I don't know about you, but I was surprised when one of the speakers at the Winchester SCBWI Conference last November said that when schoolchildren were asked where they look first for information, the answer was YouTube.
Not parents, not the library, not even our well-beloved Google: YouTube!
As a result, there are several new paths for a children's writer, and especially YA writers, to attract attention. In YA, in particular, "booktubers" are incredibly influential now. And don't limit yourself to booktubers in the UK– the English-language market is far bigger.
|Young readers love video! Give your book a boost online.|
You don't have to spend a lot of money on this. The average teenager these days can make a decent video. Ask your favorite teen to recommend a friend who's really good at this and then pay that person more than they expect (it won't be too bad) and get some children or teens to act out the parts for a short extract you write. You will be surprised at how good this can look and at how much attention it can bring to your book. SCBWI UK's own social media wizard Candy Gourlay has a couple of posts to help you, starting here. YA Book Trailers, a channel by the Children's Books Council, has 234 trailers for you to watch.
Mary Calhoun Brown, who wrote a children's "time slip" novel about a mute child with autism who goes back in time and discovers she can speak, got a few children she knew to act in her video trailer and discovered that when she makes school presentations, the video attracts the interest of even the non-readers.
|Marquis did not want to hold Elizabeth's hand for the trailer. "I was just sure he wouldn't do it," says the author.|
–If you like or don't mind performing, you can make videos yourself, even very short ones filmed with your mobile phone, and gradually build up an audience. It might surprise you what people are interested in watching. (Do you know there is a Swedish gamer who has 37 million subscribers who just watch him play video games online, and he makes $4 million a year? PewDiePie must be fun to watch.)
For a good example of what works, see John Green and his brother Hank's channel Vlogbrothers.
Their most-viewed video, How and why we read, has had more than 1,444,000 viewers.
A successful U.K. vlogger is Tim Bowler with his short videos in the Bolthole Bulletin. Its success took him by surprise.
–If you don't have a performer's bone in your body– and let's face it, many writers don't, and are more at home alone at their desks– you can get some video publicity if a popular vlogger or booktuber will review your book online. Remember that they are usually doing this as a hobby, so be polite and considerate. (For more information on this route, see Larisa Villar's Words and Pictures feature on vlogging.)
|You may not have heard of Christine Riccio but her YouTube book reviews as Poland Bananas Books have had 23 million+ views.|
Here are some influential booktubers for (mostly) YA, with some who also review younger children's books:
Jesse the Reader
Poland Bananas Books
Books and Quills
Beth June 327
Padfoot and Prongs
Little Book Owl
A Book Utopia
Epic Reads (Harper Collins runs this channel for YA readers)
If you are thinking about being a booktuber yourself, here are some tips from Bookables and Little Book Owl.
–You can even write directly for YouTube. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries are an adapation of Pride and Prejudice.
As Larisa says, the secret of success, whichever path you choose, is to focus on adding value, rather than on self-promotion. The audience is out there, and they love to read!
*Technically, Google owns YouTube, but they were originally two different companies and are run separately.
The picture at the top of the article is from Stick News on the Daily English Show.