Vlogging, Anyone?

Guest Blogger: Jennifer Wilkov

Society loves moving pictures. Movies and television have been around for a long time, but then along came the Internet—and YouTube is right up there with Google and Facebook as the most visited websites in the world.

Vlogging, or video blogging, is a great way for you as an author to engage in a more personal way with the visitors of your blog from the comfort of your computer. Videos help to bring the reader, other writers, and the industry to you. It’s a great way to let them get to know you.

Videos can help boost your career, as agents and editors can see you speaking live on your blog when they’re deciding if they want to take you on. If you’re being considered to speak at industry events and conferences, your vlogs give a quick sample of who you are and how you speak.

Here are a few tips for vlogging:

→ The length of your video: Attention spans are short these days so keep your clips between 1 and 3 minutes.

→ What you wear: Look your best. It will help foster your success.

→ What’s in the background: Pick a backdrop for your video shoot that’s pleasing to the eye. The less cluttered, the better…and don’t be afraid to take the video camera outside the house and on the road with you. Shooting outdoors can make for some beautiful backdrops.

→ Distracting noises that your microphone might pick up: Be especially thoughtful about thes—a baby crying, a dog barking, a siren from the street, a timer going off in the kitchen, a telephone or cell phone ringing and others. Silence what you can before you start.

→ What camera you’re using: Make sure it’s versatile, has a good microphone and makes it easy for you to transfer your video to your computer and YouTube. Hint: you may want to edit the video and add your book cover and website to the end of each clip.

For nonfiction writers, vlogging is quite simple, as you can talk about any concept from your book. For fiction writers, video may seem like a huge leap from the quiet, invisible mental hallways of your imagination. So I’m including a few ideas here for all you novelists.

Things fiction authors can vlog about:

→ Your inspiration: Discuss what inspired your main character, plot or book series.

→ The setting: Chat for a minute about why your story is based in a particular town, state or country. Do you have a personal connection or experience with this place?

→ Story: Give hints about your plot twist without giving the story away. Get the viewer hooked on your book and leave them intrigued enough to want to buy it and read more.

→ What’s next: Discuss the next book in the series or what you’re working on now.

→ Appearances: Take videos at all of your readings, visits with writers’ groups, book signings, panels you speak on.

→ Advice: Share writing tips with other writers

When you use video on your blog, or vlog, you enrich your presence for the reader and raise your visibility. Video can become a valuable asset for your writing career and a great hook for your book. Don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it!

Have you considered vlogging, or do you already do it?
Do you click on videos and watch them when they appear in a blog?
In your opinion, would occasional videos be an asset to this blog?

Jennifer S. Wilkov is producer of the radio talk show “Your Book Is Your Hook!” on WomensRadio. Jennifer is a bestselling author of five books , and a consultant with a business by the same name, “Your Book Is Your Hook!” Jennifer supports first-time and seasoned authors in their book writing, publishing and marketing endeavors through coaching and training in her consulting practice.

  1. Kat!e says:

    I do a vlog where I give writing-advice. Your suggestions are perfect. I love watching other writers’ vlogs!

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  4. marion says:

    >Jennifer, Thanks for summarizing your video comments in print. Because I'm getting to this on the weekend, when videos don't work–too much traffic. It's frustrating when someone has a video up & it's not working and you've no idea what it is that you're missing.

  5. marion says:

    >P.S. Rachelle, I'm also voting for a video from you. Not posted on Fri. or Sat., since videos on weekends here are unwatchable because there's too much traffic on the web.
    Something funny would be nice!

  6. marion says:

    >This technophobe thought, "Nah, I"ll never do that." But I read the post anyway.
    And was energized by the idea of walking backwards towards the temple of Ramses III here at Medinet Habu, with some poor schmuck of a friend trotting along in sync. wielding a video camera. Doing a video like that would be too cool!
    Except (as some others have mentioned) that my voice sounds funny. But Tennessee Williams–or was it Truman Capote–had a funny-sounding voice & yet was a great writer.
    I need to work on getting some regular photos up on my blog first, before I even think of video.

  7. girlseeksplace says:

    >This is really helpful. I am definitely going to give vlogging a go soon.

  8. Shelly Goodman Wright says:

    >I knew there was a reason why I got an iFlip for Christmas.

    This is a great blog! I live in one of the most beautiful places in the U.S. (of course I'm bias) and I've often thought about doing this on the top of Pikes Peak, inside Garden of Gods and under the great Cave of the Winds (where I was inspired to write my sequel novel). Geez, get me out here and start filming. 🙂

  9. Chris Shaughness says:

    >I love the idea of vlogging to promote ourselves as authors so that people can "put the face to the name." Thanks for the tips! And so timely because I was just asked to speak at a conference in September. A nice vlog could help to preview that event.

    But even though I like the idea, I rarely if ever watch video clips in blogs. I just don't have the time or patience.

