As various channels of social media continue to multiply, authors—self-published and traditional—are left with our heads spinning; how much should we do, which forms, and will it benefit or hinder our writing?

My personal experience is that social media does a bit of both. I became entrenched seriously in the self-publishing world a year and a half ago, and since then it’s been a non-stop influx of maintaining a website/blog, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ (which I’ve all but forgotten), Instagram (one of my favorites, since it cross-posts to both Twitter and Facebook), and now… Periscope.

This past week I’ve seen a few invitations and comments about the app, but after prompting by a friend and popular blogger, Christine of Better Novel Project, I created a profile. Here’s the rundown and my initial thoughts:

What is Periscope?

Co-founded by Kayvon Beykpour and Joe Bernstein, the startup was reportedly purchased for $100 million by Twitter before its launch in March of this year. Since then, Periscope’s blog stated that on August 2nd, they surpassed 10 million accounts with users watching over 40 years of video every day.

Yes, Periscope is live-streaming video, available to any user who links into an available live feed. You can, at this very moment, go onto your Periscope account (it uses your Twitter account and username/“handle”) and watch a live video of someone in Hong Kong walking through a zoo, a movie premiere in Toronto with Amanda Oleander (one of the most popular Periscope broadcasters since its launch, according to this Cosmopolitan interview), or a live fashion show from the front row—I know this, because I just watched all three.

How do you do it?

Create an account, then allow access to your camera, microphone and location (this is optional). When you’re ready to broadcast, simply press the square “camera” button, write a description about what your live feed is about, and begin filming! Users will post for a few minutes or more, and I’ve seen videos from people’s kitchens, backyards, outside as they walk through a city or just sitting in their room talking with friends. Videos that were recorded within the last 24 hours show up in a user’s feed, so you can still watch them in that time frame.

Who interacts with you, and vice versa?

When I just tried broadcasting for the first time, I had three users join in a matter of seconds. They are people I do not know, but anyone who links into the broadcast can comment on your video, and “heart” it by tapping the screen of their phone. Hearts are like Facebook likes—the more you get, the more interaction your broadcast can have with other potential users (a great way to market and grow your audience, with the option of going global?).

Periscope automatically follows those Twitter connections you already have, so you can began watching live feeds of your friends and colleagues right away.

So … what’s the point? How can it help you as an author?

This is where I’m still unsure about the benefits. Periscope is fun, surely, and any form of social media is a great way to interact with potential readers. I’ve seen popular author, blogger and speaker Jeff Goins interview other authors and post these videos through his account, so it can be used like a YouTube video or podcast. Personally, I think that right now is the time to try and tap into a new audience; Periscope is still relatively new, with less competition for making lasting connections that could help sell books. I’ve always felt strongly about video as a way to connect—readers want to see your face, hear your voice, and get a feel for your personality; those things will sell a book much easier than blasting them with repetitive “Buy My Book!” spam.

To see my (silly) attempts at Periscope, follow me on Twitter at @AshleyRCarlson1, where Periscope’s videos cross-post.

And, as always, for any and all editing, marketing and publishing needs, contact our team at Midnight Publishing today! We can’t wait to help you.