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   Book Review
   An Insider’s Guide to Climbing the Charts
   Author: Alan Lastufka & Michael W. Dean
   Publisher: O’Reilly Media, Inc.
   Pages: 281 pgs.
   Topic: Gaining Viewership with YouTube

   MSRP: $29.99

   Expected Release: Available Now
   Review Date: April 1, 2009
   Reviewed By: Jeremy Hanke

Final Score:

Award of SuperiorityIf you ever saw Lawnmower Man and decided that you wanted to be the master of the virtual world, then you are not alone. While the virtual world we now regularly refer to is the World Wide Web (as opposed to 3-D virtual reality), the desire to become a major player within this world is no less real than it was in that movie (or the book that inspired it).

Perhaps the greatest resource for becoming the master of the web for filmmakers is YouTube. Unfortunately, because it’s so darn accessible, it’s become sort of like a role-playing game where you start as a lowly peasant and then must work your way up to a Noble, then a Barron, then a Duke, etc. This takes a lot of grinding and a lot of hard work, so if you could find any way to prioritize your journey, wouldn’t you want to do that?

Well, Lastufka & Dean’s YouTube: An Insider’s Guide to Climbing the Charts is the strategy guide for the great video game which is YouTube, with hints, tips, and tricks to try and get the highest scores possible. The higher your score, the more viewers you have, and the more likely these viewers are to be interested in your film work outside of YouTube, which means that becoming a master in the ‘Tube can translate into you making much more money as a filmmaker in the real world. (Additionally, certain TV channels, like HBO, have actually gone into television show development deals with highly ranked YouTube personalities.) Plus, this book will even show you how to monetize your film content so that you’ll share in the ad revenue it generates for YouTube.

We’ve been fans of Michael W. Dean here at MFM since we reviewed his $30 Film School a few years back, finding it to be very well written and packed with intelligent information. Well, a similar level of understandability comes to YouTube: AIGCC, which makes it easy to read and follow. There are lots of interviews and sidebars sprinkled throughout the book to give you an idea of some success stories and things to watch out for throughout. Lastufka, who has become a YouTube celebrity of note in his own right, acts as the voice of enthusiasm and experience within YouTube, while Dean, with his years of filmmaking, DIY, and writing experience, acts as the voice of methodical thought and preparation. Both voices are necessary to fully prepare for being a filmmaker in the online world, and it was a good idea for them to team up on this project. While the book works well in the comprehension department, it’s not quite as smoothly consistent as if it had been written by only one author, so it takes a slight bump in this department.

Depth of Information
This book is packed with information, from basic shooting and editing, to how to build your fan base, to how to create collaborative videos and channels, to how to monetize your videos when you become more successful. And, like the video game strategy guide I mentioned in the intro of this review, the book even shows you ways to cheat. Now, like real cheat codes and hacks in video games, using these cheats can ruin the fun of YouTube for you (and others) and could easily destroy your saved games (ie you could be banned for life if YouTube catches you). As such, these are mentioned only so that you are aware that they exist and can avoid them. (Some of them might be stumbled upon by naïve filmmakers who don’t realize that they are against YouTube’s rules, so printing them helps people be aware that they can cause you serious problems.)

In addition to strictly YouTube advice, Michael W. Dean peppers the books with commentaries on the history of the internet, ways to maximize your time, and ways to get things accomplished, even if you’re rampantly ADD. All of these are really well thought out, although each will likely need to be adjusted for your own needs. Plus, Dean shows you ways to get your films out to places that aren’t YouTube and covers ideas about creating blogs to drive viewers and fans toward YouTube and your other online holdings. All of these things help future-proof you in case YouTube goes the way of the dinosaur one day.

Interest Level
The overall interest level in this book stays strong throughout, which is a testament to the writing and composition of the book. With that said, because of the expansiveness of the book and how in-depth they deal with each part of YouTube, there are some times where it can feel a bit like a well-written YouTube training manual. However, these slower areas aren’t allowed to become too cumbersome, which allows you to easily read along and, if you’re dealing with a part that’s not as relevant to what you need right now, skip ahead.

Because of the expansive nature of this book, YouTube: AIGCC is extremely reusable. You will definitely want this on your book shelf where you can peruse it and double check things from time to time in your YouTube career. After all, no one will do all the things listed in this book straight out of the gate (just like you wouldn’t fight the main boss in a video game right after you begin playing), so making sure you have this book always on hand will be a lifesaver.

Value vs. Cost
At $30, this book is a reasonable price for all that it contains about YouTube. While I think $25 would be a little better price, considering it’s completely in black-and-white, I still think it’s a very good deal. (And, of course, Michael W. Dean tends to write books that all cost $30, so it would be breaking with the trend to lower the price on this one.)

Overall Comment
If you want to learn how to harness the power of YouTube, then you need look no further than YouTube: An Insider’s Guide to Climbing the Charts. The information is relevant to microfilmmakers the world over who want to expand their audience and cultural impact. Plus, because of the expansiveness of the book, the authors even cover how to create content outside of YouTube so that, if it ever goes belly up, your viewers and fans can always find you!

Depth of Information            
Interest Level            
            Value vs. Cost            
       Overall Score
JeremyHankePicture The director of two feature length films and half a dozen short films, Jeremy Hanke founded Microfilmmaker Magazine to help all no-budget filmmakers make better films. His first book on low-budget special effects techniques, GreenScreen Made Easy, (which he co-wrote with Michele Yamazaki) was released by MWP to very favorable reviews. He's curently working on the sci-fi film franchise, World of Depleted through Depleted: Day 419 and the feature film, Depleted.

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