Following my last post on inspiring women in interesting geeky roles, I wanted to take a deeper dive into one upcoming YouTuber that is taking the Supernatural fandom - and also the rest of the internet - by storm.
I caught up with Alana King, formerly known as KingBooks. She has been on YouTube for four years now, with nearly a whopping 35,000 subscribers under her belt. As her original title would suggest, she started out as BookTuber, reviewing her latest reads and engaging with all the fellow internet bookworms. Though, her channel was not the first bit of video content that she created.
“I was posting videos on another channel with a group of my friends. In 2011, we began making short ‘adaptations’ of scenes from our favourite books, mostly The Hunger Games.” Alana worked across all areas of these projects, from filming, to editing and uploading. Unfortunately, when Alana moved onto high school, the film group decided to part ways. “I was devastated, I wasn’t ready to give that up. The experience made me realise that I wanted to make movies for the rest of my life.”
Spurred on by the lack of film classes and societies in her education, Alana decided to take matters into her own hands. The BookTuber area of YouTube was beginning to gain popularity during this time, and Alana believed that this was her calling. “I had a camera and I read a lot of books, why not make videos and talk about the stuff that I love?”.
A filmmaker in action! Keep up to date with all things Alana King over on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook
Alana’s channel kicked off in March 2014, and has been gaining traction over the years. With now a plethora of experience behind her, she has branched away from filming strictly BookTube videos, dabbing into the weird and wonderful world of fandoms. Her channel currently consists of a cocktail of fan convention vlogs, discussion videos on fandom and a whole lot of content centred around the legendary show, Supernatural. She was one of the prominent voices in supporting the Wayward Sisters project, as her documentary demonstrates.
Fans of Supernatural have welcomed Alana’s channel with open arms, as she states, “This fandom is by far one of the most loving and supportive communities I’ve ever been lucky enough to be a part of.” Starting a channel that centres around a fandom has allowed Alana to make long-lasting friendships and connections, especially on the convention circuit. It’s also allowed her to collaborate with well-known figures and companies to create new content.
As I mentioned previously in my review of Family Don’t End with Blood, the SPNFamily is widely known for its active charity campaigns over the years. Alana has continued to fly that flag, by raising money for To Write Love On Her Arms. This organisation helps those dealing with mental illness, and is linked to Jared Padalecki’s Always Keep Fighting campaign. Across the three months of her campaign, Alana received overwhelming support from the fandom, demonstrating how fan creators can also spread the message of love and positivity through their own social channels.
The only difficulty when expressing feelings in a fandom is that not necessarily everyone will always agree with what one has to say. Whether it’s down to an opinion of an episode, or a take on a certain character or ship. Alana has had experience with this, and has reflected on this behaviour. “I think that just kind of comes with the territory of being on the internet. I’m always open to rational discussion about things but when people go off on me for having a different opinion than them about a TV show, I just try to blow it off.”
Alana with the author of 'Family Don't End with Blood' (and my dissertation interviewee!) Lynn Zubernis
As many readers may be aware, the majority of content creators do not run their channels as a full-time job. This is a rare luxury in the world of social media, and most creators keep running their work as a passion project. This is currently the case for Alana, who currently is a full-time college student. That’s not to say however, that her YouTube channel has not played a part in her current career path.
For one to become a YouTuber, they must learn how to gain followers. It’s not just as simple as pulling out your phone and hitting ‘upload’. Alana has discovered how to build and market to an audience, and has been able to gradually improve her video production technique over the years. “These skills led me to go to college with a major in film and a minor in social media and digital strategies. In many ways, YouTube has changed my life for the better.”
Naturally, continuing on with a project of this caliber does come with a few hardships. Alana has particularly found balancing her studies with YouTubing a challenge, as the academic schedule can make uploading content on a regular basis difficult. Nonetheless, she has managed to make a success of it so far.
Furthermore, the act of expressing one’s self on video is something that can be particularly daunting. Alana claims, “...when you put so much of yourself on the internet, you’re opening yourself up to scrutiny on a big scale.” With that way that the world works, not every person out there will like or agree with your content. However, it’s common on social media that those expressing these feelings do not always fully see how damaging a comment can be to someone’s confidence.
Alana has unfortunately experienced this darker side of the internet. From trolls to false accusations, she’s seen the lot. However, experience has taught her the best methods for coping with this. “People will use every excuse to try and tear you down, but I’ve learned that you can’t let those people define you. After all, success is the best form of retaliation.” I couldn’t agree more. They always say, ‘Don’t feed the trolls’, and that saying always holds true.
Living the con life! Check out Alana's video on her experience of Supernatural conventions, right here
Beyond college, Alana sees a number of paths ahead of her. As well as aiming to grow her channel past 100,000 subscribers, she is thinking further ahead. “Realistically, I would like to either manage social media for a company that I love, or work as an editor/assistant editor on a TV show.
“...unrealistically, I would absolutely love to collaborate with Jared Padalecki on a campaign to raise awareness for mental health. I would also love to help Rachel Miner and Misha Collins with projects for Random Acts. Also, if Wayward Sisters goes to series… I would love to work on the show.”
Truthfully, by gaining such a following on her channel, Alana is opening up new doors for herself. Starting a YouTube channel is certainly a big task, but the skills and connections that come along with it demonstrate a creative drive and passion. I for one, can absolutely see one of Alana’s ‘unrealistic’ goals perhaps becoming a reality. Especially as she’s revealed to us that this year she will be working on content that actually involves some of the Supernatural cast.
So, are there any readers out there inspired to start shooting their own videos? Well, Alana has some advice for you. “You need to find that motivation if it’s something you’re serious about wanting to do. Find a scheduled and stick to it. You don’t need a fancy camera or microphone to start. As for the content, talk about stuff that you love. If you’re genuine and passionate about the topics you discuss, people will know and will be drawn to you.”
The classic photo op smoosh with the Winchester brothers, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles