Sign that says time for change with led lights in background.

Demanding Diversity with BookTube

BookTubers are a well-known part of the book-loving community. BookTube is the place on YouTube people go to hear others rave about books they love or discuss all things wrong with the books they don’t. Throw in some fun bookish tags and it is the perfect space for readers to get more content when they aren’t curled up with a book. That being said, BookTube has gone through some important changes over the years and one vital change is that the personalities and faces of these channels are becoming more and more diverse.
Diversity is something the publishing industry has long struggled with, but BookTube isn’t letting that stop them. Anyone who has a passion or an interest can upload a video onto YouTube, and that is no different for the book community. These videos afford BookTubers an audience and platform to speak their minds and call for change, much like the creator Christina Mitchell does consistently. Mitchell’s channel takes the issue of lack of diversity head on and calls out the community in dedicated videos. One video, which criticized the attendance of BookCon, resulted in the Con giving her a panel to speak on issues that concern her, such as diversity.
Mitchell’s example of speaking out isn’t the only headway the community is making on diversity. YouTube recently released a trailer for a BookTube video featuring David Sedaris. While Sedaris is highlighted, this video also features a panel of numerous BookTubers including Cindy Pham, Joel Kim Booster, Jake Roper, and Francine Simone, a small selection of people that still showed a more diverse set of content creators from the platform. This support from YouTube itself shows that people are taking notice and their platforms are just as successful as the white creators from BookTube’s inception. This is also a show of growth as YouTube’s previous feature with Michelle Obama consisted of a largely white panel of BookTubers. A HuffPost article was even written with Black BookTubers criticising the choices of creators included in this video and the missed opportunity YouTube had to highlight a marginalized group of the book community. These outspoken creators are a huge part of the visibility of these issues and a huge step into holding the publishing industry as a whole accountable.
BookTubers aren’t just making callout videos—they are also uplifting authors and books that are already representative of the diversity they seek. They are still coming up with popular BookTube content while also featuring people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and so much more. For example, Cindy Pham from readwithcindy even posts an annual Asian readathon in the month of May to highlight Asian Heritage Month. This event is specifically targeted for Asian authors, characters, or both. These creators are using their platforms to both create a positive and fun space for book lovers while also giving a spotlight to issues they care about. These content creators are unapologetically calling for change out of love for reading, something their audiences can no doubt identify with. BookTubers are making it quite clear that they won’t stand for the industry’s lack of diversity, and with their impact we can look forward to how that will change the face of the industry in the years to come.

Best Practices: A Social Media Guide for Authors

For authors, social media is a wonderful place to share with friends, family, the writing community, and the world at large how fun and stressful the publishing journey can be. But if you’ve never used social media to promote yourself or your book, it can be hard to know how to get started. This blog post won’t teach you how to use different social media platforms (as there are plenty of tutorials online), but Ooligan Press is currently working on ways to help our authors start their social media journey—or at least help them start looking forward to it. While social media isn’t a prerequisite for authors, it’s helpful for those marketing your book to know that you have a following.

The Importance of Platform
There are so many social media platforms that you could explore. You don’t have to be great at all of them. Just like writing, social media is an extension of storytelling, and where you tell that story has a lot to do with how people will interact with it. If you are an author who loves to talk about books, consider creating BookTube videos or podcasts. If you are more visual, try Pinterest or Instagram. If you like to make people laugh, TikTok is quite popular these days. If you just like to write, blogging and platforms like Facebook and Twitter are solid. Spend some time experimenting with each platform.

Engagement and Relationship over Promotion
While social media is used as an extension of marketing, no one likes to be marketed to. See social media as an extension of your story, whether that story is your personal brand or your book. The truth about social media is that it is not too different from actual relationships. The sheer amount of followers isn’t everything: it’s your level of dedication and interaction that produces hits. Get creative with it and don’t be afraid to be yourself. Be authentic. Readers love hearing anything about their favorite—for example, how many cups of coffee or tea it took for you to finish rewriting a particular section. More often than not, I will check out an author’s book if I’ve gotten to interact with them on social media over something unrelated to the book that is simply relatable. Author recognition and book-title awareness are just as effective as targeted marketing, if not more so.

Mindful Sharing
The editing process in itself can be an emotionally and mentally challenging experience. Editors may seem like an enemy whose sole goal is to destroy the work—or “book baby,” as we like to say here at Ooligan—that you’ve put so much time, heart, and energy into. But the truth is that editors are just trying to make sure that your book is the best it can be so that it will sell, which is mutually beneficial.

Be open about your successes and struggles, but know that any rude or derogatory comments toward your editor and publisher may unintentionally backfire on you. Readers may not buy your book if they feel you are not satisfied with how the book turned out. It also sends a negative message to future agents, editors, or publishers you may work with. You should always stop and think before venting your frustrations online.

While we have plenty of helpful and insightful posts on the Ooligan blog, here are a few to help you start thinking about your social media journey:

Manager Monday: Picking Your Portfolio Platform (Digital)

In the internet-heavy, networking-obsessed world of today, having a website is nearly non-optional. And by website, I don’t mean a Facebook profile page, an active Twitter feed, or a Tumblr with the best cat memes in the world. I mean a website. You know, those pesky places you go for information on the internet that usually work, but frustrate you when they don’t. Your website, filled with information about you, your services, previous work, and anything else that makes you look like a marginally successful human being.

