Booktube is a niche within the enormous world of YouTube, but it is a niche with thousands of dedicated followers, most of whom are kind and enthusiastic people.
Compared to many other corners of YouTube, the corner known as booktube is a really comfortable place to hang out, speaking as a booktuber who gets little to no negative attention on their channel.
How to Begin and Grow as a Booktuber
Being a booktuber, whether big or small, is extremely satisfying, but being a successful booktuber can be complicated and confusing.
Success is also a relative term. Do you measure it in terms of attention and subscribers, in terms of ad revenue, or simply in terms of the satisfaction you get from making a good booktube video that your viewers and subscribers enjoy?
I can’t answer that; we all measure success in different ways. Instead, what I’m going to do here is give you a few pointers for starting and growing a strong booktube channel.
If you’re looking to build your clout, grow your subscriber count, or even just start off on the right foot in terms of filming, editing, and uploading a solid booktube video, you’ll find what you need right here.
Read More: How to Grow Your YouTube Channel
Consider Your Niche(s)
One way to stand out amongst booktubers on YouTube is to have a niche (feel free to have more than one, however). If you focus your booktube channel on a specific genre or style of book, you’re likely to build a specific and dedicated subscriber base quickly.
I, for example, primarily focus my efforts as a booktuber on literature in translation (otherwise known as world literature). Most of the books that I discuss/promote/review have been translated into English from another language.
You can even attach yourself to a specific author and become known as the booktuber who covers that author’s newest books.
Strategise Your Content
If you want to grow as a booktuber, think about the kind of content you want to put out. You need to consider SEO (search engine optimization). So many booktubers fail to grow because they just do book hauls or talk about a random book.
Instead of doing this, consider making numbered lists. The YouTube algorithm loves numbered lists. You could list the “top ten romance novels” or “ten terrible fantasy novels”, for example. Don’t make every video a list, but put them out occasionally.
Beyond that, also consider your playlists. Come up with a few styles and topics of video and stick to them. For example, I have a “book reviews” playlist, a “manga” playlist, and a playlist called “what’s so great about…” where I review classic and modern classic novels.
Doing this reinforces your relationship to your subscribers. They will look forward to your newest video of a certain type. Some of them will think, “yay, a new classic review!” and they will find a favourite topic.
Read More: How to Request ARCs
Lean into Your Personality
I found that my subscriber numbers started to climb faster when I let my personality come out. When I loosened up, allowed myself to make jokes, and laughed at my own mistakes.
This helps to build that all important parasocial relationship. Your viewers get to laugh along with you, and they become attached to your charms and quirks. It’s a lovely feeling.
Do you have a pet? Feature them in your videos; mention them by name a lot. This also allows your fans to form a connection with you and your life. Not so much that it’s weird, but enough for it to feel genuine.
This does bring me onto another important point, however…
While leaning into your personality can be great, it can also be frustrating if done too much. When you’ve got a specific topic to discuss in a video, make sure you actually focus on it and get that done.
For example, if you’re reviewing a new book, make sure that you discuss the book’s plot, characters, and themes. Don’t spend too long rambling about yourself, making jokes, and getting distracted. Focus on what the purpose of the video is.
Essentially, deliver on the promise laid out in your booktube video’s title. Inserting jokes here and there can be great, but begin and end your video with a clear focus on the topic at hand.
Get Good at Editing
I have a personal pet peeve when it comes to a lot of booktubers: a lack of flow and rhythm. So many booktubers fail to edit out their longer pauses, or the ums and ahs they make between words and sentences. Cut them out!
This may not annoy other viewers of booktube as much as it does me (in fact,I know many booktube fans that don’t even notice it) but it winds me up so I’m mentioning it here.
You can make as many mistakes and create as many pauses as you like when you record. But editing is half of creating a good YouTube video. When you get to the editing stage, cut out those ums and those long pauses. Build a rhythm.
This is the best way to get viewers to the end of your video. Viewer retention is important! So make your video focussed, snappy, and quick. Make jokes but make them quick; keep them within the rhythm of your video.
The more time you spend editing YouTube videos, the more creative you will become. You’ll learn how to zoom in and out, how to add text and effects, how to use editing tricks to make your jokes and comments land harder.
Every month that goes by, I learn a new editing trick that makes my videos more varied, more fun for me to edit, and more fun for my subscribers to watch. So keep learning; get creative with your edits. Consider how to jazz up your videos.
Almost every booktuber on YouTube follows the same format: they make a video of their face talking to the camera. So get creative with your editing and effects to make what your viewers see and hear a little more varied.
Read More: How to Start a Bookstagram
Make Attractive Thumbnails
This is something that every YouTuber, regardless of niche, learns and develops as time goes by. Scroll through any YouTube channel that you subscribe to and see how their thumbnails have changed over time.
Use the space in your thumbnail wisely. Put your face in it. Put the book (or stack of books) in it, too. But also find space to put some tantalising text.
Also consider your background. You can use free editing software to edit out your background, then use Canva to edit in an entirely different background, as well as that aforementioned text.
Speaking of, maybe consider and stick to a specific font or colour scheme. Or a specific border that you always use.
If your face is always in the thumbnail, vary your expression. Look excited, shocked, scared, angry etc.
This is the easiest way to grow as a booktuber, but it can obviously be difficult depending on your schedule and routine.
If you can post at least one video per week, consistently, you’ll see stronger growth to your booktube channel. Subscribers appreciate regular content and, more importantly, so does the YouTube algorithm.
The dreaded algorithm is like a YouTuber’s boss: it forces us to do things we might prefer not to do for the sake of growth. Things such as making clickbait titles, covering popular topics, and pushing ourselves to post regularly.
If you can reliably record and edit together a 10-20 minute video every time, and post new videos once or twice per week, you’ll see bigger and more steady growth than most other booktubers.
Reply to Comments
There are two reasons for this: it’s another thing the YouTube algorithm loves, and it’s a genuinely great way to build a community as a booktuber.
The easiest way to do this is to set aside ten minutes every day to check the YT Studio app on your phone (you’ll get addicted to checking it anyway; trust me). Check for all your latest comments and reply to every single one, no matter what.
If a comment is offensive and cruel, or spam, then delete or report it. But if it’s some troll making a dumb argument, have fun with it! Tease them.
But you’re a booktuber, which means 99% of comments should be kind and enthusiastic. Get to know your regular commenters; engage with them; like and reply to their comments. Community is good.
Get Personal (Sometimes)
I mentioned in an above point that you should stay focussed and not ramble on about yourself in videos that are on a specific topic, and that’s true.
That said, people want to get to know you. The more you grow as a booktuber, the more curious people become about you as a person. So consider occasionally dedicating videos to yourself.
A great way to get personal, which many booktubers do, is to make a Q&A video. Hop on social media and invite followers to ask you questions about yourself. Anything they’re curious about! Then compile them and answer them in a Q&A video.
You may not be comfortable with doing this, with letter strangers in to such a degree, and that’s why Q&A videos are great: you can curate the questions and leave out the ones you’re not comfortable with answering.