Author Vlogging How-To’s

compiled by: Heather Day Gilbert


As an author, one excellent way you can connect with your readers is via vlog (video blog). Today, I’ve asked two fearless and effective vloggers to share tips on how to get the best vlog possible. These author/vloggers are Alton Gansky and Jessica R. Patch. I’ll also post some summary observations of my own and a vlog from all three of us for you to watch! Thank you all for visiting today, and let’s get right down to vloggy basics!


Vlogging Basics Q&A with Alton Gansky:

HG: Before you start to record, what are some basics you need to have
in place? What do you need to watch out for? (ie: unstable camera, etc.)

AG: Nothing can ruin a
video faster than a lack of planning. I’ve made plenty of mistakes and have tried
my best to learn from them. Heres what I check:
1.      
Lighting. Most of use the cameras in our computers to record our video.
Some high-end bloggers use professional lighting but most of us make do with a
window. Does my image washout from too much light? Do I have a light source
behind me silhouetting me? One mistake I’ve made repeatedly is not allowing for
the light coming from my monitor. I often dim my monitor.
2.      
Noise. Is my cell phone muted? Is the land land unplugged? Have I
turned off e-mail so the recording won’t be filled with alert sounds? Is my door
closed? Do other people on the house know I’m recording?
3.      
Camera angle. I’ve seen many videos (done on laptops) that give a great view up the
person’s nose. I’m thankful that I
have nostrils but I have no desire to spend 15 to 30 minutes looking up someone
else’s nose. If you
record on a laptop, set it on a box so it’s near eye level.
4.      
Jostling. Another laptop problem. Recording with a laptop sitting on
your, well, lap will make it look like your head is bouncing around in the
frame. Put it on a solid surface.
5.      
Audio. Am I getting good levels. I do interviews so I need to think
not only about how I sound but the tone and volume of my guest. Sometimes that’s beyond my
control. I interview people who are thousands of miles away and that can lead
to Internet issues.
HG: How do you fight off nervousness and keep that from leaching into
your videos?

AG
1.      
Preparation. The better prepared you are, the more comfortable you
will be.
2.      
Practice. The more video you make, the more comfortable you will
become.
3.      
You should be nervous (at least a little). It keeps you on your toes.
HG: What are ways you can keep your vlogging from becoming stale? (ie:
changing location, etc.)

AG: Have good material,
good subjects, learn to edit your video.
HG: What’s the best way to upload vlogs to your blog? Do you need to
have a Youtube channel?

AG: I use YouTube. After
I record and edit my video, I upload it to YouTube. I, like thousands of
others, have a “channel.” I’ve been with them long enough that I can upload much longer videos.
YouTube has an easy to use embed code. I use that to place the video my
websites.
HG: How often would you recommend vlogging? Do you recommend running a
series based around a specific topic?

AG: The depends on what
the goal is. Writers Talk is weekly with the occasional longer
break. Screencasts for Writers is intermittent. A series can be a good
way to build an audience. Most viewers can’t (or don’t want to) watch more than 15 to 30
minutes of one topic. There are exceptions but the principle holds true for
most of us. A topic spread out over several episodes can be a good idea.
HG: What would you say are the primary benefits of vlogging? If you’re
an unpublished author, is it worth it, would you say? And if you’re published,
how does vlogging build your brand?
AG: We are a visual
people, used to receiving information over the television or movies. Our brains
respond to video very well. Video makes the blogger more human and does so in a
way that can’t be achieved by words alone.

Netcasting (a term
I prefer over vlogging) can create buzz for a published book or lay the
foundation for a platform unpublished authors can use to build a following.

Alton Gansky is the author of forty-three books, fiction and nonfiction. In addition to writing, co-writing, and editing, he hosts Writer’s Talk, an online program about and for writers (www.youtube.com/altongansky). He is also the director of Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference held each year near Asheville, NC.




Click for Amazon link

His latest book is 60 People Who Shaped the Church, a look at sinners, saints, rogues, and heroes who made the church what it is today (published by Baker Books).








Vlogging Basics Q&A
with Jessica R. Patch


HG: Before
you start to record, what are some basics you need to have in place? What do
you need to watch out for? (ie: unstable camera, etc.)

      JP: 
·        
Knowing
my topic generally helps. *wink wink* But seriously, know what you want to talk
about and the tone you want to set. For me, I do a series called Coffee with
Jess, and I answer questions that are sent in via comments or email. People
watching should get the flavor of your voice/personality, especially if it
translates (which it should!) into your novels.
·        
I
use a generous stack of books to prop my laptop on. You don’t want to be
looking down at the camera, neither do you want it way above your head. You’re
talking to friends, so look into it straight on—just like you would if you were
face to face.
·        
Lighting
can be an issue, and it’s not always the room’s fault. Sometimes it’s the
quality of the camera on your computer. Do the best you can! *My computer had
some lighting issues and it’s the quality.
·        
Once
I have these things in place, I’m ready to holler, “Action!”
HG: How
do you fight off nervousness and keep that from leaching into your videos?

 JP: I
never get nervous hanging out with my friends. And I see this the same way.
Plus, you can take more than one taping, but I try not to because I want to
sound natural—again—like chatting with friends. Don’t take yourself too
seriously. You should enjoy what you’re doing. If you don’t enjoy it, don’t do
it.

HG: What
are ways you can keep your vlogging from becoming stale? (ie: changing
location, etc.)

JP: Oh,
I definitely change my location. You know, from my desk all the
way to the kitchen table. Dramatic environment change. J I don’t vlog on a schedule which
takes a lot of pressure off. I choose to vlog on Fridays, but not every Friday.

HG: What’s
the best way to upload vlogs to your blog? Do you need to have a Youtube
channel?

JP: A
YouTube channel is smart, and it’s how I upload. I’m not tech-savvy so when I
say it’s easy, you can trust me. Driving traffic to your channel early on is also
smart. Eventually, you’ll post book trailers and bonus features. The
possibilities are endless.

HG:  How
often would you recommend vlogging? Do you recommend running a series based
around a specific topic?

JP: Depends
on what you’re trying to accomplish. If you write non-fiction and you want to
speak on the topic of your book to build platform, then yes, I’d be specific.
If you write historical, maybe you want to do a series of vlogs on location,
etiquette of that time, etc…or you choose a series title like mine, Coffee with
Jess, and you can vlog on a variety of topics or just chat because when you
have coffee with a friend. Anything goes!

HG: What would you say
are the primary benefits of vlogging? If you’re an unpublished author, is it
worth it, would you say? And if you’re published, how does vlogging build your
brand?

JP: Refer
back to earlier comments on building platform and voice.

Showing
up on-screen is like being in person and another great way to connect. Readers
are curious about you “live.” My very first vlog had the most hits. People are
curious about what you really look like (live) and how you sound. My
introductory vlog proved that, even with poor quality lighting.

Jessica R. Patch writes inspirational contemporary romance with plenty of mystery and suspense. A passion to draw women into intimacy with God keeps her motivated, along with heaping cups of caffeine in the form of coffee. When she’s not hunched over her laptop or teaching the new & growing believer’s class at her church, you can find her sneaking off to movies with her husband, embarrassing her daughter in unique ways, dominating her son at board games, and collecting recipes she’ll probably never cook. She is represented by Rachel Kent at Books & Such Literary Agency.

A Few Final Vloggy Thoughts by Heather Day Gilbert


Both Alton and Jessica have offered some great insights here! I just wanted to add a few of my to-dos for vlogging (learned this stuff the hard way, people! Ha).

  • Always make sure your camera/laptop is on a stable surface. Yes, I’ve offered some vlogs where it’s moving all around on my lap…not great protocol as the viewer gets dizzy!
  • If you live in the country like I do, you may want to shut windows pre-vlog. Otherwise the loud tweets of birds or deep bark of your dog will definitely distract from what you’re trying to say. Although I don’t mind a little ambient cricket noise in summer…
  • Just like Jessica said, pretend you’re talking to a friend. If it helps you to use notes, do so. I usually do a couple “practice” posts, but for me I like talking off the top of my head on points I know I need to cover. The vlog I’m posting above was done on the first try, and it actually received the most hits and compliments. I think it’s because it was about something I was very passionate about: my choice to self-publish.
  • Something I’ve also learned–a good quality video camera is worth it. I thought my new laptop camera would replace my old one that fit on top of the computer–but it gave very poor quality and even some lag time when I was speaking. 
  • Finally, I’ve read somewhere that 5-8 minutes is a good length for a personal vlogpost. Otherwise people lose attention. I know I’ve gone over that sometimes, and those posts don’t get as many hits. I figure people might look at the time and feel they don’t have time to watch the whole thing at once.
Heather Day
Gilbert
enjoys writing stories about authentic, believable marriages. Seventeen
years of marriage to her sweet Yankee husband have given her some perspective,
as well as eleven years spent homeschooling. You can
find Heather at her website, Heather
Day Gilbert–Author
, and at her Facebook
Author Page
, as well as Twitter,
Pinterest, YouTube, and Goodreads.
Her Viking novel, God’s Daughter, is an Amazon bestseller. You can find it on Amazon and Audible.com.
Her Appalachian mystery, Miranda Warning, releases June 20th. 
Click for Goodreads link
Child of the
Appalachian mountains, Tess Spencer has experienced more than her share of
heartache. The Glock-wielding, knife-carrying housewife knows how to survive
whatever life throws at her.
But when an
anonymous warning note shows up in her best friend Miranda’s mailbox—a note
written in a dead woman’s handwriting—Tess quickly discovers that ghosts are
alive and well in Buckneck, West Virginia. Hot on a cold trail, she must use
limited clues and her keen insight into human nature to unmask the killer…or
the next victim might be Tess herself.
Tinged with
the supernatural and overshadowed by the mountains’ lush, protective presence, this
twisting psychological mystery is the first in A Murder in the Mountains series.

***Hope this helps as you all go out and bring a little slice of who you are to your readers/followers! Please share any additional vlogging observations below!***