Indie Marketing – How to Create a Youtube Book Advert

YT ad

A Youtube advert is an effective way to reach out to readers. 

As any indie author will tell you, publishing the book is half the battle. The rest is marketing. You need to get the word out, and that involves blogging, building a Twitter presence, getting involved in online and offline writing communities and generally being less of a hermit than might come naturally.

One thing you can do to spread the word about your novel is to create a Youtube advert. Now, if you’re doing really well, you can pay someone a lot of money to do this. You can have a beautifully-drawn animation or something involving actors. Most indie authors don’t have the resources to do this, though. But the good news is, whatever your situation, there’s nothing stopping you from having a go at this yourself.

What You Need

I recently put together an advert for my first novel and uploaded it to Youtube. The feedback has been pretty good, so I decided to try and write a rough guide on how to do this, so that all of you could do it too. It doesn’t require much technical aptitude, just a little bit of time and planning.

You can see the result of my efforts here.

Now, all I did was put together a series of still images in a sequence, before adding music. You can do less, and you can do more. But this process is pretty much what I followed to achieve the results above.

You’ll need the following:

A Youtube channel – this is easy to set up. Youtube itself is the best place to find tutorials.

An image of your book – you should probably have this somewhere on your hard drive, right?

Quotes from the book – to give viewers a taste of the content.

Review quotes – some glowing lines from people who enjoyed your writing.

Art software – photoshop and other high-end programs are great, but ‘Paint’ will do.

Movie software – something to assemble your images into a movie. Movie Maker will do.

Step One – once your Youtube channel has been set up, you might want to install an add-on to facilitate the uploading and management of content. I use TubeBuddy. It’s simple and awesome.

Step Two – plan out your advert. Now, you don’t really want it to be too long. Just over a minute is probably fine. I wanted to open with a few lines from the start of the book, then have a few quotes from reviews, before ending with the front cover, Twitter account and things like that. It’s at this point that you should decide whether or not you want music. If you do, then you’ll want music that fits the length of the advert. Whether you record something yourself, or hunt online for some royalty-free music, this is the right time to do it. Then you can build your advert to fit the music’s length. But bear in mind that the visual element is of primary importance. Don’t maul your visuals in order to fit a piece of music. Find a piece of music that gives you the space do what you want to do visually. Synergy is the key here.

Step Three – create a series of still images. These can include text or pictures, but need to be the same size. Also, you need to remember that these will run on in a sequence, so make sure that the text is roughly in the same place on each one, unless you specifically want some words to appear in other parts of the window. You can use something as basic as Paint to create these stills, and Movie Maker is an intuitive and straightforward way to assemble them into a sequence.


Stills for the advert, before and after some light treatment with the ‘glow’ effect. 

Step Four – jazz up the stills. I used Picasa to do this. It’s free, and powerful enough to do what I wanted it to do. I just added a little ‘glow’ to each still, so the text wasn’t quite as flat-looking.

Step Five – add the music. Movie Maker lets you see the soundwave running under what is essentially a slideshow, so you can easily see if the music runs out before the visuals do, or if the music runs on too long.


The sequence of stills in the advert. The green line underneath is the sound wave of the music.

Step Six – adjust the duration of each still. Stills with more text should stick around longer. Stills with less text shouldn’t stick around too long. Make the slideshow of stills dynamic by mixing up the duration from slide to slide. Watch it all back a few times and make sure it feels right. And if you can, try to make it fit with the beats in the music, to add extra impact.

Step Seven – play with the transitions between stills. Let some stills fade out, and others fade in. Even a free program like Movie Maker lets you do some clever stuff without much effort.

Step Eight – upload to Youtube. First, you’ll need to save the project in a movie format. Some programs will let you save it in a format specifically suited to Youtube. Watch it once it’s compiled and make sure you’re happy with it. Then, open up your Youtube channel and upload your file! It may take a few minutes, so chill out for a bit.

Step Nine – watch it again, on Youtube. If you’re happy, start sharing!

Depending on how much time you’ve spent with computers in the past, you may find this terribly elementary or utterly baffling. Don’t worry, the internet is your friend. Youtube is full of lovely videos showing you how to do stuff. And you should feel free to seek me out on Facebook or Twitter, etc, and ask me any other questions. But seriously, if I can do it, so can you. And it’ll just be one more way for you to let people know about your awesome book!

Good luck, stay amazing (I know you will),



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