Outlining Tips And Video Marketing On YouTube With Jenna Moreci

How can you outline a story based on a ‘thought dump’ and interweave genre tropes you love to create a successful book? How can you use video marketing to reach more readers, even if you are an introvert? Jenna Moreci gives her tips.

In the intro, my new ProWritingAid tutorial; Embracing change and starting over [Wish I’d Known Then Podcast]; OpenAI released ChatGPT 4o; Using 4o as a tutor [Khan Academy]; Claude 3 now in Europe; Google IO announcements including Search impact [The Verge; My episode on impact of generative search; Hard Fork Podcast; Platformer]; Spear of Destiny Kickstarter, and my deadlift PB.

Today’s podcast sponsor is Findaway Voices, which gives you access to the world’s largest network of audiobook sellers and everything you need to create and sell professional audiobooks. Take back your freedom. Choose your price, choose how you sell, choose how you distribute audio. Check it out at FindawayVoices.com.

This show is also supported by my Patrons. Join my Community at Patreon.com/thecreativepenn 

Jenna Moreci is the bestselling author of dark fantasy romance, The Savior’s Series, and books for authors including Shut Up and Write the Book: A Step-by-Step Guide to Crafting Your Novel From Plan to Print. She’s also a YouTuber at Writing with Jenna Moreci, with over 300,000 subscribers.

You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and the full transcript is below. 

Show Notes

  • Structuring and outlining — utilizing the “thought dump”
  • The planning process for including tropes in your book
  • How long should an outline be?
  • Conquering fears and distractions to get words on the page
  • Researching publishing options as a first time author
  • Getting comfortable in front of the camera through trial and error
  • How to build a channel around a fiction author business
  • Different goals of short form and longer form video marketing

You can find Jenna at JennaMoreci.com or on her YouTube channel Writing with Jenna.

Transcript of Interview with Jenna Moreci

Joanna: Jenna Moreci is the bestselling author of dark fantasy romance, The Savior’s Series, and books for authors including Shut Up and Write the Book: A Step-by-Step Guide to Crafting Your Novel From Plan to Print.

She’s also a YouTuber at Writing with Jenna Moreci, with over 300,000 subscribers. So, welcome to the show, Jenna

Jenna: Thank you so much for having me. It is such an honor to be here.

Joanna: I’m excited to talk to you. First up—

Tell us a bit more about you and how you got into writing and publishing.

Jenna: Well, how I got into writing, it’s literally been my lifelong dream ever since I was a child. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was six years old. So it, quite literally, is a childhood dream fulfilled.

With my first job after college, I was a stockbroker. Which is just like writing, right? It is exactly the same thing, you know, dealing with finances. So similar to writing.

Basically, I was working full time in finance, and I really, really, really just did not enjoy it. I had this moment where I thought, you know what, this is going to be my life. I’m going to be trading stocks forever, and I can’t do it.

So I thought I would, at the very least, give writing a shot since that was my dream, and I had been writing stories my whole life on the side. So I figured I would go ahead and try to write a book and see how it did.

My goal was for it to be a lucrative side gig, something that made my life feel fulfilling while I paid the bills working in finance. Then along the way, things happened. My partner suffered a major accident, so I had to quit my job so I could sign on to be his caregiver and help him recover from the accident.

During that time, I started my YouTube channel. I started it on a whim because a lot of people told me that I would be good at YouTube. It wasn’t something I was really interested in because, like a lot of authors, I’m an introvert.

I did not want my face on the internet, but I gave it a shot. My goal was 100 subscribers, and nearly 300,000 subscribers later, at some point, it blew up.

Due to the YouTube channel blowing up, my first novel sold well enough that I was able to make writing a full-time job.

Now at this point in my life, I’m on my fifth and sixth novel, and I write and do YouTube full time. I never thought that this would be where my life was headed, but here we are.

Joanna: I love that. Obviously, we have some similarities. My job before this was in accounts payable, and I used to implement systems. So it was a similar feeling of I just cannot do this for the rest of my life.

So lots to come back on there. I’ve been through your book, so we’ll start with the writing process, and then we’ll get back into YouTube and business. So you talk about structure and outlining in your book, and I’m a discovery writer, so I’m always absolutely fascinated by outlining.

