Ask a BookTuber: ProblemsofaBookNerd

BookTubers are enthusiastic readers who share their enthusiasm with their audience, which often range in the tens of thousands or more. They recommend new titles, post reviews,  unpack boxes of books, show off their bookshelves, participate in interactive reading challenges, and more. In our Ask a BookTuber series, we hear directly from these influencers about their platform of choice, their audiences, and the kinds of books they are most interested in reading for their channel. Plus, they tell us which BookTubers they are watching!

Name: Cece Ewing

Channel: ProblemsofaBookNerd

Subscribers: 31K

Cece is “23, super gay, and a lover of all things bookish.” She reviews all genres of books, but heavily promotes any and all LGBTQIA+ fiction. Her channel features reviews, recommendations, bookish songs, unboxings, fandom discussions, and the occasional vlog. Here’s a video where she describes herself through books that she loves and identifies with.

You can watch a video of her most anticipated LGBTQIA+ books of 2018, as well as a video full of LGBTQIA+ reading recommendations.

What do you love the most about your audience?

I love their support. No matter what I create, there is always a support base there. They rally me on when I’m unable to make as much content, when I make content that is unusual for my channel, and honestly whenever I post. [They] mainly support me through comments on videos, but their support isn’t limited to that. I have a lot of viewers who reach out through Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr to send me messages. Especially if I have posted on Twitter that a video has gone up recently, or that I might be delayed in posting, I get responses and direct messages that let me know people appreciate what I do. Sometimes I get video suggestions, or messages from people letting me know I should put my mental health first. But the comments on videos are where the bulk of information from my [YouTube] subscribers comes from.

There is a real loyalty that I never expected from the viewers of my channel, which is why I’m always motivated to come up with new ideas and read as often as I can. They support me, which makes me eager to create content for them in return.

What should book publishers know about your audience?

The majority of my viewers are between 18-35, despite the fact that I read and review mostly YA. They are eager to learn more about unusual and less publicized books, and especially about diverse releases. They want to be as knowledgeable as possible about which books contain what kind of representation. I can’t count the number of times that I have comments from people about how if they had known a main character was a person of color/queer/dealt with mental illness, they would have read a book so much sooner. Knowing these details is important for my audience; [it] helps to sell them on a book.

What do you think is unique about video as a medium and about YouTube as a platform for book lovers?

I think there is a certain energy when you can actually see a person who is excited or let down or angry about a book. I love reading written reviews, but I really appreciate the spontaneity and extra visual layer of YouTube as a reviewing platform. I think it showcases books in a new way, and as a person who has always loved to read, I adore the different ways readers adapt to sharing their passion.

Describe your tone as a BookTuber: What is it about that tone that resonates with your audience?

I attempt to be positive and uplifting in every video. I think that upbeat aspect of my content resonates with people because they feed off the energy that I put in. I am excited and I don’t hide it, and people appreciate that realness from the YouTubers they watch.

[But also], my tone is determined based on the content I am producing.  I think when it comes to books I keep a pretty standard, upbeat tone unless I am doing reviews for standalone books. There are book reviews I have done that are about more serious topics (I did a video reviewing The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas when it was originally released, and there is also my stand alone review of We Are Okay by Nina LaCour) and I think I am a bit more serious in those videos in order to better represent the tone of the [books themselves]. When I’m doing videos where I talk about books I didn’t like, or [sharing] unpopular opinions about books, I still try to be upbeat but it becomes a bit more sarcastic and teasing than in other videos…I never want those videos to feel like downers. [Also,] There are times when I am talking more specifically about my life or specific mental state (as in a recent video I did about my hair and how it affects how I see my sexuality).

I also think that genuine positivity is something that I have needed more and more from the content I have consumed in recent years, so I always want to be that positive voice that others might need as well. Plus, it helps that I am frequently talking to queer viewers about queer stories. So often queerness is turned into tragedy in popular media, so I view my place as a happy lesbian as being important for others to see– it is important for queer viewers to find stories about happy queer people.

Why is video the right platform for you?

Video captures my feelings better than any other medium. I have a degree in English, so there is always this assumption that I must be an effective writer, but I can never quite get across my feelings in writing as well as I do in a more visual medium. When I was a kid, I was a visual comedian. I am a visual learner. I just think that conveying emotion, for me, is largely linked to my physicality, which is why YouTube works more for me than any other medium.

How do you pick books and authors to feature on your channel?

I use a variety of sources, for sure. My anticipated releases almost always come from Goodreads lists and Barnes & Noble’s upcoming releases posts. Other books come largely from recommendations by other BookTubers, but also through announcements on Publishers Weekly and Twitter. My favorite places on Twitter for book recommendations are @LGBTQReads, @bookvvitch, @SaundraMitchell, @romweasleys, @sapphicsolace, @yabookscentral, @prideathon, @bbliophile, and through following lots of big name and indie publishers online. I keep up with release announcements as they come through publishers and authors.

When I pick which books I really want to talk about, though, it is mostly reliant on what I loved most or am most excited to read, while also being influenced by what I think my audience will want to know about. If there is a book I’m not particularly excited about, but it features some form of representation that is harder to find, I will work in ways to discuss that book because I want my viewers to have the easiest access possible to books they may be interested in.

What strategies do you use on NetGalley to find books to request?

I rely very heavily on searching through specific categories. My most searched category is, of course, the LGBTQIA section (pictured left), since that is what my channel’s primary focus is. But often books are not cross-referenced [with other] categories, so there are queer books listed in other places that I don’t find in that LGBTQIA category.* That’s usually when I search through the Teens & YA and, sometimes, the Literary Fiction sections. I will say that, often, digging through the literary fiction books leads me to discovering books I want to read that I had never heard of before. Requesting those books is something I do more sparingly, since I know less about them, but it has led to me finding a variety of books I never would have read otherwise. Beyond that, I sometimes find and request books through NetGalley after an author or another blogger lets me know that a book is available on the site.

 

*NetGalley recommends making sure that your titles are listed in two categories to increase visibility

What trends in the book industry are you most excited by?

I think there is definitely a trend next year that I’m thrilled about, and that is more f/f romances than I have ever seen through a publishing year. 2019 queer releases are looking incredible, varied, and full of stories and representation that I know my audience has been searching for. I have also been excited about what seems to be a growing number of short story collections and novellas. The changing landscape for format is really thrilling to me, and I am eager to see how that changes the types of stories we are seeing published.

Which BookTubers do you watch?

There are so many, oh wow. I think Adriana from perpetualpages is and has been doing incredible things with their channel. They are thoughtful and critical in equal measure, and always discuss books I was previously unaware of. BooksandLala has been doing creative stuff with her channel for years, and I think this year has been an amazing leap for her in that creativity. I’m constantly impressed by the content she comes up with. There is Monica from shemightbemonica, who is such an advocate and a positive voice within our community. I love Joseph from The Boy Who Cried Books, Nicole from WoolfsWhistle, Kristin from Super Space Chick, Joce from squibblesreads, and Marines from mynameismarines. I think they all do creative and fascinating things to promote books, and there is so much work and care put into all of their content.

 

Follow Cece on YouTube, Goodreads, Twitter, and Instagram.

Learn more about Booktube here and subscribe to NetGalley Insights so that you never miss a post.

*Interviews have been edited for clarity and length.

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Ask a Librarian: Mandy Peterson

Putting your titles in the hands of librarians is an important part of any book’s success story. Librarians build collections for their library branch, pick titles for their own reading groups, and were the original comp-title recommendation engines before the age of algorithms. Librarians are book advocates in their community and beyond!

In our Ask A Librarian series, we ask librarians on NetGalley about what makes their community special, what they read, and how they stay up to date with the best new titles for their patrons.

Mandy Peterson, a Library Media Specialist at a high school library in Schuyler, Nebraska, fills us in about her work below:

Tell us about your library’s community, and the patrons who use your services

Schuyler is a small town of about 6,300 in an area of Nebraska known for farming, ranching, and packing plants. Within the last fifteen years, our community has changed from mostly Caucasian rural folks to a vibrant mix of Hispanic immigrants, African and Middle Eastern refugees, and its original inhabitants. This rather sudden change has led to a community struggling to figure out who they are together. Since I work in the high school with around 650 of the area’s youth, my patrons range in age from 14-21 and speak a variety of languages. Our students are coming of age and finding their identity in a new home, in a new country, and within a community that is finding its own identity. It’s a very exciting time to serve them!

What resources or programs make your library unique?

I’m not sure how unique it is, but we have a Spanish section with both nonfiction and fiction materials. We also mark High Interest Low Ability books with a small black dot and shelve them with the rest of the library’s collection so students who struggle with language, ability, or desire to read can identify books that may serve their needs without being singled out. After a student survey, I spent the end of the school year reorganizing our fiction section by genre. Over 96% of our students voted for the change!

Based on what they’re checking out, what kinds of books are your readers most interested in?

Quick reads, no matter the level, are popular in my school. High school students are spread thin with homework, activities, and jobs. They want quality material without a bunch of extra. These are books we need more of. Often, our students like longer books but simply don’t have the time to finish them. Realistic fiction (gritty or romance), science fiction and fantasy, and mystery are the most commonly read genres right now, but every book has its reader. I’m completely open to recommendations!

What percentage of your patrons check out digital books versus print?

Although our district provides an iPad for school use to every teacher and student at the high school, our eBook check out is not very high. Students have mentioned that they prefer physical books. Reading on paper helps them retain the information and shows their teachers that they aren’t messing around when they should be working. 98% of my circulation is physical books.

What resources do you use to find new books to recommend, or to add to your library’s collection?

NetGalley is one of the primary resources. I also follow Epic Reads and many publishers on my library’s Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Amazon’s Coming Soon section has saved me a few times from missing sequels or new releases from authors my patrons love.

What’s your strategy for finding new books on NetGalley?

I head straight for the Teens and YA section, sort by Publishing date, and start looking. If I see books my patrons will like (for example, from an established author), I screenshot the cover and release date and drop it into a folder on my desktop to remind myself to order the book later. If it’s an author I haven’t heard of or an author I love in particular, I will request books that interest me. About 90% of the time, we wind up purchasing those for our library. We love supporting independent authors that we have found through NetGalley, too!

What catches your eye when you are on the hunt for new books? Cover? Title? Description?

I am a cover junkie. My students are, too. (Someone please update covers for classics!) It’s very difficult for me to circulate a book without an appealing, genre-appropriate cover. Descriptions are important too. Most patrons look on the back of the book for descriptions, not the inside flap. I see a lot of books put down if the description isn’t on the back.

If you’re looking for ways to engage librarians like Mandy on NetGalley, remember to auto-approve all members of the ALA, and include your titles in the NetGalley newsletter: Librarian Edition. And, be sure your cover art is eye-catching! Check out our Cover Love winners for inspiration. You can nominate your own title for Cover Love here. The promotion is free if your title is selected. And, check out the rest of our Ask a Librarian series!

How have you successfully engaged librarians? Email insights@netgalley.com with your story. We look forward to featuring your successes on future Insights posts.

*Interviews have been edited for clarity and length.

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Finding and Keeping Mentors in Publishing

In most industries, who you know can sometimes be as important as what you know. Publishing is no different. The right mentor has walked the path you are now trying to walk, and can give you a vision of what publishing looks like as a long-term career. Mentors are important for any career path, publishing included. But sometimes it can be challenging to know where to look for mentors, and how to build a mentoring relationship.

Here are some of the strategies that have worked for members of the NetGalley team, and tips to find and keep mentors in the book world.

Cast a wide net

There is great opportunity in the publishing industry to find mentors through advanced degrees or other programs focused on book publishing, including internships. While these may give you access to potential mentors, they aren’t the only place to find professional connections. Even if you don’t have the institutional support of a publishing school or an internship, you can still make inroads in the industry and create meaningful mentoring relationships.

You might find professional mentors even when you aren’t looking for them. Israel Carberry, NetGalley’s Engineering Manager, found two of his professional mentors through their shared interests in civic engagement: One while volunteering at a food bank, another while volunteering at his local chamber of commerce. As their friendships organically grew through shared interests and values, he began to ask for some professional advice, slowly building a mentoring relationship.

Tell friends and acquaintances that you are looking to break into the industry and ask if they know anyone who would be willing to sit down and chat with you informally to share information about their experience. Friends of friends, parents of friends, neighbors, and other members of your community are great resources. And even if you don’t know anyone in your circle who is in publishing, see if you can build relationships with individuals who work in fields adjacent to publishing. For example, a journalist likely knows publicists who pitch them books for review.

Once you have been connected to a potential mentor, ask them to join you for a cup of coffee so that you can learn more about the industry or to get their advice on job hunting. Make sure to do some research before you meet so that you can ask informed and specific questions.

Follow up after an informational interview to thank the person for their time. This helps the conversation continue, and demonstrates that you absorbed the insights they were able to share with you. Find them on LinkedIn, as well, so that you are added to their professional network.

Be Proactive

No matter where you find professional contacts, it still takes initiative and follow-through to turn these contacts into mentors. NetGalley’s Sales Assistant Katie Versluis recalls how she met her mentor, Allie.

“She was doing a presentation in my class about book marketing…Being an eager student I hung on her every word. She’s only a few years older than I, but she had already accomplished so much and was working as one half of the marketing department of a feminist press in Toronto that I admired greatly. During the question period, I asked her if they took on interns, and she said, ‘It’s possible…’ but [that] they weren’t planning to in the near future. I, of course, took that as a ‘Heck yes we are, please apply,’ so I drafted an application email to her before she’d even left the building.”

Katie’s application was successful. While the internship did not transform into job afterward, her relationship with Allie did help her find a job. The two of them stayed in touch after the internship ended, and Allie tagged Katie in a Facebook post for the Sales Assistant role at NetGalley. “She said, ‘Apply!!’ and I said, ‘NetGalley was my baby! I’m all over this!’ And the rest was history.”

Katie gained access to publishing industry professionals through her degree, but she made the most out of that access by proactively reaching out to gain an internship, and then by staying in touch after the internship ended.

Keep in Touch

Most of us are only actively in touch with our networks of colleagues, friends, and mentors when we are in transition–looking for a new job, asking for references and letters of recommendation, thinking about a career change. We might reach out to our mentors to ask for advice or to see if they know of any interesting job opportunities.

However, it’s crucial to stay in touch with your mentors even when you are not actively asking for advice. Mentorship is about relationships and those relationships can grow and change with time. When NetGalley’s Communications Assistant, Nina Berman, was making the switch from radio to book publishing, a friend connected her with Sarah Younger, a literary agent who helped Nina edit and format her résumé and cover letters. This ultimately helped her land a job at NetGalley. Several months after Nina started at NetGalley, the two met to catch up and Sarah mentioned that many of her authors use NetGalley, but perhaps not to its fullest potential. Nina was happy to return a favor and sent along some resources and best-practice materials about NetGalley for Sarah and her authors. These relationships can often be mutually beneficial in surprising ways. Stay tuned for a guest post from Sarah in the fall.

Some ways to stay in touch: If you had an informational interview with someone during the course of a job hunt, follow up with them once you have found that job. Let them know that their advice was useful and that you are grateful for their support. If you see their name pop up on Publishers Lunch, drop a line! If their imprint is putting out a book that you think looks terrific, send a quick congratulatory note. It keeps the conversation going and can help transform a one-time meeting into a relationship.

Publishing can be a daunting industry to break into, full of ambitious and talented people, but it is a friendly one. People want to help others succeed!

How have you found mentors in publishing? Let us know in the comments! We’d love to feature your advice and experiences in a future Insights post.

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Ask a Podcaster: Bad on Paper

Podcasts are an important part of the cultural criticism and influencer ecosystem for books, and beyond. And because audio is such an intimate medium, with hosts speaking directly into the ears of their audience, podcasts develop particularly dedicated fanbases and engaged communities. In Ask a Podcaster, we hear directly from different book-related podcast hosts to help you learn more about their community, what they are interested in featuring on their podcasts, and how they find their next book picks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name: Becca Freeman

Show: Bad on Paper

Bad on Paper is a weekly podcast hosted by 30-something YA enthusiasts Grace Atwood, also known for her popular lifestyle blog The Stripe, and Becca Freeman. Every other week, Grace & Becca host a book club with a new book they promise you won’t be able to put down. In between, they share their best tips for “adulting;” helping you do everything from finding the right career to the perfect face serum.

What do you love best about your audience? The best part about our audience is how interactive they are with both us and other listeners. On weeks we don’t talk about books, each episode is centered around a topic and listeners write in specific questions to be answered. We love how our listeners actually shape the content of our episodes to make sure the topic matter is relevant to them. In addition, we have an amazing Facebook community where our readers can share reactions to our book club picks, ask questions, and give and receive book recs. It really feels like we’ve built something that is a two-way dialog and not just a one-way conversation where we talk at our audience.

What should book publishers know about your audience? Our audience is made up of incredibly voracious readers. While our podcast started covering just YA books, we’ve recently expanded to include adult fiction titles, too, based on demand from our audience. We’ve also been really flattered by how many 20- or 30-something YA readers who have come to us saying that they were previously embarrassed by reading YA, but are excited to have found a like-minded community to discuss with.

