Amanda Luedeke

February 20, 2014

Thursdays with Amanda: The Cheater’s Way to a Viral Video


2014AmandaAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Last week I tried to tackle the components of a viral video…I say “tried” because that’s exactly what it was. An attempt to wrangle something that is so elusive for so many.

But I also promised that there were alternatives to the high-budget, high production suggestions that I made. Now these alternatives aren’t magical, and many of you will still walk away feeling like videos are impossible. And that’ fine! Videos are not necessary to sell books. I think Divergent‘s terrible book trailer proved that. But for those of you who are wanting to give it a go, here are some ideas…


There’s this site called 99designs. You upload your information and needs and then graphic designers from all over compete for your business. They present their designs and then you can actually have friends vote on their favorites. You then pay the winning designer something like $299 and that’s that. You have your design, and that designer has a bit of cash.

Why can’t we do this with viral videos?!

In college I was part of a number of “videos.” Someone on campus would have a camera and they’d write a script and we’d go out and film. Once I was even co-writer/co-director/co-actor of a video that we entered into the campus film festival! (We won most creative, by the way). My point is COLLEGE KIDS LOVE CREATING VIDEOS. And they’re pretty good at it. Especially if they’re part of a film program.

There are two options here…


Most professors are looking for ways to get their students real-life experience. I remember in college we did quite a bit of work for local nonprofits. It gave us resume fodder, and it gave the nonprofits free research or creative work. There’s no reason you can’t try this approach.

Find a local college with a film or marketing program and talk to either the department head or one of the professors about utilizing your need for a viral video as an in-class project. The specifics would need to be worked out, and maybe at the end of the semester you could bring in pizza for everyone. But the idea is simple. You’re offering these future videographers and marketers a chance to create something that will be used in the real world. And all you have to do is offer a bit of direction.


College students are always looking to make a buck…especially if it involves doing something they see as fun. Similar to the 99designs approach, you could hold a campus-wide competition. You offer specifics and guidelines and then the students create the videos. Then, you choose a winner. Offer a $300 or $500 grand prize and I’m sure you’d get some submissions. Of course you’d have to clear this whole thing with the school first, but it’s worth a shot. I mean think about it…you wouldn’t have to do a single thing except get students interested, provide them with information, and then sit back and choose your winning video.


The latest craze is to create Vines…these are 7-second videos that are for the most part blatantly home-made. But there are some real gems and they are VERY shareable. If you’re looking for a down and dirty approach with more of a hard sell angle, then this could be for you. And I don’t see why this approach couldn’t be coupled with either of the suggestions above. I mean can you imagine having a class of film students create a dozen Vines for you to use as promotional tools? Pretty cool.

(In addition to the Vine videos, Instagram now has a video feature).


If I were an author, I’d probably pursue one of these options, because even though I have a creative mind, I don’t know my way around the camera as well as a film student. And having been in a number of marketing classes, I can attest to the awesome level of work that those students are capable of.

However, I wouldn’t begin any of this until I had a book deal, a release date, and a solid plan for how I’d create awareness for the video.

So that’s where I fall..but what about you? What’s your plan? Video? No video? Let me know!

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