Friends & Fiction
Friends & Fiction

Episode · 1 year ago

S1E7: Kristy with Meagan Briggs and Stephanie Gray

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Kristy Woodson Harvey interviews beloved and influential bookstagram pals Meagan Briggs of @megansbookclub and Stephanie Gray of @the_book_lover_book_club.

https://www.instagram.com/meagansbookclub

https://www.instagram.com/the_book_lover_book_club

Welcome to Friends and fiction, five best selling authors and the stories novelist Mary Kay Andrews, Christine Harmel, Christie Woodson, Harvey, Patty Callahan Henry and Mary Alice Munro are five longtime friends with more than 80 published books to their credit. In 2020 they created friends and fiction to provide author interviews and fascinating insider talk about publishing and writing and to highlight independent bookstores. These friends discuss the books they've written, the books they're reading now and the art of storytelling. If you love books and you're curious about the writing world, you're in the right place. France and Fiction is sponsored by Mama Geraldine's Bodacious Foods, the company that makes Mama Geraldine's Cheese Straws, which come in six varieties and are the best selling cheese straws in the United States. Founded by former radio executive Cathy Cunningham and named for her mother, they have melt in your mouth cookies to delicious treats and a woman owned empire. Now that is something that friends and fiction can really get behind. Try them. You'll be so glad you did get 20% off on your online order at Mama Geraldine's dot com with the code Fab five snack on y'all. We'd also like to thank our other sponsor, Page One books who offer a book subscription package that we love the hand select books for you each month based on your preferences in their book knowledge. And because the reeds are being chosen by actual independent booksellers, you know you're more than just an algorithm. The subscription package, which can run 36 or 12 months, is a perfect gift for a book lover, even if that book lover is you. Page one books the personal touch of an indie bookstore with the delight and surprise of an online subscription service curated just for you. First time subscribers get 10% off with the code Fab Five at page one books dot com Yeah, welcome to the Friends of Fiction podcast. The Partner podcast to our Wednesday night Facebook Live and YouTube Live Webcast. I'm Christie Woodson Harvey and I'm going to be your host. Today we are welcoming books to grammars extraordinaire Meghan Briggs of Megan's Book Club and a Plate Reads and Stephanie Gray of the Book Lover Book Club in Puerto Rico Bookshop to discuss how they use their very successful platforms to pivot into something new, so I cannot wait to hear a little bit about their journeys. Hi, ladies. Thanks for joining us. Hi. I'm so glad to see you guys. I know...

...everybody else can't see you. They can just hear you. I get to see you. So it's great. Okay, So just to get started. Megan, can you tell us a little bit about your journey into the books to Graham World and how that evolved for you? Sure. So it's kind of probably more non traditional way of joining the book stream community because I had created a separate INSTAGRAM account like a year before. I even knew books to Graham was a thing I just would post on my private account where I would post up our kids and our family and our life and I It was pretty clear that nobody cared about what I was reading. They wanted to know about our family. And so I just created a separate account. I took pretty basic pictures of just the book and a quick review. And then it was about a year later when my friend just kind of asked me, She's like, you keep reading, You know, you're posting reviews a few times a week. Is there like a community on Instagram for book people? And so I started to style my pictures better, and I was using Hashtags, and I found a few bigger accounts that I was like, Oh, there's like a whole life on here that I knew nothing about And it kind of made me laugh just thinking what else is on instagram that nobody else knows about, You know, And so so anyway. But it was just It's been very fun. So I've been, I guess, an active participant on books to Graham for over two years now. And, um, it's just one of those places that's very unique, and I've created such meaningful relationships. I mean, that's how I connected with you, Christy, and I just, you know, think the world of you and I've been able to connect with other authors, which has been great. And anyway, I mean, there's always something, you know, kind of like going on in the books to Graham World that, you know, drives me nuts or it's a little bit like people overreact, and I mean, it's just there's drama within which we've talked about before. Yeah, so we've talked about it, so it's just But anyway, so, I mean, I love books to Graham, and I'm so glad that my hobby has turned into something that I never even expected could be like this. So, anyway, that's my my little story. I love it. I love it well, And I think the coolest thing about books to Graham to I mean, I met both. You begin and you Stephanie on instagram. And I mean, I feel like you guys are my friends. And again, I have not gotten to meet you in real life yet because of the pandemic, I guess. But, um, hopefully one day soon. But I have gotten to meet Stephanie a lot of times in her life, which has been so, so fun.

