Wednesday, 27 May 2015

The Buzz - Everyone's talking about... Vlogging

Illustration by Whizzy Barr

ALL ABOARD THE VLOG-WAGON
By Larisa Villar Hauser 


Every now and then a story explodes in the papers and TV about the latest bestseller to spring out of digital media. More than ever, publishers are looking to the Internet for new material. And why wouldn’t they? 


Whether blogger, vlogger (video blogger), fan fiction writer, or writer on a reading platform such as Wattpad - people who mega-successfully hook into digital media come with huge fan bases that are a ready-made audience for a print book. 


In publishing terms, this is a marketing jackpot equivalent to releasing the work of a celebrity or established author. Instant PR. Instant sales.


The latest digital media big-hitter has been vlogging. But in terms of securing a publishing contract, the digital media-to-author road goes only one way, as witnessed by success stories such as Alfie Deyes’ The Pointless Book and, of course, Zoella's Girl Online. Vlog success first, book contract second. 



So can vlogging be useful to debut or mid list authors? 


Candy Gourlay
@candygourlay
Reading Nick CrossBlog Break interview with Candy Gourlay, it seems that the blogging boat may have sailed. These days a debut or mid-list author is pretty much expected to have a blog, and as Candy points out 

“the noise is deafening”. 







Does that leave vlogging as the fresh, new platform for authors to promote their work? 


Photo: Paul Mayne/Flickr/
Creative Commons License
The 2014 Nielsen Children’s Book Industry Report suggests that kids are well and truly plugged into video content. 43% of children under 12 stream videos on tablets, with 58% of teenage girls and 50% of teen boys doing the same. Most of this content is supplied through YouTube. So the challenge, it seems, is to find a way to tap into young readers’ hunger for video content and their desire to share with friends and people with similar interests. 


But vlogging is, in some senses, a performance art. How many authors are ready and willing to strut their stuff on camera? For an author, the appeal and ease of writing and maintaining a blog seems clear. The written word is an author’s craft. Producing video content is likely to be outside most authors’ comfort zone, although there are notable exceptions such as John Green, author of The Fault in our Stars and part of the prolific vlogbrothers team. 



Tim Bowler
@tim_bowler
Perhaps Tim Bowler has the answer for the less theatrically inclined. In response to fan mail bursting with questions on craft and ‘being an author’, in 2009 Tim started posting short videos to his website. The films picked up on, and answered, fan questions. And so, almost accidentally, The Bolthole Bulletin was born. Tim told us: 






“I wanted to answer people's questions in a friendly, one-to-one way, and at the same time share with a wider audience some of the answers that I thought might be of general interest. I also wanted to encourage people, of whatever age, with their writing ... the films – taken together – constitute a kind of video library for anyone who is interested.” 


This approach seems to be at the heart of any successful social media interaction: a focus on adding value rather than self-promotion. If your vlog (blog – or anything else) adds value to your audience’s life then that audience is likely to grow. Certainly this has been Tim’s experience: 


“My aim back in 2009 was just to make two or three films, try to say something vaguely sensible … but the questions kept coming and more and more people started asking me to answer them to camera in a Bolthole Bulletin. So I'm still going!” 


In fact, Tim’s approach has a whole digimedia word of its own: edutainment. That is, vlogging with educational content, which is often, though not always, aimed at kids. 


Check out Thug Notes, a sort of video Cliff’s Notes on the classics. The tagline - Classic Literature. Original Gangster - says it all (Warning! – explicit language, not one to watch around the wee ones). 


Another way vlogging is useful to debut and mid-list authors is vicariously. YouTube is awash with book vloggers, or book tubers, boasting large numbers of passionate followers. People like Jesse the Reader, Books and Quills, and many others. They vlog book reviews in an informal book club kind of way. 


Speaking at the London Book Fair, Rosianna Halse Rojas, top vlogger and the power force behind John Green’s vlog, gave the following advice for authors seeking to get their books into the hands of book tubers: 


“Remember that book tubers don’t generally make any money from vlogging and do it alongside ‘the day job’ … they are BUSY so ask but don’t hassle.” 


She made the following suggestions for authors wanting to reach out to vloggers: - 


  • Organise a vlog tour timed with the release of a new book
  • See what individual vloggers are talking about so that you can pitch to the right person. It’s no use sending a middle grade book to someone who only reads YA 
  • Check out individual vloggers’ other outlets like twitter, instagram, tumblr, etc for a full picture of what they are about. 


Vlogging is the digital media watchword of the moment and competition is rife – both for getting your books into the hands of an established vlogger and for getting your own, new vlog noticed. 


So is it too late to jump on the vlog-wagon? 


Well, to end on a you-heard-it-here-first TOP TIP from Rosianna Halse Rojas – there aren’t many picture book vloggers out there. So if you are a picture book writer and aficionado who isn’t camera shy … get vlogging – there is a huge, untapped, picture book audience out there waiting for you!



Larisa Villar Hauser
@larisafvh
Larisa Villar Hauser is the author of independently published middle-grade novel UMA & IMP. The second book in the series is due for release in 2016. She also works as a freelance translator, mostly for small TV/film production companies and, lately, in publishing. Larisa has been a member of SCBWI since 2009 and is moderator for the e-critique group Muddlegraders. Her blog, handmeamirror.wordpress.com, charts the self-publishing journey. www.impprintbooks.com 

10 comments:

  1. Fab article Larisa - great research, really informative and hopefully spurring us all on to look into Vlogging and maybe kick off our own like Tim! Great tip for Picture Book writers/illustrators!

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  2. I can't even handle having my picture taken...don't think this wil work for me unless I could be taken out of the equasion!

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    1. Absolutely know how you feel! Can't even stand the sound of my recorded voice. Just cringing.

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  3. Really intriguing! Thanks so much.

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  4. Brilliant Larisa - reallly interesting article - i'm inspired. Thank you!

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  5. Great article, Larisa! Another great children's book vlogger is illustrator Shoo Rayner. I disagree though that the blogging boat has sailed even though I did say the noise is deafening. Thoughtful considered blogs do get read (and found endlessly if they are topics people always search for). Unfortunately the same problems blogging experiences also apply in the vlogging world. And like blogging, success comes only if you do it well.

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    1. Absolutely. There is always space for new bloggers, vloggers ... and writers - if the work is good!

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  6. Great article, Larisa! Another great children's book vlogger is illustrator Shoo Rayner. I disagree though that the blogging boat has sailed even though I did say the noise is deafening. Thoughtful considered blogs do get read (and found endlessly if they are topics people always search for). Unfortunately the same problems blogging experiences also apply in the vlogging world. And like blogging, success comes only if you do it well.

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  7. Thank you, Larisa - I have to confess I've never heard of vlogging, so your article was most informative, and very thorough. Cheers!

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