI).
In character art reveal videos, the author usually reveals the primary characters and perhaps a few secondary characters or the antagonist as well. The characters are usually shown one at a time, and some YouTubers have brief text descriptions of the character beside the character art.
Here is an example of the character art reveal video I did for The Cyborg Tinkerer:
These types of videos go beyond promoting the premise of a book to highlighting specific characters. This is handy for character-driven novels.
5. Audiobook Teasers
If you create an audiobook on your own or if you hire an audiobook narrator to produce the audiobook for you, then why not promote the heck out of it?
I recommend recording an intro and outro to introduce the video before jumping into the audiobook clip. In addition, the video doesn’t have to be anything fancy. You could have a single image in the background throughout the audiobook sample.
Here’s an example of an audiobook teaser I published on my YouTube channel:
YouTube giveaways can serve several purposes for an author. They can generate buzz, collect pre-order sales, capture leads, and increase audience engagement.
The biggest downside to giveaways is that there are legal restrictions. We won’t get into those today, but feel free to do some digging on your own. Here is one article I liked, titled Ensure Your Giveaways and Contests Are Legal on Dummies.com.
One popular giveaway option for fiction authors is a pre-order giveaway. Meaning, readers must pre-order a copy of a particular book to be entered to win a prize.
Some of the more popular types of prizes include:
- Free sample of the book they pre-ordered
- Digital copy of a novelette, novella, or short story
- Character art
- Books (by you or other authors)
- Gift cards
Shipping can get expensive, particularly if you live in the United States and are shipping internationally. Consider your budget carefully on this one.
7. Writing Updates
Writing update videos allow an author to share:
- Their writing process
- Their current progress on a novel
- An insider look into certain parts of the publishing process (particularly if you are self-publishing)
- And much more!
The purpose of these types of videos is to share a look into your process and have viewers get excited with you.
If you want to see examples of writing update videos, check out my writing update playlist on iWriterly.
Once you start creating an audience around your books or building your author platform, viewers will (hopefully) be asking questions about you, your writing process, and your books. In this case, one great video idea would be a Q&A, which is often in the form of a live stream on YouTube.
This way, you get to answer viewers’ questions live and interact with your audience.
Sometimes, getting outside exposure is really helpful to build your author platform.
When you do a collaboration on YouTube (and there are many different kinds), you are essentially borrowing another creator’s audience. Therefore, it would benefit you to find other creators who share a similar audience.
If you write adult romance, for example, you could collaborate with other author-YouTuber hybrids who write adult romance. You could also collaborate with BookTubers or book reviewers who read romance novels similar to the ones you write.
The types of content you can create for a collaboration can vary from book reviews of your book (on their platform), to interviewing each other on various topics (on both platforms), to having a multiple-part video series between your channels on a single topic, and much more! If you are trying to promote a book or series, consider what topics might be relevant.
Collaborations are a big time commitment, so you want to be sure it’s mutually beneficial for both parties. Meaning, consider approaching creators who have a similar audience size. If you have 50 subscribers (while that’s a great accomplishment), it is unlikely another creator with 50,000 subscribers will want to commit to a collaboration (particularly if you don’t know this person beforehand). In my experience, collaborations can take weeks to months of communication to arrange and execute.
That isn’t to say you shouldn’t approach someone who has a larger audience than you. Go for it, if that’s what you’d like! But go into it thinking of how you can not only grow your own audience but also provide value to the other creator.
Those are my nine top ways to market books on YouTube. If you have questions, visit my YouTube channel and drop your questions in the comments. I always love receiving video requests. Go forth, and keep writing!