By Sian Toop

Since its launch in 2016, the social media platform TikTok is now one of the biggest in the world. In 2022, the short-form video-sharing app boasted 1.6 billion users, with a huge percentage of these forming the online sub-community ‘BookTok’.

What started as a way for book lovers to connect due to being confined to their homes during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 has grown into a sweeping online network of readers, publishers, authors, and booksellers. The #BookTook hashtag now receives millions of search hits a day and brings up content such as book recommendations, reviews, and author Q&As — with some avid users refusing even to purchase a book before their favourite influencer has reviewed it. Authors can also find writing tips, industry news and self-publishing pointers, as well as setting up virtual events on the platform.

Let’s have a look at why ‘BookTok’ is great for indie authors below.

It offers the opportunity to build a fanbase.

The BookTok community is full of potential lovers of your book! Using it to your advantage lets you connect with users looking for a book just like the one you wrote. As the community has grown, BookTok has split off into smaller cliques searching for books that include specific tropes. Some of these tropes include ‘enemies to lovers’ and ‘morally grey villains’ — find your faction, find your fanbase!

Be more visible.

One of the biggest challenges of being an indie author is getting people to see your work. Marketing can be tricky; without a big budget and a team behind you, it can become hard to get your book noticed. Developing a presence within the community may take time, but there are many self-publishing success stories on the platform; BookBub has compiled a list of some of the most popular self-published authors here.

You can link your work.

Without trying to sound like it’s an uphill battle as an indie author, another obstacle to overcome is selling your books. A great thing about TikTok is you can add a link to your videos which will take users straight to the page of your website where they can buy your book. There is also the opportunity to add a link to your site or a Linktree, which can encompass all your social media accounts plus your website, which gives you the chance to drive traffic to all your sites.

Make connections.

As great as being a writer is, it can sometimes get lonely, and it’s always great to have like-minded people to glean expertise from or bounce ideas off. The key part of what makes the BookTok community such a success is that it’s not only readers sharing content but also authors, publishers and even libraries!

OK, so what now? Once you’ve decided to get involved in BookTok, here are some great tips on getting started on the platform once you’ve created an account.

Write a brilliant bio.

Your bio needs to tell viewers who you are, and since they are limited to 80 characters, you need to choose your words wisely. Don’t forget to link your social accounts and include a link to your website!

Interact with the community.

Remember, the BookTok community is vast and, as an indie author, you need to find your people. Follow fellow BookTokkers who have either written a book within your genre or readers who are interested in your niche. Remember, you can use hashtags to find readers who are searching for books that include the tropes that your book does. Don’t forget to reply to comments people leave on your posts and engage with other user’s posts to become part of the community.

Post engaging videos.

This will take practise (and possibly watching a lot of other BookTokker’s videos to see what sounds/hashtags/trends are popular), but your videos need to be engaging. Video lengths can range from 15 seconds to 10 minutes – but that 10 minutes needs to be really worthy of the viewer’s time to stop them scrolling by.

Set a schedule.

Running any form of social media as a one-person marketing department can sometimes feel overwhelming. Try to take some of the stress out of it by setting yourself a posting schedule; perhaps for the first few months, aim for three videos a week (or whatever you can manage) until your videos build traction and engagement. Again, it also helps to follow as many BookTokker’s as possible to see what sort of videos are trending, allowing you to take inspiration from these for your own.

Some more great news is that the Ads for Authors course now includes a module on TikTok; registration is only open for a limited time, so book in here as soon as you can, and I think the only thing left to do after this to sign up and get stuck into the BookTok community!