What do you think is unique about podcasting as a medium for book lovers/cultural commentary? I think what’s really interesting is that we’re able to take the book club model and bring it to a much larger audience. Personally, I’ve been a member of many book clubs but oftentimes they’ve fizzled out because of hectic schedules. We’re a book club that you can dip in and out of or consume based on your schedule. It’s convenient to have your book club on your phone to partake in when it makes sense for you.

How do you pick books and authors to feature on your podcast? Grace and I are both very avid readers, so we’re constantly reading and flagging books that could make good podcast picks as we go. In addition, as our audience has started to understand our reading tastes, they’re often giving us recommendations of books we’d love or they think should be on the podcast.

Recently, we crowdsourced our first listener-pick book on Instagram via an Instagram story poll. Our audience picked To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han. We thought it was fun to turn the picking power over to our listeners and talk about a book they were already passionate about!

Lastly, I’m a huge user of Goodreads, and am always cruising the New Releases and Most Read sections for inspiration and to keep of the pulse on what’s new and popular.

If you use NetGalley, what strategies do you use to find books to request? Oftentimes, I’ll search for books I hear about on Instagram, from bloggers, or find on Goodreads. Of course, sometimes the odd cover art will attract me, and I’ll request that too!

What trends in the book industry are you most excited by? I’m really excited that we’re starting to see more smart female protagonists in YA. A lot of books center around a girl who doesn’t know she’s smart or pretty or has any worth until a boy tells her. It’s really exciting to see more YA titles with more feminist-friendly heroines.

What podcasts are you listening to? I’m obsessed with Who? Weekly for my weekly celebrity gossip fix, Forever35 for self care talk and a surprising amount of author interviews, and Second Life for interviews with amazingly accomplished women about their career trajectories. I also check in with Call Your Girlfriend, That’s So Retrograde, and Fat Mascara when an episode topic intrigues me!

You can follow Bad on Paper on Facebook, Instagram, or on their website. You can subscribe to their podcast on iTunes or contact them via email at badonpaperpodcast@gmail.com.

For more information on finding podcasters to pitch, check out this recent article.

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Ask a Librarian: Amanda Buschmann

Putting your titles in the hands of librarians is an important part of any book’s success story. Librarians build collections for their library branch, pick titles for their own reading groups, and were the original comp-title recommendation engines before the age of algorithms. Librarians are book advocates in their community and beyond!

In our Ask A Librarian series, we ask librarians on NetGalley about what makes their community special, what they read, and how they stay up to date with the best new titles for their patrons.

Amanda Buschmann, an elementary school librarian in Houston, shares some insights about her community below:

Tell us about your library’s community, and the patrons who use your services: I work in a Title I district in a Title I elementary school, where I see approximately 850+ students on a rotating basis. The school services grades one through five, and the school is a bilingual school with a majority of Hispanic students.

What resources or programs make your library unique? We were one of the first libraries to routinely use a 3D printer and a Makerspace, and we are also the only school with a Gadget Girls club – a club designed solely for girls interested in STEM to explore science and tech in a stress-free environment. Our collection reflects these practices; we have a STEM resource section is that very popular, with a mixture of non-fiction and fiction books geared towards STEM.

Based on what they’re checking out, what kinds of books are your readers most interested in? Graphic novels are the most popular, including graphic novel versions of non-fiction subjects like electricity and biographies. Graphic novels are an effective way to grab a student’s attention and then supplement with additional texts.

What percentage of your patrons check out digital books versus print? Nearly all of my students use print resources, as very few have tablets of their own.

What resources do you use to find new books to recommend, or to add to your library’s collection? The largest and most effective resource I use is other librarians. I am part of a few different Facebook groups geared towards Future Ready and elementary librarians, and they are beyond helpful. So many fabulous ideas! I also love to use School Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews.

What’s your strategy for finding new books on NetGalley? Firstly, I peruse the Most Requested titles to see if there is anything pressing that I am missing out on. Then, I scroll through the offerings and look for titles and covers that catch my eye.

What catches your eye when you are on the hunt for new books? Cover? Title? Description? I will admit I am a sucker for a beautiful cover, and lately books have been coming out with gorgeous covers. A strong, not overly lengthy title is also paramount to catching my attention. Then I delve into the description.

