The online book community can be so stressful at times. Every time you look up it feels like there is some sort of drama. Amidst the pettiness and downright stupidity that tends to surface here and there, there are also important discussions at times that definitely provide necessary tools and room for growth.
Recently an article was posted which interviewed four black women Booktubers and I couldn’t have been more happy that, finally! Finally someone was giving a voice to a select few who can share the experiences felt by so many in a community that is constantly preaching diversity and acceptance and everyone is welcome here. You can click here to check the article out for yourself. I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t already.
In the beginning, there were a lot of things I simply didn’t pay attention to. I can also be naive when it comes to certain things as well. When I first discovered the online book community it was through a woman of color. The R&B singer, Amerie. I created a twitter account and due to her being one of my favorite artists, she was one of the first people I followed and I noticed she posted a link to her Youtube channel. Confession: this was also my gateway into Youtube in general. Up to this point, in mid 2014, I had never watched Youtube. So I subscribed to her channel and began getting the Booktube Welcome Package thrown in my face of all the huge book tubers. I didn’t know any better so I just subscribed left and right.
Fast forward to 2 years and me starting my own channel and finding my groove. I fell into a lot of the traps that are easy to fall into on book tube. There were some months I hauled 20+ books just to have a big stack of books for a book haul. Some months I had two haul videos. I was checking all the boxes, trying to keep up with everyone else but my channel wasn’t really going anywhere. Eventually two bigger booktubers, Jen and Katie shouted my channel out and I saw a significant spike but even that only got me so far. This is when I started paying attention.
Here we are now and though I’m no longer doing Youtube, I am still very much part of the online book community. I have my blog, still chat on Twitter and am an avid Instagram user. I don’t always like to look at all of my platforms as a hustle, but it feels that way. As a black reader who is also putting herself out there in this community, it feels like I have to hustle 10% harder than my white counterparts. This community is big on aesthetic. Call it what you want, but if a person doesn’t look a certain way or their photos don’t look a certain way, people are more than likely going to keep scrolling. Not even give them the chance to hear or see what it is they have to say. This goes for people of color and white people as well. I have white friends who are in the same boat. Because they aren’t acting obnoxious *no shade, but whatever*, reading YA heavy or look a certain way, they aren’t seeing the growth they deserve.
To be real, it’s exhausting. Sometimes I question if that is what is wanted. Maybe she’ll just give up one day. I’ll use Instagram for example. I could 100% duplicate a photo of someone else’s who has 3K likes on it and mine will barely get 200. I know there are other factors to be considered such as the algorithm but I refuse to allow that to be the excuse every single time. As a woman of color I can’t not question how much my lack of growth has to do with the fact that I’m a woman of color.
slowly, very slowly, began to present themselves. There are a few, very few, publishers I work with and am very grateful for. The really huge ones though? I don’t even waste my Time. Jasmine Guillory’s new romance is releasing soon *will probably be out by the time this posts* and I have yet to see a woman of color in my feed with an arc. I understand wanting to send early copies to people with the numbers but again, I don’t need to get into how hard it is for people of color to even get those numbers..but not seeing anyone who looks like the author with the book, reading it early, feels like a missed opportunity.
I love what I do. Blogging and Instagramming gets me out of the house. I get to enjoy a bit of alone time and put my content out into the world, raving about what I’ve been reading but it is also work. We all put so much work into our platforms. For me though, as a black woman..it feels like if I go too long without a blog post coming out or a photo on IG being posted, I may come back and have lost 3 or 4 followers. It’s like you always have to be on your game. There’s no coming up for air. There are no breaks and it is exhausting. It’s not fair. I think we have become so accustomed to having to work so hard for what we have though, that it just is what it is to us at this point. We go through it with a smile and keep it moving, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that it sucks to be putting in just as much work as the next person and not getting the same recognition or opportunities.
Going forward to the young black girl at home right now trying to decide if this is for her or not: don’t let anyone persuade you that it isn’t. It is not going to be easy, but nothing ever is. If reading is your passion and you want to share that passion with the world, 100% go for it and know there are others like you out there. Find your tribe of people. The friends you make totally make up for all the crap that is probably going on around you. Support them and they’ll support you. You may have to work a bit harder and it may take way more time than someone else, but keep going. Things will come. I just posted my first article to my favorite website thanks to them reaching out to me..and I’ve been trying to figure this all out since 2014. Go for it, be passionate, authentic and in love with what you do..regardless.