Category Archives: Everything Else

May Interview – Rebecca Gransden 

For May’s interview I caught up with Rebecca Gransden, author of the fantasmagorically delightful Anemogram. Rebecca has also kindly offered a paperback giveaway of Anemogram to one lucky reader of this interview. All you have to do is retweet this interview on your twitter account to be in with a chance to win. You can read my review of Anemogram here: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2016/09/12/anemogram-review/


What was your background and how did you get into writing? 

I’m from the south coast of England and have what I guess would be classified as a traditional working class background. I received a few encouraging words at school and they confirmed my unsteady assertion that I could write a bit if I put my mind to it. I’ve concentrated mostly on short stories over the years, until I attempted to write my first longer piece in 2014. That resulted in my first, and only release so far, Anemogram. 
You sound a lot like me there! Except I’m yet to finish my novel never mind have it published! What are your ambitions for your writing? 
To always push myself forwards, to strive to improve in the areas I think I need to, and to challenge myself. If I don’t feel I’ve moved forward in some way or another I see no point in releasing anything, especially with regard to novels. My predominant impulse is to not shortchange myself or do a disservice to anyone who might pick up my writing. For this reason I will always take risks. To me, feeling comfortable is a sign that I need to move on, whatever the outcome.

Which writers inspire you? 

I have writers I admire, probably too many to mention here, but I’ll say Paul Auster, Chekov for his short stories, JG Ballard, and Lydia Millet is great stylistically. I’m mostly inspired by fellow indie authors whose work connects with me, such as Leo X. Robertson, Harry Whitewolf and Rupert Dreyfus. It’s important to me to have the immediacy of those currently creating as an energising force. And their stuff is great.

Anemogram has a very unusual premise and theme, where did the idea come from? 

I wish I knew! I had about two weeks to come up with some basic ideas in order to take part in National Novel Writing Month. I knew that I wanted a female protagonist, and to cover some specific themes, and then embarked on a pretty intense month. Anemogram is the result.
It sounds like you work well under pressure in that case! Are you working on anything new at the moment? 
I’m taking a break from writing as intensely this year, but I do plan to fit in a novella at some point. I have a short story collection that I’m in the process of finalising in order to release. Last year I completed the first draft of a science fiction themed novel, and I will return to that to edit, although I have no idea if and when I’ll release it.
You have quite a lot going on then! What do you use to do your writing? Pen+paper, computer, typewriter etc. 
All my writing is now carried out on a laptop, just for convenience. My first few short stories were handwritten and it was valuable to transfer them to the laptop making adjustments and improvements as I went. I am interested in attempting something handwritten again as there is a difference in the process that could be creatively beneficial.

It can’t be denied that handwriting makes your arm hurt a lot more than typing though 🙂 Would you ever consider writing in a different genre or is there a genre you wish you could write? 

I’ll try anything in any mixture or permutation. I want to incorporate different areas, to make things interesting and keep pushing myself. Always willing to fall flat on my face if it’s fun! I’ve found it difficult to categorise Anemogram. I worry about genre placement after writing, if at all. I have a whole bunch of horror stories that may be released at some point.

How often do you write? Do you set yourself a word target or just go with it when inspiration strikes? 

I like to set aside specific periods of time to immerse myself in what I’m writing. It doesn’t suit me to have multiple projects active at once, as all my energy needs to point one way. I have a generalised minimum daily word count when I’m in a writing phase, though life does get in the way of that sometimes of course, but if that happens I’m mindful to play catchup the next day in order to stay on a self-imposed schedule. When I’m not actively writing I’m either editing, reading, researching, beta-reading, promoting or doing something to ensure I stay engaged.

What sort of publishing route did you choose and why? 

