Thursday, November 18, 2010

Making the Most of Media Exposure

Like many of your readers, I've worked on novels for years, with each new manuscript drawing more interest than the last. After my most recent manuscript, which drew 7 full requests, another dozen partial requests, but no offers, I decided to take a break from fiction and start writing a humor blog. Since June, I've posted one column a week.

Of course, there is nothing unique about an unpublished writer writing a blog, and there was nothing unique (other than I hope it was good) about mine until a month ago, when I sat down and wrote a short animated film called "So You Want to Go to Law School." I wrote the 5-minute script and used's free animation website to bring the video to life. I posted it to both Xtranormal's website and to YouTube.

The video has drawn nearly 1 million hits between the two sites. I've written a couple more videos, each of which have been relatively successful by YouTube standards (one has more than 10,000 hits, and the other is pushing 5,000 hits).

Now my question is this: How should I, as an aspiring novelist, take advantage of this sudden and unexpected burst of exposure?

My first reaction was how fun! If you’re willing to reveal your name, I would love it if you would jump into the comments section and post a link to your video. It sounds fun. And of course congratulations! How cool is that?

On to your question, how can an aspiring novelist take advantage of this exposure? You really can’t. I mean, certainly you can tell agents in your query about the video and provide a link and, like me, I’m sure many will be curious enough to click on the link and watch the video, but I’m afraid a viral video and a novel don’t necessarily have a connection. Let’s look at it this way: If you received a link to a viral video, no matter how hilarious you thought it was, would you automatically think you then had to buy the novel by the same creator? Probably not.

If, however, your book was nonfiction, giving humorous advice on going to law school: Score! There’s no doubt there’s a correlation then. Presumably a lot of your viewers are people who have gone through or are considering law school and get your humor. Buying a book that relates to the video would be a natural for them.

As for your novels: Seven full requests is amazing! Keep going, it sounds like you’re getting closer and closer with each new novel. My best advice is don’t give up now.



RK said...

I usually prefer lurking...but had to come out and share my 2 cents on this one.

If the book has something to do with the videos, if the the author's promising the same thing (humor, drama etc.) and I fell in love with the video...yes, I'd take a chance on the author. Now, I'd first try the local library and if she delivered there...I'd move into buy mode.

Did something similar with Sean Ferrell's Numb. And got into Christie Craig's books thanks to her hilarious videos (agent hunting) and blog posts.


Kristan said...

For the record, the law school video is HILARIOUS. I don't go to law school, but I have a couple friends who do, and we all love it:

As for the question, I pretty much agree with Jessica, but I do think there's a chance for the video to generate a wider audience for this writer's blog, and thus potentially for his/her book. It won't be 1:1 (1 million viewers != 1 million readers) but I think it would have *some* impact.

The issue, then, is how much do you want to focus on the videos, which you *might* be able to turn into income, in the way that several humor bloggers have (ex. Allie Brosh at Hyperbole and a Half)... versus how much do you want to write books and try to become an author? Both take a lot of time and energy and creativity.

Susan said...

I don't have any advice, but I just wanted to let the writer know that I've seen the video mentioned above and forwarded it to several of my law school friends, so I was thrilled to see this letter from its creator. The video is hilarious, and painfully true. I did not know there was a blog as well. I will have to find it. If the writer's novels have the same dry humor as that video, I think there would be a lot of people who'd enjoy reading them.


Laurel said...

Ditto what RK said. In fact, that was how I heard about and decided the buy Shiver. Maggie Stiefvater put together this hilarious video called "Kraken is the new Vampire". I stumbled across it on a blog and was so smitten I looked up her book and bought it that day.

It wasn't even a book trailer. It was just funny and I made the leap that she might be an author I would like. said...

This is just me, but ...

>>Let’s look at it this way: If you received a link to a viral video, no matter how hilarious you thought it was, would you automatically think you then had to buy the novel by the same creator? >>

yes, I would buy the person's novel! In a heartbeat. As long as I believed the novel was funny too. :-)

I don't think you have to go all the way to non-fictiuon to get a "connect" here at all.

ryan field said...

I love stories like this. It shows how people never give up.

Anonymous said...

If you query epublishers (and maybe even small press) I think this could rock your chances and your sales. They don't have a lot to spend on promo, so if an aspiring author demonstrates an already-existing ability to draw crowds it's a huge plus.

Anonymous said...

This post made me think of Cassandra Claire's "Very Secret Diaries" on LiveJournal, spoofing the Lord of the Rings movies. Now she's a bestselling novelist. I personally wasn't drawn to read her novels even though I enjoyed her LiveJournal posts, but I bet a lot of people were.

Kristin Laughtin said...

Another person chiming in that I might buy a novel by someone who made a video I found hilarious, especially if they also have a blog that I could check. That way, I'd see there was some sort of consistent voice (and in this case, type of humor) and be encouraged that I would probably find in the novel the types of things I liked in the video.

Has the video increased traffic to the author's blog? If so, couldn't that be used to entice an agent? ("My blog gets X thousand hits a day!")

dwkazzie said...

Hi everyone,

I'm the author of the law school video, and I appreciate Jessica's post on it, as well as everyone's comments. I'm so, so grateful to all those who've seen it and/or forwarded it. Its success was beyond anything I could have imagined.

I'm still trying to figure out what to do, because as Kristan pointed out, both novels and videos take a lot of time, and I'm only one guy (and a short one at that!). My first love was writing novels, but I think what this experience has taught me is to be ready to adapt. I never imagined I'd be an "animated filmmaker", but then it occurred to me that I'm writing, I'm having fun, and I'm actually getting an audience. What writer wouldn't dream of that?

For those who've asked about the blog itself, I think if you click through my user name, you'll get to it. While the recent posts have focused on the videos, there are about 20 written columns as well.

Or the direct link is:

Thanks for everyone's great input.

LivelyClamor said...

Hi. I'm a lawyer. I hated law school. This definitely sounds like a video I want to watch. :-)

wry wryter said...

Ms Trite says:
Brass rings are given sparingly…use yours before it tarnishes.

If you are to young to know what a brass ring is…ask Susan Boyd, she knows.

SphinxnihpS of Aker-Ruti said...

Wow, how creative! I'm afraid I can't look at the video--I have a slow internet connection and limited GB usage per month, but I do think you can use this.

First of all, if it is linked to your blog--surely, there is some way of adding a link from YouTube site?--that will direct traffic to your blog.

Secondly, can you apply those skills to crafting videos relating to your novel to place on your blog?

Thirdly, have you considered doing nonfiction? Especially humorous nonfiction? It doesn't have to be your main writing focus, it doesn't have to be novels, but magazine articles even. But doing so can help build up credentials and your cash flow.

But just getting your name out there, in a big way, can help. Especially if you can find a way to use your skills in relation to fiction. Just do some brainstorming; you are creative enough that I'm sure you will find a way. After all, your situation is not necessarily an either/or--either work on videos or work on fiction. For some inspiration, consider the following link. Search for or scroll down to the There May Be More Solutions Than What You First See part. It is a story by Dan Miller of 48 Days fame--I guy I find wonderfully inspirational. Hopefully that story will inspire you to finding creative uses for your video skills in your writing career.

Good luck!

Jodi and her fiction blog

wry wryter said...

Ms Trite is a dummy because on the way to work today she figured out she meant to say Susan Boyle not Boyd.

When one administers advice it is always best to practice excellant carpentry skills...measure twice, cut once. Obviously Ms.Trite's measuring stick was broken this morning.

Web Design Firm said...

@ wry wryter
"If you are to young to know what a brass ring is…ask Susan Boyd, she knows." thats good