Creating a Promotional Author Video

Hello, SEers! Welcome to the first Mae Day of 2022. I hope your New Year is off to a great start! Today, I’d like to talk about how to create a promotional author video. Last year, John Howell gave us Tips to Succeed on a Video Interview. You can find that post HERE.

I was fortunate enough to participate in a Zoom author interview last November with a local bookstore, and highly recommend the opportunity should you get the chance to do something similar. It was a lot of fun and the bookstore has invited me to participate in a panel event, once those start up again. John’s post was an excellent resource for preparing.

I was also invited to be the spotlight author for the month of December at my local library. Part of that entailed creating a short promotional video. My first reaction was eeesh! I’m not a person who likes to appear on video, but I had survived the Zoom event, so I decided to go for it. In the process, I learned a number of valuable tips I hope you’ll find useful.

THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CREATING A VIDEO

Choose a good, quiet location without distractions.
My cat has a habit of showing up whenever I’m doing something. Sweet as her little chirps and trills can be, that meant locking her out of the room while I was filming. As John pointed out, you also need to be conscious of lighting and background. I chose to stand in front of a promotional canvas print I had made a few years ago. This enabled my name and genre to be visible throughout the broadcast.

Keep it short.
Two to three minutes is a good range. My video came in at 2:46 when I was done. The library requested that I offer advice to new writers in addition to any personal promo I did. I was able to cover both in the video.

Write a script.
Know what you’re going to say beforehand, so you’re not stumbling around and inserting a lot of ums or uhs. I’ve given several presentations on folklore to local community groups, and it’s normal for me to memorize my “talk” beforehand. I did the same for the author video.  Be careful, however, that your presentation sounds natural. I adlib to a degree when I know the direction I’m headed. You don’t want to read or refer to notes.

Use a tripod for a stable surface and shoot in landscape mode.
You can purchase a good tripod inexpensively. I found this one on Amazon for under $20.00, and it turned out to be a life saver. Even then, I had to play with height and depth to get the closeness I wanted.

Keep the camera close. 
Whether you’re sitting or standing, close up is better for a promo video. I chose to stand as mentioned above. Maintain eye contact with the camera, avoid unnecessary hand movements (that one was really hard for me), and choose clothing that isn’t distracting. It’s best to avoid large patterns, plaids, polka dots, etc. It goes without saying to make certain your clothing isn’t wrinkled.

Don’t be satisfied with the first take.
Unless you nail it with your first go-round, don’t settle! Plan enough time to get it right. I did multiple takes before I was satisfied. Speak clearly, not too fast, and don’t mumble.

Create a thumbnail lead-in.
If you’ve ever used the embed feature on a video (or even copied the URL), you’ve probably experienced a few vids where the frame the video chooses as it’s starting second is downright nasty. I was horrified by mine, mouth hanging open mid-word. Just dreadful. You can easily avoid that problem by creating a thumbnail image to serve as the cover for your video. The size should be 1280 x 720 pixels, and is easily uploaded on YouTube. I built my cover from the branding theme I use on my website and blog for consistency.

If you’d like to see the end result, the video is below. I regret my remote only works with the photo app on my phone, not the video feature. I had to manually turn it off, but for my first attempt, I’m satisfied with how everything turned out. Creating this video was definitely a learning experience for me. I hope you find the information I’ve shared useful.

Now, it’s your turn. Have you ever created a promotional video? If not, would you consider doing one? Video is an excellent feature to add to your website for enhanced visibility. I could see myself doing this again to promote a new release, blog tour, sale, or cover a topic of interest. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

Ready, set, go!

bio box for author, Mae Clair

96 thoughts on “Creating a Promotional Author Video

  1. Very succinct and too the point Mae. Thank you for the encouragement. I have been working on a promotional video with all the bells and wistles on and off for awhile now. I know keeping it simple is the best way forward but I like the challenge of the video editing process as well. I find it difficult working on the video as I am unpublished, but I am passionate about bringing my subject matter foward. How do you approach presenting your research for profit when you only have a blog? – Thanks again.

