Our monthly theme of Sparking Amazing Ideas (July 2022) led us to some really interesting projects online. We spoke to Charlotte Moore, editor at Bookish Magazine to hear more about her inspiration and what sparked the idea in the first place.
Charlotte, tell us about Bookish Magazine. Bookish Magazine is a fun community of people who love books. Whether you’re a serious reader, an on-holiday reader, or an “I liked reading when I was 10” sort of reader, we should hopefully have some content that will interest you.
What sparked the amazing idea behind Bookish Magazine? There are a lot of lofty publications out there, which tend to take an academic approach or lean towards full-on literary criticism. There seems to be a weird hierarchy in which contemporary male writers are at the top, and women’s books and Queer authors are put into less important categories, such as ‘chick lit’ and ‘gay books’. The idea that these books are in any way less valuable is a massive misconception. Everyone gets a say in everything we do at Bookish Magazine – we wanted to create a publication that’s not too hierarchically structured. We have a fabulous team, and we’ve got writers that consistently drop work for us. We’ve been amazed by how many amazing submissions we’ve had. Why did you want to give writers an online platform? Bookish Magazine is a space for people to try out new ideas. We’re especially keen to hear from first-time writers and people who are new to pitching. People can improve their writing and get different kinds of feedback. It’s a nice opportunity to test out new writers, new ideas, and new formats of writing. What makes you passionate about home/remote working? Working from home has given me the chance to thrive as an introvert, and bring that energy into more sociable stuff later down the line. Previously I’ve been in workspaces that encourage you to be bubbly, but those are qualities that actually come out when I’m not in an office environment. What has been the biggest challenge your company has faced as an online company/remote/digital hub so far? Our biggest challenge so far has been taking Bookish Magazine from an idea and turning it into something tangible and getting off the ground. We’re all creative people, and it’s easy to come up with ideas, but it’s all about trying to make it a reality and setting aside the time to do that. How does Bookish Magazine try to foster community as a remote/hybrid-based company? Four of us live in Manchester, whilst the rest of us are scattered across Europe. We do Zoom editorial meetings, Facetimes, and we have a WhatsApp group chat for pitches. We also peer review each other’s work using Google Drive, so we always have eyes on each other’s work. The online community of readers we are a part of have also been very kind to us. How has your practice/workspace/job in general changed over time? We started a month ago. I came up with the idea in April, wrote out a business plan for it, I roped in editors, and by the end of April, we’d built the website. By May we had a feed plan and Instagram mood boards. We decided on our tone of voice, and what we’d always say no to in terms of articles and ideas. We had a good launch – from no followers to 1000 in a week. I hope we keep growing at that pace. I had a solid launch plan in mind, I had a clear idea of how businesses had launched before and I knew what I wanted and how I wanted us to look and feel. My practice hasn’t changed much, but there is room for it to evolve. What advice do you have for home/remote workers? Easier said than done, but try and create a designated work space. I live in a tiny house in Manchester, and creating this office space was the best thing I ever did. Working from home can be isolating, and you can get into a routine where your work/life balance blends, but my advice would be to enjoy the benefits of it. You can stick a wash on in the middle of the day, eat when you want to, work from the park, or take your laptop on holiday with you. There’s so much more fun and flexibility, and people can be nervous to take advantage of it. What does your workspace look like? I’ve got a desk in the spare room. It’s my greatest purchase to date. It’s small and it’s by the window, so you can look out while you’re working. I can light candles and create a peaceful environment.
Do you have a work uniform/wardrobe? When I went freelance, I started out by not really getting dressed during the day. I think everyone goes through that phase of ‘I’ll just wear my pyjamas.’ Now, I have so many pairs of dungarees, from corduroy to denim, that I love to wear to work. Is there a device/object/bit of furniture/piece of tech that improved your remote working station or practice? I always keep a notebook and pen on my desk. When you’re a homeworker, you get so used to using technology, but I think the process of actually writing something down can really help it to stick in your memory. I keep a stack of filled notebooks next to my desk. What aspect of remote working in your role might people not know about or understand? We get free books, but we do read them – they all get tabbed. We each have our own tabbing systems, in terms of how we mark books out for reviews. I colour-coordinate my tabs, and each colour tells me something about the book, e.g. when a new character or plot point is introduced. We do this so that when it comes to interviewing authors, we know we’ve really read and understood their work. What an amazing idea! You can check out Charlotte’s tabbing system here: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CZcHGNeJVRg/ Your remote working soundtrack: do you have a favourite playlist/podcast/radio station to keep you motivated, or is silence preferable to you? I always have YouTube videos on in the background. Some people prefer playlists, but I like listening to slowed and reverbed songs on YouTube, which is always good for focus and transcribing work. For more free-flowing stuff I put on a YouTuber and have them chatting in the background. What’s your fondest memory and/or greatest achievement in your career so far? Interviewing Sarra Manning. I read her books when I was about 14. Sarra wrote a book about a Queer teenager, and it was the first time I’d ever read a non-depressing Queer book. The protagonist was funny and smart and so were the rest of the characters. It was so weird that 14 years on I had the chance to interview her, and she was everything I had hoped she would be. Where do you see yourself and your business going in the future? I hope we’ll grow to a point where we can pay writers. That’s the goal. I have no desire to be a ‘Girlboss,’ I just wanted to create a fun place to talk about books – which is what Bookish Magazine is, and that’s everything I wanted for it. Do you have any advice for people wishing to follow in your footsteps? Give it a try. Don’t be worried about things being a success or a failure. Follow Bookish Magazine on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bookish_magazine/ To find out more about the team at Bookish Magazine: https://www.bookishmagazine.co.uk/meet-the-bookish-team Eve McPherson