This entry is part 29 of 39 in the series 40 years online

I’m a text girl in a video world. At least, that’s how I feel as I type-type-type my way through these 40 days, while hearing all the while about how nobody reads anymore.  For this, I can thank YouTube.

YouTube launched in 2005 and in just 6 years has dramatically accelerated our transformation from a text-based culture to a video-based culture. I’m no enemy of the moving image, but I still prefer to absorb information in the form of text. I’d rather read a quickstart blog post than watch a 3-minute introductory screencast. I rarely check out the latest funny videos circulating on the Internet. And I’d much rather write a 20-page paper than make a 2-minute video.

All this conspires to make me feel like a dinosaur. It’s a funny feeling since I spend so much of my life pushing other people to face up to the reality of a social media world, to see the writing on the wall. The writing on my wall says: writing? really?

Happily, I’m not the only writer struggling to figure out how to make the shift to a video-based culture. There are plenty of useful ideas about how YouTube and its brethren can become a resource for writers rather than an enemy. Many of these can be a source of inspiration to anyone who works in a field that is challenged by social media; the key is to apply the same kind of creative thinking about how to turn your challenge into a new resource.

Here are some of my favorite ideas of how writers can actually benefit from the shift to video:

  1. Book sales are all about a human connection. If people know you and trust you, they are more likely to buy your book. Video is fantastic for creating an instant connection. When people see your face and your expression, when they hear your voice, they will make a decision as to whether they like you. The greatest proportion of communication is in non-verbal cues, which can’t be communicated in plain text. — Joanna Penn, 7 Reasons Why Writers Need to Start Using Video for Book Promotion
  2. Record events — not just presentations — such as book signings, poetry slams and book readings, panel discussions and teaching. You can use these as edit pieces for other videos. Also, if you do multiple events, these videos can give people an idea of what you have to offer. — Meryl K. Evans, 30+ writer uses for YouTube and video
  3. Motivate yourself for a writing sprint: “Give yourself a short increment of time (15 minutes) and force yourself to write non-stop for that length of time. Treat yourself to a bathroom break, YouTube video or piece of chocolate when you finish your time.” – Nicole Amsler, quoted in Overcoming Writers Block — How to Start Writing, Keep Writing
  4. Use video to learn about new revenue opportunities by tracking these 13 YouTube channels that are aimed at freelancers.
  5. Electronic books allow hyperlinking – instant jumps from one idea to another in another part of the book or in another work. This is the essence of true research: digging deeper in unique ways through layers of knowledge to create a new understanding. But it also allows hyper-story creation, where the reader shapes the outcome of a novel by making hundreds of choices along the way. In a visual TV-dominated age, expect many of these kind of “books” to become interactive soap operas or feature films with minimal text backed by fully animated cartoons or video sequences.  — Patrick Dixon, Future of Books and Publishing
  6. Get inspiration from watching authors talk about their work — or the basics of how to write yourself — in this list of 100 inspiring videos for writers.
  7. Don’t wait until after you’ve finished your memoir to start promoting your work. Video can help you build a marketing platform for your memoir (or any book), and that will be sure to impress agents and publishers….If you’re creating a memoir book trailer, you can build around the material in your book. If you’re book is still a work in progress, don’t steal from your book. Find a related topic that will interest your prospective audience. Then when your book comes out, they’ll be more likely to want your work. — Kendra Bonnett, 10 Tips for Using YouTube to Promote your Memoir (or Any Book)
  8. Have a laugh. There’s a reason so much of the attention on YouTube goes to humorous videos. People get regenerated by laughter, and that applies to writers. Here’s a YouTube video that you  may find regenerating — and which will help you better understand the phenomenon, too.
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