I’m a supporter of self-publishing as my instincts are that as far as possible writers, and anyone who produces a creative commodity, should retain ownership of their work. This puts pressure on those who do self-publish to ensure that what we release is high quality, especially with regard to formatting and presentation. I love the spirit of independent publishing, on whatever scale, and most of the interesting reading I come across originates from that world.
Without a big publishing house behind you though, how do you market your books? What have been your marketing successes and failures? 
As I have only one release so far my experience of promotion is quite limited. For me, it is important that any promotion I do is an extension of how I make my way through the world, and gives an accurate impression of what I and my writing stands for. I’m aware of what I won’t do—such as pay for reviews—and prefer to look for fun ways for my writing to find those who may be interested in reading it.
If you could be the original author of any book what would it have been and why? 
A book that I returned to endlessly as a kid called Encyclopaedia of Legendary Creatures by Tom McGowan. This was full of definitions of supernatural and mythological beings from around the world and each creature was depicted in an accompanying illustration by Victor Ambrus. His drawings are very distinctive and chilling. I think it would’ve been a fascinating project to put together, and exciting for the author to collaborate with such an amazing illustrator.
I might have to check that out as I love myths, legends, etc. What are your views on good and bad reviews? How much do you think the success of books relies on reviews? 
Reviews are great to have as they do help give a general impression of what a book is about. There’s no denying that it is helpful for a potential reader to have reviews available in order to gain further information about a book before they decide if it is for them or not. My strategy has been one of seeking out readers and reviewers who may get something out of reading my book. I’ve tried to be quite focused and I’ve had a mostly positive experience, whether my book has been enjoyed or not. My concern is not so much to do with a positive or negative reaction, but if my book has been fairly represented or not. I think discerning readers who are familiar with review sites and with review culture look for indications of whether the book will appeal to them, and can filter out much of the noise. Reviews mean less as they are distrusted more but they are still important at this stage, and there’s no doubt positive reviews have an effect.
Thank you so much for taking part in the interview Rebecca and for agreeing kindly to do a giveaway as well! 
If you’d like to see more from Rebecca you can check out her website, Amazon account and social media pages here: 

Website: https://rebeccagransden.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rlgransden

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Rebecca-Gransden-1046981001979898/?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14235808.Rebecca_Gransden
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Rebecca-Gransden/e/B014I5D5OU/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Monthly Round Up

Introduction

Welcome to the first of my monthly round ups with the lovely Josh over at http://www.joshbates.co.uk. Each month we’ll be bringing you a collaboration like no other as we chat about the books we’ve read this month and what we’re looking forward to in the upcoming ones.

I became friends with Josh after we exchanged several emails when he interviewed me for his website. After a few conversations about what we both wanted from our sites it became apparent that it would make sense to run a project together, so here we are!

 

Leonie’s Wrap Up: 

This month I’ve read 20 books. Some good, some not so good, so without further ado, lets get into it!

Keys to the Kingdom seriesThe Keys to the Kingdom by Garth Nix 

The first books I read this month were the final 5 in The Keys to the Kingdom series by Garth Nix. Namely; Drowned Wednesday, Sir Thursday, Lady Friday, Superior Saturday & Lord Sunday. They follow the story of a young boy called Arthur Penhaligon who unwittingly becomes the heir to The House at the centre of the universe. They’re really fun books to read and have a lot of magic & adventure in them. 


A Secret Garden by Katie Fforde was next on my list. I love Katie’s writing but didn’t really enjoy this one as much as usual. It follows two characters Lorna & Philly who discover a Secret Garden, and with it, true love. The romance was unfortunately a little dead in this one but I’m full of faith that Katie will pick up again in her next novel. 


The Bear & the Nightingale by Katherine Arden is a dark YA novel based on Russian fairytales. You can read my full review here: http://ow.ly/tzaU30bkrNC


Rotherweird by Andrew Caldecott is an exciting new fantasty/sci-fi debut and you can get my full review here: http://ow.ly/O6Be30bks0v


Descent by Katie O’Sullivan is a fantasy tale about the son of a mermaid. You can get my full review here: http://ow.ly/ouVT30bkscQ


The Lucky Ones by Mark Edwards is a crime thriller. Full review here: http://ow.ly/4egH30bksAM
The House by Simon Lelia is another crime thriller to tingle the spine. Full review here:  http://ow.ly/X1Q430bksOl 


Big Little Lies by Lianne Moriarty. Full review here: http://ow.ly/hi9H30bkt0m

Moroda by LL McNeil is a debut fantasy with fantastic world building. Full review here: http://ow.ly/C5V530bkt9z


A Mask of Shadows by Oscar De Muriel is the third in the Frey & McGrey series and you can check out my full review here: http://ow.ly/svoY30bkHTe


Caraval by Stephanie Garber could have been a lot better, I was expecting more from this but it lacked world and character building. Read my full review: http://ow.ly/x1NA30bkLpy


Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor is one of the best books I’ve read in a longtime. Not that I expected any less from the woman who brought us Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Read my review here: http://ow.ly/fOUC30bkLyJ
 


 Witch Child and Sorceress were my nostalgic reads for the month and so different when reading them back as an adult and understanding the themes and concepts more. You can read my review which talks a lot about the theme of race here:  http://ow.ly/EWqi30bl9aV


Locked In by Kerry Wilkinson is a book I started a couple of years ago and didn’t finish but my grandma loves the series and promises me it will get better so I’m persevering! I still wasn’t hugely impressed by Book 1 but we’ll see how I go… 


Blackbird & Still Waters by Jennifer Lauck were my recommended reads of the month and were recommended by my friend Sasha at work. They’re non-fiction true life stories and they were surprisingly enjoyable. Good quality writing and an interesting if heart wrenching storyline! 

This month I’m most looking forward to reading Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth & Wintersong by S Jae Jones. 

Don’t forget that if you’d rather watch my wrap up than read it, you can check out my April Wrap Up on my Booktube channel here: http://ow.ly/act530bl9Mu

  Intro:
Each month me and the lovely Leonie plan to write about our monthly book reads.

I became friends with Leonie after an exchange of e-mails during the process of writing an article about her for my blog. Please subscribe (if you haven’t already) to her wonderful channel here:

https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCs0_TWR_r0SPVlVdT7UV9hg

Josh’s Diary:

I’m quite a slow reader. It takes me a long time to read . But I didn’t do too badly this month. So let’s have a look at the books I read:


I started the month reading “Goldfish Boy” by Lisa Thompson. I’ve never cried so much reading a book before. It really touched me on so many levels. I liked every character in the book. The book covers the topic of family, friendship and hope. The messages in the book are very positive. A book about OCD sounds dark and heavy but Lisa Thompson writes on this subject with great insight, skill and sensitivity. Very highly recommended.


I then read “Call Me Sunflower” by Miriam Spitzer Franklin. It was an enjoyable read. I read the book in under a day. Children’s books are easy and simple to read. This book also touched on issues around identity, family and friendship.

The final two books – “Rez Runaway” by Melanie Florence and “School Monitor” by Alex Dunn didn’t impress me.


“Rez Runaway” tells the story of Seventeen year old Joe Littlechief who is raised on an Indian reserve. He lives with his Mother who is a devout christian. Joe makes a drunken pass at his best friend and he is driven out of the Rez. The frantic pace led me to feeling breathless and disoriented. Very Short chapters crammed in too much detail.


I found “School Monitor” by Alex Dunn very disturbing and unpleasant. The violent scenes ranging from punching, kicking, spitting and attempted drowning – made me feel sick. The messages and morals in the book seemed totally inappropriate. The ending was deeply unsatisfying.

Leonie introduced me to Netgalley this month. I also discovered some lovely bookish goodies which I might treat myself too soon.

Thanks for checking out our first Monthly Round Up, we hope you’ve been able to take something from our mini reviews either good or bad, and we look forward to sharing with you in the future! 

Lots of love 

Leonie & Josh 

Reading Challenge 2017 – Week 9 

Challenge: A Book Which was Made into a Movie. 

I remember well, the shiny, silver, holographic copy of Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism which sat on my shelves a teenager alongside its equally shiny, gold, holographic sequel. 

It’s not the most obvious choice for a book which was made into a movie, mainly because the movie seems to have been a flop. I’ve never heard anyone rave about it, don’t recall it being on at the cinema and only recently heard of it myself. But it’s for its obscurity that I chose it to be this week’s reading Challenge. 

Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism by Georgia Byng follows the main character; yes, you’ve guessed it! Molly Moon; an orphan who lives in an orphanage called Hardwick House in Briersville, England. She’s generally an underdog character, with only one friend. When she has a fall out with said friend one day, she runs off to the town library where she steals a book about Hypnotism. 


Eventually, Molly begins to learn herself Hypnotism from the book and of course she takes full advantage by hypnotising everyone and everything, even the orphanage’s angry little pug dog Petula. 


It’s a really cool which I really enjoyed and now that I’ve thought about it again and refreshed my memory I think I’ll be looking up getting a copy and reading it again. I’ve also got to give the movie a try! But before you see the movie, think about reading the book! 

