"We'd like you to make an author video." This was in an email my editor sent me a few weeks ago. And my response was a cheerful, "Sure!"
Of course, I wasn't all that sure. I mean, an author video--that meant I had to videotape myself. And to be honest, I'm the type of person who tries to avoid cameras at all cost. The isolation and ability to wear yoga pants all day are big perks to authorhood in my book.
Not that I couldn't have seen this coming--I mean, Harper had listed an author video as part of their marketing plan. Anyway, I made a quick video. Edited it on my basic editing software, the stuff that was already on my computer. Only it looked... Well, pretty terrible.
So I made a better video. And I thought I'd share with you what I learned, so you can be awesome right out the gate.
1. Yes, you need an author video
Maybe your publisher didn't ask you for it, but an author interview is a great tool in telling the world about the great book you wrote. If you're an indie writer: what a great tool to promote your work, right? Especially if you're a middle-grade writer, like me. Author videos allow librarians, teachers and parents to hear you talk about the story, and why kids should read it.
2. Watch some examples
The best way to decide what you want your video to look like is to watch other writers strut their stuff. Some look at the camera, some don't. Some look like they had a stylist, and some look like they just fell out of bed. Just search for 'author video' on Youtube, and it'll toss you examples. I've pasted mine below, but you can do much better.
3. State your talking points
What do you want to say about your book? If someone were to interview you, what do you wish they would ask? Unless you're Stephen King, try to find a good way to introduce yourself and the book. Keep it to the most important stuff. You really don't want your video to run much longer than three minutes.
4. Write a script
Think about how your video will play out. Imagine what slides you'll use (for questions), and what you'll say.
5. Buy some software, if you can afford it
I started my video on Moviemaker, but it's pretty limited in its templates. I tried freeware, and even considered (briefly, until I saw the pricetag) buying a Mac.
Bottom line: unless you're a techie, you want to buy some software with templates. This blog, my website, the video--they're all built with them. Templates are your friend--look for video editing software that gives you sound effects if possible. You'll want to be able to adjust the sound, so look for that function. I made my video with Pinnacle (which set me back $80), but there are several alternatives for about the same price.
6. Shoot lots of video
Unless you're Oprah, you probably need a little warm up time in front of the camera. Videotape yourself answering the same question five times--your software will allow you to edit it. You can use a basic camera; just make sure your sound quality holds up. Shooting outside may be a bit ambitious...
7. Get images and music
Make sure you own the rights to whatever images and music you use... Buy what you need, or ask friends (my Paris pictures were graciously donated by my sister).
8. Have fun
So maybe seeing yourself on video is not your favorite thing in the world. But enjoy the creative process! Play around with your slides, transitions, and other effects. Make sure they fit the mood/message of your book.
I hope this is helpful for you fellow authors! Here's my video; let me know when you make yours, and I'll post it here on the blog with your permission.