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The Video-Savvy Writer

When was the last time you saw a writer on television?

Not a television writer (they generally stay locked up in an airless room crafting their scripts), but a writer of books. You’ve probably only seen a writer on a television show – Late Night with David Letterman, or the Today show – if that writer also happens to be a celebrity of some sort. An actress plugging a health and fitness book, or a sports legend plugging a memoir.

But what about someone – a writer who isn’t yet a household name – who’s written a good book? A book that could be something that might interest legions of television viewers?

Anyone?

Didn’t think so.

In many countries besides the United States, writers occupy a strong place in the cultural dialogue, often appearing on television discussion shows to weigh in on this or that. They’re considered worthy of attention. Not that they’re considered right or wrong in what they express, simply worthy of being included because they’ve taken the time to organize their thoughts into a narrative they’ve managed to get published.

Not so in a country where more than a million books are published each year.

The United States has a lot of readers, but its many writers don’t get a lot of notice. That doesn’t mean that you can’t get noticed.

Don’t expect television to be your path to fame as a writer. But you don’t expect that now anyway – since you’re probably someone who’s developing an online platform for ideas, for building an audience.

Nor should give up on “television” as a medium for your message. The new television isn’t one run by the broadcast networks. (Remember them? All-powerful in the days before the niche-ing of today’s television spectrum, with thousands of cable channels catering to all different tastes? Kind of like what might be happening, what actually is happening, with traditional publishers…)

The new television is run by viewers. YouTube is only one outlet. Many more such video outlets exist and are springing up almost daily. Younger viewers continue to watch television, to absorb video content. But they choose to watch it through their smart phones or on their tablets or at their computers. And content – as well as marketing – can be created for this demanding viewing audience that is no longer tethered to the living-room television.

Just as you’re not tethered to traditional methods of marketing your message.

You can reach a vast audience by keeping your message strong, by interacting with your audience, by including video content in your own online discussions of your work and your ideas.

You may not yet be invited to weigh in on matters of cultural importance on a late-night broadcast. But you may just be building a much stronger audience of readers who care more about what you write than what TV personality you sat next to.

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