Reading Challenge 2017 – Week 8 

Week 8 of my Reading Challenge is a book I like by someone who isn’t a writer. This was tricky as anything fictional is obviously written by a writer and a lot of the non fiction books I’ve read are written by other types of writers such as journalists. In the end I settled on my favourite comedienne’s book; part autobiography, part life lessons, Miranda Hart’s Is it Just Me? 

A hilarious tale of Miranda’s awkward experiences from strangers fondling your feet (pedicure) to using chopsticks and sitting elegantly on a bar stool. 


Miranda gives us what she refers to as ‘an attempt at the manual’ on how to cope with becoming, and then surviving as an adult. 


This book is laugh out loud funny and I cannot recommend it enough, even if you don’t usually like this sort of thing I can guarantee you will find this funny and love it from beginning to end. 

Author Interview – Helen Callaghan 

This month I had the privilege of interviewing the lovely Helen Callaghan, author of bestselling psychological crime thriller Dear Amy. You can read my review of Dear Amy here:http://ow.ly/NeVl30aMdEI

Not only has Helen been kind enough to share her experiences as an author, she is also giving away a signed copy of Dear Amy to one lucky reader of this interview. All you need to do is retweet this post to be in with a chance to win. 

1) What was your background and how did you get into writing? 

I’ve always written, is the short answer. I started doing it in a sustained way from my early teens onwards – by the time I left secondary school, the plan was that I was going to be a writer, and I’ve pretty much kept to it. The first draft of “Dear Amy” was completed nearly thirty years ago. For most of my life I was a bookseller, specialising in fiction, which is a fantastic job for a booklover, albeit not very well paid. But while I loved it, as time passed I started to get a little restless. I thought I’d like to get a degree, and so I studied for my A-levels at night school and ended up graduating in Archaeology (which has proven very useful, as the third book is going to be about archaeologists). 

After I graduated, I got into technical writing – producing software documentation, which is every bit as interesting as it sounds. For years I would write that during the day and during my commute and evenings I would write the novels. It was all very hard work, but great in a way, because I joined writing groups and made great friends who shared my passion for fiction. 

2) What are your ambitions for your writing? 

I’d like to keep writing the psychological thrillers which I really enjoy. The process of creating them is very cathartic, because it’s about exploring what scares me – I find crime infinitely more frightening than the supernatural, for instance. At the moment I’m concentrating on the psychological thrillers because “Dear Amy” has been so well-received and my energy is there at the moment.

But that said, for years I wrote more speculative fiction. At some point I do have projects there I would love to revisit…
3) Which writers inspire you? 

Oh, there’s so many! I love the Brontes, Jane Austen, and every weird and obscure Gothic novel ever. When I was a teenager I was a huge fan of Angela Carter and my favourite guilty pleasure was Anne Rice. The writer that most inspired me was probably Iain Banks – I admired him hugely. He always took bold narrative risks in his books and at signings and events he was always the writer I most aspired to emulate. 

4) How much research went into writing Dear Amy? Where did the idea come from? 

It was really strange, as other things I’ve written have come together in bits and pieces, but the idea for Dear Amy appeared wholesale – I knew the heroine’s name, her dilemma, and its resolution. I wrote the first draft in a white heat, in just over two months. 

This, of course, was pre-internet and the research was practically non-existent. When I wrote the new draft, the need to do the research was part of what made it take so long. Some of that research was quite harrowing, such as the oversight that girls in care get compared to other girls, but some of it was very enjoyable. I got to do a lot of fun stuff, like visit houses that I would base the Grove upon. 


5) Are you working on anything new at the moment? 

I am! Well, two new things. Book Two went off to my editor a week ago, and I’ve started work on Book Three. Book Two is hopefully going to appear later this year – it’s the story of Sophia, who comes home from London to find that her mother appears to have committed suicide. As she tries to process this, she learns that her mother had been in a cult in her youth, and had recently been trying to publish a book on her experiences; a book that other ex-members of the cult would prefer not to exist. It doesn’t have a name yet, but the working title is “Morningstar”. 

Book Three is about an archaeologist, Fiona, who is invited up to join her friend Madison on her dig in the Orkney Islands (and also to emotionally support her as she’s split up after a tempestuous relationship with her long-distance boyfriend). But once she arrives, she discovers that not only has Madison vanished, but she appears to have been on online dating sites using Fiona’s picture and details… and beyond that, I don’t think I’ll say too much more!


6) What do you use to do your writing? Pen+paper, computer, typewriter etc. 

