BookTok Guide for Authors

Sarah Rexford
September 23, 2022 | 6 mins

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For some writers, BookTok is an extremely important part of their books’ success. According to a recent post by the New York Times, BookTok “has gone from being a novelty to becoming an anchor in the publishing industry and a dominant driver of fiction sales.”

So, for the writer who wants to make a career out of writing, BookTok is an important topic to study. With attention spans shorter than ever, condensed videos dominating social media, and even Instagram focusing on reels rather than still images, to keep up with sales it’s crucial to keep up with BookTok.

In this article, we share the ultimate BookTok guide to use for your book, career, and overall success. 

If you are new to social media, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed with the content of this article. On the other hand, if you’re a social media guru and want to continue learning everything you can, be prepared to take notes. 

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This BookTok guide covers:

So open your TikTok account or download the app, grab your notebook, and let’s dive in!

BookTok’s rise on TikTok

Much of what contributes to successfully publishing a book comes down to how well you market. The term author platform is not uncommon to writers, and building a launch team, writing a marketing plan, or hoping for great reviews is the everyday life of writers.

However, when the publishing industry noticed readers taking to TikTok to talk about their favorite reads, they also noticed those same books hitting bestseller status. 

Due to the influx of readers voicing their feedback via this free app, today, BookTok is a contributing factor to a successful book launch. If you are used to building your platform on Twitter with the hashtag #WritingCommunity, you may want to add the TikTok app and use the hashtag #BookTok. The rise in sales is astounding. 

If you are an introvert, going from typing in solitary silence behind your computer screen to a viral sensation sounds intimidating, don’t give up yet. First, listen to why BookTok matters and how you can use it with purpose, without losing your alone time. 

Why BookTok matters

In the marketing world, if there is a method that skyrockets sales, it’s at least worth looking into. BookTok is the current trend and one that aligns with the current trend social media has turned to: video. 

Social media is a viable way to make more book sales, and TikTok is perhaps a greater opportunity than any other social media platform at present. BookTok is a part of TikTok, and follows much of the TikTok culture. 

Additionally, TikTok is known as one of the best ways to obtain reach, organically. If you are just starting out, this is a great time for you to engage with this platform, grow your reach, and once you have a following, consider more formal advertising opportunities. 

On the topic of ads, you can pay to promote your TikTok video in hopes of getting more views, and ideally, more book sales.

Tip: Play around with creating videos and test engagement with organic (free) posts, prior to paying for advertisements. 

YouTube video

Stitching for authors

No, we’re not talking about asking your grandmother to fix your jeans or going to the doctor over a deep cut. If you spend much time on YouTube, you’ve likely watched a few reaction videos as influencers or vloggers respond to a new product, movie, book, or something else of their choice. 

For BookTok, stitching is quite similar and uses the hashtag #Stitchthis. Rather than watch a video and react in another, stitching allows you to splice a clip of a video into a video of your own response. 

This is a fantastic way to build engagement between authors and fans. Think of it as a live Instagram Q&A, but the questions are sent via video rather than comment. 

Interactions such as these are part of what makes BookTok such a growing platform. People want their voice heard, to share their experience, and learn from the reaction of others. 

Stitching is a way to share honest reviews, thoughts on books, and responses to author questions, all on one app via a short video. 

Follow the 80/20 rule

With stitching in mind, it’s vital to also remember the power of the 80/20 rule. Yes, BookTok is a great way to promote your new book release, communicate with your readers about your new softcover edition, or if you’re really on your game, get readers excited to pre-order.

However, your readers are real people with lives, needs, and feelings. It’s crucial not to treat individuals as commodities simply worth the price of your book, but as humans with likes and dislikes. 

When using BookTok (or any social media platform) consider dedicating not more than 20 percent of your posts to advertising.

Readers don’t want to be sold to or feel like you are only online to get their money. No, readers want to see your writing process and feel like they are part of the experience. Dedicate 80 percent of your online time to engaging with other users.  

Empathy and hashtags

Did you know empathy can play an important role in helping you determine the hashtags you use? Before choosing what hashtags to use, ask yourself the following questions:

Do I want to connect with:

  • Readers?
  • Other writers?
  • Publishers? 

Do I want my video to be found by:

  • Readers of specific genres?
  • A type of publisher (self-publishing or traditional)?
  • Writers of my genre? 

Once you know the answer to these questions, put yourself in their shoes and imagine what type of hashtag they would look up. Find those hashtags, choose the ones that have potential to give you the most exposure, and then post away! 

BookTok guide for writers: next steps

Whether or not you hop on the BookTok trend is entirely up to you. If you are on TikTok already, it might work well for you to explore the BookTok hashtag, engage in the culture of bookcase backgrounds or wearing a crown, and try various hashtags. 

If you’re not comfortable on social media, consider creating an account and viewing other writers' videos before committing to regular posting on your own. There is a wealth of information you can glean from simply getting on the app and seeing for yourself how other writers use its many features.

With this many people using the platform, even if you decide not to, it’s helpful to be aware of the current trend, culture of the app, and ways writers use it to promote their books. 

But whatever you decide to do, remember to keep your marketing on brand and use your book’s genre as a guide for branding, posting, and even Q&A sessions. Writing a book is a creative experience filled with trial and error. 

No one uses BookTok perfectly, but you might enjoy trying it out, seeing what kind of engagement you get, and maybe even seeing your book sales increase. You never know until you try! 

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