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BookTube: A Community of Readers

BookTube: A Community of Readers [featuring Stephen Alff from Alffbooks, and Victoria Kennedy from My Books Are Me]

I’m an active member of the BookTube community on YouTube (you can find my channel here), but realised that some of you might not even know it exists. That is why I decided to touch base with some of my fellow BookTubers to chat about it, and give some insight into how you can use the community to gain publicity for your books.

So what is BookTube?

BookTube is a community on YouTube that posts videos about books.  As well as posting book reviews, book hauls, and TBR lists, some also join in tags and events where they talk about… you guessed it… books!

There are even annual events like BookTubeAThon that have daily challenges for participants in addition to the main reading challenge goals. I took part this year for the first time and had a blast!

This is one of the challenge videos from this years event so you see the kind of stuff we had to come up with:

The thing I like most about BookTube is connecting with other avid readers. Obviously as an author it’s a great way of finding potential readers for my own books, but I love hearing what others like and/or don’t like about the books they’ve read too. It’s really useful research for writers, but also a good way of adding books to my ever-growing to-be-read list. It’s a lot of fun too.

The BookTube community has also branched out into other social media platforms, with active groups and discussions happening on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter and Instagram.

Meet some BookTubers

Although I could talk about BookTube, and how much I like YouTube for ages I thought it would be more interesting to get some of my fellow BookTubers involved so they could share some insight into this fab community with you too.

Stephen Alff from Alffbooks and Victoria Kennedy from My Books Are Me kindly agreed to answers some quick questions about BookTube.

BookTube: A Community of Readers [featuring Stephen Alff from Alffbooks, and Victoria Kennedy from My Books Are Me]
Stephen Alff from Alffbooks

Why did you join BookTube?

Stephen: Originally, I wanted to join a community that I could share my writing with and other things that I am passionate about. I wanted to be myself and find people to have a great time with. So when I found BookTube, I was so very happy to join in on the fun and chat with as many people as I could. Booktube is a really open community and books are a big part of my life so when I stumbled across it, there was nothing more natural than joining in!

Victoria: I started watching BookTube in order to get back into reading, and I decided to create a blog to not only document my reading, but to also share my thoughts with the world. The more I watched BookTube videos, the more I wanted to make videos too, and join the bookish discussion. I’ve always been a fan of YouTube, and it’s one of the reasons why I’m so good at procrastinating, so I’ve always wanted to make videos, but just never really knew what about – until I found BookTube!

How often do you post? Set days?

Stephen: I post once a week as that is the easiest for me while I am still at university. I try to post on Sundays but sometimes assignment deadlines have to take priority and I end up posting the videos a bit later.

Victoria: I try to upload twice a week, on Tuesdays and Saturdays, but it does vary depending on when I get a chance to film and edit videos, or if I’ve got a review to go up as well.

BookTube: A Community of Readers [featuring Stephen Alff from Alffbooks, and Victoria Kennedy from My Books Are Me]
Victoria Kennedy from My Books Are Me

How do you get review copies?

Stephen: I don't actively look to get review copies as I like to spend time thinking about what I am reading when writing a review about it which isn't always possible during the semester. When I do get a review copy it is usually because I was contacted by the author or a publicist and  I see with them about either getting a physical copy of the book or the ebook, if I find the book interesting.

Victoria: I get review copies two ways. The first is through my blog, where I have a book review policy for authors to get in contact to see if their book can be reviewed. The second is me contacting publishers about reviewing certain books. A few publishers have added me to their media/blogger list, so I get publicity emails about upcoming books, and if there is something that sounds interesting to me, I request it for review.

How do you pick which books you feature on your channel?

Stephen: The books I talk about on my channel are either books that I really enjoyed or that I find have an interesting message. Sometimes it's just because there is something about a book that fascinates me or irritates me and I want to see what others think.

Victoria: I don’t really pick and choose the books that I feature on my channel. While I read mostly YA books, I do have adult and middle grade books on my shelf, so I like to talk about them too. Even if I know very little about a book and what it’s about, I’ll still mention it in a haul.

Advice for authors who would like to have their books featured? 

Stephen: Make sure that the people you are contacting have an interest in the type of book that you would like them to read and potentially feature. If you can see that it isn't the type of book they have talked about so far tell them why you believe they may find it interesting based on what they usually read. If I get a request for review from someone with just the books synopsis and no personal message, I am less lightly to consider the book as it feels like an email that was just copy-pasted, maybe a few hundred times, and I am therefore just a number. Be personal, show interest in the reviewer and their opinion as that is what you are contacting them for.