Mostly I work on my computer, but sometimes, if something is giving me trouble, I’ll take a notebook and a pen out with me and tackle it on the page. I like the freedom that paper and pen gives me to get things wrong, and the way that it shows my working – I can cross things out, move them round, and see the process in a way that you can’t do with the computer. It also gives me permission to get things wrong, which is so important. 

8) How often do you write? Do you set yourself a word target or just go with it when inspiration strikes? 

I do set myself a daily target – a thousand words. One of the most peculiar things that I learned about myself when I started writing full time is that the fact that I have so much more time does not, in any way, shape, or form, translate into more writing. 
However, when it is on fire, I can burn through it – and then you raise your head and it’s two, three in the morning, and it’s all passed by in the blink of an eye. That is the best feeling in the world – when you are so immersed in it you can’t feel the time pass.


9) What sort of publishing route did you choose and why? 

I didn’t really choose – or rather, circumstances had chosen for me. In 2009, I wrote a novel called Mephistophela – it was an SF thriller. 

2009 was what they called “interesting times” in the publishing world. Back then, indie publishing was still very much a developing field but had exploded outwards, as Amazon had opened the floodgates. Accordingly, a lot of the early stuff was of very variable quality – people were still feeling their way in terms of the importance of copy-editing, professional covers, etc. Nobody was quite sure what the marketing channels would be, what would work, how the good stuff would distinguish itself in the face of the sheer quantity of self-published books that were now appearing.

Traditional publishing was also panicking, I remember – people weren’t sure if print publishing (and print publishers) would go the way of the dinosaur. It was nearly impossible to sell anything to a traditional publisher at the time.


Mephistophela
didn’t sell ultimately, but it generated a lot of interest from agents, and Judith Murray at Greene and Heaton, who took me on, stuck with me while it and then my next novel also didn’t take. When you’re represented by an agent, you’re nearly always looking at a traditional publishing deal – and that’s what I was submitted for. The second novel was a big, complicated epic based in multiple parallel universes, and the feedback was that it was quite a difficult project for a debut. They weren’t sure about it, but they liked me, apparently. 

So in late 2013, Judith asked me what else I had on my plate. I’d mentioned that years ago I’d completed a psychological thriller and she suggested dusting that off, giving it a light edit, and then running it past publishers that had liked the previous work, but hadn’t bitten. It was a job that would take perhaps eight weeks, at most.
Of course, the minute I opened the old files, I realised it would take a lot longer than that – the more you write, the more you develop, and I was gazing into a snapshot of how I wrote thirty years ago! In the end it took thirteen months to prepare the new draft, but when I did, there was an auction and it sold in ten days. 

I couldn’t believe it. Still can’t, in many ways. I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. 


10) How do you market your books? What have been your marketing successes and failures? 

I’m lucky in that Michael Joseph handle the marketing and PR side of things, and they are astonishingly creative people. They have amazing ideas – for instance, when the proofs for Dear Amy came out, they mocked up copies of letters from the book and tied them to the proofs with twine. They got me media appearances and blog opportunities and took me around to meet booksellers, which is easily the nicest way to spend a day when you’re a writer, as it involves being in bookstores. 

For my own part, I have a website with a blog, and a Twitter and Facebook page. Easily the biggest marketing hit for me is Twitter, as I can interact with people who liked the book, retweet reviews and event news, etc. It’s quite time-consuming to do properly, and it means I can’t use Twitter as the same timewasting opportunity that I used to, but it does reward the time I spend on it. 

On the other hand, I’ve not updated the blog in a while, and nobody’s crying out for it. I think that running a blog is its own specialist and very demanding thing, and readers are more likely to frequent review blogs or aggregate blogs than author blogs (I’m exactly the same myself). I keep wanting to relaunch it, as I do enjoy writing the articles for it, but the last nine months have just been mental and it’s not really justifying how timeconsuming maintaining it would be. Perhaps when Morningstar comes out I’ll relaunch it. 


11) If you could be the original author of any book what would it have been and why? 

Ooh, that’s a tough one! I could guarantee I would give you different answers from one day to the next! Tonight though, I feel like it’s ‘The Secret History” by Donna Tartt. There is something very cold, clever and cruel in it – it is a perfect meditation on crime and punishment.


12) What are your views on good and bad reviews? How much do you think the success of books relies on reviews? 

I was thinking about this recently, funnily enough. I worked out that my own book purchasing justifications break down as roughly: 

40% drifting through the bookstore/browsing a publisher’s email newsletters and thinking “Oh, that sounds like a cool thing to read”

40% personal recommendations

20% reviews. 

As a writer, however, my relationship with my reviews is naturally a bit more complicated. I remember reading my first bad review and it was as though a complete stranger had come up to me and slapped me. But of course, nobody writes a book that everybody loves – anything with any texture is going to rub at least one person up the wrong way. 

Like everyone else, I’ve read books that I don’t reckon are much cop, and yet they become massive international bestsellers regardless. But in all of those instances (and there aren’t that many of them), the book hasn’t succeeded because it is a good book, but rather because it is offering some unfiltered, unadulterated experience that readers can’t get elsewhere. It’s worth being attentive to what that offering is, and why it is so popular. There’s always a tension between what we enjoy reading and what is good for us, or rather, what we publicly admit to, and studying the gap between those things is often instructive. 

You can buy Helen’s debut novel Dear Amy on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B019DD8CPE/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

You can also find Helen on the following social media pages: 

Website: http://www.helencallaghan.co.uk

Twitter: @hecallaghan

Facebook (author page not personal): [https://www.facebook.com/hecallaghanauthor/]

Blog: http://www.helencallaghan.co.uk 

Goodreads: [https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6277538.Helen\_Callaghan]

Amazon author page: [https://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B001KE8XFY]

Thank you so much Helen for taking part in my monthly author interview and sharing your experience as a bestselling author! 

Welcome to Booktube 

Recently I’ve taken the plunge and joined Youtube. It’s something I’d always thought about doing and originally I was going to film my reviews and book related pieces rather than write them. But confidence got in the way a lot and instead I struck out into the book reviewing world as a blogger instead of a vlogger. To be completely honest I’m really glad I did. I love my blog and (don’t panic) it’s definitely not going anywhere! It’s still going to be updated just as often, the only difference is that I now have a YouTube channel to support my blog for the things I’d like to talk about rather than write about. 


So I wanted to write a little bit about my bokktubing experience so far. It’s very early days so this in no way a ‘how to booktube’ post or even a post from someone who is highly experienced in Booktube. That said, as a newbie I think I can offer some (hopefully) helpful information about what starting a booktube channel involves, and what to expect from the early days. 


The first thing any new Booktuber needs to think about is what they’re going to use to film. Now, I spent literally weeks after first deciding I was going to start a channel, just looking at different cameras. It was scary. There are literally so many cameras out there, and most of the ones which other more experienced youtubers recommend are either really pricey, or discontinued so you can only get them secondhand, and they’re still not cheap. I was literally obsessed looking at different makes and models and petrified at spending so much money on a project which might not even take off. Basically, I think there’s things which are worth spending money on for Booktube in the beginning and things that aren’t but I’ll get to that later. 


Anyway, in the end I thought to myself, well I actually have a perfectly good piece of camera equipment in my pocket. My phone. So I did some research and looked into how it would work to create a YouTube video on my phone and what little adjustments I’d need to make, and I ended up with the following: 

These do come with variable prices for different phones. Both the Olloclip Lens and the Gorilla tripod were both more expensive for me because they’re were the + versions for my phone. But you get the jist for just under £140 I had all the equipment needed to film. The Olloclip comes with both; ‘Wide’ & ‘fisheye’ lens’ and an external mic is a must because the IPhone’s own built in Mic gets a horrible clicking sound in the background when you film directly on there. 


Once I had all the equipment I had to think about what I needed to film. Now this is essentially where I went wrong, and where I hope I can prevent future Booktubers from going wrong when they post their first video. I spent a minimum amount of time watching other booktubers, all of which were huge with thousands of subscribers and looked at what they did that worked. With that in mind I decided to do a bookshelf tour straight away. Viewers seemed to love them and I thought it would be loads of fun. Wrong. 


I didn’t do a practice video first. I got straight into it. I was sat at my dining room table with my tiny bookshelf behind me, my roots looked bad, my shelves were untidy and I had absolutely no idea about how time consuming it was going to be, both to film and edit the whole thing. What I ended up with was a poor quality video in bad lighting, touring my totally boring looking shelves and having no idea what to talk about. It’s cringe but I can’t bear to take it down because it literally took so long to make! 

