As a fringe event in the tradition of Edinburgh Fringe and other international collateral events, CoNZealand Fringe was conducted entirely outside core programming hours and spaces, and panels were not official CoNZealand programming. CoNZealand Fringe is not endorsed by CoNZealand.
Nerds of a Feather, Flock Together is pleased to host the transcripts of CoNZealand Fringe panels for fans who are unable to watch the videos or prefer a written format. Transcripts are being uploaded daily from 29 March, and this is the transcript for Dear Worldcon Fandom, Welcome to BookTube, which ran on 28 July 2020 6pm BST/1pm EDT/10am PDT/5am NZST (next day) and is available here. Other panel transcripts are available via our transcript hub.
Dear Worldcon Fandom: Welcome to BookTube
Panel Description: BookTube is the corner of YouTube dedicated to all things reading. On this platform, avid SFF readers and fan critics chronicle their reading, share book reviews, and engage in lively discussions about the genre – are you watching SFF BookTubers? Panellists discuss the unique challenges of YouTube as a reviewing platform and how you can become a part of the community.
Host and Moderator: Claire Rousseau (she/her)
Panellists: Marines (she/her), Noria, Emily (she/her), Jocelyn (she/her)
Claire: No that's - oh, I thought it was really – it was like in time with me clicking live. Hello, welcome everybody, we are live! I'm sorry for the slight delay here, that was my bad. I did a bad. Anyway, welcome to our second panel of CoNZealand Fringe. If this is the first panel that you're seeing of the Fringe, we are a complimentary event to CoNZealand, the 78th Worldcon, so we are not part of CoNZealand, we are just giving you a little taster, and if you'd like to learn more about CoNZealand there will be links below in the description box below after the livestream. There'll be links to everything, the CoNZealand website, our website, you can check out all of the things! But now we are going to talk about Booktube and we're going to introduce Booktube to the Worldcon fandom, introduce the two communities —
Claire: — many people know both, but I'm very excited to be bringing it to a wider audience. Noria went out a little bit, her internet is not doing great at the minute, so whenever she's able to be back in, she'll be back in. We are also waiting for another panellist whose internet is not co-operating. We'll work through this somehow. So for those of you who don't know, I'm Claire, my booktube channel is here, Claire Rousseau, I am a Hugo finalist for Best Fancast somehow this year which is very exciting, and I am moderating this panel! I'll be letting my panellists introduce themselves, if you could tell me your name and your channel and a video – a recent video of yours that you like and that you want people to go and watch to give them an idea of your channel, that would be great!
Marines: Hello everybody!
Marines: I'm Marines, I go by Mari for short, my channel is My Name is Marines, in addition to everything here on Booktube I also have a website called SnarkSquad.com, and a podcast called Snark Squad Pod, and a complimentary podcast called Cooler Than Homework in which we're watching all of the Disney Channel original movies as adults and having a blast. So I do a ton of things online, and for a taste of my style, my channel, I did a video about reading critically versus reading for enjoyment and how that's a false dichotomy because you can do both, so that's a fun one.
Emily: Okay, hi, My name is Emily, I am also a booktuber, obvi, and so my channel name is Emiloid, and I read a lot of fantasy, but also occasionally I rant about films as well, and a recent video – well my most recent video was my reading rush TBR but for more of – more content that's more about me, I have a tarot TBR video which is where a tarot deck picks my books. Also I have a video about underrated fantasy as well, so yeah. That's me.
Claire: Cool. Really really cool. So, Booktube, as it says in the description of the panel, and for people who might not know, is the corner of YouTube where we talk about books. I want to start by talking a little bit about the community, about y'know what we do here, what kind of videos you can expect, why we enjoy making them, all that good stuff. Maybe we can start talking about the staples, the videos that we see a lot of people doing. Emily, do you – what sort of videos do you do? Do you do like a lot of wrap-ups, do you talk about stuff you've read, stuff you're gonna read...?
Emily: I generally talk – I have a lot of wrap-ups on my channel. Yeah, I definitely participate in several readathons, I – for instance Tome Topple is one that I do a lot —
Emily: — and Asian Readathon is one I do every year, and occasionally I do do some individual book reviews, and also there are – book tags are definitely very popular on the platform, and if you stick around on my channel I'll be posting a reading vlog, and that's also very popular content as well.
Claire: Cool, that's that.
Emily: What about you Marines?
Marines: Yeah, so, it sounds similar to what I enjoy doing, so lots of reviews, I enjoy reviewing books whether that's individual reviews or wrap-ups, you know vlogs as well, something I'm not good at. The good thing about Booktube is you can just kind of like "I'm not good at this but I enjoy it!" which is kind of how I've been doing vlogs, just kinda testing the water there.
Emily: Yeah, absolutely.
Marines: And I love doing discussion videos, I mentioned – like the one in my example, just taking big topics in books or within genres and talking a little bit about them and giving different examples in terms of like tropes or things that the community is engaging in. So those are things that I like. There's a ton of other stuff, I think that, y'know, you have kind of the review-focused end of Booktube, and then more like a fandom-focused end of Booktube with lots of crossover and lots of content that is inspired by both. Whether that's, like I said, reviewing things, or y'know gushing about things and being fans of things, and the kind of content that those two things kind of inspire.
