As I pondered starting work on my first novel last year, I gathered information about writing a book. I’ve already mentioned watching a boat load of Brandon Sanderson lectures online. Encouraged by the Sanderson find, I returned to YouTube where I ran across the AuthorTube phenomenon. I can’t say I was completely surprised such a thing exists. I was, however, surprised at some of the content.
What IS AuthorTube?
I suppose the surprises AuthorTube held for me stem from that fundamental question. What is AuthorTube?
Is it an online social group? Is it a collection of author platforms? Is it a place where aspiring authors can learn from the successes (and mistakes) of seasoned veterans? Is it a video chat room for gossip mongers and spleen venting? After having viewed a host of videos labeled as AuthorTube offerings, I’m not sure I could tell you.
Things started off in grand style. When I searched the YouTube libraries for “how to write a novel” and similar key phrases, I was offered a smorgasbord of peppy authors discussing various details of their writing process. I was pleased to find good, informative content. It didn’t take long, however, to realize many of the videos were only skin deep – superficial regurgitations of information read in how-to books or seen in other videos. While I understand there are YouTube algorithms that favor contributors who post regularly, I feel honest content from real experience will ultimately win the like and subscribe contest. So I began to dive deeper and broaden my AuthorTube consumption.
When I decided to participate in a NaNoWriMo event, I plugged that clever conflation into the YouTube search engine and found a whole new world. This was suddenly an AuthorTube where aspiring, budding, new, and experienced authors mixed and made connections. There were people trading NaNoWriMo care packages. There were groups getting together online to lead writing sessions and sprints. The videos were full of encouragement or examples of what not to do. There were tips – really good ones – on how to reach your writing goal by month’s end. It was uplifting.
The Dark Side
A few weeks after I failed to reach my NaNoWriMo goal (I was close!), I considered whether it might be beneficial for me to start an AuthorTube channel myself. When I put “AuthorTube” into the search bar, did I get a surprise! Suddenly I found videos of AuthorTubers “spilling tea” and kvetching about each other. From general complaints to jealous tirades to very personal attacks, the videos were a dark, disturbing storm cloud after all the previous positivity. I wasn’t happy to find this ugly underbelly, but it was important for me to be aware of it.
What To Do?
In the end, I decided against my own AuthorTube channel. It wasn’t just the tea spilling that persuaded me. I wasn’t sure I had enough worthwhile info to share regularly without running dry or resorting to well-intentioned superficiality. I know I could’ve just recorded my writing journey, which is mine alone and completely authentic. But I felt I could do that here on this blog just as well without having to find a camera-ready corner of my home with good light.
I will still visit my favorite AuthorTubers (They’re great!) and search the channels for information or advice as I have need. I’ve learned enough about the AuthorTube landscape now to be able to successfully curate my video consumption. Overall, I believe AuthorTube is a positive force in the world of writing and writers, but it definitely needs to be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.
How about you? Do you post on AuthorTube? Do you watch the AuthorTube videos? Do you find them helpful? Am I crazy for not starting a channel?