One for the books

Ryan Jones
By Ryan Jones January 26, 2018 12:38

Hailey LeBlanc is a successful book blogger known on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. (Photo provided by Hailey LeBlanc)

By Ryan Jones

Picture a little girl, dirty blonde hair flooding over her shoulders, sitting at the kitchen table with her mom, a Goosebumps book joining the party, waiting to be read. The grade school she attends, St. Gabrielle’s in Windsor, thought it would be suitable for a grade-three student to read R. L. Stine’s books, but one student thinks differently. The youngest of three girls, she is now planted in a chair beside her mom asking her to read the book because she despises it – it scares her. She does not mind it though when her mom reads Harry Potter.


Meet Hailey LeBlanc. She is now 22 years old, born and raised in Windsor, still living in her childhood home. This past April she graduated from the University of Windsor with an English degree and said she is unsure what she would like to do with her degree. She currently works at Chapters in Windsor’s Devonshire Mall, manages a BookTube channel and spends most of her time reading and writing.  


“I actually started reading when I was 16. I wasn’t a huge fan. I was quite a trouble maker as a kid, so I was like ‘Oh I don’t have time for that.’ I just wanted to be go-go-go all the time, so just sitting down and reading a book was never something that I was really into,” said LeBlanc.


Would you believe the person who said this is now a popular book blogger?


“Basically everything about my life has to do with books and I love the fact that it’s a great place [Chapters] where I can give truthful recommendations to people and it’s just a great company to work for,” said LeBlanc.


Even though LeBlanc’s interest in reading sprouted at the age of 16,  it was 2014 before she was introduced to the book blogging community. She said it was not books that inspired her blog, but rather a friend who showed her the BookTube platform (this is is a term for people who book blog on YouTube). Once she discovered the community she started watching videos. She would sit in front of her MacBook, scan the screen for different BookTubers and watch each performance, all the while gaining techniques that she now uses herself.


Her book blogging journey began after her first year of university.


“And then it was summer, and we had four months for the first time and I was like, what am I supposed to do with all this time? This is so much time to fill, well I’ll start doing this, who knows if anything will come from it, and the rest is history,” said LeBlanc.  


She is no longer limited to being a viewer but is now a BookTuber herself. She no longer sits at her desk watching but stands in front of her bookshelf filming. Leblanc has accumulated around 138 thousand followers on YouTube, 34 thousand on Instagram and 10 thousand followers on Twitter, known on all platforms as haileyinbookland.


A consistent theme on LeBlanc’s channel preview photos are piles and piles of books that she is carrying, to the point where it looks like her back is about to break. The first video LeBlanc said she produced was a May book haul which included over 50 books, hence piles.  A haul video presents all the books a person has received or purchased in one month and they are usually created at the end of the month for this reason. LeBlanc said book hauls are one of her favourite videos to film but pays caution to new bloggers who are eager to start a channel.


“The one thing I hate about BookTube is that when you first discover it you find all these books. You find places like Book Outlet where you can get books for super cheap. I’m going to buy all these books and honestly I probably read like 20 per cent of them, maybe. Most of them I didn’t read because I just saw all these different titles on Book Outlet and I was like maybe I’ll like it, so I bought a ton of them and it was just a waste of money,” said LeBlanc.


This one video rippled into many on Booktube. She said she has never concerned herself with the numbers and following, but produces content solely for passion.


“I made a book tag and a couple of the more popular BookTubers did it and I think that’s when things really got going, when a bunch of people started seeing my name they’d start following me and figuring out who I was,” said LeBlanc.


She has read over 300 books with fantasy being her favourite genre because she said she enjoys the concept of magic and different creatures. Her abundance of reading has made curating content easier. A regular BookTube video contains predominant topics such as book hauls, book wrap-ups and must-read books. Reading vlogs are more of a log of someone’s reading journey.


“My number one thing that helps me is that consistency is key. It honestly is. If you are putting out videos consistently and you say I’m putting out a video every Monday, mine’s every Monday and Thursday, then people are like oh, so I’m going to get new content all the time. That makes them want to come back and subscribe to the channel,” said LeBlanc.


There is more than one book blogger in town. With books spilling off her shelves and running out of room for her novels, Carly Coombe, is a local book blogger. She reviews for Raincoast, Simon and Schuster, Dutton and Hachette Books. Coombe said she agrees with LeBlanc about consistency: remembering to post is key.


“Having a blog is like having a job, it requires work and thought and needs to be done on a weekly, if not, daily basis,” said Coombe.


If there is not a book in LeBlanc’s hand then it is a pen or her hands are scurrying across her keyboard. Writing is also a huge part of LeBlanc’s life. She participated in NaNoWriMo 2017, National Novel Writing Month and finished with 32,000 words. The goal for NaNoWriMo is to accumulate 50,000 words by the end of the month. She said that because November was such a busy month she was unable to achieve this goal.


When it comes down to it, LeBlanc’s main goal in life is writing. She said there is only so much to blog about and knows there will come a time when she becomes irrelevant.


“If everything goes according to plan and everything happens in my wildest dreams then I would be a writer, and that’s what I’d do. I’d just be an author.”


She strolls through the shelves of the bookstore she used to work at. She ponders over the young adult fantasy section, her finger gliding over the bumps of each spine, until she stops, pressing her fingerprints into one novel in particular. It reads: by Hailey LeBlanc.

This is her dream.

Ryan Jones
By Ryan Jones January 26, 2018 12:38

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