But where to start creating this electronic version of you? Unless you’re a web guru (and if you are, you’re reading the wrong blog post), you’re probably going to want to go with one of the many available website creation sites. Here’s a list of the most commonly used, their pricing, and their main strengths (in no particular order):

  • Squarespace
    Squarespace costs eight dollars per month if billed annually, or twelve dollars per month if billed monthly. It has a terrifyingly long list of features, including robust free templates (and even more impressive paid ones), access to some Adobe Typekit fonts without having an Adobe subscription, a fully-optimized ecommerce section, automatic mobile conversion, and SEO support.
  • Wix
    Wix offers a basic plan for four dollars per month, but it displays Wix brand ads. However, upgrading to $9.75 per month removes the ads and gets you a free domain for the first year, which is a pretty sweet deal. Unique features include templates for everything from restaurants to portfolios to commerce, a remarkably robust WYSIWYG editor for layout and design, an app market, and built-in email marketing.
  • Weebly
    Like Wix, Weebly also offers a free version, and while it doesn’t feature ads, you won’t get a domain name of your own. A domain name kicks in at eight dollars per month, as do features such as the super easy-to-use drag and drop website builder, real-time website statistics, basic blogging and ecommerce options, and even SSL certificates (so your visitors can be sure your site is secure) and password protected pages.
  • WordPress
    If you want to create a blog-based website, the first place you should look is WordPress. For a grand total of zero dollars(!) WordPress offers a basic website, which may feature ads. Upgrading to the ninety-nine-dollar-a-year option gets you thirteen gigabytes of server space, a custom domain name, search engine optimization, a robust plugin/modding community, and a built-in comment system. Most importantly, WordPress is licensed under the GPL, so you’re free to modify and distribute your site in any way you see fit. Plus, WordPress estimates that more than 24 percent of websites are powered by its coding, which is pretty neat.
  • Portfoliobox
    Unlike the previous options, which are designed for creating a broad range of sites, Portfoliobox focuses on—you guessed it—portfolios. It’s seven dollars per month if billed annually, or nine dollars per month if billed monthly, and focuses on features designed to enhance portfolios. Advanced galleries, custom HTML and CSS, image control/options, and ecommerce/social media integration round out this platform.
  • Coroflot
    Perhaps the most unique on this list, Coroflot combines a design-oriented portfolio website with a job board. It’s great for artists and designers who want to put themselves out there and get something quickly in return. It’s free, but because of that, it doesn’t necessarily have all the cool features that the other website builders offer. However, it does offer free unlimited storage (rare!), a personalized short link (not to be confused with a domain name), and statistic tracking. And a great job board.

This is by no means a complete list. There are dozens of other website design platforms out there. Maybe even hundreds. If you want to go totally rogue, you can try out Jekyll, which is totally free, but requires advanced coding knowledge. There’s also Webydo if you want to create a suite of sites. There’s a website designer that will satisfy your every need; you just need to go out and find it.

Manager Monday: So You Need a Portfolio (Design)

Whether you’re about to graduate, you want to get a leg up on the job hunt, or you want to dabble in freelance on the side, developing a solid online portfolio is a must. Portfolio trends are as dynamic as the technology they rely upon, and there are hundreds of how-to videos and tutorials out there. The type of portfolio you create will vary depending on your intent, audience, and most importantly, personal preference.

Choosing a publishing platform and selecting work samples is the easy part; before making any of these choices, you should work to develop a platform—a philosophy, a brand—that will guide all your decisions. Ideally, this front-end brainstorming will simplify later decisions, streamline the production process, and ensure the portfolio communicates a unified vision. This development process is no small undertaking, with entire workshops, classes, and books devoted to the subject. At its most robust, your portfolio could extend your visual identity’s reach across various media platforms to include your personal story, resume, blog, and social media accounts. For those of us just starting out in our careers, building substance out of limited resources is the big challenge; hopefully these pointers will help to illuminate that process.

Articulate values. While it’s easy to take them for granted, it is essential to make note of your values. These values should be the driving principles for your interactions (virtual and otherwise) with prospective employers and clients. For example, if you want to portray yourself as creative, self-driven, detail-oriented, and flexible (as I do), these attributes should color everything throughout your portfolio—its layout, content organization, copy, tone, and visual aesthetic.

Tell your story. You are just as much selling yourself as an individual as you are your skills and the services you are capable of delivering. Your interests and experiences should be an extension of your personal philosophy and reflect your worldview; when combined with your qualifications, your story will help to fortify what makes you unique. Each of these touchpoints—your blog, portfolio, and social media accounts—should serve as windows into your personality.

Embed skills in narrative. Your experience will be grounded in your work samples. Framing your examples with a little context (each should tell a story) allows you to show how you approach the work you do, providing further opportunity to give your prospective employers and clients a glimpse into your process. Don’t be afraid to strut your stuff here, you problem-solving savant, you.

Be aspirational. Always be thinking of your audience and your objectives. What are you trying to achieve with your portfolio? For work samples, include the kind of work you’d like to be doing in your professional life. Also use this time to audit your skill set and fill in any gaps. Project the person you want to be.

Tie it all together. Ideally, everything in the portfolio should serve the same purpose. Is all the content relevant? Is the tone consistent? Is the sum of the work representative of the image you want to portray?

Inspiration

  • stephaniepodmore.com – This portfolio from a fellow Ooligan has a crisp design, is written with direct language and consistent tone, and is easy to navigate. It is helpful to compare your own organizational methods with someone who has a similar background and objectives.
  • mikehouston.me – Straightforward, no-frills portfolio from an experienced copywriter. The project descriptions are concise and capture both the essence of the client’s needs and his own skills and contributions.
  • fionaraven.com – While a bit cumbersome, this website is also comprehensive, inviting in tone, and relatively user-friendly. The author has a very well-developed platform, and the depth of resources makes evident that her expertise is without question.
  • bookdesigners.com – What this website lacks in personal philosophy, it makes up for with ease of interactivity and clarity of purpose.