I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember. A typical week for me includes reading anywhere between two to five books, so I frequently receive requests for book recommendations from those around me and happily oblige in sharing my favorites. Over the summer, as quarantine boredom hit an all-time high, I decided on a whim to create an Instagram account dedicated to sharing my book reviews. I named it “@bookswithgail” and figured a handful of friends and family members would be interested in following the account for a convenient way to find new reads. When I created the account, I never imagined it would grow to have a following of more than 2,600 bookworms in just four months.
Managing @bookswithgail has become a hobby that I am so passionate about. Along with reaching thousands of followers, I’ve received dozens of books gifted by publishers, and even started a book club (virtually for now, of course) with some amazing fellow “bookstagrammers” in Chicagoland. The account has not only allowed me to connect with other book lovers, but also with some of my favorite authors. Many authors love connecting with readers over social media and will often comment on and share my posts about their books, which has been a huge highlight of the experience.
As an assistant account executive at LCWA, I love working with influencers for our clients. Running my book Instagram has afforded me valuable insight into the “other side” of influencer marketing. Usually, I’m the publicist reaching out to influencers with whom we want to partner. But now – thanks to @bookswithgail – I get to play both roles and I’m also on the receiving end of those requests, working with publishing houses to review books and post about them before they’re published.
Running @bookswithgail provided me with a fun, creative outlet during a global pandemic, and it’s also given me unique insights into influencer relations. Getting to experience the partnerships from both sides has made me better both as a PR professional and as a book reviewer. I look forward to continuing to use this experience as a “boots-on-the-ground” way to improve influencer programs I work on in the future!