BookTok for book marketing

BookTok on TikTok is the latest book marketing resource for authors.

TikTok is a social media platform for creating and sharing short videos. BookTok is a TikTok subculture for books and readers. Book lovers create opinionated and entertaining video book reviews, sharing them with the #BookTok hashtag so readers can find them.

BookTok for book marketing is big – but will it help you?

Who’s on TikTok?

Before adding TikTok’s BookTok to your book marketing plan, you need to know if your ideal readers are active on that social network.

Before adding TikTok’s BookTok to your book marketing plan, you need to know if your ideal readers are active on that social network.Click to tweet

TikTok is popular primarily with Gen Z (24 and younger); they make up 41% of its users. That means that 59% of the app’s users are millennials, Gen X, and baby boomers.

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Your typical baby boomer not using TikTok

Only 2 percent of boomers report using TikTok, though, so if that’s who you write for, don’t spend time figuring out how to use BookTok for book marketing. Put your social media time into Facebook, the most popular social network for that age group.

(Remember this when you continue to see articles and other commentary about how authors must be using TikTok and BookTok for book marketing.)

If you write for a young adult audience, you need to master this social network. Your readers are waiting for you there.

The press is buzzing about BookTok

What else do you need to know about BookTok on TikTok? Here’s a roundup of what publications are saying about the trend and why it’s important to authors.

“TikTok for Viral Book Marketing,” Publishers Weekly

This guest commentary was written by a co-founder of Big Black Chapters, a marketing resource for indie authors of color. Scroll down to the “TikTok’s online book community” subhead and read from there to learn why it’s important and get tips for using it.

“TikTok is driving book sales. Here are some titles #BookTok recommends,” NPR

This excellent overview of the types of book videos shared on TikTok points out that it’s word-of-mouth marketing at its best. We all want to write books that are so good that others do the marketing for us.

Worth noting: BookTok is turning older books (“backlist titles” in publishing parlance) into best-sellers. Remember, though, that TikTok reviewers have to discover your books before they rave about them.

“The rise of BookTok: meet the teen influencers pushing books up the charts,” The Guardian

Watch the BookTok videos in this article to get a sense of what these book lovers are creating and sharing. (If you’re like me, you might get a few ideas for what to read next, too.)

“BookTok has passion—and enormous marketing power,” The Economist 

Not convinced yet? In this article, one publisher describes BookTok as an “absolute phenomenon.” The writer points out that many of the reviews are so emotional that they might make “fogeyish literary types” roll their eyes.

Some of us might see that as a good thing.

“How Crying on TikTok Sells Books,” The New York Times

Get insights into how and why the BookTokkers create videos that go viral and sell books. It’s also fun to read author reactions to sales surges that seemed to come out of nowhere, and how they feel about the source.


Check out the reviewers profiled as “11 of the best BookTok accounts to follow.”

How to use BookTok for book marketing

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Booktokker doing her thing

The first thing you need to do is use TikTok yourself.

Research how to do that online. For example, there’s good advice from one of the Young People in “How to Use BookTok: A Guide for Authors and Publishers” at the Literary Ladies Guide site. Or, take a course. Register for a free Udemy account, then watch your email for a sale that will get you a discount on one of the TikTok courses.

You can create videos for your own book, but is it possible to get a BookTokker to review your book instead?

Most authors writing for a younger audience or who write mainstream fiction would be thrilled if a BookTokker reviewed their book. That starts with a top-quality book, which is usually the norm with a traditionally published book. If you’re self-published, your book needs to look and read like there’s a big-name publisher behind it.

The quickest route to reaching influential TikTok reviewers is hiring a specialist or agency offering this service.

Going all D-I-Y

Or, you can do it yourself.

Identify the up-and-coming reviewers who are still building a following. Begin to establish relationships with them. Support them by liking, commenting on, and sharing their videos.

If you write for a young adult audience, you need to master TikTok. Your readers are waiting for you there.Click to tweet

And, note that these enthusiastic reviewers like to hold a print book, so if your book is only available as an e-book, getting BookTok reviews might not be a realistic goal. (Or, once you immerse yourself in the platform, you might find some who do review e-books.)

Eventually, you might be in a position to contact a few reviewers personally with a direct message. But first put the time into using the app yourself and supporting the reviewers who love the kinds of books you write.

There’s no question that BookTokkers are having a profound impact on book sales. If you start small and you’re patient, you might enjoy some of that success yourself.

Or, you might just have a lot of fun learning how to create short videos. That’s good, too!

Do you use TikTok and BookTok for book marketing? What’s working for you? Please tell us in a comment.

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  1. I just started using TikTok mainly because I can create 1 video that I can also share on Instagram. So, 2 social media platforms in one shot. I am actually enjoying making videos. I am in the parenting and nature niche, so I mix what I see in the parenting niche and nature niche. I often opt for pretty videos of nature that either I take or I get from Canva as opposed to having me on video. I certainly have more people watching my videos than I ever get viewers on Instagram. My goal is to post 1 video per day. I also try and use top trending music in my videos and keep them very short, so less effort.

    1. Thanks, Sandi! I hope you can consistently hit your 1 per day goal. You’re more likely to if you like creating them, and you do enjoy it, so you’ll do fine, I’m sure! I’m glad you’ve having fun with it.


  2. I recently joined the ranks of TikTok and enjoyed making videos. However, I have yet to find my young adult reader niche. I know that takes time.

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