Byte the Book: vlogging and blogging for authors

Author blogging

We have just launched a new ‘reporting from’ series in which we go to publishing and media industry events, seminars and talk and report useful information back to you.

Earlier this month, we headed to the Groucho Club (beloved by many a publishing “darling”) to get the low-down on video blogging (vlogging) and blogging for authors at the latest Byte the Book event. The lively panel was made up of Lisa Edwards, a power-blogger; Greg Jenner, author, journalist, and Horrible Histories contributor; and Rosie Allimonos, head of content partnerships at Google (basically, an expert who matches the biggest YouTubers with brands who want to reach their audience). They all knew about the power of using a blog or vlog to grow an audience and ultimately increase sales, but came at it from different angles.

Interestingly, in the same week, two major vloggers announced book deals with big trade publishers: Zoella is to write a sequel to the fastest selling book ever, Girl Online, and KSI (a vlogger famous for his FIFA video game commentary) has announced his first book deal with Orion. It seems like the world of publishing can no longer ignore the power of vlogging!

Vlogging for Authors: “Zoella is the new Anne Frank”

The room was a good mix of old- and new-school publishers. Whilst Rosie explained the vlogging landscape, there were frowns and gasps from some corners. She really caused a stir when she said that, “Zoella is the modern-day Anne Frank”. What she meant, or so she said, is that it’s all about authenticity. There is something very authentic and real about someone switching on their camera and saying something and that makes whatever they say very believable. The fact that they let their audience into their lives and expose themselves like that instantly creates an intimacy.

Rosie’s tips on how authors can make vlogging work:

  1. Become your audience’s trusted friend. Invite them into your life in this limited way. Be genuine. Be a real human being with the same problems, concerns, likes, etc. as your audience.
  2. Build an audience by creating consistent content, so that if someone likes one of your videos, they will like all of them. This will keep them coming back for more.
  3. Read a chapter or section of your work aloud to camera. This will make readers connect with you and your story.
  4. Consider using vlogging for feedback. When you are still in the writing stage, test out some material (by reading it to camera) and ask for feedback.
  5. Add some jeopardy to the title of your video. Make it sound like one thing, then deliver the twist.

Blogging for Authors: Stick to your brand

Lisa Edwards wrote a blog on being single in your 40s, through which she became one of the Huffington Post’s regular contributors. Here are her tips for new authors starting to blog:

  1. Write down your brand values. Have these 4-5 words on your phone (or somewhere you will regularly see them) and make sure that everything you blog about (or post on any social media platform) is in line with these. This helps build consistency. Readers will come to your blog with expectations for a certain type of content, and should get it. Think about what essential quality you can repeat each time a reader comes back to you. Will you make them laugh? Impress them with mad facts? Give information on a specific topic?
  2. Be consistent. Write regularly and make your blog posts a routine length.
  3. Republish your older blog posts when there is an opportunity to pin them to current events.
  4. Use your blogging backlist. Add links within your blog posts to some of the older posts in your archive. This will encourage people who have read one post to read others.

Greg Jenner is a historian who found a niche within journalism for linking current events to historical facts/research. We admit, this sounds quite dry, but actually, he is hilarious. As an example, see his very witty piece in the Huffington Post on gay marriage. He found that he could offer a unique perspective (from his academic background), but also make this accessible and funny for the average reader. He pitched and pitched to the Huffington Post and eventually got his chance. Now he regularly writes for lots of different sections of the Huffington Post because his perspective can be applied to anything. He has over 20,000 Twitter followers that he keeps entertained daily, which some might find pretty surprising for a historian.

In Conclusion: “Dickens was the original Kim Kardashian”

These words were said by the host, The Sunday Times journalist, Daisy Buchanan. What she meant was that if you are known for content on a particular subject, then you have to be pushing out content on that subject in as many different ways and places as possible to grow your readership across the board. Dickens was, of course, the master of serialisation, spinning a yarn, hooking the readers, and then selling them something else. If he were here today, he would be using social media, blogging, and vlogging to grow and connect with his audience and prime them for buying his next release.

 If you would like to join us at the next Byte the Book event, then you can find out more about it here.

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