Recently I signed up my indie publishing company, Dark Helix Press, to be a vendor at FIYAHCON, a virtual convention centering the perspectives and celebrating the contributions of BIPOC in speculative fiction. (I’ll be speaking about publishing there too, will release details when I have them.)
At FIYAHCON the vendors are setting up a virtual table on a platform called AirMeet which I have never used before. One of the items I needed to upload was a video and I don’t have any book trailers for Dark Helix Press. In the past I made a book trailer for The Undead Sorceress which was ok, but with new tools available, making a trailer now is much faster than ever before! The concept of making a trailer is the same to make any video for social media, once you learn how to make on video, it’s a skill which can be used for lots of creative fun!
The trailer I made below took about three hours, because I was fiddling with fonts/colors/layout and made some custom graphics for the Dark Helix Press Threadless Shop merchandise because I wanted “clean cut” items that would “pop out.” I had to use a graphic editor to do that (did it quick and dirty with the free Paint.net graphic program) because video programs have limited graphics editing capabilities. Note I had $0 budget, but the video looks pretty good for zero dollars!
Steps used to make a book trailer:
List out what you want to put in each “slide” which is really a short video. Pretend it’s a PowerPoint and on each slide think about what message or text you want to convey.
In the latest podcast episode of the Artsy Raven, I interviewed fifteen year old Rutendo Alyssa-Joy Mushonga. She wrote a book about the bullying she experienced throughout her life, in Zimbabwe and in Alberta, where she currently resides. It was a difficult conversation to have and we did speak longer than planned, because I was so astonished by the trauma and situations she had to go through. Technology is great, but it also leads to cyber bullying which she experienced first hand. With the help of her awesome mother, she published A Farewell to the War Within: A battle with reality this year to share with others what she had experienced and what she has learned.
We are giving away a copy of her ebook and a $10USD Amazon giftcard via a King Sumo raffle Aug 1-14, 2021. Click here to enter.
Ed Seaward’s interview and reading with the Artsy Raven is now live. He is the happiest person I know and yet his latest book Fair, is about the violent life on the LA streets. He was a screenwriter, worked in the energy field and now retired from “real work” but is writing novels. He has a lot of good advice to give writers and I consider him a great mentor. Check out our episode below to gain some of his wisdom.
In addition, he is giving copies of Fair along with a $10 USD Amazon gift card. Two winners will each receive one e-book and one Amazon gift card. Enter between April 4-9, 2021, winners will be contacted via e-mail!
The second episode of The Artsy Raven podcast features Maya Svevak, a scientist, lawyer, activist and author of Svevi Avatar: Persecution of Constantina. She shares with us what inspired her to create a fantasy world in her series of books which take place in an alternate timeline where European colonization didn’t happen. Her world explores the 7 core ecosocial (ecological + social) issues of our time which include issues related to: indigenous peoples, environment, identity, gender violence, capitalism, health, and culture. She also shares writing tips, how she published her books and the collaborative relationship she has with her team of artists.
The first episode of The Artsy Raven podcast is live! It’s available on Spotify and YouTube at the moment. Anchor will be sending out the podcast to other channels as well, but it’s still early so the computers are all talking to each other and negotiating, I presume. Bonus content about the secrets of success from the guests for each episode is available exclusively on Patreon.
We had a tiny party with myself, my husband and my little one because of COVID and we didn’t feel comfortable asking people over to our tiny apartment. The cake was baked by Ginny who is fighting on Food Network’s Great Chocolate Showdown and it is a chocolate cake. She said all sorts of fancy words like “caramel something” and “ganache something,” I will have to ask her for exact terms before I post about the specifics of the cake! But it was yummy, that’s the important part!
Chris Gorman, the first guest on The Artsy Raven, has been recording the Words with Writers podcast for a while now and he was the most prepared guest. I had sent him questions and he actually wrote out almost every word he was going to say and even practiced reading the entire transcript to note his speaking time! Of course when we actually did the recording, we interjected impromptu things and I had to cut him off from answering three questions or else we would go overtime.
It’s a bit frightening how fast the podcast went up after the files were ready for uploading. With the click of a button, it was live on Spotify/YouTube and I could see it in the search engines when I look for it. Editing the podcast took a few hours in comparison and I hope in the future I can produce these episodes faster as I become more experienced. At the moment I’ve booked a lot of “local” guests and the challenge in the future is asking “strangers” to come onto the show. I feel I need to have a few more episodes up before approaching big potatoes to come onto the show.
