Learn from the best on how to build your personal brand on the world’s second-largest search engine.
As an author, if you think your only job is to write, then you’ve got it all wrong.
But why build a presence on YouTube?
Here are four solid reasons why YouTube might be the best strategy for you as an author:
- YouTube is the internet’s second-largest search engine with more than two billion logged-in monthly users.
- YouTube is the world’s second-most used social platform right after Facebook.
- The discoverability of content is crazy on YouTube, with 90% of consumers claiming they discover new products and services each day through YouTube.
- Videos appear more often in Google’s search results. Hence, marketing on YouTube will help you get found on Google.
So how to go about posting content on YouTube if all you’ve done so far is write? To answer this question, I looked at some of the most-followed authors on YouTube to learn from and build a strategy to establish a presence for yourself on the platform. This article discusses five ways you can use YouTube to sell more books, reach more people, and build a personal brand.
1. Release Audiobooks Chapter by Chapter
Case Study: Brandon Sanderson
Name of YouTube channel: Brandon Sanderson (359K subscribers)
Frequency of posting: About 13 videos per month
Award-winning and New York Times bestselling fantasy and sci-fi author Brandon Sanderson is an inspiration to many in the writing community. Not only does he write amazing books with an insane frequency, but he also shares his writing and editing tips very generously on YouTube.
Aside from that, a very interesting use he puts his YouTube channel to is to post the audio version of the chapter of his upcoming book by chapter. Here are the first three chapters of his latest audiobook:
- Prologue to Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
- Chapter One — Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
- Chapter Two — Rhythm of War by Brandon Sanderson
While every author might not have access to an excellent narrator like Sanderson does, it’s not a bad idea to start reading your own books. Releasing new content every few days can generate a lot of buzz and keeps the interest alive in the readers. This can be a brilliant strategy, especially when you have an upcoming book release.
2. Talk About Your Writing (and Reading) Journey
Case Study: Alexa Donne
Name of YouTube channel: Alexa Donne (135K subscribers)
Frequency of posting: About eight videos per month
Traditionally published YA author Alexa Donne posts a lot of videos talking about her writing journey. This can include the hurdles she encountered while working on her manuscript, complaints about why the publishing process takes so long, and her writing goals for the long and short term. She mixes up content about her writing journey with book reading tips, recommendations, and reviews of popular books. Here are a few examples:
- My journey to get published | Inspiration & Goal Setting
- Best & Worst Books of 2020
- Editing Tips for Underwriters | When Your Book Is Too Short
Talking about your own journey might seem a little difficult, especially if you’re not used to self-promotion. But this can be a great way to promote your upcoming books while making sure your content is relevant and helpful to fellow authors. After all, talking about the problems you faced can help many new writers who are starting out.
3. Interview Other Bestselling Authors for Specific Tips
Case Study: Joanna Penn
Name of YouTube channel: The Creative Penn (46.1K subscribers)
Frequency of posting: About six videos per month
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Joanna Penn does this best. Every month, she hosts a voice chat with a bestselling author to talk about a topic related to writing and publishing. Here are a few examples:
- From Chaos to Creativity: Productivity For Writers With Jessie Kwak
- Writing In The Dark. Horror Writing Tips With Tim Waggoner
- Outlining Your Novel And Filling The Creative Well With K.M. Weiland
The best part about hosting interviews with other authors is that there’s no need to take care of creating video content. A single title slide can be used for the entire video with the voice playing over.
Also, the audio track can be used to host a separate podcast, which Penn hosts on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, and Spotify. This is an excellent way to repurpose the same content on two platforms and earn money from two diverse sets of audiences.
4. Talk About the Business Side of Things
Case Study: Jenna Moreci
Name of YouTube channel: Writing with Jenna Moreci (266K subscribers)
Frequency of posting: About five videos per month
Sci-fi author Jenna Moreci shares her experience in a unique blend of business and writing tips to help authors achieve their goals. She doesn’t shy away from talking about the monetary aspect involved in writing. Her sense of humor makes her personality shine through in her videos, making the content even more fun to watch. Here are a few examples:
- How Much Does it Cost to Publish a Book?
- 10 Toxic Mindsets to Drop as a Writer
- Does my Book Need a Presale?
As a content creator myself, I find it inspiring when other creators share their expenses and earnings — the basics that went into building their business. As a newbie author, you might not be making millions, but talking about your earnings and what you spent might be a great way to make yourself seem accessible and establish a rapport with your audience.
5. Share Life Experiences Related To Being an Author
Case Study: Brittany Wang
Name of YouTube channel: Brittany Wang (11.4k subscribers)
Frequency of posting: About four videos per month
YA author Brittany Wang makes videos specifically targeted toward people looking to navigate through life as a writer. She frequently shares craft and business advice for authors. Her videos also share tips on how to incorporate your life experiences into writing. Here are a few examples:
- TOP TIP for How to write a GREAT First Draft of a Novel!
- NANOWRIMO TIPS: Ideas to beat Distractions, Low Motivation, Discouragement and Get Back on Track!
- 📚How I turned my NOVEL into a Serial SERIES!
There are so many ways to spice up your YouTube channel. Talking about your life experiences as a writer is a great way to go about it. Not only does this attract more people, but it also shows your audience the shades of your personality other than being a writer. You can make videos about any topic. Brittany often carries out writing sprint that helps bring other writers together and help them get rid of distractions and write for a while.
Building a presence on YouTube will take consistency, some investment in audio and video equipment, and may push some authors out of their comfort zone.
But it’s a platform worth exploring because of its steadily growing user-base, and the potential to draw in new readers from across the globe.
I did a lot of research while setting up my own YouTube channel, and I believe these insights will help other authors too.
This article looked at five authors who have successfully built a following on YouTube. Here are some content ideas for you to start your YouTube journey:
- Read your book out loud and release the audio version chapter by chapter. This can be a great strategy to generate interest pre-release.
- Talk about your writing journey and the kinds of books you like to read.
- Interview other bestselling authors and release the audio clips as podcasts to utilize yet another platform for building your brand.
- Talk about the business side of things — like how much you invested, what were your earnings, etc.
- Share the other shades of your personality and talk about what it means to navigate through life as an author. This will make you seem more friendly and accessible, and help readers connect to you better.