This prompt has been giving me anxiety ever since I first saw it as a future blog we would be writing, and I’ve struggled to respond to it honestly.
I haven’t had any interactions with writers during my internship. If you count my relationship with Kayla who is in charge of some of the social media posts and writes the majority of them and Elle who is in charge of marketing emails, then I suppose those would be my main interactions, but I’m not sure that’s the kind of writing we’re meaning here. Content and marketing writing is invaluable, and a lot of work goes into crafting the emails and tweets that they create, but that’s not the writing we’ve worked on in my time at Bay Path, and the emails and tweets I know about not because I have had anything to do with them but have seen them myself as a Bookshop affiliate and customer.
Truthfully, it’s difficult to see from my vantage point where the book writer would fit into Bookshop since it is more of a marketplace for other bookstores to be connected than a place where authors would directly interact. Obviously, authors are responsible for writing the books that are being sold and without them, Bookshop wouldn’t exist, and therefore writers play an essential part in the need for a place like this.
Writers could potentially sign up to be an affiliate for Bookshop and then create their own Bookshop lists that they could then curate and share with their readers and followers. This might be a way to strengthen connections with readers as well as earn a bit of money since we know authors often are scraping together what funds they can to allow them to go on writing. They might also participate in marketing with Bookshop through its online presence, but since it isn’t a physical bookstore, it isn’t as though authors can host readings and things in it.
So much of my work has been curating book lists and researching content creators, and I suppose these things have had an indirect effect on my work in that researching books to put on these lists has added to my TBR list (because it wasn’t long enough already 😉) and that gives me a better idea of what is out there already and where my work might fit in. The content creator side has shown me how authors might interact with creators to help get more attention for their books.
Really, though, I feel like all these things are a bit of a reach. “The writer” doesn’t really feel present in this situation. Much that I’ve learned has been interesting and is a bigger part of the whole that is publishing, and of course I need to understand how that works as a writer. To say that my writing itself has been affected, though, or that my approach to writing has been would just be dishonest. Tara the human has learned a lot that is of value, particularly in my work running social media, but Tara the writer has been off elsewhere kicking around.
A couple of different things stand out as surprising in my internship thus far. The majority of my work so far has been coming up with book list themes and then choosing the books that will go onto the lists, so my surprises deal with that process.
The themes for the lists I come up with without any real inspiration other than whatever is bouncing around the inside of my head. However, there is – naturally – no way that I personally could read or could have read all of the books on these potential lists, as the themes range far and wide as far as genre or topics go so that there are options that can appeal to every type of reader. For example, I don’t read horror, but one of the lists I put together this week was “Horror Books by BIPOC Authors You Should Know About.” For me to be able to put together a quality list, I have to do a lot of research into what books could potentially qualify for a spot on that list that have received a lot of attention and praise.
To do this, I Google the list title I have come up with and see what lists with similar themes from other publications come up. I then write down all of the titles on maybe the first to six lists in one giant master list, making an ‘X’ by any that appear more than once. The ones that are mentioned more than once – and ones that I think are particularly appropriate or just find appealing myself – I write down and check out as potential options for the list.
What has surprised me most – which is really silly in retrospect – is how widely the titles on the lists vary! Of course, I know intellectually that there are an incredible number of books put out each year, but there will be a hundred different books on the list that I compile of notable publications or reviewers who feel you ABSOLUTELY MUST READ this book. It’s really been kind of reassuring, in a strange way. Like, if there are that many books that people feel are must-reads each year, the chances that you could write something that might one day make it onto those lists are higher than I think I would’ve believed beforehand.
Another thing that surprised me is how few click-throughs are received on these lists that I write. I don’t mean only mine but on these kinds of lists in general. For example, the month before my lists were ever used, the highest click rate on a list was 89. For a company as big and popular as Bookshop to only receive 89 clicks on a list they put out shocked me, and like with the previous surprise, it also encouraged me. Naturally, the company wants higher click rates – anyone sending out an email with the intent to sell something would – so it isn’t as though they want to let that number stay there. Still, though, it did surprise me and make me feel a little more hope about what I might expect in a situation like that.