Can you talk about how you structure and outline your dark fantasy romances?

Jenna: Well, the very first thing I do is what I call the thought dump. It is basically brainstorming, but thought dumping just feels like a more accurate picture.

Basically, I just write down any and all ideas that I have for the story. It doesn’t need to be in any specific order, and it doesn’t need to be in any kind of structure. It’s just any possible idea that I have.

It could be streams of dialogue, it could be world building elements, it could be a fight scene, it could be a kiss scene, it doesn’t matter. Once I feel like I have exhausted all of my ideas for that moment, then I start going through the ideas.

Then I start finding the ones where it’s like, “Oh, this kind of sucks, we’re not going to use this one,” or, “Oh, this one is workable. This feels like it could be a plot point,” or, “This feels like it could be the dark night of the soul,” or something like that. I start trying to find the gems within the dump.

Once I get to that point, it’s sort of like piecing together a puzzle. I actually call it the puzzle phase, which is where I take the gems that I found in the thought dump and categorize them into specific plot points, like the first kiss, or the inciting incident, or different pieces of the rising action.

You can do this digitally, you can use some kind of software to do this. I like the physical feeling of doing this. So I usually do it with sticky notes and a poster board. I will write down the plot points on the sticky notes and just rearrange them on the poster board until they fit some kind of realistic structure or sequence.

At that point, there’s going to be tons of holes because your thought dump is not going to be flawless. It’s going to be incredibly flawed. So at that point, I start trying to fill in the hole.

So it’s like I’ve got two pieces of the rising action, but I need more of a mini climax, or I need a greater crisis or something like that. I start trying to figure out how can I piece point A to point C. Where’s the point B in the middle? So that’s also part of the whole puzzle aspect.

For me, it’s fun figuring out how I can make all of these points combine together.

Once I feel like I have a very full flow in terms of the structure and outline of the story, I start dividing it into chapters. I look for natural breaks, where it’s like this would be a great cliffhanger.

I like to make sure that my chapters begin and end on very opposite emotional tones. So maybe if the chapter begins in a really happy way, I want it to end in a sad, scary, angry way, just something that’s very different from how it started.

So I look for those shifts within the post it notes, essentially, and I start dividing it into chapters. Once I have that structure down, that’s when I actually start the outline, and I’ll start typing it up.

I will take elements from the thought dump that haven’t been utilized but I still really enjoy, and I will find places to shove those elements in. Maybe there’s a big conversation that I want the two lovebirds to have, and I’m like, oh, it would fit really, really well in this particular scene.

So it’s just about taking the thought dump, breaking it down into its most basic pieces, and then once those pieces all fit together perfectly, adding in all of the extra fluff and details, everything that kind of makes the story shine.

Joanna: You have videos about tropes on your channel. I mean, I often look at my books later and go, “Oh, that’s that trope,” where I discovery wrote it, and it ended up there.

Do you look at the tropes of romance, and then you make sure that they go into that outline?

Jenna: I’m a little bit like you and a little bit like planning that way. For me, the discovery aspect of writing is the character arc. I know where I want my characters to head, but I don’t necessarily know how they’re going to feel about it as the story progresses.

So that’s what’s really fun for me is watching the transition of my characters starting off as this one type of character and ending another way. Like, how do they feel about that? How did they get to that point?

So a lot of tropes revolve around character development. So those tropes for me are always like, “Oh, look where we ended up. This is great.”

For example, my character, Tobias, he starts off at the beginning of the book kind of a cinnamon roll, naive, doesn’t really know politics and things like that. By the end of the book, he ended up being quite morally gray.

Morally gray is an on-trend character type right now, and it’s considered a popular trope in romanticized books. It wasn’t something that I had originally planned, but here we are, now Tobias is a morally gray character.

Then there are other tropes where it’s just that I’m such a huge fan of the trope that I have to include this. So for example, forbidden romance is one of my favorite tropes. So that was one where I was like, right from the gate, this is going to be a forbidden romance. We have to do it, we have to make it happen.

Joanna: Yes, and combining those different things that you love with the things that the readers expect is, I guess, the point.

