How are you doing? Could you please tell our readers a bit about yourself and what got you into reviewing books online?
I’m very good thank you! So my name is Kaitlin but online I tend to go by Kitty G which is also the name of my BookTube Channel on YouTube.
I started my channel almost 5 years ago (the anniversary is 10th October) when I started to watch other people (mainly in the US) doing book reviews. I found that although I loved watching early BookTube, I wasn’t seeing the sorts of books I liked reading, and when I moved away to uni and got a camera and MacBook I realised I had the tools to try out my own channel.
Of course, at first my videos were pretty nervous and I wasn’t really sure what I was doing as I just rambled and didn’t plan anything out at all, but over time I grew in confidence and developed my own way of reviewing, and since then I’ve never really looked back!
Do you have any advice for others hoping to build a platform reviewing and discussing books online?
I think my biggest bit of advice is always just to do it because it’s fun and it’s something you are passionate about. I have been lucky enough that I’ve always read and therefore always have books to talk about. I really enjoy broadening my discussion to others who have read it and follow me online and that’s why BookTube works for me I think.
I also think I’d advise not to let it overwhelm you. If it is fun and you want to do it you find time and you’ll find a system that works for you. Some people bulk film, others don’t edit they just upload uncut, and some people are super tech-y and can wow you. That’s the beauty of BookTube and YouTube in general, and whatever you can add to the mix will be great.
Sometimes I think people have a misconception now about BookTube and think it is a place to get rich and get books sent to you for free, instead of just being a place to connect with other readers. Although I wish I could make a living off of BookTube, that just isn’t the case. I know I could definitely not think about leaving the day job for YouTube (at least for a long old time yet) as I just would not be able to survive. Books, although they are marvellous, don’t pay the bills for me!
You make excellent video reviews and discussions. I’m curious as to what your thoughts on BookTube vs written blogs are?
You asked about the way I review, and I usually surprise people when I say I do not plan, or script, or do a lot of prep at all. I’m very lucky in that I am quite good at just sitting down and rambling and then cutting out all the bits that make no sense…thank goodness for iMovie! I usually just put my thoughts down in a review on Goodreads when I finish the book and then give myself a few days to think deeper before I sit and film and edit a review for BookTube so if you follow Goodreads you’ll always know what’s coming up on the channel soon!
Once my review is out there on YouTube I think that is where there is a slight difference between blogging and BookTube begins. With blogs you often get to see a more articulate version of a review as people write, edit and post. Written form is great for people who read as they enjoy reading reviews as much as they do books, and I know personally I follow some bloggers as I do BookTubers. However, I think an issue I have with blogs is the ease of finding them. It’s quite hard sometimes to know where to start and until you find a core group of reviewers that you agree with it can feel a little hard to connect. Personally, I think BookTube removes some of the difficulty of finding reviewers because everyone is on one platform. If you search for “BooktubeSFF” on YouTube you will always find a load of new and old results of people talking about Science fiction and Fantasy, and it’s an ever growing community.
I think the fact that you can watch people rather than just read their thoughts is also a big difference. In a review that’s written you can often tell that the reviewer loved/hated it, but on YouTube you get to see and hear all their tones and expressions and I think that just brings the review a bit more to life sometimes.
There’s pros and and cons to each, but for me BookTube is definitely what I prefer to follow and do myself, but it’s each to their own and sometimes a quick written review will also convince me to buy a book and read for myself.
As someone who reviews a large number of books, is there a book, series, or author that most of us might be missing out on?
Books or series you may have missed out on…that’s a tricky question as there’s so many out there, but, I think my favourites recently have been Guns of Dawn by Adrian Tchaikovsky and The Tiger’s Daughter by K Arsenault Rivera.
Guns of Dawn was a book I audiobook-ed because Emma Newman told me to when I met her at the London book group I’m part of, Super Relaxed Fantasy Club. Emma is one of my favourite authors, and so when Emma Newman says to read something…well, of course you do! She narrates the audiobook too and it’s a story about war told through the eyes of a young noble lady who never wanted to get mixed up in it all, but ends up at the centre. The story is beautiful and horrific all at once as it really gets to the nitty gritty of the world and the wartime horrors, but it also has magic and mystery in the background and some of the character development was amazing. It started me off on a bit of a Tchaikovsky binge!
