Creating Youtube videos is one of the most effective ways for a writer to enhance his or her community. First, we’re going to look at what groups make up our writing community, what we give them, what we gain from them, and most importantly, what we should not expect to get from them. Then, we’ll look at how Youtube benefits every group individually.
Groups in your Writing Community
These groups often intermingle. However, mistaking a Friend for a Reader or a Writer for a Publisher can lead to unmet expectations and disappointment. From a career standpoint, it’s a good idea to define them by their primary function.
Family and Friends
The best day in my writing career was the day I stopped asking my husband to critique my work. I realized that my husband’s job was to support me because he loves me, not my book because he loves my book. That may happen, but it’s secondary. Your family should be YOUR biggest fan, as in, a fan of YOU.
My parents and extended family want to hear how my writing is going only because they want to hear how I’m doing. They want to feel connected and updated on my life. In return, they offer emotional support.
While family and friends may pledge to buy your book someday (often with the addendum that they will have you sign it so they can tell people they knew you before you were famous), the truth is: they probably won’t. The reason? They’re not actually your audience. That means that word-of-mouth, when it’s going from Mom to Grandma on Facebook, is actually not much of a promotional tool.
I hope we all know that reviews from family and friends need to come with a statement of disclosure. They’re nice, but they’re not the priority, and they’re probably not reaching our audience. If Aunt Susan gets too enthusiastic (Christine is the sweetest and her book is SOOOOO GOOD!), they may even be detrimental.
These are the people you want to keep close.
The solution to having family-as-editors was finding actual writing buddies. Finally, someone who understood what I was doing and what I wanted. I found out I wasn’t the brilliant hermit I thought I once was. The feedback was actually useful. The best part is, you get exactly as much as you give.
That said, other writers aren’t necessarily your audience either. They may be readers, but they’re not YOUR readers. Promoting your book among authors is like selling shoes to a cobbler. Yes, some may read it and some may love it, but the writing community is not infinite, and it’s more concerned with its own work than yours. And that’s okay.
These are the people you want to work alongside.
These are the people who are more interested in your writing than you. These are the people you write for. These are the people who will actually buy your book and share it with their friends. Their word-of-mouth reaches their peers–other readers. These are the people you want reviewing your book. Their continuing interest in your writing is what will eventually equal book sales which may eventually equal royalties, as well as ensuring your continued career as an author.
But be wary. While the adoration of some readers may bring you validation, feedback from other readers may not be so swell. This is why you must rely on friends and family for emotional support. Close friends and family offer unconditional love. Your reader’s love is terrifyingly unpredictable.
These are the people you want to keep interested.
For the sake of simplicity, we’re calling anyone who aids in the professional presentation of your writing a “publisher.” Agents, Acquisitions/Copy Editors, Publishing Companies etc. These are the people investing in your work in a business aspect. These are the people shaping the 0’s on your advance. They buy each of your books once. They are the gatekeepers of your career. (If you’re self-publishing, your Readers and Publishers are one group. But your Family is not your Publisher, and other Writers are not your Publisher.)
These are the people you want to impress.
Groups in your Writing Community + Youtube
Youtube and Family
Family members love Youtube videos. They will come out of the woodwork to let you know. Instead of them asking what you’ve been up to, they’ll often start talking about your last video. It’s a fantastic way to connect with them. In my experience, feedback from family and close friends is going to come through the venue you usually communicate through, whether it be Facebook or real life. Most of my friends and family don’t know that they have Youtube accounts, so forget asking them to Subscribe. Connecting family with your life, as well as updates on your writing, makes supporting you emotionally easier for them.
Youtube increases closeness with family and friends.
Youtube and Writers
If anything defines an artist, it’s someone who isn’t content to enjoy something without wanting to try creating it themselves. Writers are no exception. A lot of writers want to develop their online presence, and they’re likely to want to connect with other writers who appear to be doing it well. Writers are looking for relatable companions to work alongside, and Youtube videos make a real person out of you.
Youtube attracts writers who want to work with you.
Youtube and Readers
The worst thing you can do with a Youtube video is turn it into a four-minute commercial. That said, an audience on Youtube does not equal book sales. Not everyone in your audience is going to be YOUR reader. It does, however, provide free content to people with similar interests and flavors of humor. It introduces them to your voice and world-perspective. It turns you into a character they want to cheer on. It also teaches you who is paying attention, and what they respond to most.
Youtube sparks interest in your creations and helps you locate your audience.
Youtube and Publishers
It’s getting harder and harder for writers to be hermits. Audiences want to interact with creators, and the publishing world wants to present authors that won’t embarrass them. They want to sell dang good books, but they also want authors that are willing to use some elbow grease (and a sense of decorum) when it comes to promoting them. While publishers are not your target audience, if they do come across your professional and charismatic content, it’s going to make you look like one very attractive package-deal. While on Youtube, it may seem like everyone and their dog has a channel, but they don’t. In the grand scheme of things, an author with a consistent, quality channel does stand out.
Youtube (done well) is impressive.
Notice that Youtube does not immediately equal book sales from any group. It’s important to keep this in mind, and equally important to appreciate the many successes without a price tag. Youtube videos are free content, and therefore the majority of the people they attract will be people attracted to free content. However, content does create a crowd. From that crowd, you will find a community where everyone benefits–including you.
See you on the Tube!
Christine Tyler currently lives in Yokosuka, Japan with her submariner husband and train-enthusiast son. She enjoys geology, botany, and romantic chemistry. Also, dinosaurs. She has a bad case of wanderlust.
Her Life/Family Channel can be found here.
Her Book Channel can be found here.