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How To Use BookTok to Grow Your Author Platform

Written by
Sarah Rexford

Published on
September 8, 2022

The free social media platform TikTok is said to have passed over 2 billion mobile downloads as of October 2020 and has since risen to prominence. Instagram has appeared to follow suit, slowly transforming its platform from still images to video. 

While social media users fall on both sides of loving or disliking the change (no pun intended), TikTok has taken the world by storm and is a highly influential app. 

Individuals around the globe upload daily, and those who may not have found “influencer” status on other social media platforms found it via TikTok. 

The critical question to ask then is what does this mean for writers? Let’s walk through answering this question in stages, starting with describing TikTok and transferring over to how to use BookTok. 

Social media is a gold mine of free and paid marketing for writers. While it’s nearly impossible to use every form of social media to its fullest extent, choosing the right platforms can help you go from unknown other to known or even to an influencer. 

Let’s start with the basics by diving into what exactly TikTok is. 

What Is TikTok?

TikTok is a social media platform that allows its users to create and share 15-second videos. This specific social platform is unique in the variety of daily users. 

While Facebook often has a specific niche of frequent users, Instagram hosts a different type of user, and Twitter another, TikTok boasts a large variety.

The free social media application came into distribution in 2016, but it wasn’t until 2020 that it passed 2 billion global downloads. Why the hype? There are many reasons why users spend so many hours scrolling on this platform, but one reason is the possibility of fame. 

With this possibility in mind, let’s transition into how authors use TikTok as a tool for their books and writing careers.  

Examples Of Authors 

Platform is the name of the game when it comes to getting your book into the world. Below is a list of several authors who created a robust platform on TikTok and are successful authors, if not household names.

#1 – Victoria Aveyard is known for the fantasy novel Red Queen, which she wrote after graduating from her screenwriting program at the University of Southern California. 

According to BookBub, “Victoria Aveyard offers readers intriguing previews of what’s to come in her latest fantasy titles while also sharing snippets of her day-to-day life. She often uses trending sounds and a variety of hashtags on each of her TikToks to expand her reach.”

#2 –  A. L. Knorr is an independently published author with a decade of marketing experience. She uses TikTok as a place to share tips for other authors who pursue indie publishing. 

Additionally, she shares real-life examples of book launches, her life as an author, and of course, her life as a reader. After all, most great writers are great readers, right? 

#3 –  Will Smith may be best known for his incredible acting skills, but he also wrote a book. Like great authors do, he took to promoting his book via TikTok. BookBub says, “He used a trending sound to make a funny video encouraging people to read his newly released book, Will.”

Now that we know more about TikTok and the big names using it, what about BookTok?

What Is BookTok?

BookTok is a niche corner of TikTok dedicated to users with a passion for writing and reading.

Like any social media app, there are many reasons behind an individual’s use. Social media goals are subjective to the person using them, and TikTok is no different. 

TikTok isn’t just about dances and trending sounds, you can use it to talk about your favorite literature with other like-minded individuals. 

If you are a writer on TikTok, finding this niche and contributing content to it is crucial to your social media success. Rather than spend time trying to make a dent elsewhere, focus on your sweet spot—writing—by taking advantage of BookTok.

How To Use BookTok

If you love tropes or discussing them, you can do so through BookTok. Some BookTok users choose to focus on their favorite character tropes, apart from a specific new title. 

The app has many popular tropes to discuss, such as:

  • Enemies to lovers
  • Morally gray villains
  • Right person, wrong time
  • Found family
  • And more 

If you find yourself on BookTok, you will likely also find a myriad of others who are all fans of a similar genre. According to The Guardian, fantasy romance is a hot genre on BookTok.

Due to the similar interests of BookTok users, books in this genre or that incorporate some of the above tropes can largely contribute to a rise in the book’s fandom, which results in higher sales. 

Tips For TikTok Hashtags

According to Distractify, “If you search the #BookTok hashtag on TikTok, there are currently over 29.1 billion views for videos about reading, recommending, and reviewing books.”

Bookstores have taken note and rearranged their store layouts over this hashtag. For instance, Barnes & Noble now uses “Trending on Booktok” as its staple display. If you trust BookTok users’ book opinions, all you have to do is find this section of your local Barnes & Noble to locate a book you’re sure to love. 

BookTok is similar to Twitter in its use of hashtags. If you were a child when the first Harry Potter book was released, you likely remember the newfound love children found for reading. The hashtag #BookTok is said to have “rekindled an appreciation for reading in many users.” 

With love for reading on the rise, hashtags readily accessible, and 2 billion downloads of this app since 2020, what does this mean for you, the writer? 

Where To Go From Here. 

You may want to consider downloading TikTok, setting up your personal profile, and then taking notice of the ways other authors use this social media platform. 

Create a list of trends you notice authors using: 

  • Reading experiences
  • Writing life
  • Behind-the-scenes
  • Unboxing 
  • Book launches
  • Release day
  • Anything else that applies 

Then, create your own list of ways you can use TikTok that not only stay on-brand with this platform but also reinforce your writing brand. 

Do you want to use the platform the personable way Victoria Aveyard does, or do you want to find a different, unique way that reflects your personality in other aspects? While on the topic of personality, it’s essential to consider other social platforms. 

While TikTok has a massive reach, it’s also critical to use it in such a way that builds your brand. If you can’t do so with TikTok, you may consider pouring yourself into another app and using TikTok more sparingly:

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest 
  • YouTube
  • Clubhouse 

Whatever you choose to do with your newfound knowledge, have fun with it. The process of writing and marketing your book is not one every individual gets to enjoy. 

TikTok could be your next step to marketing success, connecting with other writers, and building a group of fans around your favorite trope. You’ll never know until you try it out!

Sarah Rexford
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