Claire: Oh no, I was just about to ask Noria to introduce herself! Oh nononono. Well, and, yeah, I'll be very much interested in what she has to say about that, because I love her content. But I wanna define some terms here just in case some people aren't as familiar. We've talked about TBRs, we've talked about readathons. Basically like the point of Booktube is we chronicle our reading, that's a lot of what we do, and so a TBR is to be read list, and a readathon is when a whole community comes together and does a reading marathon for a week or a month or whatever. Sometimes 24 hours or 48 hours, something like that. We have a lot of fun community events, as well as single videos that people do, and I think that's an aspect that people don't necessarily know if they're not in Booktube yet, that it's very community based. Do we want to talk a little bit about that and about how y'know we build that community through commenting and all that.
Marines: Yeah, I think that part of the way I found Booktube was literally finishing a book and getting on YouTube to go "Has anybody talked about this book?!" Searching like "review" – I don't even remember honestly, what the book was at this point and finding at that point, even though the community has grown certainly, over the five years that I've been here, there qasr – there are people online talking about books, and that is kind of where my starting point was, and from there it very much became something that not only did I want to create these videos and talk about the books that I was reading, but I wanted that conversation, because not all of my "in real life" friends or people that I see y'know, day-to-day —
Marines: — read books! So I had to come to this side of like people already who are interested in this, to have that conversation —
Marines: — to comment, to, y'know, engage in the comments, to read books together, whether that is in a readathon or something – buddy reading, reading with just one or two other people. I've had the opportunity to form, like, really close friendships in this community, and it is definitely that for me, it is a community of people.
Emily: Yeah, no, I think I feel very similarly. I found Booktube when I was just out of undergrad and had just started reading for leisure again because I was an English Lit major, and I wanted to – and I was just looking for more literary minded people, and I found I think the first one I found was Sanne from Books and Quills.
Claire: Yeah, for me too.
Emily: Yeah, yeah. And she was very influential for me, from her I just found a bunch of other people, and it was great to motivate me to keep up reading as well, and I think the readathons, I think they add a bit of competitiveness, but like a healthy amount, just to motivate you to keep going, yeah. And also with enjoyment, as well. It's – it just adds to that experience.
Claire: Yeah, and I think Noria, if you wanna introduce yourself and talk a little bit about your channel and what you do, and maybe tell us a video of yours, a recent video people can go watch to get a bit more of an idea about your channel? ... Can you hear me? I think she might have some lag.
Claire: I mean, Adrienne did point out in the comments that it wouldn't be an online panel without some tech issues. But we have a bunch of questions actually.
[Pop-up from The Book Finch: Yeah, the SFF section of Booktube is pretty niche compared to say YA contemporary or Litfic.]
Claire: Reija at The Book Finch points out, the SFF book section of Booktube is quite niche, compared to contemporary YA or litfic.
[Pop-up from The Book Finch: that said, there is significant overlap]
Claire: But of course, significant overlap. I mean, I read principally SFF but I do also read like a fairly varied amount of other stuff as well, and I know you do too, Marines.
Marines: Yeah. So, always in my reading, the majority of it ends up being SFF and I don't think people really – like, I don't know if you asked them that about me I don't think that they would necessarily know or like connect that to my reading, but it is the majority of what I read.
Marines: I also read very widely, so lots of other stuff; romance, contemporary, literary fiction, non-fiction, the whole gambit.
Emily: Yeah, I think definitely there's a big slough of YA booktubers and I think if it – if there is SFF that it tends to be in the YA side of things, and definitely I found there aren't quite as many people who are either – in the more adult side of SFF and. And yeah, no, and I find that people also sort of look at me like they don't quite expect me really to read that area of fiction, and —
Emily: — but yeah, I like that that is a growing sector on Booktube though, with people like Daniel Green, people like that.
Claire: Yes indeed, yeah, let's see if we – we've got a suggestion that Noria could try audio only and I'm going to message her that for sure. Let's see – this is a very interesting question from WorldsInInk: how big of a role does personality play in booktube success and growth?
[Pop-up from WorldsInInk: How big of a role does Personality play in booktube success and growth]
Claire: And I think I can see on your faces that there are Opinions.
Marines: I mean, it's – a lot, because basically what we're selling here on our channel is our personality, in essence. Like, y'know, you're coming to me initially because you have some point of connection, whether that is because I read SFF or a specific book or whatnot, but if you watch the video and you're like "I can't stand that girl" like you're not gonna stick around, so that is definitely — And like we talked it is very much a community thing and I think that people approach a lot of these videos of finding that common ground and having those common interests and wanting to connect. And I would also say when you look at Booktube, it's so spread out. It's a smaller community within a larger YouTube, and within that smaller community there are other niches of like small – people who are reading in the same genre and whatnot. But like the biggest booktubers definitely have a lot in common in terms of like reading a lot of YA, being a sort of "personality." And it's kind of like the type or model of success in Booktube. But in the time that I've been here there's definitely been a lot of growth, and I feel like a lot of these niche communities are coming up, and you can basically find something for anyone at this point in Booktube, so if you don't like one person or their personality, there's somebody else out there who might be for you.
Emily: Yeah, I think there are groups of booktubers who all sort of stick together for a reason, because it is about we are people at the end of the day, and it's like people in real life, we kind of break off and interact with some people more than others for a reason. And like you said, people aren't just coming to us just to find any old book recommendation, because why would they care about, say, what my ten books – top ten books of 2019 were if they didn't somehow care about or care that it was my opinion.
Emily: Because they're coming because they care about you and your opinion. So of course that does matter a lot, and I think that's fairly universal on YouTube in general, in that people are drawn to personalities.
