How Authors Can Use YouTube to Promote and Sell Books

What is YouTube?

Authors hear a lot about the importance of marketing and promoting their work on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. All of these platforms have their own audiences, features, and benefits. One platform that is often overlooked by authors is YouTube. Because the content that is shared on YouTube is video-based, many authors feel this platform is outside their technical skillset, which isn’t always the case. With some basic equipment, software, and planning, you too can become a YouTuber!

Why YouTube? YouTube is the largest video-sharing website in the world, with 2 billion monthly users and still growing. According to, there were 4.39 billion internet users in 2019, meaning over 45% of these users report having a YouTube account. This is a gigantic pool of video-watching consumers that can become potential readers of your books.

How YouTube Benefits Authors

When authors think of video marketing for their books they often think of book trailers, but going beyond the video trailer to create and share other relevant videos can be an excellent way to strengthen your author brand, attract readers, and build a fan base. And, sharing these videos on the world’s second most visited website (YouTube is 2nd only to Google) and second largest social media platform (YouTube is 2nd only to Facebook) has huge advantages.

  1. Video is powerful: YouTube users watch one billion hours of video every day! What makes this format and content so compelling? Videos are an effective way to communicate on virtually any topic – from auto repair to health and beauty to crafts and hobbies. Users can find information and how-to’s on almost any topic when they search on YouTube. People often turn to video because it’s easy to consume and the content is typically much more engaging than other formats.
  1. One of the largest search engines: YouTube is the second largest online search engine in the world and is owned by the largest, which is Google. When consumers are searching for entertainment, education, products, or information, they are turning to these top search engines to find relevant content.  
  1. Discoverability is high: According to, 90% of consumers say they discover new products and services through YouTube. By creating and posting content on YouTube, you can greatly increase your chances of showing up in search results when consumers are searching for keywords related to your books. A good book marketing strategy involves improving your online presence through SEO (search engine optimization) so that you increase your overall discoverability as an author. The more people that know about you, the more books you will sell.
  1. AuthorTube is a community: There is an entire community of authors sharing content on YouTube. This group is known as “AuthorTube”. These authors aren’t just promoting their books, however, they’re also sharing writing advice, prompts, insights, and tutorials. Some of the more popular AuthorTube channels have over 100K subscribers! To get a better understanding of this community and become a part of the conversations, start subscribing to some of the channels and commenting on the content. This can be a great way to build a following of your own.
  1. Get camera-ready: Being in front of the camera is intimidating for most people. Committing yourself to creating video content on a regular basis will force you to get comfortable in front of the camera. As with most new ventures, practice makes perfect, and improving your on-camera skills will benefit you in the long run. Especially when it comes to being interviewed about your work.  
  1. Potential for multiple streams of income: In addition to helping you sell more books, your YouTube channel can be monetized through advertising revenue. You can also use your channel to promote other YouTubers’ services or products through affiliate links. For nonfiction business authors, YouTube can connect you with potential clients for your services. It can also be a great way to showcase your speaking skills, which can land you more speaking gigs. Once you are comfortable with YouTube and have been accepted into the YouTube Partner Program, there are many ways to put your channel to work for you.

How to Get Started with YouTube

  1. Create a channel: To create a personal channel on YouTube you will need to have a Google Account. If you do not, you can create a Google Account directly through YouTube. Once you are signed in, you can watch and like videos, subscribe to your favorite channels, manage your account, and more. You can also create a new YouTube channel. To start this process, try to upload a video – YouTube will prompt you to create a channel.

    Be sure to choose your channel name wisely. Many authors use their name or pen name instead of a book title or main character. By using your author name or pen name, your channel can apply to your entire portfolio of work, which is likely to evolve over time.
  1. Plan your content: Now that you have a channel you can start planning. You’ll want to start with an introduction video sharing who you are and what you write. Think of it as interviewing yourself. You’ll also want to upload any relevant, quality videos that you already have in your archive – book trailers, past interviews, book event footage, etc.

    Here are some additional content ideas as you start planning your future videos:

    Nonfiction Authors

• Your research process

• Your editing process

• Your publishing journey

• Steps or tips from your books

• Interviews with experts on your topic

• Your books’ themes

Fiction Authors

• Your outlining or plotting process

• Your character development process

• How you brainstorm and track world building

• Your editing process

• Your publishing journey

• Your books’ themes

The goal with each video is to entertain, inform, or educate viewers, not just promote. As an author, you already have a lot of content in your portfolio that you can leverage. You can even get personal if you want to share your hobbies and passions. Subscribing to the channels of other authors in your genre is a great way to get inspired and help you build a solid content plan.

  1. Invest in equipment, software, and filming space: You will need some basic equipment and software to film your videos and prepare them for upload. To start, you can use the camera on your smartphone or the built-in webcam on your laptop. Once you have some experience you can upgrade to a higher quality camera and microphone. Other accessories that you might need include a tripod stand for holding your camera and special lighting.

    Create a professional, clutter-free space as a backdrop for your videos. A clean office with an organized bookshelf or nice artwork often works well as a backdrop.

    Editing your videos for maximum effectiveness will take some practice, but there are simple video editing programs and apps available that do a lot of the work for you.
  1. Shoot multiple videos at a time: Before trying to shoot any videos, write scripts for the first few content ideas that you have. Scripts will make filming go more smoothly and your videos will require less editing. By shooting multiple videos at one time you’ll get in a good rhythm and save time on setting up equipment.

    Once your videos are edited and ready to upload to your channel, make sure you have a compelling title, detailed description, appealing thumbnail, and relevant keywords prepared for each video.

    Expect that it will take you at least a few hours each week to create, edit, and post your videos to YouTube. You will need to factor this time into your overall marketing efforts. Don’t forget to promote any new videos through your other social media accounts or author newsletter.
  1. Go live: After you have several videos under your belt and are comfortable in front of the camera, consider going live. YouTube Live allows you to stream video in real time. This approach is very effective when hosting a live writing session, Q&A session, or book discussion.
  1. Be consistent: To keep viewers interested and coming back to your channel, it’s recommended that you post at least one new video per week to start and keep your videos to 3 or 4 minutes or less so that they are convenient for viewing. Your loyal subscribers will want to know what they can expect when they visit your channel.
  1. Be authentic: This might be one of the most important tips when creating content for your channel. Viewers will see right through someone who is only trying to sell. Provide value for your viewers by genuinely wanting to entertain, inspire, or help them. By being yourself, you will gain the trust of your subscribers and form deeper connections.
  1. Grow your subscribers: A YouTube subscriber is a fellow YouTuber that has chosen to “follow” your channel and stay up-to-date with your latest video content. More subscribers = more potential readers! It may take some time and patience, but if you are consistent, authentic, and interesting, your subscriber count will grow. You can try to expedite this growth by subscribing to other author and writing channels, collaborating with other AuthorTubers, and by interacting with the subscribers you do have. For additional ideas on how to grow your subscriptions, check out this blog article.

The ideal time to start building your online presence is a few months before your book is released. Don’t overlook YouTube for your social media and book marketing strategy, as it can introduce a huge number of potential readers to you and your work, and provide a fun, creative outlet. By following the above tips, you can create a YouTube channel that engages fans and finds new readers.

To learn more about YouTube, how to use it, and how to get the most out of the platform, check out other YouTube content on the ALC or the YouTube Help Center.

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