The Black literary community is growing and taking up space on social media. From video book reviews to TikToks, Black content creators have come out in droves to support, market, and uplift Black authors.
Black-lit content creators have become an important thread that connects readers and authors. They create artistic and fun ways to showcase their creativity while also promoting literature.
Dédé who is better known as @ariesreadtoo on Instagram has been at the forefront of using her creative talent to promote Black authors. When you scroll through her Instagram page it looks like an art gallery dedicated to Black stories.
Each image Dédé posts is a tribute to a book she’s read, reviewed, and enjoyed. Pulling themes together while also using her creative eye to give us character visuals, she gives us a glimpse of what each book is about.
I got a chance to talk to Dédé about her love for reading, being a Black literary content creator, and the inspiration behind all of her photos.
The interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
SGBC: Tell me a little bit about yourself, where are you from, and what pushed you to create a bookstagram page to highlight Black literature?
Dédé: I am a Black woman, I read Black romance and I am an Aries lol. I am a dual citizen, born in the United States, raised, and currently reside in Canada. I am of Jamaican descent, and very much raised in a Jamaican household. JA big up unnu self!!
When I joined bookstagram, I frequently saw these beautiful visual aesthetics for white romance novels and would wish we had them Black romance novels. Eventually, I got tired of saying “I wish” and decided to do it myself! I mean who better to do it? I love Black Romance stories, reading them is part of my self-care. When I read, I’m usually envisioning characters anyway, so I gave it a try, and here we are!
SGBC: When thinking about how you could promote books online, how did you come up with the idea to use character visuals to set the mood and tone for readers?
Dédé: When I began to create visuals to go along with my reviews, I honestly was just providing something that I wanted personally. I’m a visual learner and instead of just telling myself what I got from the story, I also showed it. When I started my page, I didn’t have a huge following or a lot of interaction.
The visuals were truly for me, and I found creating them relaxing, another part of my self-care. I often take extensive notes when I’m reading; I begin to feel inspired and visualize different people, places, and/or things I’ll include in my collages. I like accuracy, so I follow the story closely. I’m passionate about creating visuals that fully embody the beautiful stories of Black romance.
SGBC: What is your process when selecting your next book?
Dédé: I am very much a mood reader. When I see a beautiful cover with an interesting synopsis, it may just be my next read! Unless I’ve been commissioned, I read what I want when I want. Like I said previously, reading, especially Black romance, is a part of my self-care.
SGBC: How do you go about selecting what books will get featured on your Instagram page?
Dédé: My selection process for which books will be featured on my page is very organic. I have to first like the book, if I didn’t particularly enjoy the story I won’t post it on my page.
Other times I really enjoy a story but the visual is just not coming to me, or I can’t find a person that matches the description and vibe of the character in the story, so I’ll just leave it. Sometimes a lot of time passes before I come back to it having found what I was looking for, but I refuse to force it.
SGBC: What genre of books do you most love to read and what genre do you want to read more of?
Dédé: The genre of books I read is romance. Subgenres include contemporary romance, urban romance, romantic suspense, speculative romance (give me all the aliens), shifter romance, etc. There isn’t a genre I want to read more of, I love where I’m at in the world of romance!
SGBC: How do you manage to stay in a creative space when the algorithms may not be in your favor?
Dédé: I try not to let algorithms discourage me; when I started my page I did it for myself, and I always try to keep that in mind. Also, there’s a large community of Black women looking for their next Black romance novel.
The interaction I have with other Black readers is important, it doesn’t matter what the algorithm says when my people are saying something different.
The messages and comments I receive are quite encouraging, uplifting, and often very timely. When I’m not in a creative space it’s because I am in a reading slump or I am exhausted, which has to do more with real life than computer numbers.
SGBC: If you could give a bookstagrammer advice on how to get into creating their own page, what would it be?
Dédé: My advice to new bookstagrammers is to create your page for yourself! Make sure it’s something you are passionate about and genuinely want to do. It takes effort to create a platform but if you’re doing it out of love, you’re more likely to stick to it during hard/trying times.
SGBC: Where do you hope that your talents will take you within the literary space?
Dédé: That’s a great question, I hope my talent allows me to continue to create working relationships with Black authors within the literary space. I’ve been afforded a plethora of opportunities to create my book collages for promotional purposes for several Indie authors.
SGBC: If you were on a remote island and could only have five books to read until you were rescued, what five would make the list and why?
Dédé: Oh gosh, this is such a difficult question to answer. If I was stuck on a remote island and I could only bring 5 books to read until I’m rescued I’d bring;
One Last Shot by Alexandra Warren; It’s a WNBA sports romance with a forbidden love trope and an accidental pregnancy.
Pulling Doubles by Christina C. Jones; It’s a romantic comedy with an enemies-to-lovers trope, hospital romance, and accidental pregnancy.
Love Scammed by Rilzy Adams; The hero Hudson is a complete cinnamon roll and he’s Jamaican. Beres Hammond is playing, the Caribbean vibes are just right!
Our Type of Love by Chelsea Maria; Kellon Cambridge is the epitome of BDE, he gasses up the jet and goes to Jamaica to collect his wife! I reread this book all the time!
Nothing But Wolf In Me by Nikki Clarke: It’s a wolf shifter romance with fated mates, and accidental pregnancy.
SGBC: Finish the sentence. Reading is…
Dédé: Reading is a form of self-care.
SGBC: For new authors who want to have their books featured on your page, what steps do they need to take?
Dédé: For new authors who want to have their books featured on my page, I’m currently accepting commissions. For inquiries please contact me on my bookstagram page @ariesreadtoo.
It was a pleasure speaking with Déja, be sure to follow her on Instagram.
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