Um, so Stephanie, can you tell us a little bit about how you got started on books to Graham? Yeah. So, um, I actually kind of got started in a non traditional way, like Megan did. I was just posting books that I was reading on my family's page. And when I had my first son, I kind of was trying to find a creative outlet and So I started, you know, posting curated photos of books that I was reading. And Simon and Schuster actually found my books to Graham Page, and they were the first ones to kind of reach out and be like, Hey, can we send you a book? And I'm like, What? A free book? Yes. Please just give me all the free books. And so that's better. How it like happened for me, you know, a very non traditional way of starting to post pictures of books that I was reading. And then, like Megan said, I kind of found this community by happenstance, really. And now it's kind of grown into this, you know, four years later and all of the magic that's come with it, it's been it's been amazing. It's been a really fun journey so far. Well, that's incredible. And I know that I speak for a lot of authors out there when I say thank you guys for creating these amazing, beautiful platforms that you know have been so helpful for us as authors, especially, I mean during the pandemic. I mean, I, you know, launched a book last April, and we were all stuck at home and cancelled a book tour. As so many of you know, I know all the other friends of fiction author stood and so many other authors out there and here we are kind of going around two of launching books and a pandemic. And if we didn't have, you know, influencers who write about our books, I don't know we would do because we wouldn't be able to get them out there. So it's a huge gift. So thank you on behalf of all of us. And so I love how both of you have really taken your platform and not only used it to help authors, but also to transition into something new. And so I'm back in for you. Um, you know, you and Ashley Hayes have joined together and created the Amazing Applet reads. So can you tell us a little about applet? And then also like, How do you think that your platform helped with the creation of that? So it's funny how up let just happened anyway. So my business partner, Ashley, she approached me like this time last year, maybe just after the pandemic and everything shut down and she's been working with authors for years. And so she has such an expertise in that area. And she just reached out and, you know, asked the question. You know what? What is books to Graham? You know, authors don't really understand it. They don't know how to get involved. Like, where do people, you know, get these, this community, these relationships And so...

...we that initial phone call was like, over two hours long, And I just kind of expressed, you know, on my side of working with publishers and other PR companies and just, you know, working on campaigns that maybe I wasn't totally satisfied with and just feeling a little bit used and abused. That might sound a little too intense because it's about books, but But just that, you know, I would I would spend the time reading and then posting and engaging and growing, and I mean, it just takes it, takes a lot of time. And so, um, so one of the things that really has meant a lot to me and Ashley when we've done a plate reads and our campaigns is making sure that the right book goes into the right hands because I've just kind of found. And she's found on the author side that a lot of the negative reviews that authors get, or just books that weren't supposed to go to that person, right? Yeah, it's the worst. When you as an author, when you get a review, that's bad. And, uh, and their viewers, like I absolutely hate women's right. You're like, Don't read it Well, thank you to whoever sent that book. That's that I like. And I'm sure Stephanie can say to like books programmers want to read what they want to read, but they also have this kind of responsibility that, you know, penguins sends them a book, and they feel this responsibility to read it and review it, even though it might not be within their wheelhouse of books that they read. So anyway, up let's been amazing. And I think what we're doing is really championing both sides that you know, we're supporting the author and making sure that we check every single box for them when we do campaigns and then on the other side we make sure that we're nurturing these relationships with the books programmers that they are heard and valued and that they mean something in this whole grand scheme of the books program world, and I think it's been great. I mean, at least on my side of what I'm seeing. I'm like, Wow, this is been better than I ever could have imagined. So no, it's great. And I think it's authors to, you know, sometimes, like I know I have a lot of personal relationships like with you guys and other people. But when you're getting to that like pre pub time, you're so scattered and you're so all over the place that if you don't have someone to help, like, things are falling through the cracks and you just can't help it because it's just, you know, and sometimes you don't know, like who your publisher sending two or what they're doing. So I love the idea of, you know, kind of that connection between, like having someone that's helping with that relationship between the author and the books to grammar so they know, like how much they're appreciated and all of those things when I was Stephanie for you, I know that having a bookshop is something...

...that was a bit of a dream for you that you had thought about for a long time. And I remember very well when you started Puerto Rico bookshop. Um, so can you tell us a little bit about your bookshop? And also about how you think your instagram platform helped you to transition into that? Yeah, sure. So when I first started posting books and finishing reading the books that I was posting about, I was like, Oh, God, Well, what am I going to do with all of these books that I have, you know, just laying around the house? And so I thought to come onto Instagram and sell four or five books. And then it kind of just grew over the last four years of me, sourcing large amounts of books and solely selling them on Instagram. And now I'm in a storefront at the beach and in Light Blue. Here in my hometown. I have started not only selling used books that I find and sores. I'm starting to work with authors and sell their brand new books that are coming out. So it's that has been super exciting. And then I started book Porter, which is my books, leave wine, so I sell. That's That's really grown, You know, I started the book sleeve line at the beginning of the Pandemic and somehow during a pandemic books leave line has just blown up and it's It's been so amazing. And so now it's kind of just grown and grown and grown, and it's like it's almost like the sky's the limit for it. I love it. I remember going on the day of your launch and I had these, like, certain patterns that I really wanted. And it was like nine AM I mean, it wasn't like it was five in the afternoon and I was like, going through and you had listed all of them on Instagram, and it was like every pattern I wanted was already sold out, and I was like, What is happening? This is amazing. I remember the very first collection. It sold out in three minutes, which there there were so many books leaves, and in the beginning I was like, I have no idea if this is going to work. I have put thousands of dollars into this launch, and I'm like, I don't know if it's gonna work or not, And when everything sold out in those first three minutes. I was like, Oh my God, this is insane. And then now you know I'm coming up on a year of having book Porter. We've sold thousands of books leaves, so I mean it is It's been incredible. It's it's and really, honestly, I could not do it. I don't think without my platform that I had on my books to gram account, because I had. I had so many friends that I had grown through that relationship and they help me spread the word, you know, like they they helped me kind of grow...

...this. So it's been like a group collaborative effort. Basically, I could not have done it by myself. Yeah, you both definitely have really great and loyal followers. And I love what I'll do, like a preorder your signed copy and get a free gift kind of thing. And I start getting all these emails and receipts coming in from your books shops. So I love that I've been able to sell all of your books so far, and now we're about to sell a new novel this year. I mean, it's just been so amazing, and I feel like every single you know, new author, that I get every new book that I'm able to sell in the shop. It's just it's a dream come true. It really is. I love that. Well, it's it's amazing And I'm just I think it's so cool what those of you all have done. And, you know, we we look at some of these things that we do when we think are they worth our time or what are they leading into? And I feel like there have been so many things that I've done in my life, sort of like y'all where I sort of accidentally stumbled into something. But if I hadn't stumbled into that, it wouldn't have led me to something else that ended up being really great and cool and kind of changing everything. Okay, so I know you know, this is something I don't want to say common, but let's say you're doing something common uncommonly well. And what I mean by that is there are so many, many people out there that are trying to do what you're doing, but maybe aren't having the success that you are and are thinking, Ah, like, why is this not working for me. Why am I not having success with this? So, um, Stephanie, do you have any advice that you would give people who are trying to start out on books to Graham and trying to create an influential account but aren't having a lot of luck or success? Maybe success is a better word, you know, for me, I feel like I didn't focus on the number of followers that I was getting. I didn't focus on how often I was posting. I have, especially over the last year, being at home a lot and focusing on me. I have really tried to number one say no to things that I did not want to post about. And I think Megan really touched on this us instagrammers feeling like we have to say yes to every single email that we get having to say yes to every single message from an author that messages us and says, Hey, will you post about my book? I have tried to keep my instagram feed solely for me and posting about things that I love, posting about things that make me happy. Um, you'll see a lot of my kids recently and I mean, that has nothing really to do with books. But it's for me, and a lot of people relate to that. You know, I think the more real you are with your...

...instagram and you know, the more real you are with your posts and all that. I feel like that is relatable to people, and that's what people want to see. So I think that's one of the things that have been good for me. At least I love that. That's really great advice. Megan, What about you? Do you have any advice for people trying to get started? I think a lot of my thoughts are the same as Stephanie's. I think a lot of the roadblocks that people experience when they are trying to reach this success is that they're thinking too much about the success that they lose the value of just being present and and things that are an authentic growth can be slow. I mean that not an absolute for everyone. But, you know, I I look at some accounts on books to Graham, and I'm like, I know you just thought that, like thousands of followers and it, it's like pretty obvious when that happens. And at least for me, I've been a very steady growth slow. I mean, in my eyes, I'm like, I feel like I've accomplished all of the things. But, you know, I've had accounts that have been lower than me, and now they're like, three or four times my size in the last year. And I'm like, I don't know how all that works because I've never really thought about the number that I have. I mean, obviously, I think everybody wants to see the reflection of the time that they're putting in that that reflects in the numbers game. I think that's just like human nature to want that when you're putting in so much time. But I really value the relationships that I have with my followers And, you know, like Stephanie, I talk about real life and, you know, just struggles that I have. I don't post about my kids on lying or like in our post, but I mean, everybody is very much aware that I just happened to fall upon homeschooling my four kids this last year. And you know, mental health wise has not been a good year for me because of that. And when I'm showing this kind of human side of me outside of you know, the pretty pictures, that's what creates connection. And that's what creates commitment to each other and wanting just the best for everybody. And so I think there's no right way to approach books to Graham. And I just definitely know that when you're only thinking about...

...the number of likes, the number of followers and you just leave out this amazing part of the people who are behind it and that they they're following you for a reason. I mean, they can unfollowed Oh, you very quickly And you know what are you what? What's keeping them around? You know, Is it just the pretty picture? Or is it because they connect with you over you know, the bookshop thing? Or are they connecting you because you just had a new baby or you know, things like that? So that for me, I just like I've, like, cried over how much I love these people who follow me and spend the time to, you know, comment and interact it just to me. It's invaluable at this point that you know where where would I be if I didn't have these people in my life, you know, and vice versa. So Oh, my gosh, no, that's so true. I feel the same way. And like sometimes I'll just be so overwhelmed with this, like gratitude for the people that just, like show up, you know, to like your page. This is kind of for both of you guys, but it's like short. But are you ever shocked at like sometimes I'll put a post up and I'll be like, This is gonna rock it like people are going to die for this. It's going to get, like the most likes I've ever had. And it's like, Well, like total bust and the storms, I'll put something up and I'll be like, Well, that's not going to go well and then it explodes. So I will just say that my most liked photo on my instagram feed is my photo of Lincoln when he was born. It has nothing to do with books. Wait. You guys follow me for all the book love and you guys just adore the child. And like you guys don't like my book pictures. You like the book? The photos of the kids like to target to, like a big sure. I mean, you know, what are you going to do? I mean, they all followed me throughout my pregnancy. And so I think when they finally got to put a face to him, that was really exciting. But I just thought that that was kind of funny. And then, like you go and you work so hard to, like, curate this amazing photo and you take 100 photos and you used up all the memory on your phone for that one photo. And then no one like the struggle is real. What else to say? It's crazy. Alright. So, Stephanie, do you have any future dreams or plans that you would like to share with us Like what's next for you? I have been working on a book. I don't know if we were talking about it, but I'm excited and it's been it's been a very long journey, and there's still many, many months, maybe a year left to go. I'm not naive to think that it's, you know it's not gonna happen for me tomorrow, but I am working on a book. I've got lots of writing and...

...editing to do. But I have my foundation for it, and I have a lot of work put into it. So I mean, I'm very hopeful. Yeah, that's what I've got going for me. I really hope to, um, expand the bookshop and do new items this year. Like we're working on a tote bag. So I'm really excited for that. That's awesome. What about you? I was thinking about this a lot because I feel like my dream has always been to make a living off of books to Graham, so I don't know about Stephanie. But when I started mine, I was like, How can I hustle this? Like, what? The free books are really nice, but the novelty wears off pretty fast because you can only read so much at a time and anyway, But I've always been like, where is the money in this business? And what do I value? What do I want to see? Do better? And so with applet, I feel like I've already kind of like the dream has been fulfilled, but building on that with the pandemic and everything, I haven't been able to meet any of these authors in real life that we've worked with and, you know, help them with, like, their author events. And that's definitely a dream of mine of Just let's, like, go out for lunch and fly to wherever and meet. You know, just having book events. I'm just, like, kind of dying for that type of interaction again. No, I am, too. And the funny thing is, my tour was mostly cancelled. So under the Southern sky comes out April 20th like you can't even remember And like this book seven. What day does that come out? What month is it now? You know, I had this like six week book tour planned, and, of course, most of it's canceled. But there were several events where the coordinators were like, You know, we have a We have a crowd that's like, probably going have already been vaccinated. They really want you to come like Would you do it? And I was like, Yeah, sure. And so let's Field Books is my very first event on the calendar. I haven't even announced my tour dates yet, and they called me like, three days ago. We're like, Well, that was a good idea because we already sold out. People are just dying to do so. You know, I go somewhere, um, so I totally understand that. Okay. So I can't let you guys get away without talking about what you're looking forward to reading next. So, Megan, do you wanna start us? Sure. So my most. I mean, obviously your book. I've obviously I mean, let's it's I've, like, had it on my nightstand. Like, I just have not been reading as much as I have.

And I need to just, like, put my I need to, like, focus. It's really hard. It's really, really hard to get through. And that's one of the Yeah, yeah, it's one of the best things about friends in fiction, like all the reading. But it's also been because I think it's kind of like got me motivated again and like, back in the groove. But it's been a weird time. Yeah, yeah, but my most like the one that I'm just like Oh, I'm so excited is actually Emily Henry's book. The people we meet on vacation. I just like love summer reading so much, and I am not going to say how I felt about her last book that But this one I'm like my expectations are are I just, like, feel it Kind of like kicking up of it. And so I'm like, I just I'm ready for it. But hopefully I'll be at, like, a pool. Or like at the splash pad or something. Like I'm like, Can I be outside in the sun and reading it? So we'll see. We'll see. Stephanie. What about you? Okay, so I was actually thinking about this, and I was like, Okay, what? Obviously? Christie, your book. Everyone is going to have it in their hands. This something. That's why I had you all. You have to say that. But so they're worth three books that I'm so excited about this year. Number one, The maidens by my like nickel lids. Mikel Ladies, I don't butchering his last name. He's from Greece. So I have no idea how to say that I love the silent patient so much. I am so excited about his book. The Gunkel by Stephen. Really? I am so excited for him. Number one. He is such a kind and awesome person. And I loved Lily and the Octopus. I love the editor like his writing is so beautiful. I'm so excited for that book. And then also, um, Tracy Garbis Graves book. Heard it in a love song. I am thrilled about her book coming out. I love the girl he used to know, and I just love her writing, so I'm excited for her. Love it. Okay, So funnily enough, when I was doing an interview with Megan and Ashley for a plate reads, they did a lightning round. And I was actually talking to Ashley the other day and she was like, You need to do a lightning round. And this podcast, obviously. So we're going to have a lightning round. So what I'm thinking is Stephanie, why don't we start with you and we'll go through all your answers, and then again, we'll do yours. What's that sound? Let's do it. Okay, Kendall or a Buck Kendall or e book? Kindle or Paperback? A look. I have never said yes to an e book. I don't blur be books like I can't do it. I don't have any reader. I don't want to be on screens anymore than I already am. I'm making this lightning...

...round, not lightning. Okay, I'm obviously not good at this. Okay, Audible or Netflix? Netflix favorite book. The screen adaptation. Oh, my God. Big little lies. Romance or mystery romance, contemporary or historical? Contemporary tea or coffee? Oh, God. Both David Christie Woodson. Harvey Buck. Uh, no. Slightly south of Simple. Just just hooked me to you. I'm shameless. Okay, Megan, your turn. Kindle or paperback or hardback? Physical book for sure. Okay. Audible or Netflix? Netflix favorite book to screen adaptation. Okay, wait. I just have to say that surprises me about you because you're a bit but you do You do library the honourable I mean, who, me audiobooks. Yeah, I Well, I wouldn't. I love I really do love audio books. Okay, But I don't do audible be love net, right? That's what I mean. Okay? Yeah, audio book, but I don't Yeah, I don't do audible. I do. I do. Livro FM. Yeah. Okay. That was put in a better way to say Yeah. Favorite book to screen crazy rich asians. Oh, my gosh. I just watched it for the second time. Randomly, with my husband lost. It was like our Friday night date, and we both just like tackle the whole time. It's so, so good. It's so good. It's so good. It's so good. Okay? Romance or mystery? Mystery, contemporary or historical? Contemporary tea or coffee? I'm going to say neither. And Coke zero. Okay, there you go. Well, the judges will allow okay. And most important, favorite Christie Woodson. Harvey book. Okay, I feel like your last one, and I'm blanking on the title. What? It feels like falling. I love a good, strong woman dating a younger man. Wow. I like I was digging that storyline, so I but Petri bluff for sure. I mean, I just all of them can I say, d all the above? Um, can I just say I cannot wait for Petri Bluff to come back for Christmas? Because I know I'm dying and so is the rest of the world. I am editing it right now. I have to say two things about it. One I'm editing right now, and it's the most fun, like I'm having the best time doing it. It's so easy. I'm like, thrilled. Well, I'm pretty excited, and I will have to say that I was on the fence like I was really nervous about doing this...

Christmas book. And my, my publisher was kind of on the fence, and then they were like, Yeah, you should do it. It'll be great. And I announced it. And it is, like, far and away my most popular posts ever of my life. Like ever. And I remember sitting at them and they were like, Okay, this is a good call. Good call. Good call. But anyway, um, we all are amazing. Thank you for doing this. Thank you for coming. Stephanie, can you please tell all of our listeners where they can find you? You can find me on Instagram at Porter Company Bookshop or on Inlet Blues Instagram as well. If you are local to North Carolina, you can come stop by and see me at the beach shop any time. Megan, what about you? You can find me at Megan's Book Club on Instagram. And you can also find me on a plate. Reads where we do the book campaigns. Y'all are amazing. Well, thank you so much for your time. I hope that you both have a really great day. It was so, so fun. Can we talk again to being with you? Yes. Let's do it again. Let's do it again all the time. Like a monthly Check it. I would love it. I would love it. Well, all of you listening out there. Thank you so much for joining me as I had this amazing discussion with Megan and Stephanie. And we hope that you'll join us for all of our podcast, where we offer our weekly friends and fiction live Facebook shows. And also additional fascinating interviews about the world of books. Happy reading. Thank you for tuning in. Join us every week on Facebook or YouTube, where our live show airs every Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Eastern time. And please subscribe to our podcast and follow us on Instagram We're so glad you're here. Oh!.

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