5 Tips for Making Videos

Saturday, March 02, 2019
Recently I attempted my first book/writing related video. I obviously love books so this would be a great way to grow my platform, right? As is so often the case, it was trickier than I thought it would be but here are five things I learned.

Practice. Go into your video with a script. Know what you are going to say and practice it. In my case, I was reading from my book Evolution of Mammals and the first page includes the Latin name for one of the early mammals. Latin. Ugh. Whether your script includes scientific names or not, practice, practice and practice again. You want to be able to get from start to finish without stumbling.

Background. Pay attention to your background. I’ve seen videos that were shot in someone’s kitchen. If you are approaching me as a fellow professional, I don’t really want to look at your refrigerator. Unless you’re a kitchen designer. If you are doing this as a publishing professional, go with a plain background or pick one that says publishing. Books. Your illustration supplies if you illustrate. I could do something with fossils in the background or maps or something else that says “nonfiction” or “research.”

Near or Far? A big part of why my background didn’t work is my videographer (he who calls me Mom) did not zoom in enough. What can I say, now we know. Whether you go with near or far, depends on the look you want to achieve. Chatting face-to-face? Near. A lecture? Far. But if you want it to look like you are delivering a speech or lecture, have an audience. I’ve had to screen job-application videos of sermons and it looks really strange when there is no congregation.

Lighting. Video is like still photograph in that you need good lighting. If you can, go with sunlight simply because it is more flattering than electric light. Does this mean I’m telling you to work outside? Oh, no. That just creates a whole new set of problems. But if you have a room with really good natural light give it a try.

Look at the camera. Especially if you are trying to make your video personal, you need to look at the camera. I can’t do that and read. So either I have to focus the camera on the book or not read. I’m thinking that I will not read but that could change.

Making videos takes time. It also takes multiple takes which means you need a more cooperative videographer than I employed. My recommendation would be several takes and set up to shoot maybe three at once. 

Video isn't for everyone. Not everyone can stand to see video of themselves. I had to get over the fact that I sound like a hamster on helium. 

That said, this is definitely something that I will be trying again.


To find out more about Sue Bradford Edwards' writing, visit her blog, One Writer's Journey.  Sue is also the instructor for Writing Nonfiction for Children and Young Adults. The next session begins March 18th, 2019.


Renee Roberson said...

These are all good tips, Sue! I keep telling myself I'm going to start "vlogging" book reviews on YouTube, but the one time I tried it turned out so horrible that the video will never see the light of day. This is a great way to promote your work and the topic of the book sounds great!

Sioux Roslawski said...

A hamster on helium? No. No, you do not sound like that.

I hadn't thought of making sure the background should speak of me as a writer. The rest of your tips are wonderful, too.

(You know you get what you pay for... Fire your videographer. ;)

And Renee making an awful video? Yeah right. Who is she kidding?

Angela Mackintosh said...

These are great tips, Sue. I also think having a good microphone is important. I usually just use my video cam in my office. One trick I use is to put whatever I'm reading from on my computer screen in front of me, so it looks like I'm looking at the camera and improvising, but really I have notes in front of me that viewers can't see!

Your book is fascinating, and you look great! :)

Sue Bradford Edwards said...

I don't see how your video could be worse than mine.

I certainly did get what I paid for. Of course, today was 10 degrees so I told him he could do it my way or I'd toss his load of wet jeans into the outside stairwell. Mom threats!

I suspected that some of the videos I've seen have the text on the screen. That works so much better than reading from the book.

And thank you for the kind words. I love that book. It was so much fun to write.


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