Victoria: Check my review policy! I list the type of books that I do and don’t read, plus other important information. And don’t be afraid to get in contact if you’re unsure as to whether your book and I are suited. I’m always looking for new books and authors, particularly ones that have flown under the radar in the community. So if this sounds like you and your book, then get in touch!

They gave great answers, didn’t they?

BookTube rocks! Here's why

BookTube is a growing community that encourages reading. It helps readers pick which books to add to their TBR lists. It shows which books are set to become the next big best seller (if a lot of BookTubers are all recommending the same book it’s a good indication that it will be everywhere in the near future). BookTube is therefore also a good way of discovering the new trends in literature.

BookTube is also a gold mine for authors. BookTubers talk about the books they read. They mention what they liked, and maybe even more importantly, didn’t like. Authors can tune into the comments made and use them as pointers when writing their own books. As BookTubers have a reputation for being avid readers, and therefore people who read a LOT of books, if they say they highly recommend your book it holds a lot of weight.

We all know that reviews are important. Having someone do a video review for your book is pure gold. It’s about the most powerful form of word of mouth advertising that you can get online. Even if they just feature your book in a book haul, it gets you precious visibility for your book. Think about it. YouTube is a huge platform by itself. Now add to that that all the videos can be shared on social media, AND embedded into blogs and other websites… pretty awesome right?

There are thousands of BookTubers talking about books on YouTube. Maybe the next book they’ll all be talking about will be yours…

Interview with The Girl with the Tree Tattoo

Interview with The Girl with the Tree Tattoo

Interview with The Girl with the Tree Tattoo
Tell us about your latest book.

Dance Diaries: Ballroom Budgeting is the second in my eBook series, Dance Diaries. After providing the inside scoop on what to expect as a ballroom dance student in Dance Diaries: Learning Ballroom Dance, it seemed natural to next provide how to afford to be a ballroom dance student! Ballroom is amazingly therapeutic, healing and eye-opening, but also can be very expensive. My goal with Ballroom Budgeting is to help others avoid having to quit ballroom because of that expense.

What marketing methods are you using to promote your book? 

I have tried a number of different methods. My first stop was naturally my blog. I also spread the word on the related social media accounts, including using paid Facebook ads. I also contacted other websites for which I had written articles in the past to see if they would be interested in reviewing either of the books. Once I felt I had maxed out the exposure I could get through my own connections, I decided to try a book tour, which is what has brought me here to you!

What advice do you have for other writers?

Don’t force it. We all get writer’s block. I have found that my writing turns terrible very quickly when I try to force myself to write instead of taking steps to put myself in a place and mindset where the words can flow. I know it can be hard to just step away and take a break, especially when a deadline is looming, but sometimes a break is just what you need to clear your head and find the right words.

What's the best thing about being a writer?

Writing gives me a creative outlet while also acting as cheap therapy. I love finding just the right words put together in just the right order to convey a message. I love how changing a word or switching part of a sentence around can change the feeling of it.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

I keep my readers updated on my blog, The Girl with the Tree Tattoo (www.thegirlwiththetreetattoo.com) and associated Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. I share updates on my dancing, inspirational quotes and videos, and the latest battles with my inner demons. Whenever I venture into the darker corners of my mind to shine a light on my fears and doubts, I find courage in the thought that someone somewhere will read my words, be able to relate and feel a little less alone.

Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?

It’s honest. I strive to be straight forward and upfront about all sides of learning ballroom dance, including the more uncomfortable subjects like the business behind ballroom and the awkward aspects of the relationship between a student and teacher. I’m told my writing style is easy to read and entertaining, so even the potentially boring subject of money management discussed in Ballroom Budgeting keeps the reader engaged.

Interview with The Girl with the Tree Tattoo
Who designed the cover?

For better or worse, I designed the covers of both Dance Diaries books myself! I received a lot of comments from friends and family about how they didn’t like the cover of the first one. It’s a picture of me with my teacher, and they didn’t like that the picture was a little blurry and my face was blocked by my teacher’s arm. Confession: I did that on purpose! I wanted the two people on the cover of Learning Ballroom Dance to be less distinctive, so they could be anyone! Hopefully, readers who don’t know me personally will see the cover and be able to see themselves as the woman or man about to dance.

How do you research your books?

I live them! Dance Diaries: Learning Ballroom Dance was born out of my realization that there were all of these little things that no one told me when I was first starting out as a ballroom student, and that resulted in a lot of confusion for me. I thought if I shared what I wish I had known, others would have a smoother introduction to ballroom and even more wonderful experiences. The second book, Dance Diaries: Ballroom Budgeting, is a compilation of all of my personal tips and tricks I used to save and pay for my dance lessons and competitions, while maintaining the rest of my life.

