Talking about books on YouTube

Publicity is key when it comes to selling your self-published books. BookTubers, such as J.E. Cearlock, can provide a vital service when it comes to getting your book noticed.

You might like to read this blog post, part of the self-publishing skills series.

J.E. Cearlock is a YouTuber and author and I spoke to him about his work with self-publishing authors.

Tell us a little about what you do.

My name is J.E. Cearlock and I am an LGBT author. I am not yet published, but boy am I working on that. I’m currently working on an LGBT Thriller entitled ICE AND GLASS, and I also run a YouTube channel called The First is the Worst. The channel is dedicated to helping authors with their unpublished first chapters by offering a full, free in-depth critique. The author is then interviewed and we discuss the first chapter and all the things I found within the chapter, both positive and negative.

What, in your experience, is the toughest thing about self-publishing?

“Hands-down, marketing is the hardest part of self-publishing.”

Marketing. Hands-down, marketing is the hardest part of self-publishing and is personally why I will never self-publish. That is a skill set I do not possess, and I’m even more at a disadvantage because I don’t live in an English-speaking country, so I cannot go to libraries and book stores and ask them to carry copies of my book. You can write the greatest book in the world, but if you have no marketing skills then no one is going to read it.

What do you offer to self-published authors?

The same thing I offer all authors: an unbiased critique of their first chapters. The only requirement I have is that it not be previously published. What the author does with the critique and the chapter afterward is their own business.

You offer chapter critiques. What is the benefit of this for authors?

I have been beta-reading for nigh on 14 years. I know what to look for and what to expect from certain genres and categories. The benefit of this is that I am able to focus uniquely on their story, and then discuss it with them. This isn’t just a thread of comments on a document on the computer. I print out the chapters, read them over, and then make them bleed, then make a list of all the major points to discuss. This is likewise free marketing for their book and for themselves as a person.

Do you find that authors are intimated by having their work critiqued publicly, via your YouTube channel?

Yes, I do. Being critiqued is hard enough. Being critiqued to your face is even harder because you don’t get to hide your emotions behind a screen. I try to be kind, but also blunt. I don’t have this problem with experienced writers, but newer writers tend to view critiques of their work as a personal attack, and it’s just not the case. Critiques can sting, but they are never meant to hurt, especially when delivered constructively. This isn’t just “Oh, I didn’t like this” it’s, “Okay, what can we do to fix this?” Another thing authors are afraid of isn’t just having the critique to their face, but what I have to say may fundamentally change the way they’ve organized their book. If it ends on a specific note, or if the beginning just isn’t working, that can affect the following chapters, and writers already have a lot planned. Generally these chapters aren’t first drafts, they’re second, third, even fourth drafts, so the idea of having to rework something that may affect the heart of the story can be daunting.

If you could offer one piece of advice for a self-publishing author, what would it be?

Learn to self-edit. I have seen dozens of self-published books where the very first sentences makes no sense, contain dozens of errors, and then wonder why they don’t make any sales. I’ve been accused of “gatekeeping” and “showing my privilege” but if you book is badly written, it will not sell well. All books have typos. I’ve seen them in Harry Potter, I’ve seen them in The Mortal Instruments, they happen. But when your finish your first draft, hit publish, and then your book reads like a 1st grade book report, that’s an insult to your target audience and it will affect your sales. If you publish for free, then by all means, write as you wish. But if you ask people to pay for something that’s illegible, then they’re going to let Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads know about it.

How can authors find out more about working with you?

I have my author page at www.twitter.com/jecearlock, as well as my YouTube channel page www.twitter.com/frstisthewrst. You can check out the other videos on my YouTube channel here: First is the Worst – YouTube If you are interested in being featured on the channel, then send your first chapter, maximum of 5000 words, along with your Author name, the title of your book, category, genre, chapter word count, and chapter page count to FirstistheWorstPodcast@gmail.com. I will follow up with you from there 🙂

To all my fellow writers, published or not, good luck, and may all your writingest dreams come true.


Thanks to J. E. Cearlock for talking about his work. If you work with self-publishing authors and would like to be interviewed, please get in touch.

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