Guest Expert: Tony Eldridge
We live in a great time to be authors. Access to readers has never been easier and barriers to promote your book are falling all the time. But as technology increases and access to information becomes more readily available, so does the responsibility of authors to make sure they use this technology for their readers. In today’s post, I want to discuss some tools with you that will help you create videos for your website and blogs.
Here’s the good news: Video is becoming more prevalent, people now have the technology to easily access it, and the relative cost to produce and host video is now more affordable than ever before. In fact, there are a lot of free options available to you. More great news is that the tools to produce quality videos is more affordable and user friendly than ever before. And in most cases, online communities make is easy to learn how to use these tools effectively.
Still, I feel it’s only fair to mention this before I go further: If you want the best possible quality, then the best choice will probably mean hiring someone to create your videos for you. Seldom will self-help tools in the hands of an amateur be able to compete with the skills of someone who does this stuff for a living.
Having said that, here are some tools that you can use to create some pretty powerful videos for your website:
1. Screen capture tools
a. Camtasia: This is a great tool that allows you to create videos by capturing your screen and audio as you narrate. It also allows you to record your PowerPoint presentation and turn it into a video. Version 7 has the ability to upload your video directly to YouTube. But what makes Camtasia powerful is its audio/video editing functions. But this one will cost you $300; however it does come with a fully functioning 30 day trial.
b. CamStudio: CamStudio is an open source screen capture program similar to Camtasia, only it’s free. While it doesn’t offer all the features, functions, and editing capabilities that Camtasia offers, it’s still a great way to produce videos if your budget is really tight.
c. Capture Fox: For you FireFox users, Capture Fox is a free add-on that allows you to record your screen capture video/audio for free.
e. Screenr: Screenr allows people to record a screencast and then tweet it to their followers. Followers can play it on any computer or on an iPhone. People can record on a either a PC or Mac because it’s a web-based tool.
*For unbiased reviews, check out CNET’s Download.com for user and editor ratings of these programs and other like them.
2. Audio/Video Editing Tools
a. Jay Cut: Jay Cut is an online video editing site that allows you to edit your videos for free. It’s worth looking into if your software doesn’t offer video editing.
b. Avidemux: This free open source program allows you to do some simple video edits on your movie.
c. Audacity: Audacity is a powerful open source audio editing program that allows you to independently edit the audio from the video. It’s free and has a large support base for questions you may have.
3. Video Hosting Options
a. Your Own Server- With the price of bandwidth and storage dropping, and in some cases disappearing, hosting videos on your own site can be a viable option. However, though you will have more control, this option will force you to acquire more technical know-how to make this happen.
b. YouTube: This is the granddaddy of all video hosting sites. You can upload your video (10 minutes or less) for free and then embed the video onto your site for free. Many companies are doing just that for commercial purposes so you will be in the mainstream if you choose this route.
c. Viddler: Viddler is a service similar to YouTube that’s free for personal use and has extended features for paid business uses. It does have a limit of 500mb per video (with no time limit).
*There are a ton of free video hosting option, but these two should help you easily share and embed videos directly on your blog or site. It will be worth it to search for other video hosting options. Many have restrictions on the size/length of your videos, so make sure you take this into consideration before choosing a video hosting option.
Note on stock images/audio/video
I have not used a lot of stock images for my videos, but you need to be aware that if you use an image, just like your book, it is protected by law. Most require a royalty payment or, even if you find royalty-free images, they usually require a fee to use them. Check with the site you find the image on for fees and usage agreements.
However, I did want to share a site that I found which allows free use of music for your videos as long as you give an attribution to them. And the guy who creates these audio clips is talented and has a huge library for you to browse. It’s Incompetech and definitely worth checking out.
Where to go to learn more
There is so much available on this subject that a quick search on Google will return enough to keep you busy for a while. And when it comes to the quality of software, I always check out CNET to see if there is a editor review/rating on it. Finally, make sure you check out each product/service’s site for instructions on how to use it. Many have robust user forums that are a goldmine of information.
Finally, one of the tools that have taught me how to use many of these products quickly and efficiently has been YouTube. Experts and aficionados alike have uploaded a wealth of video tutorials that will walk you through how to do just about anything on these programs. It won’t take long before you find that others have not only asked the same “Can you do this on XYZ program?” questions, but that someone has answered them with a video tutorial.
So, there you have it. A resource list that should get you started as you dip your toe into the world of creating videos for your website and blogs. I admit that this hardly scratches the surface of what’s available and strong arguments can be made by mentioning other products and services, but BookBuzzr has been generous enough with its space for this post already. However, I would be thrilled to see your suggestions on other resources that we should consider as well as hearing your successes and horror stories on these and other tools you have used.
Tony Eldridge is the author of the action-adventure novel, The Samson Effect, and author of the video e-book, Conducting Effective Twitter Contests. On his Marketing Tips for Authors Blog you can find practical advice on low cost and no-cost methods for marketing your book. Sign up for his free newsletter to get video tips to help you with some of the more technical aspects of marketing your book online.