  10. Beth K. Vogt says:

    >I do click on videos when I visit other blogs. And I am using some video on my blog–but not of me (yet). My blog, In Others' Words, highlights quotes. On Fridays, I have some fun with magnetic words & video some sort of phrase, coupling that with a comment or photo. It's just a way to mix it up a bit.

    Thanks for all the practical advice about vlogging.

  11. Marcia says:

    >Jennifer, great post! I agree vlogging is a good addition to a blog when it is done well. @Daniel Case, what would you suggest for an author vlog besides the talking head usually seen?
    I do watch videos and appreciate those who include the text version. I like the connection for the viewer and it is just one more way to promote yourself and your work.
    Rachel, I would like to see you do a video on your blog.

  12. TaraNator says:

    >One of my first posts on my blog/website was an attempt at 'vlogging' and my husband got a big kick out of it. It's pretty bad and I should probably take it down. *le sigh* But…now that I have a better video camera and it's sunny outside (when there's not flooding or tornadoes) perhaps I can make better videos.

  13. Felicity says:

    >I've been reading writing/agent blogs for years and this is the first time vlogging has come up – thank you!

    I've made a few short videos that I now realise are pretty good for showcasing my ability to talk directly to an audience. Mine aren't technically about writing, though – they're about fun things I've done (horseriding, a balloon ride, the day I accidentally turned a diet coke and mentos fountain into a rocket. . .) while I was doing them.

    One of them has 13,000 hits but as a rule most of my readers don't click through. They're just a special treat for those that do.

    Louise Curtis

  14. Amber Argyle says:

    >I want to try it, but I just don't know how. And there's already so many things I need to learn that one more feels like the straw that broke the camel's back.

    Sigh. Maybe someday.

  15. Timothy Fish says:

    >I suppose I look at having the video and the text version as being about as useful as someone reading PowerPoint slides.

    I made a video a few weeks ago on How to Make Your Own Kindle Cover. I had thought I would do a voiceover, but in the end I figured adding the voice wasn't worth the effort. That particular post has turned out to be one of the more popular posts on my blog. In a way, that video has nothing to do with my writing, but I figure everyone who finds that post is a reader and just maybe they'll find one of my books that they want to read.

  16. Melody says:

    >Good advice, thanks for posting. The 'topics for fiction writers' was extremely helpful, and I applied it to speaking engagements (in the future). I've always wondered, what on earth would I talk about. And this was a good start.

  17. Diane Henders says:

    >I agree that a video creates a nice connection with the viewer, and quite a few marketing professionals recommend that you put a short video on your site.

    I suspect I'm in the minority when I say that I almost never watch a video. I can read three times as fast as anyone can talk, and I find it a huge time-waster to sit there listening. What's more, you can't skim a video for content – you're stuck watching the whole thing just in case there's something you need to hear.

    I guess a solution would be to post both video and text versions, and allow your viewers to choose their preferred option.

  18. Timothy Fish says:

    >I didn't answer the other two questions.

    I do click on many of the videos posted on blogs. I don't watch book trailers. And I don't watch videos if they are just the person reading their blog to me. I did watch the video you posted today, but to be honest, I don't think a regular video done in this style would hold my attention.

    So in answer to your question concerning whether you should include more video in your blog, the answer is yes, but only if it adds value over what you can get from text alone. For example, a video interview is preferable to a text interview. A video presentation in which a person can illustrate something by demonstration may be better than text that talks to a few images that are interspersed. But a talking head doesn’t add anything other than the ability to provide facial expressions, which many people struggle with when they are talking to a camera with no one behind it. If anything, more value is lost because it is important to have text for Google to find your blogs.

  19. Michelle DeRusha@Graceful says:

    >Ok, I admit, vlogging freaks me out. But I think it's a great idea for you, Rachelle! 😉

  20. Laila Knight says:

    >The closest I have come to vlogging is when I posted "fireghost" on my blog. (It's a video I accidentally recorded with my cell phone of a ghost running into the fire.) I love the idea of posting videos and have considered doing it regularly, probably because I'm not camera shy at all. I guess I never stopped to ponder the posibility that it would be a good way to promote myself. Thanks for the info.

  21. Sharon A. Lavy says:

    >Oh, I do that too. If a video is long and the picture is not captivating I read my email or something else while I just listen.

    I'm trying to think why I was able to enjoy all of Donna Parton's lessons. I think they were not so close up and showing every line in her neck and face as she talked.

    If I remember correctly she is usually sitting in a chair with a nice background and you see, if not her whole body, you see from her lap to her head and a fireplace or something interesting behind her.

    I think the one's that distract me are too much just the face of the person talking and it does not look like their professionally done photos.

    So. . . how many words is normal for a minute of speech? Just for a starting point.

  22. Garannamom says:

    >I have been doing a "private vlog" through the entire writing process so far. I have hours of footage stored on my computer. (that I am reluctant to share) I find that the camera is a great tool for reading aloud and then listening back. It is also a great brainstorming tool. My husband bought me a FLIP HD camera for Christmas last year and at this point I would be lost without it. Who knows, maybe I'll be famous someday and can sell the footage to someone. It could happen.