Growing up we listened to a lot of Cantonese music from the 70s-90s due to my parents refusing to listen to contemporary English music (except for oldies from the 60s, that was acceptable). A few years ago I confessed that I loved Sam Hui music to a friend. He told me I was an old fashion person because a lot Cantopop music has moved on with the rest of the world into dance and hip hop.
Every since China took back Hong Kong in 1997, there has been more demand for Mandarin products than Cantonese. However, in my opinion, Cantonese entertainment still reigns supreme as the writing styles in TV/movies are mature and always keep the audiences watching for the next plot twist. In China, the industry is still “new” compared to Hong Kong and maybe I’ll get addicted to something in Mandarin, but it hasn’t happened yet. Sadly there used to be over 300 films a year coming out of Hong Kong, and now there is only 30 as all the money is in China.
Regardless, an article in the South China Morning Post explains why Cantonese is still such a great language. (quote from article: “seng gau char siu ho gor seng nay”, which literally means “better to have given birth to a piece of barbecued pork than you”. )
Lately I’ve been listening to this music again and it makes me cry because I remember sitting bored in the living room with the family while watching the horrible music videos of these songs on tv. A lot of Cantonese tv was family oriented and after dinner we would all sit down to watch tv and eat fruit. I remember thinking that I couldn’t wait to leave the house for life to start. Now I finally understand the longing and nostalgia of times gone past because people can’t be brought back from the dead.
Anyhow, I wanted to share a few Cantopop songs via YouTube to those interested in trying out a new type of music. Other than the melodies being catchy, the lyrics are well written and usually the performers had great voices. There was less focus on “packaging” versus talent. Many of these legendary singers have died or retired. A few of them are still around and are still doing well. I don’t listen to much new Cantopop anymore unless they are title songs to tv series but these oldies are always welcomed in my home!
Sam Hui – 半斤八兩 Half a catty, eight taels (1976) – English lyrics here, about the common man always getting the short end of the stick!
We are a bunch of working guys Working as slaves for money for life
Leon Lai – 愿你今夜提房距 Hope You Will Not Leave Tonight (1993) – English lyrics here. This was the theme song to the TVB series The Legendary Ranger, science fiction series with aliens and a kick ass bodyguard (Faye Wong)! Leon was my fav of the Four Heavenly Kings!
Hoping you will not leave tonight. But you have disappeared in such a hurry to live a life in another world to be with someone else.
the path of life so twisted and winding, I have walked it when did you start to accompany me on this path, giving me encouragement? like the red sun, this fire lights up the real me walking together, we can climb a thousand mountains
Jenny Tseng & Roman Tam – 問誰領風騷 (1987) – couldn’t find English translation, this is the theme song to a Wushu superhero series in ancient China. They both have AMAZING voices!
Anita Mui – Stand By Me (1988) – couldn’t find English translation, this was a thank you song to her fans for standing by her for many years.
Leslie Cheung- 有心人 A Man of Purpose (1996) – English Lyrics here. This was the theme song from the gender bending romance movie, Who’s the Woman, Who’s the Man?
Wish I could have yet grown up Look for the one simply by instinct
Danny Chan – 等 Wait (1984) – English lyrics here. A really sad and beautiful song about being depressed because a love left.
Wait Lonesome till deep into the night The night gradually becomes desolate The night gradually becomes dusky Don’t say that you’re the one choosing people People can also choose you
Sam Hui – Heart of a Loafer (1976) – English translation here, a song that reminds you to be humble and don’t be overly anxious.
If life destines something for you, you will have it in the end If life destines you never to have it, there is no point forcing it
It’s been a while since I’ve updated this You Tube Diary because I have been busy trying to finish a cookbook for toddlers. Anyhow, I’ve been keeping my eye on my You Tube channels and sad to report that things are a bit disappointing.
You Tube has millions of videos and it is hard to compete for spots when you are making original material for niche audiences. People that are bootlegging music videos or television shows make a lot more money than a newbie who is trying to create original content.
