All about BookTube: Sanne Vliegenthart interview


Sanne Vliegenthart has been making videos on her YouTube channel, booksandquills, for the last 8 years, documenting everything from studying English in the Netherlands, to moving to London to find a job in publishing. She loves to travel, visit museums, go to as many bookshops as possible and discover and review the latest books, graphic novels and book to movie adaptations. Here Norah Myers interviews her.

1) What inspired you to start a BookTube channel?

I had been watching YouTube for about 2 years before I made my first video. Channels like the Vlogbrothers (John and Hank Green) and fiveawesomegirls made me realise that there were people with similar interests online that we’re talking about the stuff they love. When I saw that there were ‘auditions’ for a Twilight related collaboration channel, I decided to film my very first video.

2) How do you generate ideas for new material?

I have a Google doc (which I’m a massive fan of) that I can access on my laptop and phone, in which I write down any ideas that might pop into my head. Sometimes they disappear to the bottom of the document, other times they turn into a full video or even a series. Very often I will be looking for something online, realise it isn’t there and end up creating it myself. Examples of this were a guide to how not to crack the spines of big books and also a guide to upcoming book to movie adaptations, in case you’d like to read the book first!

3) What’s the BookTube community like and how do you fit in?

The BookTube community is in general a very welcoming place, though, like every other community, there happens to be some conflicts from time to time, which I try to stay away from. There is a huge variety of BookTubers but I always think there is space for more and for people who want to approach things differently. Working in publishing has given me the chance to be able to make some videos from the ‘other side’, talking about how books are created and giving advice on how to get into publishing, which I’ve found really fun.

4) What have you learned about yourself as your channel has evolved?

I’ve learned that I really enjoy getting feedback from people and I love starting a conversation. I also get the most satisfaction from helping people get the information that they need, whether it’s travel tips, or the best bookshops in London. I’ve also become way better at public speaking and I discovered that I really enjoy speaking on and moderating panels, so I try to do as much of that as I can.

5) Where do you see your channel and BookTubing going in the future?

I’ve been doing this for almost 8 years now, so I don’t see it going away any time soon because I enjoy it way too much. I know that the BookTube community in the Netherlands, where I’m from, has really started growing in the last year, and in general BookTube is getting more recognition and more companies are interested in working with BookTubers. I’m excited to see what the future will bring!

6) Did your BookTube channel help you land your current publishing job?

I actually first got in touch with the company where I got my first publishing job to review one of their books and, after I made a video and shared it with them, I stayed on their radar. I studied literature and translation, and everything I know about social media and video production I learned from building my channel. I’m currently working as Social Media Producer at Penguin Random House UK and it’s been great to work across the company and talk to different people about the YouTube-related projects they’re working on. As a side note, both for my previous and current job, I sent in a video application instead of a cover letter, and I do think that helped quite a lot.

7) What advice do you have for people who want to start their own BookTube channels?

As Shia Labeouf would say, JUST DO IT! It doesn’t matter if you don’t have the right equipment or don’t feel like you’re an experienced reviewer. Just take whatever you have and talk about the thing you love. I started with a picture camera the size of a brick that could only hold 30 seconds of footage at a time and I edited everything in Windows Movie Maker, so everyone has to start somewhere. I promise you will learn everything you need along the way.

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