Content and Production Values Key to Video Effectiveness

As part of my marketing efforts for A Warrior’s Soul, I started a series of video commentaries, called video logs, on Youtube (Channel: SamRStaley). I just ptosted my fifth video log and I thought it might be useful to report on a few “lessons” from my first seven months of experience using videos to promote my fiction.

First, a little context. I am starting with hardly any platform for my fiction writing. So, these Youtube efforts are the first building blocks for a video marketing effort. Second, Youtube is emerging as one of my principle marketing mechanisms for reaching a broad audience beyond “friends and family” (most notably facebook). Thus, the lessons learned here are crucial for building and fleshing out my long-term marketing plan (or Phase II in my Guerilla Marketing program).

I essentially have three video products. Interviews and Q&A with the author to provide background on my books; trailers for the books; and Video Logs (VLs). The VLs are intended to be short commentaries on current issues related to the content of my novels. So far, they’ve mainly covered the topics of bullies, bullying, and martial arts. My first one  (VL-1) focused on bullies, teasing, and gangs and released on 28 May 2011. It runs 5:35 and has recived 85 views to date. Interestingly, this video is two minutes longer than my introductory interview for the book released on 21 May, which now has 182 views.

At first blush, the higher number of views might seem to reflect its shorter length. I’ve been tracking all the videos weekly, however, and I’m finding that content and production values appear to drive viewership more than run time. Also, linking from other sites by independent followers is critical to driving viewership numbers. The high number of views for the interview, for example, is a direct result of the profile given to it when a popular follower of the book posted a link on facebook just two weeks before the release of A Warrior’s Soul.

Here’s the current status of the videos, including run-time, length of time up on Youtube, and number of views:

  • Introductory Interview                        3:26    7 months    183 views

  • VL-1, Bullies, teasing & gangs            5:35    6 months    86 views

  • VL-2, On Martial arts strategy           3:49    6 months     40 views

  • VL-3, Female characters in fiction      4:50    5 months    22 views

  • VL-4, Bullying & martial arts              4:05     5 months    36 views

  • Trailer 1                                             1:04    3 months    52 views

  • Trailer 2                                             1:02    1 month    89 views

  • VL-5, Bruce Lee & peaceful warrior  1:27    1 day    20 views  
Notably, the second trailer is the same length as the first one, but it’s coming close to doubling viewership even though it has been out for just one month. Viewer feedback suggests that the second trailer has higher production values than the first. Similarly, the production values behind the introductory video are higher than for the video logs (although by intent). Content may also be playing a role. The interview, VL-1, and the trailers both emphasize content based on the broader content of bullying.

The progress of the fifth VL, however, may be most telling. Even though it’s been up on Youtube for less than 24 hours, views have come close to eclipsing VL-3 (the least popular to date). It will proabably also eclipse VL-4 and VL-2 quickly based on its current trajectory.

What gives? VL-5 has three distinguishing features:

  1. a shorter experience;

  2. higher production values, including credits and a signature introductory music;

  3. broadly targeted content, using the famous martial artist Bruce Lee as a hook;
Having more content is probably better than a little content, but the success of different videos to date suggests that content and production values matter. All the videos are benefiting from broader expsosure, but the number of views is ticking up at a faster rate for the ones with higher production values.

I’ll keep tracking the video progress and report back on the success and what it means for book marketing (and hopefully sales).

Author: SR Staley
SR Staley has one more than 11 literary awards for his fiction and nonfiction writing. He is on the full-time faculty of the College and Social Sciences and Public Policy at Florida State University as well as a film critic and research fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California. His award-winning Pirate of Panther Bay series ( has won awards in historical fiction, mainstream & literary fiction, young adult fiction, and reached the finals in women's fiction. His most recent book is "The Beatles and Economics: Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and the Making of a Cultural Revolution" due out in April 2020 (Routledge).