In this post, we answer the questions of what is BookTok and why should writers care that it exists. Plus, we share some interesting stories related to the phenomenon and next steps for those who are interested in trying something new.
Are you familiar with the Greek mythological character known as the hydra? It’s this beast that was slain by Hercules, but it wasn’t an easy kill. That’s because each time a person somehow manages to cut off one of its heads, two more would take its place. If you’re familiar with Marvel Comics at all, you may know that the group Hydra in the comics claims the same ability with its members.
Anyway, I mention this only because (as someone who cut his teeth on social media way back in the MySpace days and wasted time on Google+ when that existed) social media can sometimes feel a bit like the hydra for writers who are trying to build a platform. Master one platform and two more spring up.
Enter TikTok, which is the video version of Instagram, which is the image-based version of Twitter, which is the condensed version of Facebook, etc. Those are over simplified comparisons, sure, but the point is that it’s another unique social media platform, which may be exciting for some writers and overwhelming for others.
If you’re already established on other social platforms, moving to a new one may sound like more work than it’s worth and a distraction from your writing, which are both great points. But if you’re looking for a place to establish your social media foothold where there’s still opportunity, TikTok may be right for you.
What Is BookTok?
So I’ve been seeing a lot of pieces on this thing called BookTok recently, and it’s pretty simple. If you’re familiar with hashtags on other social media platforms, then you may have already guessed that BookTok is a hashtag used on TikTok to tag content related to book reviews, recommendations, and funny memes related to the “book life.”
As with many social platforms, the hashtag is also used as a way to build community around a specific topic: In this case, the topic is books! I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty awesome community to me.
Why Should Writers Care About BookTok?
Most writers love to read books. So on a purely book-loving level, BookTok may appeal to you for that reason alone. It’s a great way to learn about new books and share a laugh or three about how book lovers see the world versus, well, the rest of the world.
Beyond that, many writers like to write and publish books. As such, participating in a community built around recommending books could conceivably be a good match when you write and publish books, whether that happens today or in the future.
The publishing world is beginning to take notice. Here just a few stories I’ve found from this summer on the topic:
The Rise of BookTok: Meet the teen influencers pushing books up the charts, by Alison Flood from The GuardianBookTok Boon Is Changing the Publishing World, by Chase Beech from Spectrum News 1BookTok’s Novel Approach Is Helping Canadian Authors, Retailers Attract New Audiences, by Jessica Singer from CBC RadioBookTok: A new kind of book club, by Cara Lee from Nouse
If your interest is piqued, then now is the time to create a TikTok account and begin browsing around and getting a feel for the platform. After you’ve seen some things you like and don’t like, have fun experimenting with your own videos. And if they’re book-related or of interest to the bookish, don’t forget the #BookTok hashtag.
With so much interest pouring in, this may be your last chance to get a foothold before the next big social media platform (or two) emerges.
Social media is a large part of our world today—and is thriving and growing by the minute. It’s important to know how to use social media for writers, everything from the basics to how it can benefit your career. Discover how to use social media to your advantage in this Social Media 101 workshop.