The most successful channel I have so far is “Po Po Gets Results” with educational videos in Chinese with English subtitles. I suspect this is because one of the languages we have videos for – Cantonese, is a niche area on You Tube for education videos since most are in Mandarin. Cantonese is a dialect of Mandarin and not the official language, so only a subset of the Chinese population is interested in this.
I had ideas for comedy skits to create with a friend, however, she is busy and we haven’t been able to figure out a shooting schedule. She prefers days since it’s best to shoot in light, but I work and I don’t have free time until evenings. Weekends are possibilities, but we haven’t been able to weasel out of our family commitments to get going!
Meanwhile I also bought many LEGO sets because I thought I could make skits with LEGO people. However, I haven’t had time to write down a script yet. I just have random ideas floating around for now…eventually I’ll shoot something since I bought a great mike (Blue YETI) and need to use this stuff before my husband throws them out!
Similar to television channels, on YouTube you can open your own channel to upload videos to. You can even make a trailer to promote it, add your social media links and pay for ads to advertise this channel. It’s like opening a free mini tv station which you can brand and upload whatever content (within YouTube guidelines) you want the world to see.
There are step by step instructions and technical tips on Buffer Social’s site write up on how to open a YouTube channel. Basically you need a Google account which will also give you an email account, brand account, YouTube account and Ad Sense account (for collecting revenue from ads or to pay for ads). It’s handy that everything is linked and the interface is quite user-friendly for newbies.
One of my friends told me that somehow they got banned from opening a YouTube channel because someone close to her somehow had access to her email and did some odd stuff on YouTube pretending to be her. Hence she was banned for a few years. Remember that the internet is like an elephant, it never forgets! So be careful of what you write and read the warning emails if they appear because you can get banned!
After opening a brand account and YouTube channel, you may want to think of a logo. This is an extra touch which helps promote brand recognition and it’s kind of fun to have the chance to make a logo for your own channel! To make a logo, you can either 1) DIY with original art, 2) DIY with free royalty-free stock art from Pixabay, 3) DIY with design programs such as the fabulous free Canva (you can upload your own images if Canva doesn’t have exactly what you want) or 4) hire an artist. If you hire someone and buy the copyright, the content is yours. When you use stock art or Canva, read the fine print for license details for what you can and can not do.
Here are a few of my YouTube channel logos which were created either on my own or commissioned an artist for the art:
Once you have things set up, you can actually open up more than one channel. Why do this? Well, for me, I wanted to have a few different channels due to different interests that don’t really intersect. I actually created the JF Garrard channel years ago to upload a book trailer for my multicultural vampire novel, The Undead Sorceress (looks so cheesy when I re-watch it!). Now that I have a new project, to organize things better, I created a playlist specific to my project on depression, Pessimist to Semi-Optimist (PTO) project so people interested in this project can watch all the videos on this project in one go. It’s like using setting up your PVR to record all the Big Bang Theory shows in a row to watch them non-stop.
“Po Po Gets Results!” is a channel I opened to make Chinese language videos with my mom to drill some Chinese into my son because it’s hard to find Chinese/English videos with toys that he likes to play with. “Po Po” means grandmother in Cantonese. Viking husband thought that “Po Po Gets Results” was a funny phrase and describes my mom’s relentless nature in shoving food into our offspring. Anyhow, getting him to learn numbers from a Thomas the Train that sounds like his grandmother seems to be working for now!
Over Christmas, my husband went crazy while watching super boring videos of Disney toy openings with children that we were babysitting. I looked up the person that made these videos and it turns out they make over $1M a year! We have a lot of toys at home, so why not try to make some videos about toys which children would want to watch? However, my interest in attempting to making videos about toys (openings and reviews) does not really fit into my channel on author and depression stuff. As a parent, I would be confused if a channel has videos on toys and advice on how not to commit suicide or vampire book trailers. It might fit into the Po Po channel, but I want to keep that exclusive for Chinese educational videos, so I opened a channel called “Kid Creatures” for toy reviews and toy opening videos.
