What Is BookTok and How Can it Help You?
Are you a reader looking for a new book in your favorite genre? Are you an author looking to get your books in front of avid readers? Are you a reviewer looking to build a following. BookTok can help.
What is BookTok?
BookTok is a hashtag (#BookTok) on the TikTok app that is often added to video posts about books. The term BookTok is also used to refer to all of the videos with the BookTok hashtag. It's also used to refer to the large segment of TikTok users who regularly create and watch these videos.
What's in BookTok videos?
Though various types of videos have the BookTok hashtag, many fall into these groups:
The vast majority of the videos are short, a lot less than 30 seconds. Many feature the poster talking while many others use music for sound and on-screen text to convey information.
The videos cover many book genres. Some popular ones are:
How can readers discover new books on BookTok?
To see BookTok videos, you need an account on TikTok. If you're looking to watch the videos of a specific user, simply search for them with the app's search function.
If you're hoping to watch videos of a certain category - for instance, "new thriller books" - just type what you're looking for into the search bar.
As you view posts, the TikTok algorithm will try to understand your preferences. It primarily does this by measuring your "watch time" on videos. As a TikTok user, you have the ability to swipe away from a video well before it ends. TikTok interprets an early swipe as a signal you didn't enjoy a video.
On the other hand, if you watch a video in its entirety, TikTok registers a positive signal - it assumes you enjoyed the post. It also logs a positive signal if you tap the like button on a video, share it, save it, comment on it, or follow the poster's account.
The algorithm looks for topical commonalities among the videos it thinks you enjoyed. It will then automatically show you more videos like them in the "For You" section of the app.
Unlike the search area of the app, in the "For You" section, you don't tell TikTok what you're hoping to watch. Instead, TikTok tries to do all the work for you, sending you a stream of videos.
The more videos you watch, and the more data the algorithm processes on your account, the "smarter" these For You recommendations will become.
Once TikTok, for instance, believes you like review videos of newly released sci-fi books, it will show you a ton of videos about newly released sci-fi books.
Thus, you can easily discover new books within your For You feed.
How do you make BookTok videos?
If you're hoping to make BookTok videos, you need a TikTok account. You can record and edit a video directly inside the app. You also have access to tools for adding images, visual effects, sound effects, and music.
How can authors promote their books on BookTok?
A single BookTok video can quickly rack up 100,000 views, even a million. Some can even hit ten million.
What separates these videos from many others that generate just a couple hundred views?
As mentioned, the TikTok algorithm tracks the watch time on every video. When a video is first posted, TikTok will show it to just a handful of people in their For You section.
If those people, on average, watch a high percentage of the video, the algorithm will show it to a wider group of users. If they, on average, watch a high percentage, the video is shown to an even larger set of users, and so on. View counts shoot up as this process moves forward.
So, if you want to create a viral BookTok video, the last thing you need are viewers swiping away from your video as soon as it starts. You have to "hook" them right away. Build curiosity. Give them a reason to keep watching till the end.
Even better, make them like the video so much, they loop it, viewing it again (watch time stats for a post can go above 100% with loops).
What are some ways an author can increase watch time?
FYI, to learn how to write a captivating premise, check out my free creative writing course.
If your video has high watch time, TikTok will keep featuring it in the For You area for more users. However, it will only keep showing the video to people it thinks will like it based on its topic. Thus, your video's topic also plays a major factor in viewership.
If you're not a well-known author, a good tip is to compare your book to those of a famous author in your genre. You can say this in the video, include it in on-screen text, or in the caption. For instance, "If you like Famous Author, check out my book."
Some other tips for authors on BookTok:
If you're an author looking to elevate your marketing, be sure to have a look at my ultimate guide for book promotion.
How can book reviewers build a following with BookTok?
The factors that determine the view total of a book-review video are the same as those of an author's book-promotion video. Though follows, likes, shares, saves, and comments can help, watch time and topic are the main determinants.
Some ways book reviewers can hit high watch time for their videos:
Posting video reviews on books that are very popular at the moment is a great way to tap into the topical component of TikTok's algorithm. If a lot of users have been watching videos about a new release by a famous author, a video you create about that new release would have high viewership potential.
What are TikTok ads?
TikTok ads are self-service paid posts that run within the TikTok app. Advertisers can target specific audiences for these ads, based on interests, view history, and app interactions. Campaign budgets are set and managed by advertisers.
If you want to boost the reach of your posts, make a TikTok advertiser account and start testing ads. I suggest you start with a low budget, see what's working, and increase your budget once you find post types and target audiences that are generating good engagement.
TikTok ads can be a very powerful tool for growing your reach within targeted segments of the BookTok user group.