Claire: Yeah, let's see if this is working. Noria, please tell us about your channel because it's amazing.
Emily: Do we need —
Claire: So fast! It's so cursed, I'm so sorry. Oh no. Um, now, the thing that Marines mentioned quite that I think we can't really avoid talking about is a lot of the bigger booktubers, who, y'know, have a fairly similar – there are exceptions, but a lot of the bigger booktubers are white ladies, and that's just y'know, that's a thing that's just a thing that, y'know, affects booktubers of colour and it's been a really big conversation on Booktube recently, so I thought I should mention it as part of like our booktube conversation. I say recently; it has been a conversation for a very long time. We're just listening more recently, which is bad.
Marines: Yeah, that's certainly something that like Emily said is sort of indicative of a larger YouTube thing, y'know, that YouTube has or – media thing, media in general has always skewed white and underrepresented other peoples, and that is definitely true of Booktube, and especially now we're seeing more and more people of colour, Black people joining Booktube, and they're getting more recognition, which is great, but unfortunately that top tier is still kind of representative or indicative of kind of the patterns or the – that you see in media as a whole. It's a conversation that we definitely have been having for a long time about how we support and promote diverse creators on this platform. And I think that y'know as much as you can – I wish it weren't, the way people are only just starting to listen, but at the same time, I'm like "yes, listen, let's talk about this, let's see how we can improve our community and y'know grow from here."
Claire: Yeah, I mean, I should have spoken more clearly. It's good that we're listening now but bad that we weren't listening before. Don't worry.
Marines: Of course.
Emily: Yeah, I think a lot of times we're seeing an effect of our media trickling down into who we decide to listen to and to watch, right? Because before, when we had this very white dominated media and we didn't kind of normalise people of colour, these faces, in media, so when people are going out to find what content is very indicative or typical of that particular niche, they gravitate towards – a lot of the time they gravitate towards white creators, because sometimes – we might see this a little bit in say bookstagram, where they say that "Oh, this particular book, I didn't relate to it very much," because this was, say, a piece of I dunno, Black literature, Native American literature, "I couldn't relate to it," as if that's written off, that experience is written off automatically. And it's like, we're all human being here, why wouldn't you – why wouldn't we be able to relate in some way? So I think this normalisation of different faces and to recognise that we are also part of this same experience, I think that that's an important thing, and something that probably is a very long term issue and can't be kind of dealt with overnight. But I think that's a big part – big root of the issue.
Claire: Oh, I think we have a Jocelyn.
[Jocelyn appears] [waves]
Jocelyn: Did it work?!
Claire: It worked, but poor Noria is a little bit —
Jocelyn: Hi everybody!
Claire: Hey Jocelyn, do you want to introduce yourself and tell people a bit about your channel and what video of yours they should watch?
Jocelyn: Yeah, totally. So hi, I'm Jocelyn, my pronouns are she/her, my channel is Yogi With a Book, and my channel has a lot of different things, mostly SFF, that's where my heart is, but also: all Latinx book all the time, even contemporary. And this year I feel like I've been reading a lot more diversely in other genres, like I've got into non-fiction a little bit, romance... So, dabbling in other things, but fantasy is still the biggest thing that I read, but anything with like mythology and folklore is also where I love to sit in. And a recent video of mine that gives you a good idea of my sort of reading taste, was one of the Booktube SFF Babbles, because I'm a judge this year along with Claire, I think that was for – it was the only one I did, I'm so bad at that, but it was Underrated SFF.
Claire: And this is lovely.
[Pop-up from The Book Finch: Jocelyn single handedly got me to buy Tasha Suri's books.
Claire: Reija says that Jocelyn single-handedly got them to buy Tasha Suri's books!
Jocelyn: Yes! Love to hear it.
Marines: That is your mission, that is your one woman mission.
Jocelyn: Absolutely. Yeah, my Animal Crossing island is called Ambha, that is how deep I am in this thing.
Claire: So we were talking a little bit, we did a little bit of definition and kind of 101 stuff about Booktube, and we were just talking about what it takes to succeed on Booktube – "succeed" – what kind of people get the most y'know views or whatever. That's perhaps – this is not what I would consider succeeding, but you know, whatever. Let's see. We just got into talking about how YouTube —
[Pop-up from Agentmg17: rarely does YouTube recommend BIPOC youtubers to me and I follow loads of other BIPOC YouTube media. I've had to depend on youtubers recommending BIPOC booktubers.]
Claire: — As pointed out, does not recommend BIPOC youtubers to people even if you follow loads of them, because YouTube's trash.
Marines: There's definitely layers here to what – what ultimately informs the y'know, representation on YouTube, and like we said it's very much connected to other things about YouTube and media in general, but that, that about YouTube and the way it recommends, and the way — it's like a cycle that perpetuates itself, right? There are certain people who get numbers and views and likes and opportunities and publishers reach out to them, recognition, and that breeds more of that, so the people who never get their foot in the door don't really have the way to start that on that path unless other people shove them out or there are other opportunities that are bringing up BIPOC along the way. YouTube is definitely not great about discovery y'know, in general, it's not great, which is why people are like "Wait there's an SFF niche of Booktube?!" or "What, there's this niche on Booktube?!" because YouTube is so bad at discoverability, and it's why people like Jocelyn have to be so loud about the things they love, because if not, you really have to get —
Jocelyn: Just gets pushed under.
Marines: — the books that you love, the people that you love, you have to really boost yourself because YouTube's not going to do it for you.