What are your thoughts on self-publishing verses traditional publishing?

When I’m excited about something, I have very little patience. I went the self-publishing route because I didn’t want to wait! Once they were ready, I wanted to get my books out to the world as quickly as possible! I also suspected finding a traditional publisher for “mini” eBooks like mine would be difficult, if not impossible. However, I do think the general world still sees traditionally published authors as more legitimate, so I am still considering that route when I produce a longer book for both print and digital formats. I have to admit, I also wouldn’t mind leaving all of the promotion and marketing work to someone else, since I would rather be writing or dancing!

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

My day job is as an editor for an environmental consulting firm, so most of my hours are spent in the office reading and editing technical reports. I have ballroom dance lessons or practice a few nights per week, and I try to get out social dancing once in awhile. When I’m at home and not writing, I’m playing with my two dogs or watching a movie marathon with my roommate.

Irrefutable Truths to Building Your Dream Business

Irrefutable Truths to Building Your Dream Business - excerpt from Flight Club, by Felena Hanson @FelenaHanson @iReadBookTours

Be Imperfect
As Voltaire famously wrote, “Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien”—the perfect is the enemy of the good. You will paralyze yourself if you insist that everything has to be perfect before your launch your business. That’s why I love the “Lean” business methodology—because it encourages you to test as you launch versus waiting to unveil your masterpiece.
Why, when we know that there's no such thing as perfect, do most of us spend an incredible amount of time and energy trying to be everything to everyone? Is it that we really admire perfection? No—the truth is that we are actually drawn to people who are real and down-to-earth. We love authenticity and we know that life is messy and imperfect. – Brene Brown
You’ll Never Have It All Figured Out
Similar to the last point, business is not a “set it up and press cruise control” kind of venture—things are going to go “off course.” At Hera Hub we try not to use the word “failure.” I personally like the phrase “learning moment” (coined by the founder of WD-40, Gary Ridge) or the ever-popular “pivoting.” Whatever you call it, you will always be learning and pivoting. That’s just part of business! Yes, you need to plan, but be aware that it’s going to shift.
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. – Thomas A. Edison
Business is hard. Yes, anything is possible, but you are going to have to be willing to stay the course (even if there are pivots along the way). There will be long hours and lots of frustration. Some days you’ll feel like someone has socked you in the stomach—or, as Gary Vaynerchuk says, “punched you in the face.” There will be many highs and many more lows. You must accept this and let your passion pull you through.
Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On!” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race. – Calvin Coolidge
Irrefutable Truths to Building Your Dream Business - excerpt from Flight Club, by Felena Hanson @FelenaHanson @iReadBookTours
Set Boundaries
You need to understand that you are not your business. I see this often when someone is consulting or providing a service—they have a difficult time not feeling personally hurt when someone doesn’t accept a proposal or gives them a bad review. Men are much, much better at this. They compartmentalize things, while women mix everything up into one big plate of spaghetti! Do not—I repeat, do not—take things personally! Business is business. Get up, brush yourself off, and move on.
How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours. – Wayne Dyer
Watch Out For “Shiny Object Syndrome”
In today’s world of constant bombardment, it’s easy to be pulled off track. Everyone will try to give you advice, whether you want it or not. This will be challenging for you if 1) don’t have a solid business plan and 2) you are not confident in your direction. Women are natural people pleasers. On top of that, they are often more sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others. I’ve seen one comment send an entrepreneur on a completely different course.
Keep focused on your core business, and don’t let the dozens of other ideas that come your way pull you too far off track. I recommend getting an idea journal or using a platform like Trello to note down all of those “great ideas” and “advice.” After you have a solid foundation for your business, then you can go back and explore some of these ideas.
Focusing is about saying no. – Steve Jobs
Imposter Syndrome
You will from time-to-time feel like a fraud. Note it, and get over it. Even some of the most successful women I’ve met tell me deep down that they are afraid of being “figured out.” Even Tina Fey once confessed that she sometimes screams inside her head, “I’m a fraud! They’re onto me!”
Dr. Valerie Young is a leading expert on the impostor syndrome, and author of award-winning book “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It”.  Boys are raised to bluff and exaggerate. Girls, on the other hand, learn early to distrust their opinions and stifle their voices. They discover they are judged by the highest physical, behavioral and intellectual standards. Perfection becomes the goal, and every flaw, mistake or criticism is internalized—slowly hollowing out self-confidence.
“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’ “ – Maya Angelou
Work/Life Integration
I am often asked—how do you balance work and life? My answer is quite simple “I don’t”—my work is so much a part of my life that I couldn’t possibly consider it to be something separate; an individual entity completely segregated from my personal life. My work does not feel like work.
I’m so passionate about my business because of the amazing women I get to support on a daily basis, through our space and strong community. I love helping others find what really lights them up... what allows them also to have work/life integration.
That’s why I have an insatiable energy and don’t feel drained after working 12 hour days. I don’t mind having an inbox that is jam packed with requests, questions, and introductions because it is all a part of something so much bigger; something that I love, Hera Hub.
Make it a goal to thread your personal and professional life together. Incorporate things you enjoy into your business, so it feels like you’re passing the time doing something pleasant rather than a task to be checked off of your list. Try to infuse “focused fun” by pinpointing what you love: drawing, talking, laughing, interesting conversation, list making, etc. and weave it into your business and work.
“Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” - Confucius
Irrefutable Truths to Building Your Dream Business - excerpt from Flight Club, by Felena Hanson @FelenaHanson @iReadBookTours
Felena is a long-time entrepreneur and marketing maven. Her latest venture, Hera Hub, is a spa-inspired shared workspace and community for female entrepreneurs. This as-needed, flexible work and meeting space provides a productive environment for growing businesses. Hera Hub members have access to a professional space to meet with clients and to connect and collaborate with like-minded business owners, thus giving them the support they need to be prosperous. The company has three locations in San Diego, one in Washington DC, and continues to grow nationally via a licensing model. Her goal is to support over 20,000 women in the launch and growth of their business by 2020. Felena and Hera Hub have been featured in Inc Magazine, the BBC News, Forbes, and the New York Times. She is a published author and international speaker. Her book, “Flight Club – Rebel, Reinvent, and Thrive: How to Launch Your Dream Business” is available on Amazon.

