Here at Vearsa, we often spend some of our break time watching and sharing viral videos on Youtube, or catching up with the exploits of our favourite vloggers (video bloggers). Youtube is a creative, open, social tech-forward space - not unlike the world of eBook publishing. It's no surprise, then, that Youtube and publishing have intersected somewhat.
Recent months have seen the publication of a glut of titles from major Youtube stars. From a commercial point of view, the most popular Youtube vloggers are ideal authors. They possess a great deal of influence and market power, particularly to young people in the 15 - 25 age bracket. Mega-popular Youtubers Zoe Sugg, Alfie Deyes and Tanya Burr have all signed major publishing deals. Deyes’ Pointless Book (Blink Books) and Sugg’s Girl Online (Penguin) both hit the top of UK bestseller lists. Beauty vlogger Tanya Burr recently announced a book deal with Penguin for a beauty and lifestyle how-to book entitled Love, Tanya. Headline Publishing recently ‘snapped up’ the rights to The Glam Guide by vlogger Fleur de Force. Books produced by top vloggers now represent almost guaranteed hits, as millions of subscribers represent a ready and enthusiastic group of readers. This is the stuff that publishers' dreams are made of.
Star Youtube vloggers Zoe Sugg (Zoella) and Tanya Burr both recently published bestsellers
Youtube has also sparked readers’ engagement with existing literature. Video clips can offer interested readers the opportunity to delve deeper into the themes and concerns of favourite literature. Readers are using Youtube to reinterpret and reinvent the stories they love: through unique adaptations and fan projects. The Youtube series ‘The Lizzie Bennet Diaries’ is a popular serial adaptation of the Jane Austen classic, Pride and Prejudice. ‘Booktubers’ have emerged in recent years: vloggers whose focus is primarily on book summaries, reviews and recommendations. Sanne Vliegenthart (booksandquills) is one of the more successful booktubers, combining her Youtube career with her role as Digital Co-ordinator at Hot Key Books.
How can publishers and retailers tap into all this online activity? One option is to simply send sample copies of books to vloggers in the hopes of a favourable online review or mention. With a little more imagination and creativity, companies can create projects or campaigns that really capture the attention of vloggers as well as their subscribers. Audiobook retailer Audible was an early player in the Youtube marketplace, partnering with rising Youtube stars to offer ‘first audiobook free’ to subscribers. It’s important not to be overtly commercial in the approach to Youtube, but to keep things fun and interesting for vloggers and their subscribers. One innovative recent project is Ebury Publishing’s ‘Youtube Secret Santa’, whereby Youtubers receive books and book tokens to buy ‘the perfect set of books for Christmas’. Ebury told The Bookseller that the campaign was created “as a way to engage with the YouTube community and YouTube talent; as well as to promote books and bookshops”.
Like other social media platforms, Youtube can be used directly for book marketing and brand promotion. Publishers can produce their own content on Youtube, to help build their profile and connect with readers. Unsurprisingly, Hot Key Books is one of the major Youtube players, with booktuber / Digital Co-ordinator Sanne Vliegenthart at the helm of successful Youtube reviews, interviews and collaborations. Random House, too, have uploaded a number of videos, offering behind-the-scenes looks at the publishing process as well as sneak peeks of upcoming catalogue titles. Typical clips include ‘A Peek into the Random House Warehouse’ (3,641 views, by the way) and a book trailer for Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In (71,318 views).
More than ever, publishers and retailers need to be savvy about their online presence and engagement with the likes of Youtube. There’s strong potential to strike a chord with the Youtube audience. Start by subscribing to some of the Youtube influencers. Get to understand their viewers, who they're speaking to. Then incorporate this into your eBook marketing. Get inventive!
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