Just to come back on the actual writing, so you have this outline. So I guess—

How long is your outline?

Is it just like a 10-page Word document or something?

Jenna: My outlines are long. I say this in Shut Up and Write the Book, it completely depends on the person. Some people are pantsers or discovery writers, some people really need a structure, some people are somewhere in between.

So when I say this, I just like to make sure everyone knows you don’t have to do what I do. My outlines can be like 30 pages long and super detailed.

It’s funny because I’ll have one chapter that is a page-long outline, and then I’ll have another chapter that’s just one line. It’s like, “They fight here.” Then I get to that part of the outline, and I’m like, oh, no, now I have to figure everything out on the fly.

My outlines tend to be really long. That’s in large part because I’m very character focused. A lot of the ideas that I come up with early on are conversations between characters. So I will have entire streams of dialogue in my outline, just sort of waiting to be used.

I know a lot of people in those situations will just write the conversation, write the scene in full and then save it for later. I like to just shove it in my outline and be like that is future Jenna’s problem. Future Jenna can craft the conversation and the narrative around it, but this is what I want them to say in that moment.

Joanna: You say it’s quite long, but Jeffrey Deaver, the mystery writer, his outlines are like 200 pages long.

Jenna: Okay, good. That makes me feel better.

Joanna: James Patterson famously does outlines, and I think his are maybe three chapters each page. So yes, it’s such an interesting process. Of course, everybody listening does it differently, too.

Let’s get on to the actual writing. So you’ve got this outline, and the title of your book for authors is Shut Up and Write. It is kind of funny because you have a book on writing, and I have a book How To Write a Novel, and we’re basically saying, “Shut up and read our books, and then go and write.”

I guess this is one of the problems for writers—well, not a problem, because we’re a self-sustaining industry—but I definitely remember reading like 100 craft books before actually writing something.

How can newer authors get over the fear of putting the words on a page, or just stop with all the distractions and shut up and write?

How can they get to that page if they’re new writers?

Jenna: I host live streams on Mondays, and that’s a question that I get almost in every single live stream. Every time I’m like, “You’re not going to like the answer. I’m so sorry,” because I know a lot of people just think the fear is going to go away if they do XYZ.

They think, oh, like, I just have to wave a wand, and do a little dance, and I don’t know, eat this special food, and it’s not like that.

From my experience, and I’m someone who has been doing this for a decade now, I still have days where I’m like, “Oh, I don’t want to write. It’s going to be bad. I just know that everything I write is going to be terrible.”

I just feel like you have to grit your teeth and do it and understand that the fear is going to be there, and it’s not going to go away until you actually start writing words on the page. So I think a lot of it is just grit, and getting it done, and doing the thing.

I think a lot of it is understanding that the fear is normal. It’s not unique to you, everyone experiences it at some point in time. You just kind of have to open up the Word doc and keyboard Smash, just do something.

I feel like once you get the words flowing, the fear will start to dissipate.

Then you wonder why you wasted so much time to begin with.

Another thing is to set yourself up for success, and this is something that takes trial and error. Everyone thrives in their own unique way while writing. Everyone’s different.

So for example, I have a friend who has to be playing music while they write. Whereas, for me, music is more of an idea phase thing. It’s not so much in the writing process.

I know some people who can’t have any distractions. They have to make sure that the Wi-Fi is off, and there’s nothing going on. It’s just the blank Word document page.

For me, I need a little bit of distraction. I need the temptation of reward. So I thrive in the way of being like, “Okay, if I just finish this scene, I can take a break online and watch some YouTube videos,” or something like that.

So for me, it’s just a matter of understanding what would make you most successful. Some people, they need to have an office that they write in. I need to be comfortable while writing, so I write in bed. For other people, if they would write in bed, they’d just fall asleep.

So it’s all about setting up your environment so that it is most suitable for you to actually get words on the page. The only thing I would say outside of that is don’t let that be an excuse, because sometimes the environment isn’t ideal, but we still have to get the words done. In those situations, you just got to grit your teeth and do the thing.

Joanna: I think you’re right. I mean, you said just do something. Once you get started, then you can make it better later, right? Just get some words down.

