Make a video, build your author platform

I’ve been so busy lately producing videos that I haven’t had a chance to write a blog post, and blogging is something I have to do to build my author platform. Having video about you, and your books is another good way of building your author platform. Book trailers and author pitch videos are popping up all over the web, so I thought I’d blog about how authors can make videos to help them market their writing.

If you’re not a professional videographer and you don’t have money to pay a professional to create the video for you, you still have options. Contact your local college and see if a student in a film production class needs a project. The way I got a lot of production experience was through a Public Access television studio, so see if your community has one and give them a call. You can do it yourself and have a friend help you, but keep some details in mind.

Lights are important but you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on professional ones, instead you can visit your local hardware store and look for utility lights, like the ones you clamp to a workbench. Or you can just get higher wattage bulbs for lamps you already have on hand. Also, check your camera’s menu and try different white balance and exposure settings. Besides making sure the room itself is well lit, a key light focused on the people or subjects being recorded will highlight their form and dimension. And don’t forget about lighting the background, but don’t make it too bright or it will wash out the subjects. For instance shooting video toward a window is not a good idea because most times it will provide too much backlight, plus glass doesn’t bounce sound as well as walls do.

Good sound is as important as lighting. Try to find a quiet place with little background noise. Don’t choose a time when your neighbor is blowing leaves or rush-hour traffic is streaming by your house. Close the windows and doors while shooting, and if it gets too hot, take a break. Again, check your camera settings so you can monitor and adjust the mic. level. Some audio problems can be fixed in post-production.

Most computers have some kind of video editing software – Windows has Movie Maker and Mac has iMovie, or for a little investment you can get Final Cut Express or Premiere Elements. One nice addition you can make to your video in post-production is music, but make sure you have the rights to use the music. Maybe you have a friend who’s a musician or you know of a local band that would like the exposure. If not, check out Kevin MacLeod’s website for dowloadable, royalty free music licensed under Creative Commons, just be sure to list him in the video credits.

Even if you get the lights and sound correct, you still need action to make your video a hit. As writers we know the importance of good storytelling. Try varying the shots, like you vary the length of your sentences, don’t just have one or two talking heads the whole time. B-roll, also known as cut-aways, can be inserted during editing, book covers are the obvious choice, and this is a kin to setting a scene and adding telling details. Use the same frame of mind when you storyboard and edit your video as you do when writing your stories.

how to embed a youtube videoMany of you will put your videos on YouTube. Once it’s on your channel, click where it says ‘Share’ under the video. You can use the highlighted link to post your video on your Facebook page and tweet it to your Twitter followers. Under the link, click where it says ‘Embed’ and you’ll get the code you can use to place the video on your blog. By creating, posting, and sharing your video about you, your books and your writing, you’ll be well on your way to building your author platform.