  23. Loree Huebner says:

    >Interesting. I haven't vlogged yet, but definitely something to keep in mind. Thanks.

  24. KathrineROID says:

    >I've never considered vlogging seriously. I'm just too lazy and don't have all the supplied for a good clip. Typing up a blog post is much easier, and I feel freer with words.

    Whether or not I watch the videos on a blog depends on how much I'm interested in the prescribed topic and my time. If the video is very long, I'll hit play and just listen while I surf elsewhere. (Yes, I understand the problems with multitasking. So sue me.)

    I do enjoy interesting videos, sometimes even more than a plain post of the same material. I like a balance, though, and dislike true vlogs that are all video and no print. I would be interested in your occasional videos.

  25. C.E. Hart says:

    >I agree wholeheartedly with the advice of keeping the video short.

    I try to limit my 'blog visiting time' so that my writing time doesn't suffer – so the 1-3 minute vlog is perfect.

    I enjoyed your post. 🙂

  26. Daniel F. Case says:

    >IMHO, there's no point in doing video if it's just a fixed shot of your head talking to a camera. Make it interesting and active, or don't make it.

    In the broadcasting industry, we have a saying:

    "He has a face for radio."

    The really funny thing is that I know one of those "faces for radio" who is quite successful as a TV talent. He's engaging, entertaining, rarely does a "talking head" shot and always has fun.

    If you think you're not photogenic enough to do video, think again—if that guy can do it, so can you!

    Video on Rachelle's blog? Absolutely. Rachelle's too ADD to do boring videos. 🙂


  27. Just Another Day in Paradise says:

    >Wow! One more thing that I didn't know I needed to worry about.

  28. ET @ Titus2:3-5 says:

    >Adam – hahahaha! What a crazy, busy blessing that must be.

    I've thought about vlogging, but haven't got around to it yet.

    When I visit a blog and find a video, the first thing I look for is the length. It has to be under 3 minutes (or be on a topic I'm just dying to hear about) or I won't click. When reading, I can skim; skimming is a little more difficult with video.

  29. Wendy Paine Miller says:

    >The idea appeals to me because I’m a visual person.

    I heard a podcast recently that made me want to know more about the person.

    I completely agree vlogging is a great way to help others get to know us better.

    Did I read Adam's comment right…9? Goodnight!

    And I thought I fought for quiet.
    ~ Wendy

  30. Cheryl Barker says:

    >I love to watch video blogs as long as they're not too long. Totally agree with keeping it no more than 3 minutes. I can't vlog because I don't have a video camera, but Rachelle, I think it would be great fo you to add this feature occasionally. Always nice to be able to connect a voice to a face.

  31. David A. Todd says:

    >"In your opinion, would occasional videos be an asset to this blog?"

    Not to me. I have no speakers on my ancient computer at home, and at work they don't allow speakers. I suppose I could buy some headphones….

  32. Timothy Fish says:

    >I agree with the concept. In fact, I've made the argument that a video of an author talking about his book is more effective than these trailers that people keep putting out, but you won't find much video of me on my blog. Like many people, I don't like listening to my own voice. Another thing is that I hate that echo you get from most video recorded in homes. Lighting is also a big problem when you're trying to film yourself. It is hard to reposition lights while you are seated in front of the camera. But other than that, I think it's a great idea.

  33. Sharon A. Lavy says:

    >Would occasional videos be an asset to Rachelle's blog?

    I'd love to see one that you produce, Rachelle.

  34. Sharon A. Lavy says:

    >The problem for me, is that people often don't look that wonderful in their Video's. One well known gentleman's nose often looks really big on his video clips. It looks fine in his regular photos.

    I watched a series of food preparation videos but I had to quit because of how the speaker looked distorted.

    I guess what I am saying is the fear factor would hold me back on this one.

  35. Rosemary Gemmell says:

    >Thanks for the very useful post and information. I've never considered doing a video in that way, yet! But I have made my very first YouTube trailer (using stills) for the novel that's coming out next week. That was fun and has had some good comments.

  36. Rona Go says:

    >I am just jumping the gun a little here. But do you think there will come a time when authors will be querying through videos. I used to hand in my resume in hard-copy when I apply for a job. However, more and more companies today prefer soft copies or video/audio recordings from applicants.

  37. Adam Heine says:

    >"Watch out for distracting noises that your microphone might pick up."

    This is why I don't vlog. Nine kids, most under 5 years old.

    Silence is something that happens to other people.

  38. Stephanie McGee says:

    >I've thought about it. Then I've realized that I sound like a man when my voice is recorded. So that quashes that right then and there.

  39. Angela @ HomegrownMom says:

    >I've bought a flip, sort of camera and am just waiting for the nerves to settle so I can start vlogging! Thanks for the tips!

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