How to Use BookTok: A Guide for Authors and Publishers
By Anna Fiore | On October 21, 2021 | Updated July 3, 2022 | Comments (2)
BookToks are TikTok accounts that are dedicated to books and everything “bookish.” They’re part of a niche platform for short-term video content. BookToks might include content such as videos about literary collections, building at-home libraries, book reviews, and promotions for new releases. Here’s a quick guide on how to use #BookTok.
You might notice that many people post content that is awfully similar. These are known as “trends” or challenges, and they can ultimately help widen your page reach.
TikTok started out as a platform mainly used by teenagers, but it has quickly expanded its reach to incorporate influencers, much as Instagram does. The amount of sway TikTok can have, especially for promoting fiction, caught the industry by surprise, as described in the New York Times article, “How TikTok Became a Bestseller Machine.”
Businesses have jumped on the bandwagon to use TikTok as a marketing tool, so it was just a matter of time before BookTok emerged as a marketing tool for publishers. In other cases, young book lovers have become BookTok influencers as an outgrowth of their passion for books and all things bookish, rather than by design.
Here are a few tips for how the book community can use BookTok:
The TikTok Algorithm
Users consume videos through their “For You” pages, which is an algorithmically programmed feed that delivers content to users based on what they have engaged with in the past. Once a user begins viewing and engaging with a specific type of content, there is a snowball effect in which that user is served more of that type of content.
The most effective TikTok strategy is no different from other social media platforms:
- Engage with your followers by liking and replying to their comments (the more comments a video receives, the more the platform recognizes it as “engaging” and will show it to more people)
- Post regularly — keep people excited for new content and don’t let your page die down
- Use hashtags to help people discover your videos
There is a lot of conflicting information online on the most effective strategy for using hashtags on TikTok. We have found that the best thing to do is to use a combination hashtag strategy.
Meaning, use 4-6 hashtags that represent your brand (#authorsoftiktok, #writertok, etc.) and then add 4-6 hashtags that fit the content of the video. You can also use trending hashtags if you are copying a trend or a challenge.
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Photo Courtesy of Caleb Woods: Unsplash.com
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Content Ideas for Marketing and Promotion on TikTok
- Post a book cover reveal
- Summarize your book
- Post an unboxing video
- Show your audience about your writing process and the pains of editing
- Tell your audience about the publishing process
- Lend writing tips and tricks for aspiring authors
- Share quotes and illustrations from your book
- Engage with other BookTok-ers and ask them to post a review of your book
What not to do
Make sure to mix up your content so that you’re not only self-promoting your book. It would be useful to share other tips and tricks for writers as well as book recommendations. Your followers will get turned off if all you do is self-promote.
How to Get Your Videos Trending on TikTok
The number one factor that will help you boost your page reach is trending sounds. If you see a sound that has over ten thousand videos under it, use it. You can even put it over a video in the background of you talking and it will still boost your views.
Once you spend some time on TikTok for a while, you’ll start to notice that many people post videos that are similar—similar sounds and similar themes. These are known as “trends” or challenges. Look for ways you might be able to take advantage of TikTok trends and hashtag challenges to promote your new book.
Keep in mind however, that TikTok allows 15-second videos. This means that you only have 15 seconds to grab your audience’s attention and persuade them to buy your book.
Contributed by Anna Fiore: Anna is a 2021 graduate of SUNY-New Paltz, majoring in Communications, with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in journalism.
More information and sources
- Using TikTok to Sell Books
- 19 Ways to Promote Your Book on TikTok
- 15 TikTok Ideas for Authors to Help Grow Their Audience and Book Sales
See more resources for writers on this site.
Great article Article, Anna. I’m just beginning my TikTok journey. You discussed hashtags, but not how and where they are inserted. It may be obvious, but I haven’t found where to insert them. I’m thinking maybe in my profile?
I also appreciated your content suggestions. These first five days of my TicTok videos are focused on the first novel in my series. Only because it is a featured deal on Hello Books. Once past that promotion, I’ll begin adding other content. But I am mixing up the five pitches I’m making.
Hi Hollis — thank you for your compliments to Anna, a recent intern at Literary Ladies Guide. I’ll see if I can get her to respond to your question, as I have no idea how to use BookTok!