Connect with the author:  Website  ~  Twitter  ~  Facebook  ~  Instagram


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Book Showcase: A Black Sail by Rich Zahradnik

 Book Showcase: A Black Sail by Rich Zahradnik

Title: A Black Sail 

Author: Rich Zahradnik

Purchasing link: http://amzn.to/2cvHOfD

 Book Showcase: A Black Sail by Rich Zahradnik
About the book:
On the eve of the U.S. Bicentennial, newsman Coleridge Taylor is covering Operation Sail. New York Harbor is teeming with tall ships from all over the world. While enjoying the spectacle, Taylor is still a police reporter. He wants to cover real stories, not fluff, and gritty New York City still has plenty of those in July of 1976. One surfaces right in front of him when a housewife is fished out of the harbor wearing bricks of heroin, inferior stuff users have been rejecting for China White, peddled by the Chinatown gangs.
Convinced he’s stumbled upon a drug war between the Italian Mafia and a Chinese tong, Taylor is on fire once more. But as he blazes forward, flanked by his new girlfriend, ex-cop Samantha Callahan, his precious story grows ever more twisted and deadly. In his reckless search for the truth, he rattles New York’s major drug cartels. If he solves the mystery, he may end up like his victim—in a watery grave.
About the author:
 Book Showcase: A Black Sail by Rich Zahradnik
Rich Zahradnik is the award-winning author of the critically acclaimed Coleridge Taylor Mystery series (A Black SailDrop Dead PunkLast Words).
The second installment, Drop Dead Punk, won the gold medal for mystery/thriller ebook in the 2016 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPYs). It was also named a finalist in the mystery category of the 2016 Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Last Words won the bronze medal for mystery/thriller ebook in the 2015 IPPYs and honorable mention for mystery in the 2015 Foreword Reviews IndieFab Book of the Year Awards.
"Taylor, who lives for the big story, makes an appealingly single-minded hero," Publishers Weekly wrote of Drop Dead Punk.
Zahradnik was a journalist for 30-plus years, working as a reporter and editor in all major news media, including online, newspaper, broadcast, magazine and wire services. He held editorial positions at CNN, Bloomberg News, Fox Business Network, AOL and The Hollywood Reporter.
In January 2012, he was one of 20 writers selected for the inaugural class of the Crime Fiction Academy, a first-of-its-kind program run by New York's Center for Fiction.
Zahradnik was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, in 1960 and received his B.A. in journalism and political science from George Washington University. He lives with his wife Sheri and son Patrick in Pelham, New York, where writes fiction and teaches kids how to publish newspapers.

Catch Up with Rich on his WebsiteTwitter, or Facebook


 Book Showcase: A Black Sail by Rich Zahradnik

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