If you’re looking for ways to engage librarians like Amanda on NetGalley, remember to auto-approve all members of the ALA, and include your titles in the NetGalley newsletter: Librarian Edition. And, be sure your cover art is eye-catching! Check out our Cover Love winners for inspiration. You can nominate your own title for Cover Love here. The promotion is free if your title is selected. And, check out the rest of our Ask a Librarian series!

How have you successfully engaged librarians? Email insights@netgalley.com with your story. We look forward to featuring your successes on future Insights posts.

Interviews have been edited for clarity and length.

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Lessons from Book Club Gatekeepers

In February, the Publishers Advertising and Marketing Association (PAMA) held an event entitled “Lunch with the BookClub Gatekeepers.” We were excited to attend and hear about how some of the most influential decision-makers in the world of book clubs make their selections and keep their communities thriving.

Maddie Caldwell, founder and host of WORD Bookstore’s Romance Book Group, Leigh Newman, books editor at O: The Oprah Magazine, Glory Edim, founder of Well Read Black Girl, and Karah Preiss, co-founder of Belletrist gave us an inside look at the resources they use to find new titles, and how they connect with their communities of engaged readers. Here is some of what we learned!

Word of mouth recommendations are still key

The panelists all agreed that personal recommendations were one of the core ways that they determined which new titles would be most appropriate for their book clubs. Ms. Newman mentioned how much she appreciates publicists who recommend books that aren’t necessarily among their own authors,  but which they think would be good candidates for the Oprah Book Club (OBC). Even though these publicists aren’t pushing their own titles, they are demonstrating that they care about the overall success of the OBC and know what kinds of books Ms. Newman is looking for. Ms. Caldwell finds a lot of recommendations from romance authors and readers on Twitter, where fans of the genre are active and recommend generously. These gatekeepers are still fundamentally looking for the kinds of books with grassroots buzz; the books that people can’t stop talking about.

Instagram is the platform of choice for book-loving millennial influencers

As founders of digitally-based book clubs with predominantly millennial audiences, both Ms. Edim and Ms. Preiss highlighted Instagram as a crucial resource for helping them keep abreast of new titles and new trends. It is one of the principle places that they find book recommendations. They follow bookstores, authors, and trendsetters both inside and outside of the book industry. In addition to using Instagram to discover new titles or authors to feature in their book clubs, they use Instagram as a community hub for their own book clubs. Well Read Black Girl and Belletrist, with 78K and 174K followers respectively, are very active on Instagram. Belletrist uses Instagram to keep its members engaged with the club and with each other, often by posting questions that followers will answer in the comments. A recent post asking  “What are you reading?” received 350 comments and over 6.5K likes. You can check out some of our favorite book industry Instagram accounts to follow here!

Enthusiastic authors make for successful book club picks

One of the most important factors for a successful partnership between a book club and a book is the willingness of an author to participate. Authors who provide interviews, or write content that is directly or indirectly related to their book are creating supplementary content that helps keep book club members engaged with their community as they read. For example, when Wild was an OBC pick, Ms. Newman interviewed Cheryl Strayed about the “7 Things That Didn’t Make It Into Wild and the “6 Reasons Wild Almost Didn’t Get Written.” Lesley Nneka Arimah, author of What It Means When a Man Falls From the Sky, a book club pick for Well Read Black Girl, was interviewed by Ms. Edim at a WRBG live event in Brooklyn, and an excerpt was put up on the WRBG YouTube channel. The panelists wanted authors for their book clubs who were active partners; who would work with the clubs to help promote their title and give readers a meaningful and enjoyable experience.

Book clubs want more substantial reading guides and supplementary material

Panelists generally liked the idea of reading guides and supplemental material to enrich the reading experience for their audiences. But, they noted that sometimes this supplementary material can feel condescending. They, and their book club members, want substantive questions for book club guides. Ms. Caldwell hoped to see romance novels with additional material about consent, feminism, and body image in the reading guides. The members of her book club want to tackle complicated and nuanced questions and would be happy to have more intellectually engaged reading guides. The panelists were also interested in other types of material, like photos from an author’s research, as a digital resource rather than as a print addendum. They are looking for additional content in a variety of formats that truly enriches the reading experience.

