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!