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My Life as a Book Lady on YouTube

Updated on November 22, 2018
Linda BookLady profile image

I'm a book blogger, the Book Lady at YouTube, and a novelist and memoir writer.

Book Lady

Book Lady, staring at a camcorder.
Book Lady, staring at a camcorder.

Why I'm known as Book Lady

I've always loved books. When my father took me to the old brick library in downtown Richmond, California when I was very young, I wanted to read every book they had. I visited that library many times before I finally realized I'd never be able to read them all. What a sad day that was!

If I can't read them all, I will read as many as I can. I love learning what books contain. Each one is like a profound mystery, and I want to get to the bottom of it. I want to know what is in there.

Children love repetition, and my collection of children's books became frayed over time. Some fell apart, and my mother repaired the bindings. She fed my book obsession with great picture books like The Little Engine That Could, The Cat in the Hat, and Bartholomew and the Oobleck. She also introduced me to poetry written for children by Robert Louis Stevenson.

Books became my companions, and well into my high school and adult years, I continued my reading habit. So in 2014 when I challenged myself to create a YouTube channel, I decided the only reasonable route would be to talk about books. That's when I came up with the YouTube user name of Book Lady. I reasoned it was short, memorable, and to the point.

There was already a blossoming bookish community on YouTube called Booktube. I spent time watching Booktube videos and felt I didn't fit in. Why? Because I'm considerably older than the people populating Booktube at that time. They were mainly very young people interested in YA (young adult) literature. My bookish interests were elsewhere and my age? Well, at the time I was already 61 years old.

Book Lady, Linda Jo Martin, during a 2018 video shoot.
Book Lady, Linda Jo Martin, during a 2018 video shoot.

My first Book Lady videos were miserable

I threw myself into video making without knowing how to make a good video. I also had zero confidence so it was a major CHALLENGE and I struggled, big time! The first video was recorded about fifteen times over a period of several days. I was determined to learn how to put a video on the web, so I kept trying.

In an effort to be candid and forthcoming, I've left my initial videos on the web so people can see where I started, and how far I've come. My first video was essentially memorized text I'd written. This was because I thought I might have nothing to say. I had a long-time belief - that I write better than I talk. The whole point of learning to make videos was to learn to talk better. Well, memorized text probably isn't talking better, but it is a good start.

Let's face it - any start is good. If there's something you really want to be able to learn to do, just start it, and eventually the skills will develop and you'll feel more comfortable with it.

My second video wasn't much better. By that time I was wondering what in the world I was doing there. I decided to write a mission statement, then make a video about it. Kind of embarrassing, in retrospect, but I left the video in my video archive so everyone can see how pathetic my videos were at the beginning. This is not to say you should embarrass yourself in a similar manner, but just to say, most first videos are not very good and I've had my share of videos I wish I'd never published. Nevertheless, that's how we get better. We learn from our mistakes and make gradual improvements as we march on toward fulfilling our goals.

My third video was my first attempt at a channel intro video. I'm not particularly fond of these first stumbling, awkward videos, but I left them online at the bottom of my video archive for whoever wants to take a look.

A photo saved from my first Book Lady video

Notice - the "mandatory bookcase" . . . like most new Booktubers, I thought I needed a bookcase in the background, to make it official. Do I look stressed and frightened in the picture? That's how I was feeling. Probably by that time I was desperate.
Notice - the "mandatory bookcase" . . . like most new Booktubers, I thought I needed a bookcase in the background, to make it official. Do I look stressed and frightened in the picture? That's how I was feeling. Probably by that time I was desperate.

Gradual improvement in videography and performance

What a long road it was from those first videos, to where I am now. None of it came easy - it was a long process for me. Probably a more gregarious person would progress faster, or it might even come easily. Not for me though. I was very timid. I'd just gotten out of a long 7 year relationship with a verbal and emotional abuser, and my spirit was crushed. I was in healing, and determined not to let that interfere with my progress in learning to navigate the online world. I was already experienced in web design and writing for the web. At the time I took on the Book Lady role, I needed a new challenge, and video making was it. Nothing was going to stop me so long as the camera was working. And that was iffy.

Before long I realized I was lame at sitting in front of a camera and talking. That's when I discovered I was slightly better at walking around outside and talking, so I did that. Plus, my outdoor videos didn't have the terrible background noise of my indoor videos. I didn't know what to do about that at the time, but I knew the audio quality was unacceptable. Instead of quitting, I took my video efforts outside and began a series of walking and bike riding videos.

Are you feeling encouraged?

I hope you are - because that's my intention in telling you my story. I'd like you to be encouraged to go ahead and do those things your soul calls you to do. You may not be perfect in the beginning, but you can get better at whatever it is you want to do.

When Book Lady became Bike Lady

I never made a formal channel name change, but I became hyper-focused on riding my bicycle in 2014. There's a good reason for this. When I left the verbally abusive man I gave him my car, and I gave my son my van. I left that town and moved 750 miles to Northern Idaho all by myself, and I no longer had a car. What a difficulty that became for me. I found out the bus line next to the apartment I moved into was cancelled, and I was 2+1/2 miles from the nearest store in one direction, and 2+1/2 miles from the library in the other direction. No wonder walking and bicycle riding became my focus.

I made it my challenge to be able to ride my bicycle all the way from the Washington-Idaho state line to the end of the North Idaho Centennial Trail, by the end of the 2014 season. I went into a training mode. I was 61 and totally out of shape, so I needed a lot of improvement before I could make the trip. Finally, on October 4, 2014 I made that bicycle journey and there's a series of videos on my channel to prove it. When I got home from that 37-mile journey, I was in great pain, and yet, I cried, knowing that winter was coming and I wouldn't be able to ride anymore.

My long bicycle ride

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes

After my 2014 video experience, I set aside the video making hobby. The following year my foot was infected and I couldn't ride my bicycle, or walk without pain. I still didn't have a car, but I had a few friends from church who were always eager and willing to give me rides. One could not ask for more, in friends!

2016 was not any better than 2015 so far as video making went. I made a few attempts, but didn't get back into it until October 2017. At that point I took another look at Booktube and saw a few older people there. It was no longer only for teenagers and very young adults. I decided to go ahead and get into Booktube, for real this time. I would take the plunge.

Again, it was slow going and my first videos were kind of pathetic, but soon enough I got into it and even wanted to try making a video every day for a while. The reason for that was to force myself to become more comfortable with speaking in front of the camera.

It worked... and three months into 2018 I'd lost my camera shyness and learned a lot about what worked for me, in making videos.

I have not even touched on my experiences with video editing software and the camera I've been using all this time. I will leave that discussion for another page here at HubPages.

Thanks for reading!

One of my 2018 Booktube videos ... at Booktube, we love to do these tags with questions to answer

"Spreading the love of books wherever I go."


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