So for my second video I decided to make some improvements. I went to the salon and got my hair cut and coloured to improve my appearance. I also finally got round to buying some good decent shelves which for anyone who is interested are the Billy bookshelves in white from Ikea and cost me around £192 plus delivery. I also bought some really neat accessories for my shelves including several Pop figurines to go with my books. I upgraded my books which were loooking a bit tatty to newer, sleeker looking versions and bought some new books to fill the new shelf space I had. Now this is not something I recommend as being cost effective or advise to do in order to make your channel more appealing. I only did this because I’d wanted to do it for ages anyway and I finally had the spare cash and the motivation to get off my butt and upgrade my shelves. This was then the end result: 


But my second video was almost as unsuccessful as the first. I decided to do reviews of some of the books I’d read that week which were ARCs from Netgalley. This video was moderately more successful mainly because one of the authors I was reviewing shared the link. But video quality was still not great and I still wasn’t confident behind the camera, basically because I still didn’t know what I was doing. 

What I had been doing wrong all along was not doing my research properly. I’d been so excited to jump in that I’d just tried to do what I thought would work while only viewing a couple of videos from really big booktubers and presuming I could do the same. Wrong again. 

So I took that time. I watched and subscribed to lots of booktubers. Not just the big ones but others as well. I watched helpful videos like Hailey in Bookland’s How to Booktube: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=DZjsh49YNa0

Then I set about making my #booktubenewbietag video. It’s a video tag originally created by Brenda C which gets you to answer 10 questions about yourself, your reading habits and what you can bring to Booktube. It was really fun to film and I think that’s a big part of why it’s being so successful so far (I’ll come to that part later). Previously, I hadn’t really enjoyed making my videos because they’d taken a lot of time, I was uncomfortable, I didn’t really know what to say or how to act and the whole thing came across as tired, boring and worst of all forced. My boyfriend said to me; ‘you need to get your personality out there’ but I didn’t know how. This video and watching other videos really helped with that. Answering questions allowed my genuine enthusiasm for books to emerge and suddenly everything clicked. I took advantage of the natural light on my white shelves, moved the camera closer to my face and voila it’s surprising what a difference that made! 


Within 24 hours my Booktube newbie tag video has 65 views, 27 comments and 6 likes. Not to mention my channel as a whole has 6 new subscribers. Maybe this doesn’t sound a lot but for someone just starting out on Booktube I’m really pleased with those stats which have tripled what I got on my first two videos. But most importantly I was finally having fun doing it and that’s what it all comes down to. 

On Wednesday I’ll be launching my March Book Haul video which I hope will go on to be just as succesful if not more. 

I hope this post has been helpful for those who are thinking of joining youtube as any sort of vlogger. You can watch any of the videos I’ve made by visiting my channel https://m.youtube.com/channel/UCs0_TWR_r0SPVlVdT7UV9hg 

Reading Challenge 2017 Week 7 

Picking my favourite female author was a toughy I must admit! Although it’s not something I do on purpose, the writers I read are mostly female. 

It wasn’t all that hard though I must admit. Katie Fforde dominates my bookshelves. I’m not kidding. Here’s a photo to prove it! 


Not to mention my kindle being full of all her short stories as well. Katie’s stories are happy stories. That’s the best way to describe them, they’re romantic sure, but they’re more than that too. Her characters are strong, independent women. Feminist women. No they’re not bra burners, nor is the word feminism ever really mentioned from what I can remember. But they are everything a feminist should be. Not to mention they have amazing jobs! 


Here’s some examples: 

  • In Love Letters Laura Horsley gets involved in organising a literary festival when the bookshop she works in closed down. 
  • Sarah in Wedding Season is a wedding planner.
  • Anna in Practically Perfect is an interior designer. 
  • Second Thyme Around’s main character is Perdita who has her own organic gardening business. 
  • Jenny Porter in A Highland Fling is a virtual assistant! Bet you’ve probably never heard of one of those! 
  • Paradise Field’s Nel is organising a farmer’s market while Life Skills’ Julia Fairfax unexpectedly becomes a cook on a boat. 

I could go on but I’m guessing you’re getting the idea that these are pretty cool books! When those that don’t have a job still get involved in really cool things, like restoring paintings or looking after old stately homes. 

Katie has a beautiful way of writing. She draws the reader in and makes them truly root for her characters, characters that you fall in love with and want to be friends with. 

She is and will remain my favourite author indefinitely!