Finally, some friends wanted to get together to make comedy skits. Good comedy is extremely difficult to do and very subjective, which makes me a bit nervous about doing this. As a big fan of BBC’s Absolutely Fabulous I always wish there was more female comedy that was not only about hot flashes, women being mean or sex. “One Hand Wave” is the comedy channel I opened to upload funny things to. My friends and I haven’t gotten together yet because everyone seems to be busy. Maybe that can be a skit in itself! Funny how the one person with a toddler is the one that set up everything and bought equipment but the single people are still “thinking” about things before they want to do anything…sigh…ok, I’m being a bit mean now…
I admit it’s a hassle to switch in between channels or personas when doing updates, but I think it will be worth it in the long run. Within each channel you can create playlists, so when people are on your channel, you can create lists to link all your videos. This will help people find your videos as YouTube is a vast place with millions of videos.
One software I highly recommend to spread messages about your message on social media is Hootsuite, which allows you to schedule posts. For example, you want to send ten Twitter messages about a new video. Instead of logging into Twitter and typing it ten times every day (and trying to remember!) – you can schedule all ten posts over ten days in a few minutes in Hootsuite. There is a free version you can link to 3 accounts, but if you have multiple things to upkeep, a paid version costs about $200/year for up to 10 accounts.
Opening a channel is the easy part! Now it’s off to the races by making videos to upload!
YouTube appears to be the new gold mine of our century. Are you going to pan for gold? I am! Seriously, as much as I would love to make millions every year, I know that the people making lots of money also work very hard. We can’t see the amount of hours, money spent on equipment and sheer sweat they put in before they became a success. A little bit of gold dust would be nice, nevertheless!
Business Insider has a great article which calculates and breaks down the amount of money people earn on You Tube. PewDiePie (YouTube’s biggest star who critiques video games and makes jokes about them) supposedly pulled in revenue of $10.5M in 2014. After taxes and YouTube’s share, he may have made $4M. That is fantastic, but keep in mind he started doing this many years ago and the big payoff is only now. Another YouTube star is Michelle Phan (beauty and makeup) was calculated to have made about $150K in comparison. These stories are great, but how does one actually make money?
YouTube has ads that you see before and during video viewing. This is called “YouTube monetization.” The person who made or uploaded the video signs a digital agreement with YouTube so that ads can be placed into their videos and there is a split of roughly 50:50. The amount of money made depends on how many people watched the video and if they clicked on the ad or not. Also, longer videos have more ad placements. More details are available on this “Ad Rates Report” page about how YouTube and ads work.
Setting up a video to be monetized is not difficult at all, maybe 30 minutes, tops. However, to make any money, you need lots of eyeballs and different people to watch your video (and yes, YouTube can tell if the clicks come from the same household). Other than professional media (music videos, clips of tv shows) or cute home videos (babies, dogs, cats) which are sometimes bought by the news media; highly viewed videos are either technical (video game, makeup, space rockets, educational, amateur tv shows) or really low brow (pooping, barfing, falling).
Everything comes down to marketing. In our day and age, social media has opened the doors to people to do their own marketing instead of relying on professional companies. However, people are bombarded with marketing from all over the place, so it’s become harder to get someone’s attention. Having good content is always the most solid base for success, but if no one knows about it, then the content will become lost in cyberspace.
One area getting some attention are toy reviews and toy unboxing (opening a toy). Since I have a child, I thought that a good start would be making videos with toys. That $10 piece of plastic I bought should be good for something after it’s been played with for 5 min, right?! Actually, I spent more than $20 on secret Lego Disney figurines because there was a frenzy at Toys R Us with moms feeling up these packages for the figure they wanted while the men shook their heads in the corner. Still, it was quite exciting to open the secret Lego Disney package on camera because I didn’t know what was in it either (felt like doing toy porn and I’m sure that’s out there too)! This is sounding pretty sad…but I’ve had too much excitement lately over a health crisis in my family, so being excited about something boring is good!
In addition, I want my son to learn Chinese, so I have asked my mom to make videos of us playing with toys in Chinese. I have had a maximum of ….wait for this…30 hits!…so far on our video of Thomas the Train counting in Cantonese. The threshold of any money being released by You Tube is $100 and given I’m at $0.02 today (videos have been up for a week), it’s going to take a while!
Since having a child is like opening a black hole near your bank account, I think doing YouTube videos for fun in hopes of earning some money is a good idea anyways. I’ll be blogging about this occasionally when I’m less depressed because I think it’s a funny thing to do. Until then, I’m calling my mom to ask her to think of more video ideas, since our video of Thomas and Mickey buying fruit was viewed as “too Asian” by a friend!