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A Conversation With Jananie Velu

For the first Overacheiver’s BookClub at the end of July, Jananie Velu (better known as thisstoryaintover on YouTube and Instagram) was a fantastic co-host. She shares book hauls, reviews, unboxings, bullet journaling tips, and more on her channel. The Canadian-born Sri Lankan Tamil works in publishing by day and creates content in the evenings. 

Introduce yourself!

Hi, I’m Jananie! I’m a YouTuber, a writer, and a full-time bookish person working in publishing with a lofty aspiration to help people find their next favorite read. 

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What are your long-term goals in the publishing industry?

I’ve always wanted to work in books. When I was younger, I wanted to write a book, so publishing just came naturally. Early on during my internships, I realized I enjoy the marketing side of the business and I hope to grow there long term.

How long have you been posting on YouTube?

It’s been a little less than four years because I started my channel at the end of 2017. I posted inconsistently until about March 2018, when I finally began to post regularly during my last years at university.

What advice would you give to people who want to create YouTube videos?

Don’t let the fear of not getting it right the first time stop you. Youtube takes practice: you have to get used to talking in front of a camera and talking about things you enjoy. If you’re too scared to post that first video, you won’t get where you want to be. All that matters is that you keep doing it. If I got hung up on all the little things from my first few videos, then I wouldn’t be where I am now. 

What was it like being a bookseller?

I loved working as a bookseller! I stopped being a bookseller when the pandemic hit, but at some point, I was working at the bookstore, publishing house, and making YouTube videos. 

My location was a big one in a mall with a lot of non-bookish customers. They would come in saying they heard about a book on the radio and wanted help finding it but couldn’t remember the title or the name of the author, were looking for a book with a blue cover, or would only know one word in the title. 

My favorite part was recommending books I liked to kids, especially to the younger ones excited to read but didn’t know where to look or teens who want to try getting into reading. Sometimes it was challenging dealing with parents and grandparents who didn’t want the kids reading anything too out there.

I feel that. Recommending books to that Middle Grade (MG)/Young Adult (YA) age is fun. There’s always that kid who’s read everything, so when you recommend them a book, they say: “already read that,” “I don’t like that,” or “that close, but not it.” Eventually, the parent will say, “Oh, let’s leave the worker alone.” And I have to tell them recommending books is the best part of my day.

Exactly! I can spend ages walking down an aisle looking for the perfect book. It’s the best!

Wow, three jobs! Do you have any time management tips?

I’m naturally a workaholic. During my last Christmas break, I was setting up a blog again after years and trying to figure out WordPress. Back in high school, I had a book blog. Then eventually, I had a YouTube. I always liked having pet projects to occupy my time.

What would part-time YouTube look like for you?

Well, technically, it’s part-time right now.

You post so much!

*laughs* 

Okay yeah, that’s true. Since the start of 2021 I’ve been posting twice a week (more or less), but before that I was a lot more sporadic and probably posted once a week. I feel like I gave myself a challenge at the beginning of this year to post more often. I’m going to keep posting as long it’s still fun, and people want to watch. BookTube is nice in the sense that you’re just talking about books and it’s less about you as a person behind the channel so long as you are letting people know about books they might want to pick up. I am, however, starting a second channel to post lifestyle and productivity content because that’s a lot of what I enjoy watching on YouTube myself.

I am starting a second channel to post lifestyle and productivity content. This would be what, my third-side project? *laughs* The channel is live, but I haven’t posted any videos yet. I’m still working on the content.

You’re in publishing, you’ve been a bookseller, and you’re on BookTube. You’ve probably heard the criticism about adulting reading MG and YA books.

I used to hear that argument so much before, but now I don’t hear that as much anymore. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m just not interacting with people like that anymore or if it’s simply stopped.

I read YA growing up and at university. I get derogatory comments in person all the time where people say, “Oh, you’re reading YA?” I just don’t get policing what other people read. 

There’s this strange idea that anything produced by/for a child or teen is somehow less than something produced by/for an adult. Children and teens aren’t half-humans, they’re whole beings with interesting thoughts and feelings that contextualize the same experiences adults deal with but with a happier tone or ending.

What are you currently reading: Reading: Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni and The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

Listening to: The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris

Go-to coffee shop order: Carmel Machiatto or Matcha Latte with a non-dairy option

What are you streaming right now: How I Met Your Mother, it’s problematic, but it’s my comfort show.

What’s your favorite comfort food: Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Coffee Caramel Fudge

What’s the highlight of your day: Spending time with people I love and seeing positive comments on my videos. 

For more bookish content, follow Jananie on YouTube and Instagram! And sign up for the Overachiever’s BookClub to read & talk about books by Asian authors!

Associate Editor

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

We have grown since then, putting out bimonthly issues (we are contributor powered: apply to write for our next one!), and weekly reviews of culture, and news that is important to us.

You can find announcements, more news, and get to know our staff on social media: give us a follow, and learn how you can get involved today!

We do not claim to speak for all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. We are just here to give them a place to speak for themselves.

We hope you’ll join us.

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