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  2. Hi, and thanks for visiting to check out my post. I think you could certainly do a promo video with graphic clips and book covers with voice over. No reason why you have to appear on camera, and maybe that would lessen your anxiety. I have an Instagram account but I’ve let it lag for the last year or so. I really need to start using it again.

    Congrats on all of your publications and those you have in the works. I wish you well in your journey ahead, and I thank you again for visiting to comment on the post. Have an awesome day!

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  3. Love your promotional video! Also great advice! I’ve never made a promotional video but now I want to make one. I have anxiety though and I doubt I could stand in front of a camera and talk. Besides, my husband doesn’t let me show my face or voice on the internet, which is why I use bot voice when I convert my blogs into podcasts. I’m thinking of making a promotional video on canva, though, without showing myself. I have an author’s Instagram just for snippets of my books. I make the designs on canva. I have poetry books, mini autobiographies, and a self-help book. I’m also currently writing a novella on kindlevella

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  4. That was so cool! After having only seen pictures of you, it’s SO neat to actually hear you “live”. The advice at the end is spot on for sure! Not everyone is going to like what an author writes. Yes, you have to ignore the haters and the negative comments. It’s hard but necessary. This whole video was fantastic. Thank you so much for doing it. Quite helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • HI, Sue. Thanks so much for that wonderful comment. I’m glad you enjoyed the video. It’s kind of scary putting yourself “out there” but I guess it goes with author territory these days. And yes, I’ve learned to live with the fact that not everyone is going to enjoy what I write and some people will be vocal in letting me know that in their reviews. After nearly 10 years of doing this, I’ve had plenty of time to learn that firsthand, LOL.

      Liked by 1 person

      • LOL! I had one of those too….someone who rated a book one star, but only because another reviewer had given away spoilers in her review, which meant the one-star reviewer decided not to read the book as a result. I still don’t understand how that earns the book one star. Mind-boggling!

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  6. Mae, your video looked professionally done, and your segue from sharing about yourself to giving advice was seamless. You memorized all that? I would need a teleprompter if I ever attempted to do this. If that day should come, I’ll certainly refer back to your informative article. Thanks for sharing this!

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    • Oh, wow, thank you for that wonderful comment, Patty! And yes, I did memorize what I wanted to say before I started filming, but I’ve done much longer memorization for presentations I’ve done, so I’m sort of used to it. I’m so glad you found the post informative, and I do hope you’ll give making your own video a try. It was quite a satisfying experience!

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  7. Well done, Mae! Writing what you’re passionate about and sticking with it are sound pieces of advice. Throwing yourself open to praise and criticism is part of the gig if we want to improve as writers. It doesn’t hurt to develop some thick skin.

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    • Hi, Pete. Thanks so much. I’m glad you liked the post and vid and agreed with my points. I think writing what you’re passionate about makes all the difference, and—unfortunately—criticism is part of the deal. Fortunately, there’s some praise mixed in too, but as you said, it doesn’t hurt to develop a thick skin!

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  8. I speak in front of my students all day long with no problem, but I hate making videos. Lol! Still, I’ve recorded myself reading excerpts from my stories as a way to promote them. I guess that’s not too far off from doing a promotional video. Thanks for sharing yours and for your tips, Mae! 🙂

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  9. I’d absolutely panic if I was told I needed to make a video. Public speaking is bad enough. You were wonderful, Mae! You came across as calm, knowledgeable, and very professional. If I’m ever asked to do this, you can bet I’ll be reviewing this post again.

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    • Teri, I almost didn’t sign up to do this because of the fact it required a video. I felt that panic, LOL.
      I’m so glad I forced myself to do it. I looked at it as one more step on my author journey.
      Thanks so much for the compliments, and I’m so glad the post will be of value to you in the future!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. A well-executed post, Mae. I remember doing promotional videos for a certain book club. I enjoyed producing them. I did various writing tips, I believe. I still have the master files for those. Perhaps I should tear them apart, remove the “offending” content, and post them to my YT channel. Thank you for sharing these wonderful tips.

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    • Beem, if you can reuse those master files you should strip out the content that no longer applies and make use of them. I bet a lot of people would benefit from what you did, and I know the quality will be exceptional.
      I’m glad you liked the post. I’m honored, given your background in audio/video production. I was definitely a newbie at this, LOL!

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  11. I haven’t done a promotional video but I did do a presentation for a book festival. I spent hours on it. I didn’t have a tripod so I wrote some cue cards and taped them to a large piece of cardboard . I finally got it as close to the way I wanted which is saying something since I don’t care for how my voice sounds recorded but I was never able to upload it, smh. 🤨

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  12. Excellent advice and incredible video, Mae. I loved it. Should I summon the courage to follow in your steps, I’ll return to this post and revisit your sage suggestions before I leap. Thank you for sharing so deeply and honestly. Bravo! 💗

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gwen, I know you’ve done book review videos before. This isn’t much different, and I completely see you nailing it. I definitely think you should give it a try. I’m glad you enjoyed the post and I hope you give it a try!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. “No wrinkles” is going to be a problem, Mae. My pajamas are always wrinkled. 🙂
    On a serious note, great tips! I haven’t done one of these, but wouldn’t have considered most of your points, at least not without screwing them up first. Loved being able to see the result too!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. HI Mae, thanks for these tips. I do make YouTube videos, do not ask me why I put myself through that pain, I suppose it’s because I like to share my work and the work of others. I thought your video was very professional. It comes easier with practice. I only do one take now unless I really muff it. Otherwise I end up never being happy with the video.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Robbie, you’ve always done great videos and you’ve been doing them for a long time. I agree that things get easier the more you do them, and I hope that if I continue to make videos that will happen for me. It’s good to know that in time you can get them down to 1-2 takes. That would be a dream, LOL. I can’t tell you how many it took me to get this one. Thanks for saying it looks professional. I was hoping, with the work I put into it, that would be the result!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Pamela. I’m glad you dropped by to check out the post. Even if you’re only in the first draft of your book, it’s never too early to start planning how you’ll promote your work (and you) when it’s published. You’ll find a lot of other ideas in previous Story Empire posts and those yet to come. It’s our aim to provide helpful information to authors in various stages of their work!

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  15. This is such an insightful post, Mae! I haven’t started this side of my writing journey and am not exactly looking forward to it. lol But these tips are great! Thanks so much for sharing and letting us see your suggestions come to life.

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    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Mar. I dreaded doing this video but now that it’s behind me, I feel like I’ve taken another step in my writer’s journey—one that will be easier to handle the next time I need to approach it. I’m breathing a sigh of relief that it’s behind me, LOL!

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  16. First and foremost, SO glad you shared your video, Mae! I totally agree with all the compliments above, and I can’t tell you how much fun it was to feel like I was finally “meeting” you in person after all this time! I really enjoyed the video content, too, which was extremely informative and well presented. I’m totally impressed.

    Don’t know that I’ll ever work up the nerve to do one of these, as I (like many others, I’m sure) hate how I sound. I’m always amazed that folks don’t walk out on me when I’m giving a nature presentation, but have finally managed to accept that apparently they don’t hate how I sound. Or are very good at overlooking it for the sake of learning about our wildlife. Having said all that, should I ever work up the nerve to do one of these, I will definitely refer to this post and to John’s for guidance.

    Thank you so much for sharing your tips AND your wonderful video!! 🤗💖

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marcia, thanks for the compliments, and I’m glad you found this post helpful! With all the presentations you do, I would think creating a video presentation would be simple for you. I do however understand what you mean about to liking your voice. I’ve been recorded enough times now, that I’ve gotten used to how I sound. Do I like it? Nah, but it is what it is, so I work with it. And I’ve come to realize that other people don’t mind how I sound. In fact, after my last presentation on the Mothman, I had one of the audience members come up to me and say “I could listen to you talk all day. You don’t stumble over your words and your delivery is wonderful.” That was a heck of a surprise to me.

      You would be a natural at this. Then I could “finally get to meet you” too! 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for your kind words, Mae, but for me, it isn’t a matter of hearing my voice, but rather that I tend to forget just how strong my southern accent is. I don’t seem to be capable of enunciating a 1-syllable word. I mean, according to voice-to-text technology. I comb my hay-er, and shay-yer my books, and the like. Urk. (I should start saving some of the things that show up when I’m texting. Might make a pretty funny poem.) Funny, though–when I’m talking to folks face to face, I’m fine. I just don’t want a filmed record of me doing so. Eeeeeek.

        Oh, well. We all have our hang-ups, right? I mean, I actually know some people who don’t like snakes as much as I do. Imagine! 😂😂😂

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      • Okay, LOL! To those of us in the north, southern accents are unique and we love hearing them. I’m the same way with Boston accents. Actually, any accent, LOL. I live in an area where there is very little, so it’s always an “ooooh! aaaaaah!” thing to me! 😀

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  17. What a fantastic post! I love that you made sure of your background. That has always been my biggest challenge in creating videos. I’ve yet to find a way to get a good background but still working on it. Such great tips! And your video is fantastic! I’ll definitely take these tips into consideration the next time I create a promo video!! Thank you for sharing, Mae!

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    • I’m so glad you found the post helpful, Jan! I had the background print made from the same place I get my book covers reproduced–one of those canvas print shops through Groupon. It really came in handy when I was doing this video!

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  18. Love the promo video, Mae! You did an amazing job! I haven’t considered doing a video for my work in general, but I can see numerous benefits. I did a book promo video for Pretty Evil New England and I’ve done readings via video. All are nerve-wracking and time-consuming, but they sell books. No doubt about it. Zoom I’ve grown to love. It’s easy and we’re able to “appear” in places that we wouldn’t normally be. Cool new medium for authors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Sue. I’m glad you liked the video. I can definitely see you using this medium.
      I really enjoyed the Zoom event I did too, and look forward to the opportunity to do more. As you said, it opens a whole new field for author appearances.
      And I recall some of your bookish readings! For some reason I think readings would be more nerve wracking than doing a prepared clip!

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    • LOL! Staci I’m right there with you—I hate to have my photo taken and hate to appear on video, I almost didn’t do the author spotlight for that reason, The more I do things like this, the more I get used to seeing myself and hearing myself, and learning to live with the results! 😀

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  19. Your video is terrific, Mae. I feel like I’m back in elementary school, hiding behind the person in from of me, so I’m not called to speak. I can hardly stand to have my photo taken…this would be tough for me, but your tips are excellent. Thanks for sharing!

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    • Jill, I feel the exact same way. I HATE having my picture taken and hate appearing on video, but I forced myself to do this. Now that I’ve done one, I realize it wasn’t as horrible as I thought, and I can see myself doing more down the road. I’m glad you enjoyed the post–and the vid!

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  21. Good advice, Mae 🙂 I like the idea of using your promotional backdrop. I picked up the tripod, that will be a big help for when I need to do this. I enjoyed this post and video example!

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      • Thanks for the vote of confidence, Mae! But yeah, I still get self-conscious about what to say and, well, “flirting with the camera” LOL. I think the difference with singing is that I don’t have to think about having an audience and just lose myself in my performance, but videos like this, I can’t help being aware that I have an audience. Even if it’s just my phone and a tripod, haha! I’ll give it a try sometime though. I’m even slowly dipping my toes into TikTok and trying to see what the fuss is about.

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