To be fair, I think it’s harder as a discovery writer because you don’t have an outline. So I always say to people that I write out of order because I don’t know where it’s going. So I will just start writing that fight scene or whatever it is, and then I’ll figure out the rest of it later.

So in a way, I guess it’s easier because you can just start wherever and then rearrange things. Then when you’re writing your actual word chapters, you’ve got an outline.

So do you just write start to finish? Do you just go in order?

Jenna: Yes. When I have written out of order, it has always been a huge mistake for me. So I’ve always had to rewrite everything. Like it’s terrible, I’ve just got to start all the way over. So I just follow my outline.

That’s another thing that I tell people. Like if you are new to this, and you are really struggling with not knowing what to write next, outline the next scene really quickly. Just jot it down. If you don’t have an outline, just whip something up really quickly, so at least you know where to go.

It’s kind of like training wheels. It helps you out a little bit as you’re going. So, at least for me, it’s like I always know what I need to write next, it’s just sometimes I don’t feel like writing it.

Joanna: That’s also the same for me. So let’s just talk about publishing before we get into all the marketing side. So with an audience like you have, and you’re marketing savvy and everything—

What did you think about when you were publishing the first book? How did your publishing choices work?

Jenna: Like a lot of writers, I initially thought I was going to go traditional. I thought I understood the publishing landscape, but I wanted to make sure that I thoroughly researched my options. I’m so glad I did because I was definitely misinformed about traditional publishing.

After doing thorough research, I decided to go the indie route. I read a lot of books about both sides of things, I read a lot of articles, but the determining factor for me was actually interviewing other authors.

I interviewed a ton of people because I wanted to get the first-person perspective of people who had actually been through either traditional or indie. A vast majority of them were super negative and jaded.

They were like, “Don’t do it. If you become a writer, you’re going to waste your life, and you’re never going to make any money, and blah blah blah.” They were just not happy with their life or their choices.

There were two authors who were really, really happy as writers, and one was indie, and one was traditional. The indie writer had just released independently their first novel, and it was selling well enough where they projected that by the second novel, they would be able to be doing this full time.

So they weren’t there yet, but they were nearing it. They saw the light at the end of the tunnel, and they were really, really excited about it.

Then when I talked to the traditional author, she was an older woman, and basically she was telling me that she was with her traditional publisher for 20 years and ten books.

It was after the 20-year mark that her publishing house started taking her seriously.

They were giving her higher advances, not cutting the book after two years on the shelf. So basically, she had been writing for 20 years, and at that point, she was able to transition into writing full time.

She was like, “Don’t worry. If you’re patient, and you just write those books, and keep at it, and hound that publisher, eventually, you’ll be able to do it full time.”

I just thought to myself, I don’t want to wait 20 years. I mean, basically, she was at retirement age when she was able to do writing full time. I was like, I don’t want to wait until retirement age to do that. At the time, I was in my late twenties. So that’s when I decided to go indie.

I still maintain that there are vast pros and cons to either indie or traditional, and I think hybrid is also a really great option. It’s just a matter of an individual writer’s strengths, their goals, and whether the pros and cons of each side matter to them.

For example, the biggest con of indie publishing, in my opinion, is that it can be expensive. If you are in a financially comfortable place, that might not be as big of a problem for you as someone who is not in a financially comfortable place.

So it’s just a matter of weighing the pros and cons and seeing how heavily they impact your life.

Joanna: Of course, there are lots of ways to bootstrap as an indie. So it doesn’t have to be expensive, but you do have to invest in it as a business. If you want to make money, you do have to invest money, as you say, in terms of editing, cover design, and all that. Just coming back there—

You said you were misinformed about traditional publishing before you did that research. What did you think it was?

Jenna: I thought, and this is something that a lot of writers who talked to me all had the same impression, that the traditional publishing house are just going to do all the marketing for you. They’re just going to promote you and try and make you a big deal.

I thought, and what a lot of writers think, that you’re going to get the Stephen King experience. I researched it, and it’s like Stephen King gets the Stephen King experience.

Everyone else, unless you have a large platform already, and you’ve got this large audience, the odds are that they’re not going to invest a lot of marketing power in you. I was like, well, that kind of sucks.