Package galleys with the recipient in mind

All panelists expressed a desire to have the relevant information they need about a title in one clear place on a galley. These gatekeepers need to quickly see the pub date, the publisher, and the contact information for the publicist. Printed inserts in galleys tend to get lost, so panelists requested that the publishers in the audience consider putting that crucial information in the frontmatter of their galleys or on the front cover. Including the pub date on the spine is extremely important, too! Ms. Newman receives so many galleys for consideration for the Oprah Book Club that she sorts them into piles by pub date and emphatically requested that all publishers place that date on the spine for easy visibility.

If you’re sending digital galleys to media and book club gatekeepers, be sure to include this important information in your subject line and/or at the beginning of your email!

 

If you are interested in attending future PAMA events, you can take a look at their upcoming events or sign up for their newsletter. We hope to see you there, or at other events around the publishing industry!

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Ask a Book Club: Nina Berman

Book clubs are full of passionate readers who go out and buy books throughout the year. They are always on the hunt for new titles to read, and are recommendation engines for the family and friends outside of the club. In Ask A Book Club, we help you better understand how book clubs find the books they read, and where they talk about books beyond their club. We look at individual book clubs to learn more about what they look for in a book and how groups of passionate readers come together to choose their titles.

We’re kicking off this series featuring NetGalley’s Communications Assistant, Nina Berman’s book club.

Photo Credit: Instagram @nnbrmn

Nina Berman’s Book Club: Brooklyn, NY

About the book club

We are group of 10 or so women in our mid-20s-30s living in Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn. Most of us work in creative industries, nonprofits, or are in graduate school. We meet every month at rotating members’ apartments. Most of us prefer to read physical books rather than e-books, although a few of us do read on Kindle. We celebrated our 1-year book club anniversary with mimosas and homemade cinnamon rolls in May.

While none of us are book reviewers, or book bloggers, we are book recommenders, book lenders, and book buyers. One of our members, Razi, shares the titles she reads on Kindle with her mother, and lends physical copies to her neighbor.

Reading scope

Like many book clubs, we tend to gravitate towards literary fiction and literary memoir. We did take a winter detour into True Crime, but have since returned to our wheelhouse. We are looking for books that help us experience the world through other perspectives, and books that help us reframe our own experiences.

To date, my book club has only read books written by women. This is not to say that we haven’t considered books written by men (Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin and The Railroad by Colson Whitehead have both been previous nominations). But, we deliberately seek out titles written by underrepresented voices (especially queer voices, women’s voices, and POC voices) and our book club picks tend to reflect that, even though that is not the explicit focus of our club.

Finding new titles

We tend to find new titles from critics and influencers whose opinions and tastes we trust. We recommend books that our friends outside of the book club recommend to us.

For example, I suggested Too Much and Not the Mood by Durga Chew-Bose because I had recently listened to an interview with her on the podcast, Another Round and remembered seeing a blurb about the collection in The New Yorker.

Other sources of inspiration include:

Nominating titles

Every month, we vote on three nominations. Two of those nominations come from rotating members of our club, and one of the nominations comes from the book club’s founder, Emily. We nominate books that we’ve been hearing a lot about, or that we have been meaning to read for a long time. Our lists tend to sway between well known authors who have been on our lists for a long time and authors whose names have been cropping up in the media we consume. When our imaginations fail us, we also have a shared Google Doc with titles we collected in the beginning of our book club. When the Google Doc becomes too lean, we add new titles that we have kept in the backs of our minds.

Most of our choices have been published within the past few years (South and West by Joan Didion and A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin) rather than the newest titles from the biggest publishing houses. These are the books that we just keep hearing about!

We also let our current book choices influence our future ones, wandering down paths of interest as they crop up organically. Essentially, we make our own comp lists. Last fall, after we read Too Much and Not the Mood, we recognized echoes of Maggie Nelson’s introspective essay style, so we read The Argonauts next. When we discussed which Maggie Nelson title to read, some of us suggested Jane: A Murder or The Red Parts, both of which deal with her aunt’s murder by a serial killer. Still wanting to pick up some true crime, the next title on the list after The Argonauts was the classic true crime tome, The Stranger Beside Me.

Recent reads

  • The Goldfinch (2013) by Donna Tartt, Little, Brown and Company
  • The Stranger Beside Me (1980) by Ann Rule, W. W. Norton & Company
  • The Argonauts (2015) by Maggie Nelson, Graywolf Press
  • Too Much and Not the Mood (2017) by Durga Chew-Bose, FSG Originals
  • Black Swans (1993) by Eve Babitz, Counterpoint

 

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