Claire: Yeah, because the point of YouTube is not for you to find cool stuff, it's for YouTube to make money.
Claire: Okay, let's try this again.
[Video screens move around; Noria appears]
Claire: Hi. No, that wasn't what I meant to do. Sorry, this is better. Noria, please, tell us about your channel. Can we actually make this work? Let's see.
Noria: I don't think it's working!
Jocelyn: All I heard –
Emily: Yeah, we can hear you!
Noria: I definitely think this is a major challenge, I definitely think this is a major challenge of —
[Noria disappears] [Everyone groans]
Marines: We keep getting little pieces, by the end she'll have got full sentences.
Claire: Oh no.
Jocelyn: Oh dear.
Claire: I'm sad. Okay. Right. What was I on about? Let's see. Yes. So in the panel description we mention kind of like the challenges of doing YouTube videos and I know for me the main challenge is always consistency because that's what YouTube loves.
Claire: But I'd love to hear what you think about, what it is for you.
Emily: For me, I would say definitely the consistency is a challenge for me, because YouTube favours you when you're posting the same time in week. It doesn't matter if you post every week, because YouTube wants you to post at the same time every week, every month. And suddenly – and I find that maybe some weeks I'm just very tired and I just have an off week and suddenly the algorithm gets very confused and it decides not to boost me anymore. Or another thing I've found is if I do a video that's slightly off topic – because I do video essays or videos about films – and I find that sometimes I have a spike in views but then they kind of crash, and that's a thing that I experience because I'm like "Oh, well, I decided to post something slightly different, some varied content," and suddenly it doesn't like me anymore, so that in particular.
Claire: [whispering] Fingers crossed.
Claire: Hi! Noria, can you hear us now? Let's see how much life there actually is. I hope you're all enjoying our waiting hopefully faces.
Noria: Can everybody – I can hear you but the internet is like lagging like really badly. Which is annoying because it was working perfectly fine as of —
Claire: Yeah of course. Can you tell us about your channel then?
[Pop-up from The Bookish Finch: My jaw has never been this tight.]
[Pop-up from WorldsInInk: Bated breath breakout]
Marines: I feel like if one of us starts speaking that'll be the moment that she jumps in.
Claire: Of course, that's always the way with tech. I'm so sorry. Oh dear. Um.
[Pop-up from Adrienne Joy: Please recommend us some of Noria's videos to go and watch if we don't get her internet working by the end!]
Claire: That's a good idea, if we can't make it work, we're gonna keep trying, but if we can't make it work, we're going to recommend some of Noria's videos so go and watch Noria! If you want to put some stuff in chat that we can read out, we can do that too. Let's see. Let me actually pull up Noria's channel. We'll get you some recs, don't worry.
Jocelyn: I did put in some recommendations in the chat, basically the entire series of videos she did on the Fuckathon, which were amazing. She basically created these prompts and did full videos with twenty books each, or maybe more, just recommending everything related to that topic.
Claire: I'm so sorry, that was my bad, I was so – the YouTube does not like that name of Noria's readathon as much as I do, therefore I need to —
Jocelyn: Oh did it hide it?
Claire: — accept it, and I was focusing on trying to make it work. Yeah no, it's so good, it's so much fun.
Emily: I know that she also has a video about all the popular books she didn't like.
Emily: Yeah that's a great one.
Claire: Let's see. We have a question in chat.
[Pop-up from Chris The Writing Jester: How well established does an author have to be before you consider making a video on their work?]
Claire: How established does an author have to be before you consider making a video on their work? Which I think is interesting as a question, because that's not really how it works for me.
Marines: I have a policy for me personally, that I only will review books that are ... I don't review books that are indie published. Only because – it's not that I don't read them, it's because indie published books, like if I give them a negative review, that impacts them so much more than if I give a negative review to something that is traditionally published. So I wanna be very careful that my opinion, you know, my personal taste's not going to negatively impact somebody in a way – in that kind of way. But also I need to be true to myself? And I need to give honest reviews. So I haven't really figured out how to navigate this space of "If you're sending me this book that you have indie published or self-published or something like that, I'm gonna give it a positive review or– or an honest review, but if that's not a positive review, like, that could really hurt you.
Marines: So because I don't have a good answer to that, I'm just – for the time being, I'm not reviewing things that're self or indie published. Otherwise, if it's a debut author or anything like that, I'm all about it, if it's something that I read separately and I have a positive experience with I'll talk about it, but I won't accept for review anything that I'm not 100% sure that I'm going to enjoy, and for their benefit more than my own, because I don't wanna hurt people in that way.
Jocelyn: I also don't accept for review – oh, sorry!
Emily: Yeah, I get that – no, no, it's fine, go ahead.
Jocelyn: I think you started first.
Emily: Okay, well, for me I —
Jocelyn: I also don't —
Marines: Oh my gosh.
Emily: I think we're out of time.
Claire: Okay, we're gonna go with Jocelyn.
Jocelyn: Okay. I do not accept for review, for similar reasons. I don't want to add negative reviews especially to indie and small published people when they already get such small like marketing in general. But also I DNF with abandon. Like, I DNF so many books and I just don't talk about them. So I don't feel comfortable guaranteeing to someone that I'm definitely going to finish their book, definitely going to write a review, that's not my particular style. But if I really love something, I will scream to the heavens about it. Up until a few months ago I was also a bookseller, so I'd push it on people who came into the bookstore, recommend it to friends, but I don't fully like – do review, because an author sends me a book, that's just not something I'm comfortable with.
