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.