If you follow me on Twitter, you know I’ve recently linked to several articles about the current TikTok phenonmenon related to books.
If you’re unaware of TikTok, or the influence the video-based social media platform is having on the publishing industry, these are some of the highlights:
1. Videos featuring the hashtag, #BookTok, have been viewed over 12 billion times.
2. Previously-published novels, such as We Were Liars, They Both Die at the End, and The Song of Achilles, have become recent New York Times bestsellers due to the viral influence of TikTok book reviewers.
3. Ironically, a digital platform that features quick short-form videos is actually driving kids, teens, and adults to spend more time reading long-form books.
Why is TikTok causing these improbable results?
Here are some quotes from The New York Times, NBC News, and Publisher’s Weekly that help provide answers:
“Videos made mostly by women in their teens and 20s have come to dominate a growing niche under the hashtag #BookTok, where users recommend books, record time lapses of themselves reading, or sob openly into the camera after an emotionally crushing ending.” – The New York Times
“Users on TikTok are bold in sharing their opinions, emotions, vulnerabilities, insecurities, and imperfections. The content on the app feels more unfiltered, more raw, more real than content featured in other places. As a result, viewers aren’t just passively consuming TikTok’s content—they’re connected to it.” – Publishers Weekly
Here are some examples of top book influencers on TikTok:
https://www.tiktok.com/@alifeofliterature (Over 305,000 followers)
https://www.tiktok.com/@thebooksiveloved (Over 300,000 followers)
https://www.tiktok.com/@amysbooknook (Over 74,000 followers)
(FYI – Most BookTok influencers display an email address to contact them.)
According to The New York Times, “Publishers are starting to catch on, contacting those influencers with big followings to offer free books or payment in exchange for publicizing their titles…Fees range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per post…There is no corresponding Instagram or Twitter effect, however, because no other social-media platform seems to move copies the way TikTok does.”
NBC News reported, “From the publisher side, Penguin Random House is very in-tune with #BookTok trends and frequently collaborates with creators.”
The TikTok phenomenon begs the question: Is TikTok good for your book?
The answer is yes and no. Here’s why:
The majority of TikTok interest is heavily skewed towards the Young Adult Fantasy, Romance, and Science-Fiction genres.
Adult fiction and nonfiction genres aren’t seeing the same level of sales boosts.
Creating videos that use the #BookTok hashtag is the driving force behind viral video growth.
If you don’t enjoy social media or understand how it works, feel free to ignore TikTok.
However, if you’ve had past success using Instagram or Facebook, consider adding TikTok to your book marketing plan. Get in early before the platform becomes overwhelmed with too many book promotions from authors and publishers.
Avoid doing a sales pitch video for your book on TikTok, Instead, focus on recommending other books you like and give free sneak peeks of content from an upcoming book.
As more TikTok creators get paid to recommend books by publishers and authors, the authentic nature of the platform will erode.
There is no formula for success on TikTok. It’s mainly about trial and error plus a lot of luck. Don’t expect to capture lightning in a bottle.
Whenever something is new, it’s easier to experience success due to the lack of competition. But, results will diminish in the future as everyone jumps on board.
Right now, TikTok is the most book-friendly social media platform in the world, especially if you write young adult fantasy or sci-fi novels. It’s also the fastest growing social media platform with over 1 billion users.
It’s still early days for TikTok. Thus, the best thing to do is experiment with using the app. If your books fit the preferred genres, give it a try and see what happens. Record some videos that reflect your love of writing and reading.
Reach out to some BookTok influencers and offer them a free copy of your novel.
Who knows…you just might cause young women around the world to weep uncontrollably over your book and become the next TikTok viral sensation.