|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?
“the noise is deafening”.
Does that leave vlogging as the fresh, new platform for authors to promote their work?
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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.
“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|