My guest today is SFF BookTuber Brock from Let’s Read.
SCy-Fy: How do you prepare for a show, Brock?
LR: First I have to make sure certain people are unconscious, meaning I put the kids to sleep. The room where I shoot doesn’t receive much light at any time of day, so a few work lights are a must. Twenty minutes to set up stands, camera and check audio and everything is good to go.
Wait. Focus. I’m paranoid about lens focus, so I’ll check that, then check everything over three or four more times. This may not be the best moment to realize I do this. Tag videos are usually run and gun except where I need to retrieve a specific book from storage. Reviews are scripted because I don’t want to forget specific points. Lastly, I’ll have a little dance party to get my energy up.
SCy-Fy: Other than increasingly wild dance parties, what are your future initiatives?
LR: I’d like to place a heavier emphasis on book reviews. Originally the plan was to make only book reviews, but since they take longer to create, I started to focus on the more improvised tag style. They are incredibly fun to do, but those videos are more about me and less about the books. I’d love to place more focus on the stories we all get to enjoy.
Books are strange to review on video because it’s harder to have content to cut-away to. When people are critiquing movies, they can show clips from the film, which grants a lot of freedom for pacing and emphasis. With books you can’t cut to a shot of a character or showcase moments because it’s written on a page. There are ways of doing this through illustration and graphics, but the added production time isn’t always cost effective. I’m experimenting to find ways of achieving this and fitting it into the time I have available.
There’s a specific video series I have an idea for, but it will take a lot more planning before it’s ready. It’s the real reason I started BookTube.
SCy-Fy: Sounds intriguing! What do you think will be the major challenges for BookTube in future?
LR: The emergence of BookTube as another form of reputable review. I suppose that’s less of a challenge and more of a progression as time goes on. The personal vlog component is the lifeblood of this community and will always be there. Half in the Bag, Folding Ideas (Dan Olson), Loose Canon (Lindsey Ellis) Extra Credits: I’d like to see some videos move in the direction of those creators.
This may be my own perception, but I think one challenge is interaction with those who aren’t BookTubers. A lot of the dialogue takes place with other BookTubers, but very little conversation comes from those who aren’t making videos.
SCy-Fy: That is a point I have become aware of during this series of interviews…
LR: I’d like to see the community extend its reach to those who just enjoy watching without everyone feeling like they need to make videos in order to be heard. I think we’re all pretty happy to talk with everyone about books.
SCy-Fy: What advice would you give anyone presenting?
LR: Don’t worry about saying everything. Early on, I didn’t want to cut out sentences because I was afraid of losing meaning. Then I started to notice I said the same thing a different way elsewhere, so I’d cut it out. Those points were strengthened by removing the extra line. It shortens the video and concentrates the information into a more digestible chunk. Taking out repetitions made the point stronger and allowed me to get to the next point. You’ll notice I repeated myself a lot there. You see! The power of editing helps.
SCy-Fy: I will leave that unedited to make your point! Your most useful resources?
LR: I’m a pretty open book. I’m inspired by the video makers I mentioned before. The font I use came from the cover of Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook. I’ve not read the copy I own, but gosh do I love that font. I guess that’s my big secret.
SCy-Fy: Points to watch out for?
LR: There’s pressure to upload videos all the time, especially when others can make them so rapidly. It’s hard not to feel left behind in that kind of a scenario. I’ve had to remind myself that it’s okay because no matter what, I’m doing what I can. Make videos on your own terms, not to the unspoken mantra of “Make More Now.”
SCy-Fy: Things that have kept you going in hard times?
LR: Making videos keeps me going. Before BookTube. I was making films out of College but work demands shifted how much time, effort and organization I could put into personal projects. I had the choice to work myself to death or retain my sanity. BookTube helped me to express myself in a way that fit my schedule.
SCy-Fy: The most popular show you’ve presented? Your personal favourite?
LR: The review of Andy Weir’s The Martian has done very well. I think that owes more to the book being popular rather than anything in the video. People who are looking for reviews just happen to find it, I suppose. My personal favourite is The Doctor Who Book Tag. It was more work than usual, but I’ve always liked the flow of it. It has glimmers of the direction I’d like to go with my videos more consistently.
SCy-Fy: What have been the best books you have read recently?
LR: Among Others by Jo Walton and Barrayar by Lois McMaster Bujold. I was not prepared for how good they are. Fantastic stories about youth and parenthood. What’s magical is that you don’t need to be a genre fan to read them. They’re powerfully universal.
SCy-Fy: Which books are you most looking forward to reading?
LR: Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson. He thinks on a whole different level and his books reflect that. Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong. His horror is something else so, I’m curious to see what he does in a different vein. Ancillary Sword and Ancillary Mercy by Ann Leckie.
SCy-Fy: Thanks, Brock.
LR: Thanks for having me! Really appreciate the blog and everything you do. Hold up. Does anyone ever ask you questions? Who is someone you want to interview, but haven’t yet had the chance? Favourite book so far this year?
SCy-Fy: As for these “question” things: there are quite a few genre people who have not accepted my interview invitations – you know who you are! I am in a phase or re-reading classics at the moment, so my favourite book read this year is Hyperion by Dan Simmons. Wow – answering is so stressful! I never realized… .