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Authors: Should You Video?

Created on: Dec 20, 2012 8:26 AM by CreateSpaceResources - Last Modified:  Jan 3, 2013 1:32 PM by CreateSpaceBlogger Friedlander.jpg

Authors: Should You Video?

By Joel Friedlander


It was no secret what was going to happen once high-speed internet access became available to lots of people: an explosion of video all over the web. Video demonstrations, video interviews, video training courses, blogs in which all the content is video, video conferencing, webinars, and all the rest of the video-related innovations we've seen online the last couple of years.

Let's face it, many people love video and will spend hours watching silly cat videos and all the other stuff that makes the second-largest traffic site online.

But this puts authors in a tough spot. If others are producing videos for their blogs, book trailers and other promotions, do you need to do that too? Authors are mostly about words, not pictures. Isn't text good enough for readers? Won't audio do for the material we want to disseminate?

Whichever way you fall on this subject, it's undeniable that you have to confront the question at some point. Let's take a look at why you might want to consider getting into video production today, and how you can get started on your own videos.

Video: It's Great for Engagement and Lots More

Many of us have grown up in the era of electronic communications, and one of the things that means is that we're very comfortable "getting to know" someone by watching them on a screen.

Video allows your readers to get to know you in a way that's simply impossible in print. All the mannerisms, idiosyncrasies, and habits that make you the unique individual you are come through when you simply sit in front of a camera and talk directly to viewers.

There's a reason that, at the end of a long political campaign, candidates will wrap up their pitch to voters by releasing a TV spot in which they talk directly to the camera. They know it engages viewers in ways no other message can.

You can use this power of video, too. If your publishing project would be enhanced by people getting to know you and your ideas better, in a more personal and direct way, you should think about learning to do simple videos that you can post to your blog or upload to a video hosting site like YouTube.

And one of the best ways to get started with video is with a "welcome" video on your blog. These small, short videos - keep it under a minute if you want people to watch - are a great, low-stress way to introduce the video "you" to your readers.

Video: Less Work and Expense than You'd Think

Until recently, creating your own video was difficult and expensive. But there have been big changes in the equipment we use to make videos, in the software we use to process them, and in the hosting solutions for using them on the web.

Cameras capable of HD (high definition) video are now available for a few hundred dollars. Even easier, many smartphones can capture HD video with remarkably good quality.

Last year, I created a whole series of educational videos about self-publishing using my smartphone, a tripod and some very simple software for editing. They looked pretty good, and I received a lot of feedback from viewers who enjoyed them.

Tips to Get Started With Your Own Videos

I mentioned the blog welcome video as a way to get started, and it's pretty easy to do. You can either set up your camera on a tripod, or just use the camera that's built into many new computers these days.

The first welcome video I did was created on my iMac using the built-in iSight camera. It received thousands of views while it was on my blog, and all those people got to see and hear me in a very immediate way.

Some things I learned from doing that video might help you, too:

  • Keep it short. Browsers who hit the front page of your blog or website for the first time won't have much patience. Keeping your video under one minute will guarantee more people actually watch the whole thing.

  • Make sure you have enough light. One of the biggest problems I see with videos is that they are under lighted. This causes your camera to try to compensate and often results in murky, grainy video. Experiment with your lighting, but remember, more indirect lighting is better.

  • Know what you're going to say. This isn't Hollywood, but you still need a script. You'll be more confident if you know the points you want to cover in advance. A one-minute video will need a script of about 150 words, so it's not an overwhelming chore to write the whole thing out.

  • Get your directions right. There's nothing worse than watching a video and seeing the person point the wrong way to indicate an opt-in form because they got their lefts and rights confused. And it happens all the time.

  • Don't be afraid to do it again. Movie directors sometimes do take after take before they get a scene right, and that's something you can do, too. Shoot your video and then watch it. Did you stumble somewhere? Look away for a second? Fiddle with your hands? Just do it again. Remember, this is a short video, so keep going until you get it just the way you want it.

  • Call to action. Make sure your video ends with a call to action. It could be asking the viewer to leave a comment, to "Like" your Facebook page, to follow you on Twitter, sign up for your newsletter, or whatever works for you. This is your chance to turn that attention into action, so make your request clear and concise.

There's really no reason any longer to avoid creating video, except our fear of new things and the fact that you'll need to learn a couple of skills you didn't have before.

But looking forward, I think we can all see that video will continue to play a larger and larger role in the online world, so getting comfortable with the tools and procedures to create quick and easy video is a skill you'll be grateful you have for years to come.

This article was written exclusively for CreateSpace by Joel Friedlander. Joel is a paid contributor and the proprietor of Marin Bookworks in San Rafael, California, a publishing services company where he's helped launch many self-published authors. He blogs about book design, writing and self-publishing at Joel is also the author of the newly-published A Self-Publisher's Companion: Expert Advice for Authors Who Want to Publish.

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