Emily: I'm not super at the point where people are necessarily soliciting me yet, I'm still quite microscopic. But I think for me it's not so much how about how well the author is established, I think I'm not so much about authors as I am about the book itself, and the product itself, and a lot of times, when I pick up something to read it's because I heard about it by word of mouth. I watched a video where it was recommended, I saw it around or I really liked the concept of it. And if I like it and I like it strongly enough that I want to make a video about it, then I just go ahead and do it. It is my channel and it's about what I like.
Claire: Yeah, and I think there's also an interesting – like, y'know almost a misconception some people have, like you send a book and therefore you get a review and that's not how it works for most reviewers at most outlets, and the idea that you're gonna do with on Booktube is a little – because you know, we're just a person in our house reading books, that's not, you're asking us to do a marketing job for you.
Marines: For free.
Claire: And we don't have to.
Jocelyn: Yeah, for free.
Claire: Yeah, yeah, of course, yeah. So that's something that is – y'know. For me personally it's very much like, I just read what I read, and I'm really bad at even sticking to what I wanna read, let alone things that other people ask me to read.
Claire: Hello? Let's give it another go and see how we go. In the meantime. Reija says "My favourite video of Noria is How to survive waiting for an anticipated sequel," so there you go.
[Pop-up from The Book Finch: My favourite recent Noria video is "How to Survive Waiting for an Anticipated Sequel"]
Claire: Some nice things for Noria to hear at least even if she can't actually speak to us, but please can.
Emily: Could she also join in the public chat as well?
Claire: Yeah, Noria could you try and type in chat and we'll bring up your comments if you want to talk about your channel a little bit? At the very least. Oh no.
Noria: I did not hear anything you just said, Claire. Like the – [laughs] Oh my god. It is lagging so bad. I just heard "channel."
Noria: That's all. That was all. I'm never sure if anyone can hear me, because clearly my comments take forever to get delivered.
Jocelyn: I can hear you really —
Emily: Yeah, I can hear you.
Claire: We can hear her, but if there's a delay I've just told her —
Claire: [silent rage] DAMN INTERNET! Yeah, poor Noria she says tomorrow she has to talk to her internet provider, which none of us like doing that, so yeah. Let's. We'll figure out something. If this doesn't work out, we'll figure out a time when her internet actually works and have her back on. We'll figure something out. Let's see. Did we have comments-s-s. Interesting.
[Pop-up from Agentmg17: Twitter and other apps are also important for Booktube, how do y'all handle those spaces?]
Claire: Twitter and other apps are also important for Booktube, how do you handle those spaces? Do you guys do bookstagram?
Emily: Eh, I'm more on book twitter.
Marines: I do – I do both, I do bookstagram. Again, something I'm not great at but I'm like "I don't care, I'm having fun. Yeah, Imma put this book here in this bush and take a picture." This is not me plugging my bookstagram, I just really enjoy it. And twitter is also – we talked a little bit about challenges of YouTube, and it takes – it's really time intensive, this hobby, or it can be.
Claire: Oh yeah.
Marines: Because it's not just "I'm gonna sit down and talk to my camera." It's like, well first of all, you have to be reading, so there's all these hours that go into reading, and then with like the leftover you're like recording a video, and editing takes a long time. So it always feels like there's a delay between like me, my thoughts, and like wanting to talk to people, so twitter stands in the in-between of where I can be like "Hey guys I just finished this book" and get my thoughts out more immediately than something like a YouTube video. I still make the video, but I use twitter a lot. So I'm pretty much everywhere talking about books.
Emily: Yeah, twitter has definitely been a very important space for me to put my channel out there. I think – I used to go on those, what, new youtuber twitters and post my channel in there constantly, but then I discovered booktuber subscribe chains, which are a big thing on the platform as well, and if not for those, the platforms, I don't think my channel would be anywhere near where it was today. It's very very vital.
Jocelyn: Yeah, I don't really plug my channel on twitter. Especially also because I haven't like made a video in a few months, I went on unexpected hiatus, but I'm really bad at marketing myself in that way, but twitter is where I get... I feel like twitter for me is sort of like the place where I get all of the book recommendations, it's where I learn about bookstagrammers, Booktubers, book bloggers are really in twitter and just having these conversations back and forth, so I think it's a great place for all of the different book online communities to connect. Bookstagram, I post like two pictures a month probably on average and I use maybe three tags. I'm very bad at all of it. For me, this has mostly been a hobby, and I try not to give myself any pressure, so yeah, I don't really go out of my way to be like "Watch my video!" even though I love when people watch my videos and I love when people comment on my videos, but I don't want it to feel like... Work? And that's always been my main goal. If I get to the point where I'm just like "UGH, this feels like I'm working SO hard," I don't want that! And that was a decision I made for myself. Like everyone – there are some people who I know go into this with the idea of like "I want my channel to grow this quick, I wanna have these many things, and I want to have this relationship with publishers." And that's awesome. I'm not that sort of booktuber myself.
Claire: Yeah, I don't think people realise how much work it takes. I don't know about everybody else, but I'm a many takes kind of person, y'know, especially if I want to do something that's focused and informative like anticipated books, where you're talking about fifteen titles and you have to say the synopsis in a way that makes it sound good. Like, you can be talking for an hour and a half for a fifteen minute video.
Jocelyn: And then there's the editing and the captioning, because I caption all of my videos. And thumbnails, forget about it, I hate them.
