Me: I’d like you to make a short video.

Author: Huh? Video? Why?

Me: Because videos are fantastic online content.

Author: Really?


I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve had the above conversation. I mean, I get it…you’re authors. Most of you (with some notable exceptions) aren’t accustomed to being in front of a camera. You might not even own a video camera other than your smartphone.

But this doesn’t change the fact that people like watching video. According to Pew Research, 63% of online adults and 82% of 18- to 29-year-olds (a traditionally hard-to-engage demographic when it comes to books) use YouTube. That’s a lot of people.

Ok…but what should I do on this video?

The answer to that depends a lot on how comfortable you are with different things. Do you like to read your work out loud? Talk about your process? Answer questions? These are all viable options.

Some guidelines:

  1. Keep it short: Aim for around 2 minutes, 3 max. Longer than that, and you risk losing attention. Ads are 30 seconds long for a reason!
  2. Remember that it’s not an ad: You don’t need to sell your book. If you choose to read from it, the book will do that on its own. If you’re talking, you need only be interesting. Fancy graphics and a soundtrack aren’t necessary.
  3. You don’t have to be the star (if you don’t want to): If you’re not super comfy in front of a camera, no need to be. You can combine elements of your book(s) with music (in this case, you do want a soundtrack).

Here are three examples of different types of videos to inspire you: