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Live Facebook video for authors

A joint video promotion leads to a new goal

This weekend I participated in a live Facebook video event with a group of other independent authors. We write in various genres and we’re all busy trying to get the word out about our books. When one of us had the idea of a Facebook live event, we all agreed to throw our hats in the ring and try out this new-fangled promotion method.

Who were we?

Our author group was scattered all over the world, from the U.S. to the U.K. to Amsterdam to Ecuador. We had wildly ranging time zones and different equipment capabilities to contend with. We write thrillers, sci-fi, mystery, and more. What we all have in common is Nick Stephenson’s Your First 10K Authors Facebook group, which is where we met.

Getting started on Facebook live

I did a lot of searching on the web and in Facebook itself for definitive instructions on how to do this. I found bits and bobs of advice on various websites and forums, but no basic step by step guide explaining the technical aspects. The closest I came was this article on Facebook.

In the weeks leading up to the event, we struggled with the technical aspects of using Facebook Live. For some reason we had to film ourselves via our phones and monitor the comments via our laptops. I have an iPhone 6 and this set-up worked fine for me. I bought a cheap phone stand and LED light, and those were all the tools I needed.

Game day

On game day, however, it turned out that not all phones are compatible with this requirement. Also, the event page seemed to have a mind of its own about whose videos it would show, even though we were all administrators of the page. A couple of our group members had to track down the videos as they were running on other pages, then share them to the event page. These unexpected glitches made the event a bit chaotic, but we supported each other through it.

I learned it’s very difficult to read aloud and simultaneously pay attention to comments on my phone and laptop. We had envisioned this as a combination of reading aloud and doing Q & A, but that wasn’t realistic given the way we had to do it. One way around this in the future might be to combine readings with separate panel discussions or live Q & A sessions.

A few dozen people watched and commented on my video during the event, but since then it has been viewed 250 times and I’ve gotten a lot more comments on it. I have several new subscribers on my mailing list and I sold more books than usual over the weekend. I believe there will be a long tail to this event that makes it worthwhile.

When the dust settled

We compared notes about the promotions we did leading up to the event. Most of us found that not too many people on our mailing lists clicked through to the event page despite the lure of a Kindle Fire HD 8 and a bundle of free books as a prize. We speculated that Facebook’s recent woes in the media may have turned people off, or perhaps a live author reading isn’t the right kind of event.

A new goal

While I might not look to Facebook for another similar event, I’ll definitely do something like this again. I hate public speaking and waste a lot of energy dreading it. Doing a live video is kind of like public speaking, but since I can’t see anyone watching me, it doesn’t feel that way. After this event, I was inspired to set a new goal. I decided to create a new YouTube channel, posted my video there, and plan to post a series of chapter readings and possibly editing tips and other nonfiction topics in the future. Check out my live video here.

What’s next?

I will continue to explore the medium of video for promotions. I’m glad I took a chance on this joint promotion, even though it was a steep learning curve for me, because it taught me how to do a live video event and motivated me to set up a YouTube channel. I also got to work with a team of other authors, which is something I rarely have the opportunity to do these days.

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