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Promoting Yourself Through Video – Guest Post by Susan Scott Shelley

Think of the last movie trailer that evoked this reaction: “Wow, I’ve got to see that!”

You have the power to stir that same reaction in your current readers and potential readers. Here are three ideas: Videos showcasing the type and tone of the stories you write, book trailers, and advertisements for big contests and giveaways. Through words, excerpts, images and music, you can generate a reaction like, “Wow, this author looks amazing, I have to check him/her out…and tell my friends!”

Don’t know where to start? It’s easy! Really…I promise.

Hiring someone to create the entire video for you is one option but if you want to stretch your artistic wings, you can create the entire video on your own, you can contract out a portion, like the voice and/or video production through a freelancer site, and you can use royalty-free music and images.

Whether you use a Mac or a PC, there are several video editing programs you can use to create your video. Examples include Apple iMovie, ScreenFlow, Windows MovieMaker, or websites like If you are using a freelancer for this portion, provide them with images that portray the tone you’d like to evoke, and an example of a video you’d like yours to resemble, so they have a clear vision of what you want.

For images and music, a word of caution: Royalty-free can mean different things for different projects. For example, you could pay $10 for a piece of music and receive certain rights to use it for a project that’s not trying to sell anything, but that same piece of music when used to sell a product, like book trailer, can cost up to $100. Some sites offer completely free music as long as you link in proper credits. This is also true of stock photos. Several websites offer stock images for free or low cost. Treat it the same as royalty-free music, do your research before buying anything and read the fine print regarding usage before signing any user agreement.

If you are recording your own voice, using the computer’s microphone to record will pick up the fan’s hum. While this may be okay for a video chat with your readers, the hum is distracting in a promotional video. Other devices may work better, you’ll know when you listen to the play-back. Recording in large rooms can create echoes. Rooms with sound-proofing, like walk-in closets, work well. If you don’t like your voice or want someone with a professional-quality microphone, hire a professional voice over artist. You can hire a professional through freelancer sites. Or, you can forego a voice and just have text displayed on the screen.

For all videos, follow these guidelines: The text should be in an easy to read font. For the sights and sounds, use photos, music and sound effects that accurately portray your books and your author persona.

How long is too long? Optimal length varies. I’ve seen videos as short as thirty seconds and as long as ninety seconds. I personally feel that anything over sixty seconds risks losing the average viewer’s attention span. Remember, readers are inundated with photos, links, blogs and videos. You need to capture them before they click off and move on to the next thing. Whatever you’re creating, keep it short and simple. Your goal is to engage the viewer right away, leave them excited about your books and wanting to learn more about you, so they’ll click the links to your site or pages.

If you are promoting a particular book, don’t forget to include the image of your book cover and publication info, and your website/social media content at the end. If you are creating a video for a contest, put the “To learn more…” information on the last screen. If you are creating a video about you, the author, put your website and social media info on the last screen.

Tying it all together to create a cohesive video takes time and patience but is worth the effort. Everything you put out into the social media world has the power to help to sell YOU to new readers. Remember, you’re not just selling your books, you’re selling yourself, too.

What are some trailers or videos you’ve found to be the most effective? Have you or would you create a video? How would you capture a reader’s attention?

Susan Scott Shelley, contemporary romance authorBio: Susan Scott Shelley is an award-winning author of contemporary romance and romantic suspense. She and her husband own a media production company. A city girl at heart, she resides outside of Philadelphia and spends her days writing about tough heroes, smart heroines and love being the strongest magic there is. Her debut contemporary romance , Tackled By the Girl Next Door, a football novella co-written with Veronica Forand, is coming from The Wild Rose Press in Fall 2014.

You can find Susan at:








12 thoughts on “Promoting Yourself Through Video – Guest Post by Susan Scott Shelley”

  1. Interesting post! I’d love to create a booktrailer to showcase my Guardians of Sherwood Trilogy, but feel intimidated by the copright issues. Thanks for sharing your input.

    1. Hi Laura, as long as you have clear direction about giving credit for the photos or permission for use, you should be fine. I’ve found that many sites’ support contacts are very helpful, nice people 🙂 Good luck with your trailer!!!

  2. Very nice post Susan! I’ve heard of doing book trailers but never really looked into them. Sounds like it would be fun to put together! I’m not very tech savy but I think if I play around with stuff enough I could figure it out! 🙂 Do you have a sample of something you made?

    1. Hi NIcky! You can definitely figure it out. All it takes is time and patience 🙂 I created a video this year for my local writing chapter’s (Valley Forge Romance Writers) annual writing contest. I used to put it together. I found their software to be very user friendly. Give it a try and good luck!

  3. Great article. I love the upbeat tone of your videos. Does adding voice increase the difficulty of splicing everything together or do the programs make it easy to have the correct words go with the correct image? I’m picturing talking about the hero and a picture of the heroine flashes by instead bc I can’t sync them.

    1. Hi Veronica. My experience is it’s best to start with the audio and build around it. You can separate the audio file into sections and then have everything line up the way you’d like it. Starting with the audio file is easier than beginning with video and then trying to make the audio match up.

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