Then I researched what the publishing house would do for me outside of marketing, and they were all things—I have a business background—they were all things that I was like, well, I’m comfortable doing this myself, and anything that I don’t know, I think I can easily learn.

So the way I thought is, well, I’m going to be marketing myself no matter which option I go. I would rather market myself and get the higher royalty check, so I think I’m going to go indie.

Joanna: Yes, and as you said, I mean, you weigh up every decision in the future. I mean, you might write a series in the future. I’m 15-plus years into this now, and I have some ideas that I might pitch to various publishers.

For people who are newer to the industry listening, it’s not an either/or forever decision. There’s pros and cons every single time, every single book. So I think the industry changes so fast, and it’s good to reassess.

You mentioned your business background there. Just having a look at the various things you do—

What are your multiple streams of income for your business right now?

Jenna: Just going back on what you said really quickly, I’m actually in the process of becoming a bit of a hybrid author, so I could not agree more with you. It’s like you reassess over time because right now being hybrid is a great option for me, but at the start, it wasn’t. So I definitely encourage people to be open to opportunities and whatnot.

So my multiple streams of income, obviously, my biggest stream of income is my book sales. That’s probably the highest percentage of my earnings. I have a YouTube channel, so I have ad revenue from my YouTube videos. I have the ads enabled.

Sometimes I accept sponsorships, which is when a company that is writing related will be like, “Hey, can you basically do a little mini commercial and promote us on your video?”

If you are going into YouTube or podcasting or something where you get sponsorships, I would just encourage you to pick the ones that maybe are the best fit for your audience. I’ve received some wild sponsorship requests. I mean, I’ve had underwear requests. I had a mini cordless chainsaw, that was a strange one.

Joanna: You should have done that.

Jenna: I was kind of tempted. It’s like, “Do you hate your manuscript? Do you want to saw it in half? Well, have I got the solution for you.”

So just keep it in mind. I tried to keep my sponsors writing related or social media related.

I also have merch available for people who enjoy my YouTube channel or my books. I do affiliate arrangements with other writing related companies like NovelPad.

I also have courses that people can take and learn a little bit more about the publishing process and marketing themselves. So those are my various streams of income.

I would say book sales are my most prominent stream of income. Then after that, it would be a YouTube ad revenue or sponsorships.

Joanna: So let’s come back on the video because you said earlier that you are an introvert and you do video. So people always say to me, like, “Oh, you’re not an introvert because you do podcasting.” I’m like, that just doesn’t make any sense because it’s just the two of us as we’re doing it.

I do social media and all the stuff you do as well, but I definitely do not do much video. My YouTube channel, The Creative Penn is mostly audio only with an image on top. Many authors hate the thought of video.

So what are your tips for authors who know that we really should do video these days, but we just hate it, and we’re worried about it, or it’s just too much work?

So what are your thoughts there?

Jenna: This is another situation where you just have to understand that it’s normal. It’s uncomfortable, especially at first. I’ve been doing this for 10 years now, and I still get like, do I look okay? Like is my lipstick smudged? I still have those moments.

It’s an adjustment, like anything else. It will eventually start to feel just like a normal part of your life. If people are like, “Oh, I’m too introverted to do this,” you’re just talking into a camera. No one else is there.

I mean, it tuckers me out just in the sense of how much talking I have to do. I batch film, so I’ll film all my videos for one month in one day. So that element will exhaust me, but it doesn’t tire me out in the same way socializing does because I’m not talking to anyone. I’m talking to a camera. I am alone in my studio.

So I think what I would tell writers is that it will feel better as time goes on. Don’t wait for everything to be perfect because you need trial and error to perfect your channel.

Your first few videos are going to be your worst, you’re going to cringe later when you watch them, but you need to get them done. You need to start somewhere, so just understand that it’s only going to go up from there.

So get those first few videos out, see how they perform, see what’s going right, see what’s going wrong, see what people are responding to, what they’re not responding to, and tweak and adjust from there.

My biggest piece of advice, especially because writers are introverted and uncomfortable in front of the camera, is to be authentic.

As someone who did videos for months before they saw any traction, once I stopped trying to put on this professional front and I started just behaving like myself, that’s when my videos started to perform well.

