Gone are the days when we thought we would never get involved with ticktock lip-synching teens and the elderly like me. TikTok is here to stay, and like most corners of the Internet, the book world has carved out its own ground. Authors, bookstores and bookfluencers all have accounts, and the publishing industry is increasingly watching and tapping into the power of the platform to sell books and spread the excitement of reading.
So how do you get started on BookTok?
The platform has some steep learning curve, but it is accessible if you divide it into manageable levels.
1. Download the app and make an account
You can do this by any means, including linking to Facebook, Twitter or Gmail. (Top tip: pick a good username. I thought I would never use my name, so I’m confused at this crucial point.)
2. Edit your profile
Note that you won’t be able to include that critical link in your bio until you hit 1,000 followers of Magic. (You can even make a business account to access it quickly, but I don’t recommend it, because it comes with restrictions.)
3. Navigate to the Home button
What makes TickTalk different from other social media platforms is that, if not all, you don’t have to follow anyone to get a content stream. When you press the Home button, you will be taken to your page called your FYP. First, it is a mess of things, most of which you are not interested in – the algorithm assumes what you like, based on what you can collect about it from the Internet. But when you engage by watching, liking and commenting, it starts to get better at what it serves you.
If you’re serious about having BookTok in particular, rather than having a fun TikTok account that includes books (and there’s nothing wrong with that!), You’ll want to avoid communicating anything that isn’t related to the book. One quick way to train the algorithm is to find some booktalkers to follow.
4. Follow some BookTokers
Book Riot has some great lists of people recommended to follow; You may also want to search for your favorite local indie bookstore, bookish podcast, or bookstagrammer or booktuber – chances are, they are there. From their accounts, you can see who they are following and click around and see if there is anyone interested. But there is no need to follow more people – and if you follow more TikTok will flag you as a spammer. Very fast. What you’re doing here is to train the algorithm. At the top of the page, you’ll see that you can toggle between FYP and follow-through. Press “Follow” and spend some time there, interacting with the book accounts you just followed. After that, the algorithm doesn’t take long to serve you unless you have separately booked content on your For You page.
It gives you an idea of what trends and voices people use to post about books. If you see a sound that you like and would like to try to use, press the Round icon at the bottom of the screen and then “Add to Favorites.” That way, when you go to add your own sound to the video, it will be the one available to you. This is a great way to hop onboard trends and get ideas on what to post.
5. Make your first video
There are plenty of tricks and tips to learn – more than I can cover in this single post – and if you want to go deeper, it’s a good idea to find tutorials on YouTube. But here are the basics:
- Press the + sign at the bottom of the screen.
- Add the sound at the top.
- Press the big red button to record yourself talking, dancing, or lip synching (yes, it still matters).
- Press “Next”.
- Add a title and a hashtag or two (opinions change and trends tend to be better for #booktok to use; more targeted, #romancereaders won’t bother to use anything they like).
- Tap “Cover Select” to select the most flattering freeze reputation as it shows up on your grid.
- At the bottom of the screen, there is a way to add text (like me, it’s a useful way to cover your face if you sometimes find that no freeze frames are actually flattering).
- Click “Save”, and then, at the bottom, click “Post”.
- Congratulations! You just posted your first BookTok video!
If you really want to put in some serious work, especially in the early stages, I recommend looking at a new account from Bookshop.org. He joined in April, posting with consistent beauty using current trends three times a day until he reached 1,000 followers in 10 days.
Bookshop.org is, of course, an accredited brand, so I don’t want to promise you that you will get the same result if you are a little known author or influencer of a book. But if you have the time and bandwidth, I highly recommend you try their technique – and give them some time until you learn Do Have a bank of drafts you can use with bandwidth so you can get started with a bang.
Above all, don’t hang on to numbers – BookTok is a great place to meet like-minded friends, expand your reading horizons, and get some great recommendations. Have fun with it!