How to Accompany Your Book with a Video Study: Which Came First? The Book or the Video?
A critical challenge in accompanying your book with a video study is to decide the sequencing of writing the book or the video. There are three alternatives: writing the book first, writing the video first, or developing both together. I have used all three techniques and will share the pros and cons of each.
As a reminder from my first post, this series is not focused on promotional videos for social media platforms. Instead, the analysis in this series delves into video studies which are typically targeted toward small groups. Such video studies align with a book, presenting a subset of content that can be viewed and discussed.
To most authors, the most natural sequence is to write the book first, then craft a video from it. Personally, I have found this the most difficult, much to my surprise.
Be a merciless editor
The difficulty comes in editing. As discussed in the first post, a video has less content and must focus on the most important points. It also requires repetition and examples to reinforce the learning for a viewer who cannot easily rewind in a group setting and cannot reread content as with a book. Thus, you must reduce and focus the content.
Having written the book, your natural inclination is to consider it all vital information. Trimming your book into video format is like giving up parts of your thought process. You’ll find yourself wanting to keep all the key points and just cover them as quickly as possible, which will turn your video into a fire hose of information.
Another pitfall is cherry-picking lightly related content from across the book to package into a video session. Viewers can become frustrated because the flow of logic doesn’t make sense, and they can come away entertained but not knowing what they were supposed to derive from the disparate messages in the video.
Make a video that develops your book
In the first post, I discussed how your book should be designed to work with the video as a reference or to dive deeper. Trust this plan. Identify the points you consider most important and develop them according to the video method previously described; alternatively, choose the best points which would benefit a small group discussion. Within the video, you can tease the book and explain how it contains additional information, but I wouldn’t do this more than once per video session. (In my third post, I’ll describe a superior way to tease the book to your viewers).
Choose from three sequencing options
1. Writing the book first
Writing the book first has its advantages in a couple of situations. If you’re uncertain what the content or the organization is going to be, then it helps to think it through completely before pivoting to video. It’s also easier if this is your first time creating a video. From the book-to-video experience, you’ll learn to think in video mode and the other two sequencing options will make more sense for future projects.
2. Writing the video first
The second of those sequencing options is to do the exact opposite: write the video, then the book. The beauty of this method is that you brainstorm all your content and trim in advance. You haven’t developed either the book structure or your affinity for the book, so you might find it easier to develop the video script while considering the book as a place for bonus content, examples and stories, and deeper development of key points.
I strongly recommend that the chapters of the book follow the video sequence. Viewers who purchase your book will want to find your key points or their favorite memories. If the information is repeated within the book, your viewer-turned-readers will be frustrated.
Remember that your writing style and your speaking style might differ. If so, a drawback in this format is rewriting the material once you’ve converted from video to book. However, I feel that it’s an easier conversion. Start by pasting the video script into the book, then decide if (and how) to rewrite each chapter. You’ll probably retain a substantial amount of the content the way it was written in the video.
3. Develop the book and video together
The third option for sequencing is to develop the book and the video together. This is a back-and-forth exercise which saves you from writing each sentence or chapter in one place and then the other.
My personal technique
My technique has been to solidify an outline of the video chapters and the book chapters, script the video as the first pass, then write the book as the second pass. New thoughts emerge when writing the book, so I pivot back to the video to rework it. The video causes me to generate new ideas or better ways to say things, and I return to the book for further editing. Back and forth. Eventually, I land at a place where the book is ready to be published. Before sending it off, I make one last pass through the video script to ensure it aligns with the book. Then, during the publishing period, I can more assuredly record and produce the video.
This option is the hardest to do if you’re unsure of the overall structure of the material or if your key points aren’t firm, hence the importance of an established outline. On my last project, I started developing the book and video together, then realized there was so much more I wanted to bring into the book, and I also wanted to re-sequence some of the material. But because these changes weren’t clear in my mind, it was too hard to think about the video simultaneously. So, I shelved the video, focused on just writing the best book I could, and determined that I would select the best discussion content whenever I returned to the video.
I hope that my first two posts in this blog sequence have intrigued you and encouraged you to try adding videos to go with your books. Now, we get to the hard part. Since there are a lot of steps and expenses to producing a video, you must determine whether a video study is feasible for you. I’ll describe these steps, their pitfalls, and the value of a video study in my third post.
About the Author
Cecil Taylor, the founder of Cecil Taylor Ministries, is motivated to teach Christians the importance of living a practical faith. His books “The Next Thing: A Christian Model for Dealing with Crisis in Personal Life” and “Live Like You’re Loved: Steps to Living in the Freedom and Immediacy of God’s Love” have won writing awards at Christian writers’ conferences and have been used as five-week video studies for small groups, leader guides, and participant guides. Learn more about Cecil at his website.