If you’re a book lover who uses TikTok, you might’ve heard about BookTok, a sprawling online community of published authors, aspiring writers, and avid readers across all genres. On TikTok, readers use the hashtag, #BookTok to discuss their favorite authors and book picks. Even if you’re not a TikTok user, you may have noticed a table or two at your favorite brick-and-mortar bookstore with “BookTok Recommendations.”
Because of the rising popularity of BookTok, many writers are using it to launch and grow their careers. In fact, BookTok helped sell around 20 million books in 2021, which represented over 2.4% of the total book sales for the year.
In this article, we’ll explore just how powerful the BookTok community is and how you can market your book through BookTok.
Here’s what we’ll cover below about BookTok book marketing:
The Power of the Booktok Community
The story of author Lloyd Devereaux Richards accurately depicts the power of the BookTok community.
In 2012, Richards wrote and published his book, Stone Maidens, a crime thriller novel about a forensic anthropologist investigating a serial killer who strangles women and disposes of their bodies in the ravines of southern Indiana. While the story was interesting, the book only sold a few dozen copies over the next 11 years.
In 2023, however, Richards’s daughter, Marguerite Richards, posted a 17-second TikTok video talking about her father’s journey to finishing the novel, saying, “I’d love for him to get some sales.”
The video went viral in no time, garnering over 40 million views. Those views translated to sales as Stone Maidens quickly shot up to No. 1 on Amazon. Many readers who bought the book praised the engaging storyline as well as Mr. Richards’ inspiring journey.
Now, Richards is working on a sequel to the book, according to his Amazon biography.
If you’re an indie author trying to self-publish your book, marketing your book on TikTok through the BookTok community can help you generate many sales and build your career, just like it did for Richards. Below are some strategies you can use to effectively market your book through the BookTok community.
1. Create a TikTok Account
Since #BookTok is mostly used on TikTok, it’s only fitting that you create a TikTok account dedicated to your author brand. Use a profile picture, name, and bio that clearly represent your identity as an author.
For example, Abby Jimenez, the author of Just For The Summer, Life’s Too Short, and Part of Your World set her TikTok username as “AuthorAbbyJimenez”.
Her bio also contains the phrase, “NYT Best Seller” with a link to a website where people can buy her books. This way, when people come across her profile, they can tell right away that she’s a writer.
2. Create Engaging Content
After creating your TikTok account, develop creative and engaging content that showcases your book and other book-related content. Some kinds of content you can post include:
- Interactive storytelling. This kind of content involves allowing viewers to influence the plot or characters by engaging with your videos. Not only does this help you build your audience, but it also encourages viewers to check out your book to see the full story.
- Book recommendations and reviews. Instead of directly promoting your own book, create content where you review and recommend books from other authors in your genre. You can also share your favorite (and not-so-favorite) reads from other genres with your audience. This positions you as an active member of the BookTok community and increases your visibility on the platform. Occasionally, slip in recommendations for your own book.
- Behind-the-scenes. Offer a BTS look at your writing process. Share your journey, challenges, and successes as you work on your book. This personal connection can help you build a strong bond with your target audience, making them more likely to support your work.
- Character Q&A sessions. Bring your book’s characters to life by filming Q&A sessions. Respond to your audience’s questions as though you were the characters in your book. This can generate interest and curiosity about your story, prompting viewers to check out the source material. Add costumes for some extra fun!
- Do interactive challenges and games. Develop book-related challenges or games that encourage viewer participation. For example, you could create a challenge where viewers share their favorite book quotes, describe their ideal book cover, or describe the plot of their current read while others guess the name of the book. This boosts engagement and encourages viewers to keep visiting your profile and consuming your content.
- Host virtual book club meetings. Choose a specific time for followers to join you live as you discuss your book or other books in your genre. This can foster a sense of community, and provide an opportunity for you to directly interact with your readers and provide more information about your book.
You can also use popular TikTok trends, challenges, and sounds to make your content more discoverable.
3. Connect with BookTok Influencers
Identify and reach out to popular BookTok influencers who may be interested in featuring your book. Working with influencers can help you tap into a wider audience and expand your book’s reach. Some popular influencers, however, ask for money in exchange for promoting a book, while smaller influencers may be content with getting a free copy of your book to read and make a review.
Note: You can also work with fellow indie authors on collaborations, joint projects, cross-promotion of each other’s works, and fun challenges for your collective audiences.
4. Use Hashtags Effectively
Research and use popular BookTok hashtags to increase the discoverability of your TikTok content. Some popular hashtags include #booktok, #bookish, and #bookrecommendations. You can also create a unique hashtag for your book and encourage your readers to use it when sharing their thoughts or making a review on it.
5. Host Giveaways
Giveaways are a great way to build your following and generate excitement over your projects on TikTok. Ask participants to follow you, and like and share your videos as entry requirements, helping to increase your visibility on the platform. You can also collaborate with other authors or influencers to expand the reach of your giveaway.
The caveat with this strategy is that what you’re giving away should be something your audience cares about and wants. If not, it may fall through.
6. Promote Discounts and Limited-Time Offers
Create a sense of urgency and exclusivity by offering limited-time discounts or special offers exclusively for your BookTok audience. This can drive sales as viewers may be more motivated to purchase when they feel they’re getting a unique deal.
7. Use TikTok Ads
If you have a marketing budget, try using TikTok’s advertising platform to reach a broader audience. You can create targeted ads to promote your book to specific demographics. As your ads run, monitor their performance to optimize your marketing strategy.
8. Cross-Promote on Other Platforms
Share your BookTok videos on other social media platforms, such as Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), or Facebook, to maximize your reach. You can leverage your existing TikTok author platform to direct your followers to your other social media profiles/videos.
Build your career through BookTok book marketing
Building a presence in the BookTok community takes time. To achieve success, however, you have to experiment with different types of content. Be creative, authentic, and consistent in your approach to capture the attention of BookTok members and convert that interest into book sales.
As you post different kinds of content, analyze how your audience responds to each one and adapt your strategy accordingly.
If you’re an indie author and you need some guidance with your writing process, check out our Free Writing Training. This training teaches you a simple, 3-step system that thousands of people have used to mind map, outline, write, and publish their books in as little as 90 days. You also get a roadmap to market your books and generate as many sales as possible.