Emily: Yeah, for me like there's always a process of video editing, because I read a lot of ebooks, so I don't always have the physical book available, so there's a whole thing where I have to google the image of the book and put it in and make sure it's synced up to the right time that I'm talking about it, so that's a whole thing for me.
Jocelyn: And like the same size, check the sizing.
Emily: Yeah! Yeah! And make sure it doesn't like cover your face or something.
Claire; And Tor books are usually skinny so you have to resize them a little bit because they're not the same aspect ratio as the other ones! Screw you Tor!
Marines: I mean obviously, we're like ugh, but this is obviously something we all enjoy because we're all doing it, but I feel like the real thing is that we're working with limited hours, and within these hobby hours, you have to – that's where your reading goes and – but also it's where your recording and your editing and your captioning and your responding to comments go, and I always feel like if I'm doing one I'm doing less of the others. So I'm like "Look at all of the videos I made! ... I haven't read anything in like —" So it's a constant balance of where I'm putting my time. And yes I enjoy doing all of this, but maintaining that – where yes this is a hobby, I'm having fun, and not stepping into making this work is a tricky thing to balance. Ultimately it's – it pays off, because we're here talking about it, and it's definitely a balancing act.
Claire: I think there's different ways to do it, because I value having captioned videos, I think that's quite important, but I don't want to spend my time doing it, so I pay someone to do it. But. Y'know. There's like number one a very privileged position to be able to be in, but also at some point I had to sit myself down and say "Come on, you think this is important, like actually do the thing." And there's so many different aspects and you can't keep all the plates spinning.
Emily: Yeah. A big thing for me that I had to get better at was responding to comments, with the engagement. Because – I mean it's always good for you and the algorithm, you add more comments to your videos and get people excited, but also it can be quite draining at times. I had a video about the new Little Women adaptation and that actually made it quite big, and I have like five hundred comments on that video right now, and at some point I couldn't deal with it anymore. Some people can keep up that level of engagement with their subscribers, or, not – or viewers, just people who are passing through, but at some point I was like "I can't, I just can't, I can't respond to every single comment, it's just too much."
Claire: Yeah, that's really hard. That's tricky.
Claire: Also you have to be always commenting on other people's videos, because that's how people find each other's channels, and that's something I'm terrible at. Marines wrote an email back to me and said "This is my channel" and I was like "Yes I know, I watch all your - I never comment on anything, I'm a trash booktuber."
Emily: Yeah I'm also about that.
Claire: We have some really interesting questions in chat.
[Pop-up from Adrienne Joy: Picking up on what Jocelyn said – to what extent do you think of your channel as offering publicity vs offering critique? (of course they overlap)]
Claire: Adri says to what extent do you think of your channel as offering publicity as opposed to offering critique versus criticism, as in criticism. Literary criticism as opposed to just negative things.
Jocelyn: For me I think I think those are like, usually two different videos? Like I would think a haul video, that's straight up publicity. That's just I'm showing you this book. Buy this book. Or I'm excited about it. But usually I critique things in wrap-ups, or full-on reviews, so for me those are kind of separate, just because I don't tend to mix them very much. Like I said, I don't take a book for review, so I'm not gonna do anything that's just straight up publicity unless it is something like a haul, where I'm like "Book! It's here! The end!"
Emily: Yeah, I would like to think that I do a pretty even amount of each because that publicity is – I mean it's easy to do, first of all with a haul or even a TBR, and it's good to boost people that you like, at the same time – for me I like to at least put some of my opinions out there, and people are also coming to you for your opinions, so I like to think it is, like we said earlier, a balancing act of the two things.
Claire: Yeah, yeah.
Marines: I came here to do the critique thing, like that's why I'm on Booktube and that's why I started Booktube, and I think the publicity thing is just something that happens? Like it's something that you can't escape, that if I'm putting this book up and talking about it, there's gonna be somebody like "I want that book too!" and I just became a vehicle for publicity even though that wasn't like, what I intended to do. I guess at a certain point you have to consider your own place in the publishing machine in terms of how much publicity you're giving books and how you're doing that, as just like I said an extension of being online and showing books online, but my – my intention is always to come here with critique, is the content I primarily make.
Claire: And can we try this again. Let's see. Can you hear us with less lag now? I'm gonna also ask her in private chat.
Emily: She's muted.
Claire: Oh and she is muted. Well, let's see once she unmutes herself, but what else do we got. Oh that's an interesting one from Reija.
[Pop-up from The Book Finch: What are your biggest creative inspirations in terms of creating videos?]
Claire: What are your biggest creative inspirations in terms of creating videos.
Marines: For me it's kind of this – I don't know, this is like a stupid answer, but it's books! Even when I'm in a place where I'm not making videos or it's a downtime or whatnot for me, I'll read a book and I'll be like "I have to talk about this!" Or a book will do something or will use a trope and I'll go – and I'm like "[gasp] Oh my gosh, this reminds me of this other book and now I want to talk about them both together." So even when I'm taking a break or I think I'm out they pull me back in, because I just – I have all these feelings about them. The other thing is something that you touched on Claire; and it's how important it is to comment on other people's videos and – and things like that, but when I'm most engaged in the community, when I'm watching other people's videos, when I'm commenting on them, that's like a constant well for me, in terms of creativity, because I see somebody do a video and I'm like "Ooh, I wanna try that too," or, y'know, they brought up a point that I want to talk more about, so those are kind of the two kinda things that keep me here, but I also watch YouTube videos outside of Booktube, and there are times where things that happen outside in other communities inspire me, like tier ranking, is something I saw outside of Booktube first —
Claire: Oh yeah.