The Tiger’s Daughter is a story of two young girls who gradually grow into women over the course of the book. They are from very different parts of the society, one is going to become the Empress of the Hokkaran and the other the leader of the Quorin. They are raised quite differently but they know one another well because their mothers are best friends. However, when their families are both gone they have to navigate leading their people and banishing a darkness that is spreading whilst also trying to understand the love that binds them. It’s a story unlike most others because of the LGBTQ+ themes and it’s one I fell in love with from the start!
I’m super excited for the next one in the Tiger’s Daughter series (I think that’s out in November in the UK) and Guns of Dawn is currently a standalone. Both are well worth reading!
How have your reading habits changed since the start of your channel?
Reading habits are constantly changing with me as life changes. I found when I started YouTube I was definitely not reading as much as I do now, and as time went on and I found friends through BookTube and reading it became more and more important for me.
I started to read over 250 books a year for a while whilst I was in University, and many of them were books I wouldn’t have ever found on my own, but rather books friends had told me about online and books I found after searching Goodreads and other book websites online for hours at a time.
I found that I loved the excitement of finding a great book that others on BookTube weren’t yet talking about and being able to get my friends to buy it and try it so we could all discuss it!
I also found that Awards are a thing and this is something I never even realised before. I was only 17 when I started watching BookTube and 18 by the time I made my first videos, and the Hugo Award, Nebula Award and Arthur C Clarke Award were all things I only found out about since BookTube started to have an SFF community and we discussed them. I’ve definitely followed the Hugo Award most closely since, and I have even gone to things like WorldCon because of BookTube. I never would have travelled to Helsinki in the past to meet friends and go to a Convention, but it was honestly one of the best life experiences for me and I’m very excited for Dublin next year!
I still tend to read around 200 books a year now, but it’s a little slower since work came along and I didn’t have the freedom of being on Uni-time. I still always try to make time for it though as it chills me out and is a great way to relax.
Sounds like you had a blast at the Convention! What was your most memorable experience while you were there?
The convention, WorldCon, was amazing mainly because I got to meet my favourite ever author, Robin Hobb, and also meet my ‘online’ YouTube friends in person. Honestly there are so many good memories: we attended The Hugo Awards, went to so many wonderful panels, and met amazing people. It’s hard to choose one particular thing, but I highly recommend going if you ever get the chance!
Has being a judge for SPFBO had any effect on your reading?
Judging awards is a super strange thing that happened with both the BooktubeSFF Awards and SPFBO (self-published fantasy blog off). I never imagined I would be qualified to judge other people’s books, but I suppose I have read an awful lot of SFF over my time on YouTube now!
SPFBO is definitely having an effect on reading as it’s such a mixed bag. Some of the books are brilliant and others really need someone to take a thorough look back and edit it. Again, wanting to be involved with SPFBO goes back to my love of finding a hidden gem book and shouting about it to everyone I meet. I want everyone to read it if it’s a book I believe in, and thankfully my platform allows me to shout at a few more people than the average reader!
Do you approach your reviews for the BookTubeSFF Awards and SPFBO differently than the books read solely for pleasure?
I do indeed think a little differently when I am reviewing for an award. For something like BooktubeSFF where the authors are pretty much all published by a publishing house I tend to give them little benefit of the doubt. If it doesn’t live up to other commercially published work then it’s not going to get a fab rating from me.
However, as SPFBO is such a mixed bag, some are established authors and some are new, it’s more of a mixed judging style. I tend to try and forgive the occasional typo or grammatical error if the story is good and has potential, however, there is a limit. For my day job I work in Publishing and I do notice these little tweaks and issues more than some others might, so it can bother and take me out of the story if there’s too many.
With that being said, SPFBO is about finding the potential in a hidden gem and if it’s not yet finely polished then that’s ok. I think the competition offers authors an amazing platform to get feedback on their work and exposure, and I really enjoy the mixture.
If you’ve gotten them yet, how are you liking your new red glasses?
I have indeed just got my new glasses and I’m loving them. Red is certainly my colour Thanks for asking!
And speaking of red, we would love to know what colour you use for your hair? It’s divine!
Haha! Amazing! my hair colour is Schwarzkopf Live Intense Colour 035 Real Red Hair Dye and my lovely boyfriend helps me dye it!
About Kitty G
Kitty G is the online moniker of Kaitlin, a UK-based BookTuber with possibly the catchiest intro and outro cards. While she mainly reviews SFF works (both written and graphic novels), she also posts discussion videos as well as reviews the occasional non-SFF work.
Here are a few videos to check out. Don’t forget your snack!
- Rambles, Reading and More
- The First Five Reviews | #SPFBO4 | 2018
- King of Assassins | Guns of Dawn | Book Reviews and New Favourite!