So authenticity is something that people can absolutely notice and respond to, especially on a platform like YouTube. You may think you’re weird, or quirky, or boring, or something like that. Just be your authentic self, and someone out there will appreciate it.

Joanna: Both you and I have our primary media platforms for the nonfiction audience, the authors.

So how would someone advertise or market or build a channel around their fiction?

Do you have some ideas for more about that rather than the tip-based content?

Jenna: Just in general, I think that at this point, if you’re getting on YouTube specifically, I wouldn’t recommend giving writing advice. When I started my channel, I was very lucky because there were only two other writing advice channels out there. So I was kind of entering into an untapped market.

Now that I’ve been doing this for 10 years, there’s a bazillion different writing channels out there. So for nonfiction writers, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend giving writing advice on YouTube, just because at this point it is a saturated market.

A lot of the people who give writing advice on YouTube are—or not a lot of the people—but there’s a handful of people on YouTube who are bestsellers and award winners and things like that.

So if someone has their choice of where they’re going to get writing advice on YouTube, they’re probably going to go to someone with credentials versus someone who’s newer and trying to get their name out there.

There are a ton of other options available for YouTube. What I like to tell writers is think about your target audience and what they’re interested in. So for example, if you’re writing romantasy like me, maybe talk about the art of romantasy.

Maybe talk about your favorite romantasy books, your favorite romantasy movies, your favorite romance tropes, your favorite fantasy tropes. You can bond with your audience over that sort of content.

There are people who do book reviews on YouTube, it’s known as BookTube.

That’s very popular, and you are welcome to do that.

My only warning I would give is that if you are a public reviewer, when it comes time to release your own book, just take into consideration that people are going to judge your work harsher than they would have otherwise because you’re a book reviewer.

Since you’re out there giving “professional opinions” about other books, people are going to be like, okay, well, they have strong opinions about other books, I’m going to have strong opinions about theirs. So just something to take into consideration.

More than anything, I would tap into your target audience and what they’re interested in. That’s what a lot of writers on YouTube do. If they’re writing sci fi, they will talk about sci fi on their channel.

They’ll talk about the newest sci fi movie, and they’ll talk about the tropes utilized and the writing style of it. Fellow sci fi geeks will watch and be like, wow, this is really, really interesting. Then once that YouTuber is like, “Hey, I’ve got a book. Check it out,” you’ve attracted the appropriate audience to then purchase that book.

Joanna: Well, let’s talk about the trend of short form video. So obviously, TikTok and BookTok is the big thing right now. Instagram reels and YouTube shorts have appeared to sort of try and capture that similar vibe.

Do you do the short form videos? How has video changed?

Jenna: What I do is I repurpose my YouTube content. I will take videos that I posted on YouTube and cut them down into little one-minute segments and share them to TikTok. TikTok isn’t my favorite platform, just because I prefer longer form videos.

So for me, it’s like, oh, gosh, I’ve got to make this quick little 15 second video. It’s not my platform that I use. I do have TikTok, but I usually use it to repurpose my content or to talk about my books.

There are some writers who are thriving on TikTok, and then there are some who are like, oh, I just can’t do this. So just take into consideration that there are other options available.

There are entire video essays on YouTube that have millions of views. So just because the short form content is popular, like if you’re into that, definitely milk that for what it’s worth, but if you’re not so much into it, YouTube is still doing really, really well.

Like I said, there are people who make hour long video essays on YouTube that are absolutely killing it. So I think short form gives people greater options of what they can do in terms of content, especially because making a 15-second video is obviously going to be significantly less time consuming than even a 15-minute YouTube video.

So it definitely gives people greater options, but I don’t feel like you have to be forced into just going the short form way. There’s still a lot of long form content available for people.

Joanna: I think about YouTube a bit like I think about this podcast, which is it’s more content marketing, and like for you as well, part of the business. Whereas I see short form video and social media as just marketing, whereas they’re not necessarily content marketing.

So people listening here and watching your channel, it is content. I mean, that content can be a short story or it can be whatever else with the fiction side.

I feel like what we make with these longer forms stick around longer.

People can find things years later. Whereas TikTok and the short form videos are almost designed to disappear.

Jenna: Exactly. I mean, I had a TikTok blow up and get over 2 million views, but it didn’t get me book sales. I mean, I’m sure maybe it got me a handful, but with the YouTube videos, every time I release a video I get a spike in book sales.

So that’s not to say that TikTok can’t be used to help you sell books. It’s just the idea that I have videos that are seven years old that are still selling books for me, whereas that TikTok has just faded into the distance. So I definitely think content marketing absolutely has its place and its value.

Joanna: Yes, and this is why authors need some kind of strategy because with the huge number of splintered services now, if you tried to do everything all the time, that’s when people just give up. I mean, you have to choose.

It’s interesting, like you said you got in early on the YouTube writing stuff. I was one of the very first podcasts in the writing space, me and like Grammar Girl and Writing Excuses. There were just a few of us in those early days. Again, similar, it’s very crowded now.

I wouldn’t put people off entirely from trying to start something new, it’s just very, very hard to kind of breakthrough. You kind of have to go super, super niche. Can I just ask about some other types of videos?

So one of the things that many authors are doing for the ad revenue is putting whole audiobooks on YouTube. What do you think about that?

Jenna: I think if it works for them, that’s fantastic. It wouldn’t be the best option for me because my audiobooks, just selling them on Audible and Amazon, are just killing it. So for me, it would be a decrease in revenue if I were to do it that way.

However, the way I see it is that it’s all about whatever works for that individual person. I know some people who are putting their audiobooks on YouTube because of the ad revenue, and they’re making money that way.

I know some people who are doing it solely because their platform is really small. They’re hoping that if I give this book away, essentially for free, I will attract an audience. When it comes to business experimentation, I’m all about seeing what works, seeing what doesn’t, and not being afraid to experiment.

For example, if they were to put their audiobook on YouTube, and they didn’t make a lot of money off of it, I don’t really see that as a failure. I see that as a like a learning experience. It’s like, okay, well, now I know that I won’t do that again. What’s the next step?

So I’m all for people doing that. I don’t think it would work for me. I think anything you could do to try to experiment within the industry and try to increase your revenue somehow, I’m like, so long as it’s ethical, go for it and try it out.

Joanna: Okay, well, something that was popular over a decade ago when I first started out was the book trailer. What’s interesting is it used to cost us so much money to do a book trailer.

Obviously, now the tools are much, much better in terms of AI images, and AI for marketing, and you can find licensed music for cheap, and all of this. I’ve started to see book trailers on social media because a 30-second video or a 10-second video can be quite interesting.

So what do you think around the book trailer type video, where it’s not the author, it is the story or the hook?

Jenna: I think, and I don’t know if they’d necessarily count as book trailers, but I see reels all the time on Instagram, and then I see TikToks, obviously, where it’s like beautiful imagery, character artwork, and then quotes from the book with music. I’ve made those myself. They’re really easy to make.

It’s one of those things where if you could make one of those in less than a half hour, you might as well give it a shot and throw it out there and see how it works. I know a lot of authors who that’s how they make their book sales is they make those beautiful little trailers, and they just post them constantly.

Sometimes they’ll boost them online, they’ll put some ad revenue behind it, and that’s how they’re able to support themselves as an author. Especially, like right now, the writing industry has evolved so much, and —

Social media, as annoying as it can be, social media is the reason that a lot of us are now able to do writing full time.

So this is another situation where I’m like, go for it! Make the little book trailer. You can do it easily on Canva, and that’s available pretty much for everyone. I know people who their entire careers revolve around just making these cute little videos with character art.

There are wonderful character artists that you could hire to create entire elaborate scenes from your book, and it’s very affordable. I say go for it. Like I said, I’ve done it myself.

Joanna: So you mentioned Canva, which I also use. It is fantastic.

What are some of the other tools that you use as part of your YouTube side of things for making videos?

Jenna: Well, I’m at this point in my career now where I have a video editing team. So I now get to outsource those tasks, thankfully, because that was the least fun part of YouTube.

Before then, I would edit my videos using iMovie as well as Final Cut Pro. iMovie is free, available to anyone with a Mac. You don’t need the fancy tools in order to edit your YouTube content. iMovie works just fine.

I would use Final Cut Pro, for example, for book trailers that I would post to YouTube, as well as some of the fancier overlays and imagery and things like that. That’s what I would use Final Cut Pro for.

I have a screen so that I can sort of watch myself while I’m filming and make sure I look okay. I obviously have the camera. I have a ring light and then two spotlights. Then, of course, I have the onstage podcast microphone. A lot of equipment, basically.

My studio is just filled with lights and cameras and all that good stuff. A lot of people hear this and think that if they’re going on to YouTube, they need to immediately have these items.

What I started with was natural light from my window, a good microphone, and I used the camera on my laptop.

So just understand that. I personally wouldn’t recommend, if you are getting into YouTube specifically, investing a whole lot of money at the start because some people try out YouTube, and after six months, they’re like, “I hate this. I don’t want to do this. This is not for me.”

What a shame it would be if you spent thousands of dollars on a YouTube setup that you don’t want to use anymore. So if you’re going to invest in anything, I would recommend investing in a good microphone, but you can get a good microphone for a really good price.

So there’s nothing wrong with natural light and using your iPhone camera to get started.

Joanna: Yes, although if you’re going to use an iPhone camera, put it on a stand, don’t hold it.

Jenna: Yes, exactly.

Joanna: Or people will feel sick.

Jenna: Yes.

Joanna: So both you and I have been doing these various parts of our business for quite a few years now, and I wondered if you’re thinking about reinvention. I hit my 15 years just before Christmas, and this podcast has been going since 2009.

So I started to feel like there are new voices around, there are different ways of doing things, and I’m very interested in reinvention at the moment. Although I’m kind of calling it a very slow pivot reinvention because I’m still enjoying myself. What do you think as someone who’s been doing YouTube for so long as well?

What are your thoughts on what’s coming next for you? Do you have any plans for new series? What’s next for Jenna?

Jenna: Absolutely, this is actually something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, especially because I’m at my 10-year mark with YouTube, and my family recently went through a medical crisis, and we’re on the other end of it, and things are so much better.

Those sorts of things make you reevaluate your life. It’s like, what’s working? What maybe is something that I kind of want to leave in the past?

So I’m already in the process of tweaking my YouTube channel. I’m making shorter videos that that are a little bit easier for me to digest and produce. That way, I can put a lot more focus on my writing.

In the past, sometimes there would be so much YouTube stuff going on that it would eclipse my writing time. Then it defeats the purpose. I’m doing YouTube to support my writing, not to eclipse my writing.

I mentioned earlier that I am in the process of segueing into being a hybrid author. I can’t talk about the specifics quite yet, but that’s definitely a new venture that I’m looking into that has been very exciting.

So that’s part of the reinvention is now I will be both independently and traditionally published, which is really fun for me. Also, I’m still finishing up The Savior’s Series. I’m almost done with a third book, and then I will get started on the fourth book.

I would like to venture into books with a little bit less violence. So I was thinking about dabbling in rom coms and things that are a bit fluffier and on the cute side. I have a whole bunch of books that I would like to produce eventually.

Right now, I’m just focusing on one step at a time, which is finishing up contracts on the hybrid side of things, as well as tweaking my YouTube channel, and finishing up the two writing projects that I’m currently working on.

Joanna: Fantastic.

Where can people find you, and your books, and everything you do online?

Jenna: Awesome. Well, people can find me on YouTube at YouTube.com/JennaMoreci. That’s J-E-N-N-A-M-O-R-E-C-I.

They can follow me on Instagram, TikTok, all of those places, @JennaMoreci. I keep it pretty standard so I’m easy to find. The only one that’s different is Facebook, which is AuthorJennaMoreci.

My books are available at all major retailers. So you can find them on Amazon. You can find them at Barnes and Noble. You can find them all over the place.

Right now the books that are available are The Savior’s Champion, The Savior’s Sister, and Shut Up and Write the Book. The Savior’s Army and then another secret project is on its way.

Joanna: Fantastic. Well, thanks so much for your time, Jenna. That was great.

Jenna: Thank you. It was an absolute pleasure.

The post Outlining Tips And Video Marketing On YouTube With Jenna Moreci first appeared on The Creative Penn.

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Author: Joanna Penn

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  • May 22, 2024