Marines: — And I was like "What if we did this with books?" and kinda bringing that over, or tags, that people bring in from like the makeup community or other communities, those are things that feed my content.
Emily: Yeah, no, I totally agree about booktubers – or youtubers outside of Booktube. I've been particularly observant of the video essay community recently —
Emily: Which is also booming, recently, and definitely – and also the film critique community, as well, and I find a lot of the points that they bring up and the things that they talk about are also big inspiration for me when I'm talking about books or other things.
Jocelyn: I actually don't really watch anyone outside of Booktube, except for a couple of yoga or like pilates things. Me finding Booktube was a complete fluke because I spent no time on YouTube unless it's watching book people, so for me it's also the community, and like if I really really want to talk about something, that's when I'm like okay, gotta get the camera, let's do this, let's recommend this book, let's talk about that trope, whatever it is, make this TBR for this readathon I just heard about, it's definitely like all of the other different ways that people are being engaged with each other, that I'm just like "I wanna do this too, guys!"
Claire: And I guess we have a little bit more time, what I would love to recommend like a million channels to people, I'm sure we're gonna get other questions in the chat, if you have them please put them in. Please recommend loads and loads of channels. That's what I want. I want to leave people with a pile of things. [mimes building a pile] I wanna leave – leave people with a giant pile of recommendations for YouTube videos to watch about books.
Jocelyn: [rubs hands together]
Marines: I'm like this whole time waiting, and now it's here I'm like —
Jocelyn: Who wants to go first?
Claire: I told them to bring a list by the way.
Jocelyn: So, two people that I followed on Goodreads first because they were bloggers who recently I think, in the last year or so came to booktube, are Fadwa from Word Wonders, and Kate from [unclear] who are both excellent, excellent booktubers and bloggers, and just everything all around. They both have really really amazing recommendations as well, love both of them.
Emily: Someone I want to boost is TB Caine, who is – he reads a lot of classics, which is cool, and also I think male booktubers don't get as enough love as well, so I would like to boost his content. Also there's someone I've just discovered called Tammy tries to read.
Marines: Oh, me! So I – she is a bigger channel, more well-known, but she is my partner in crime in these parts and we run a book event together, so Sam from Thoughts on Tomes, is the person who introduced me, even though I was on Booktube, to the SFF community, she introduced me to these books. I love her, I love her channel, I love her as a person. And also Connor, who is one of my friends, Connor O'Brien is his channel name and he reads a lot of science fiction and fantasy, and YA and middle-grade and YA as well as adult books, so he's got just a great spread across all the categories.
Claire: I'll pick Adri from Perpetual Pages, and I tried to roll the r because they said they like it when people do that and I think I messed up.
Jocelyn: You were close!
Claire: They do – thank you. They do amazing critical reviews, like their points of view are always so great, and they do these videos that are like "five reasons to read these particular books," and they always – their passion for the book is always so, so good, and recently I watched "Five Reasons to read The Deep," which was a slightly older video of theirs, and then I read the book and I was like "I'm getting so much more out of this book because I watched their video." And also they shared a bunch of other videos about this book, it's great, so, A+. I – I know someone in chat, I think Reija in chat mentioned earlier humour does really well on YouTube and a bigger channel that I love that is very very funny is Read With Cindy, she's very dry —
Emily: [gasp] Yes.
Claire: — and it's very British and it just works so well. And, also, Chanelle over at Chanelle Time is also hilarious, so in terms of really funny people you should go and watch them. So so many. We'll have more links in the chat.
Marines: I was looking it up because I could not for the life of me remember her last name, but Njeri, Njeri Campbell —
Claire: Oh yeah.
Marines: — does videos all about afrofuturism, she is very specific in her reading and reviewing, but she is one of the smartest people I've ever had the privilege of meeting and all of her reviews are thoughtful and wonderful, check out Njeri's channel as well.
Claire: It's ONYX Pages.
Jocelyn: ONYX Pages.
Marines: ONYX Pages, thank you. I was like "Oh my god!" I could not [laugh] Thank you.
Emily: Also I think for humour I think Irish Reader, so Kevin from Irish Reader, he's really hysterical, so.
Claire: Yeah I've there's a channel that I found like really really recently that does more like video essays like MelinaPendulum? But she's like her content is also very very smart, and I'm waiting to binge. I'm on a holiday now, so I'm going to binge her videos, that's part of the plan, it's very exciting, she did a video about why you don't need to watch or read Gone With The Wind, like who cares if it's a classic, and it's so good. Let's see.
[Pop-up from Matthew Cavanagh: What's your own favourite video?]
Claire: Matthew wants to know "What's your own favourite video," which is always a really hard question.
Jocelyn: Oh, I actually know mine!
Jocelyn: My favourite was the interview I did with Nina Moretto about her book Don't Date Rosa Santos, which I did at Mari's event [points] oh, you're this way [points in other direction] event last year? It was last – last year?
Marines: I think, yeah.
Claire: At BookNet Fest?
Jocelyn: Yeah, at BookNet Fest, I just got to sit down with her for a while and chat for a while, and it was wonderful, I had so much fun, and we just got to talk about her amazing book – it's contemporary, so maybe not as many people in this crowd would be into it, but it's beautiful #OwnVoices Cuban American representation and it's amazing and, yeah.
