Monday, January 12, 2015

Finding Help On YouTube

You can't figure out how to do something, like remove the faucet from the kitchen sink. The first thing you do is try YouTube for an instructional video.

The video you bring up is, of course, free. That's why you're checking YouTube instead of running down to the library for a free book that will tell you with words and a few pictures how to get that odd-looking wrench around the nut. If you have to pay to learn how to fix it, you start calculating the cost of your investment versus the cost of your buddy the plumber who'd do it as a side job at a reduced rate.

If you are having problems living your life, however, you tend to turn to books for guidance. The self-help section of any bookstore is packed with volumes of advice from those who are considered experts in their field. There are enough Ph.D.s on the spines to fill a university. So you read up and think you have your answer, but what if your particular question isn't covered in enough depth? It's not as if you can call the self-help author on the phone and ask. And a counselor would cost a small fortune, so what's left?

Simon and Schuster have the solution to your self-help problems. It's YouTube, but without the free part.
Call me and I will fix your life with sage advice

The publisher plans to launch a new service that will bring you and your problems into contact with a problem-solver whose book you have read. It's not free, but it's not like an hour on a psychiatrist's couch, either.

Taking a page from online education, S&S will offer courses to those who wish to study under one of the publisher's self-help authors. Sign up and you'll get your workbook, just like the University of Phoenix but without the degree-seeking aspect. Then you watch the video, do your homework, and take advantage of the option of a question-and-answer session with your instructor.

Via YouTube outreach, the author can interact with more readers than they are likely to meet at a book signing event, and without the travel expense. Those who find help through the course would then go on to tell their friends about how much light they've seen thanks to the course, and those friends then go on to try the course themselves. Buying the book to go along with the course, and boosting the publisher's bottom line in the process.

A YouTube video is cheap to produce, which is a critical factor in finding ways to plug books when the marketing budget is tight. All an author needs is a suitable backdrop, something like a panelled office and a big desk that says "I am an expert", and a friend to work the camera. A friend who is handy with their iPhone or iPad would be perfect. Then it's a matter of downloading and posting and Simon & Schuster can accept payments online. Pay with PayPal!

Anything to sell books, and attract a few eyeballs that are going to YouTube anyway. The question is, will all those eyeballs pay for the privilege, or are they all looking at cute kitten videos that are available for free?

No comments: