I am small-kine obsessed with YouTube right now, to the point that it has largely displaced Netflix and HBO for downtime viewing. My problem is that the emphasis on short, catchy clips makes it easy to lose track of time. With Netflix, I’ll watch an episode of something and get back to work. With YouTube, I’ll surf mindlessly from clip to clip without ever achieving that satisfying sense of narrative closure that signals me to stop. It’s mental snackfood.
So, in an attempt to reclaim some value from that wasted time, I’ve started watching author-vloggers —writers who talk about writing on their channel. I was surprised to discover these even existed. Most writers are not exactly “face forward.” They prefer to hide behind their keyboards and engage with the world through their work and, possibly, a traditional blog. 
Here are a couple of the more prominent ones, in roughly the order I discovered them:
The first author to pop up when I searched YouTube for “writing.” I enjoyed her “Harsh Writing Advice” video in which she dishes out some tough love on the business side of things for newer writers. Donne is a traditionally published YA author, with one well-received book out and another forthcoming. I haven’t watched enough of her stuff to get a feel for her channel, but a quick skim of titles shows a mix of craft and business advice with an emphasis on what not to do (“7 Common Mistakes New Writers Make,” “Bad Fanfic Writing Habits You Need to Break,” etc.) Her presentation is pretty polished, but her style doesn’t grab me.
Probably the second or third author-vlogger I stumbled on. Iasmina’s channel, one video in particular, is the inspiration for this post.  She vlogs more about book recommendations, with some occasional craft advice thrown in, but her recommendations are excellent, by which I mean they line up well with my own preconceptions. Not 100% overlap, that would be useless, but with enough common ground that I trust her on the books I haven’t heard of before. She’s written at least one book but hasn’t published anything I can find. Iasmina’s videos are more informal—she’s clearly talking off the top of her head, with a little less depth than I’d prefer-—but she’s passionate, and she’s on my wavelength.
Author. Vlogger. Cyborg. Jenna’s channel is slick as shit, with good production values and tightly crafted scripts that she delivers in a rapid-fire presentation that’s polished without being stilted. She’s engaging and hilarious and refreshingly profane. Her videos focus on (pretty decent) craft advice, presented mostly as listicles, but she also talks about the business side of things.  She’s a self-published author with two books out—which I haven’t read, and which Amazon reviewers have not been kind to—but I’ve added them to my list on the strength of her channel.
The thing I love is that she’s crafted a YouTube persona that feels authentic but dialed up to eleven for entertainment value, i.e. it’s her but more so. Check out the difference between her straightforward first video, just talking to the camera in a reserved fashion about why she decided to go the self-publishing route, and a more recent video on writing healthy romance, where she’s gone full Jenna. I’m also intrigued by her statement that she turned to video to build her author platform because there’s too much competition in the blogosphere. YouTube is still relatively unpopulated by writers.
I imagine there are people who find her off-putting—she polarizes her audience by bringing such a big personality to her videos—but that’s a good thing. Better a small, passionate fanbase who love you for who you are than a larger meh following who find you inoffensive. In fact she has a large passionate following, so that strategy seems to be working well for her.
Brandon Sanderson isn’t a vlogger, but the video lecture series of his college course on writing science fiction and fantasy is one of the best resources for writers on YouTube. I’m still working my way through these, so I can’t point to particular moments of interest. The series is massive, a legit semester-long course in creative writing, and weighs in at more than 12 hours.
1. “Author-vlogger” is a really ungainly term of my own invention. If there’s a better name for this category, I’m not aware of it. Youthors? WriteTubers? Extroverts? Pretty people?
2. Of course I’m aware of the many writers with podcasts, including my buddy Mur Lafferty (I Should Be Writing and Ditch Diggers) and the excellent assemblage of folks at Writing Excuses, but I don’t drive enough to make podcasts part of my life.
3. In a roundabout way that I’ll explain in another post more directly inspired by that same video.
4. She’s got a pretty good video on writing a fight scene, which I’ll talk about in another post. Maybe.
2 thoughts on “Rise of the Author-vloggers”
Tony, have you seen Story Genius? I’m slowly working my way through it, and I find it very interesting. It’s about the internal story driving the plot, not the internal story as an afterthought.
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I haven’t, but I’ll check it out. Thanks for the recommendation.