Marines: My favourite channel – my favourite channel? My favourite video that I ever made was a review of – maybe any of my reviews of Sarah J Maas' books, they're my most hated books, and they're also my most contested, so like if I get a comment then fifty percent of the time it's somebody mad at me because I hate those books, so it's just the videos that keep giving. But I dunno. I enjoyed making them, and I enjoy being critical of things, so those are always fun.
Emily: Yeah. Mine is not a strictly book-centred, it's my review of the new Little Women adaptation, and I was particularly critical of certain aspects of that adaptation and how they handled various elements of that book, and it is still my best performing video to date, so I was pretty proud of that one. And also my various – I think I reviewed Stalking Jack the Ripper, and that's another review that I'm quite proud of.
Claire: My favourite video that I've ever made, is one that I've made because I was mad. My local bookstore had this table that was like "Introducing SFF" and it was like —
Jocelyn: Tolkien. Anderson.
Claire: I think it was over 60% of the table was – there were like two books from the last ten years, all white, there was like two women, one of them was Margaret Atwood and Ursula Le Guin, like it was the classic. The classic thing that people do when they talk about SFF, so I took a photo, and then I started writing a thing, and it's the most like in-depth I've ever written, with actual like reasoned stuff, and I had people edit it, y'know the text of it to make sure that I was saying what I wanted to say. It's called How Not to Make SFF Lists and I really really like it. Let's see.
Jocelyn: While you're picking out a question, I just want to interject that I also very much loved Marines' rants reviews on the Sarah J Maas' series, because that's how I found Booktube. The first thing I found was an Acotar rant. Because no one on Tumblr hated it the way I did, so it was like "Where else do I go?" and then I found Marines. I was like "thank you!"
[Pop-up from Agentmg17: Marines, you keep me sane. I'm usually like "am I the only one who sees this?"
Claire: You know what, someone else is agreeing. "Marines you keep me sane, I'm usually like 'am I the only one who sees this?'"
Marines: I swear, I like books and I post positive reviews, but those are just – they stay at the top as my most popular, so I'm constantly like re-engaging them and then I look back like "Great, that was a fun video, go me." [laughs]
Claire: I think it's funny because people complain a lot about critical videos and means content and you're watching it, guys! It performs! It does good! Those videos outperform everything else consistently, so y'know.
Emily: Yeah and if you don't wanna hear it, go find another video that validates your opinion.
Jocelyn: For sure.
Marines: I always say I'm not the one watching my own videos, I'm not the one making my popular content my popular content, so, like. [laughs]
Emily: Yeah, no, Mari, your Sarah J Maas also very much validated my opinions on those books as well, because I finished the Acotar series with a very bad taste in my mouth, so your videos gave me life.
Marines: Thanks, guys!
Claire: Right, well, we have a Noria again but I think she's muted, so I think it's just – what we're gonna do, we're going to – "we," me, the CoNZealand Fringe, we're gonna get in touch with her and organise something cool with her, so you get to see how cool she is, but we're coming up on an hour, so if anyone has any final thoughts?
Marines: Yeah, I mean if this was your introduction to Booktube, I hope you continue to check out the community. There really is something for everybody, and even though it isn't the most intuitive thing in terms of YouTube, if you just dig a bit there's so many treasures to be found in this community of people who love books, and so I hope that you check it out, check out the channels that we referenced, and come talk to us because obviously we're here because we want to talk to people about books! Come talk to us please.
Emily: Yeah, yeah no, I hope more people get into Booktube and dig into the more diverse voices on the platform, of course. I think someone looking at just the big youtubers doesn't get the whole picture of the community, so definitely check out the – even the smaller ones, the middling ones, there's a lot of different perspectives here.
[Pop-up from WorldsInInk: Best way to find a booktuber is to search a book title you love and see if someone reviewed it.]
Claire: WorldsInInk points out a really good thing which is to find a booktuber is to search for a book that you love and see if someone reviewed it. Or in fact a book title that you hated.
Claire: And yeah, we'll have links in the description, I think we had, obviously we had some tech things so we didn't cover as much as we wanted, but we were gonna talk about how to start your own channel if you wanted to, so what I'll do is I'll find some videos that people have made, from Booktube channels, and I'll put all of that in the description box below. We'll do also – we'll have a playlist of Black booktubers if you want to look more widely. Sorry, Jocelyn, I saw that comment and cut you off. Did you have any closing thoughts?
Jocelyn: They said it.
Claire: So yeah, I think this is our panel, thanks everybody.
[Pop-up from The Book Finch: Also, wink wink, there are booktubers that are non-English speakers as well.]
Claire: There are also non-English speaking booktubers as well. I'm not well-versed in them, but we will try to leave some links in the description if we can find some videos recommending them. And thank you so much for attending, thank you for bearing with us and our various tech issues and also mistakes that I made. And I will also put a link in the description to the panel, The Art of the Review at CoNZealand, which I'm going to be on during the actual convention, so if you are a convention member, please come and watch that. Again we are not part of CoNZealand, we are a separate event, but we do love Worldcon, we just wanted to provide more content, so if you want to check out Worldcon, there will be links and everything down below and please check out some of that content and some of ours as well. Thank you so much and goodbye.
Emily: Thank you, bye!
Marines: Bye everyone!
Thank you to Susan for drafting and proofreading this panel transcript! Responsibility for final text lies with Adri Joy - for any corrections or comments, please get in touch via Twitter.