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June 30, 2024 12:00
Author Bea Fitzgerald @chaosonolympus shares ten tips for writers on TikTok
young adult fiction

What is BookTok? Ten Tips for Writers on TikTok

May 26, 2024
Bea Fitzgerald
May 26, 2024

You may have heard the term ‘BookTok’ or spotted an ‘As Seen on BookTok’ sticker on the cover of a popular bestselling book in Barnes & Noble or Waterstones, and thought… Hmm, what exactly is BookTok?

BookTok, short for ‘Book TikTok,’ is a community of users on the TikTok app who are passionate about books and literature. Creators—who are mostly readers, but there are writers too!—make entertaining videos reviewing, discussing and creating jokey memes about the books they love. Many different book genres are featured by creators on BookTok, but there is a particular focus on Young Adult fiction, fantasy and romance. Some authors on the platform have connected with a huge audience and gone on to become New York Times bestsellers, such as Colleen Hoover and Chloe Gong, and the community is often credited with improving book sales within the publishing industry. The creators in this community are known as BookTokers.

Author Bea Fitzgerald is one such BookToker. Bea is the award-winning, Sunday Times bestselling author of the Hades and Persephone YA fantasy reimagining, Girl, Goddess, Queen, which this week was named the Fantasy Romantic Novel of the Year. Her new book, The End Crowns All, is a sapphic, rivals to lovers reimagining of the Trojan War in which Cassandra and Helen must work together to reweave fate to save their city from the men—and gods—who would see it fall.

Under her username @chaosonolympus, Bea has more than 116k followers on TikTok and her videos have accrued 8 million likes!

Bea recently hosted a practical workshop with writers of The Novelry where she taught us how to use trending sounds, edit video clips, and learn how many hashtags work best on our writing posts. The workshop was so good, we asked Bea to divulge her top TikTok tips for all writers right here on our blog!

In this article, Bea shares her top tips on how to use TikTok as a writer and explains the importance of BookTok for authors (and readers).

Ten tips from Bea Fitzgerald for writers on TikTok

We’ve all heard it, some of us have seen it and most of us want it: that one video that went viral on TikTok and changed an author’s life. Their sales rocketed, publishers came flocking, the advances poured in...

That’s not the reality for most authors on TikTok, but it can be a great way to engage your readers, make connections, and even hone your craft. If you’re looking to get started, here are some tips for authors trying to get to grips with the platform.

1. Have fun

This is a big one, and I’m going to come back to that golden ticket the thought of TikTok virality conjures—it might happen, but it probably won’t. This shouldn’t be your reason for creating content, and to put my publishing girly hat on for a moment, no publisher should be trying to sell you that ticket either. If there is pressure coming from anyone to be on the app but you don’t want to be, then don’t—it’s a publisher’s job to market you!

I love making content on TikTok—it feels like an extension of my creativity and encourages me to think about my books in a different way. But there are many social media options available to authors, and it’s better to do one really well than spread yourself too thin. But if the thought of being a bit silly, making fun videos and experimenting with your book pitches excites you, then this might be the platform for you!

2. Spend time on the app

TikTok has some particulars that you might not pick up on if you don’t spend some time on it first. Things like filming in portrait, not leaving a large gap before you begin (you can use the timer function or cut the clip after you’ve filmed to avoid this) or timing a lip sync to a trending sound (or even working out which sounds are trending!) all come from spending time on the app.

Beyond that, TikTok is a rewards-based service. It has one goal: to get people scrolling and consuming. So your videos are likely to do better if you’re spending time there, commenting on other videos and filming your content in the app (you can also edit with their partner app CapCut).

Plus, you can very much copy and paste! Give credit to the creator you saw for the idea, or if it’s generic, consider it a trend, but watching other people’s videos is a great way to come up with ideas and promote your books. You can also repeat the same joke, hook or quote across multiple videos or multiple trends as the algorithm means it’s not always the same people seeing every video.

3. Have a goal

Do you want to sell books? Or understand what sort of things BookTokers enjoy? Do you want to understand your own readership better? Or learn more about publishing? Or network with other authors? Have a think about why you’re going onto the app and let that lead you... And do try to avoid ‘go viral’ as a marker. My number one piece of advice to writers generally is to keep your eyes on your own page, because the only thing you can control in publishing is your own writing. Similarly with TikTok, all you can control is what video you’re making—and then the algorithm gods will do their thing, no matter how many hours you devote in sacrifice.

4. Don’t only push your own books

I mean, you can. They might land on the FYP (that’s For You Page, which is the main timeline on TikTok) but you probably won’t grow a following. The easiest thing to do is make videos about more books—especially if you don’t have a deal yet, make content about the type of books you think your readership would also enjoy so that when you get to announce yours, it’s exactly what they’re looking for.

You can think adjacently too. Some of my books are Greek mythology-inspired YA romantasies so my content is 70 per cent Greek myth-based, 25 per cent me reviewing and unboxing world mythology-inspired books (or YA or fantasy or crime now that I have an upcoming thriller coming out!) and 5 per cent me attempting to demystify publishing.

5. Hone your pitch

This isn’t what your book is about, it’s why readers will enjoy it. What’s your short snippet?

For example, for my upcoming book The End Crowns All, my pitch is ‘a sapphic reimagining of the Trojan War featuring rivals to lovers Helen and Cassandra’—the book itself is about two princesses of Troy trying to save their city from its inevitable fall, but readers will enjoy it for the tropey sapphic romance.

You can have a few varied pitches and use them as the basis of your videos. You can also pull out key moments of the book. Think of it like you’re convincing your friend to read it—‘there’s this one part where’ or ‘ohhh, you’ll love this character because they’re like this’—as opposed to pitching to your publisher or an agent.

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Types of content that perform well on TikTok

Okay, now we’ve got all that down, let’s dip into some types of content you can make that tend to perform well on TikTok. I’ll keep it vague as the algorithm changes so often (e.g., at the time of writing this blog, TikTok favors carousels and longer videos rather than shorter ones or trending sounds—but that might change next week!), but here are some things you could think about making content around:  

6. Quotes, quotes, quotes

TikTok loves quotes—though do make sure they end up in the final book! Think of prompts like:

  • ‘The rawest line in fiction’
  • ‘The most romantic line’
  • ‘When she says this but he says this’
  • ‘No book has ever been that relatable…’

You can fit this to a trending sound or make a carousel with a prompt and then a snippet. You can make a graphic in Canva or take a picture of the book with the quote highlighted—take a look at what other authors are doing in this vein and get creating!

7. Aesthetics

Canva and Pinterest are about to become your new best friends. Videos about how your book feels, looks, and its overall vibes are always popular.

You can use these in a video, flicking quickly between images, use them in a carousel, or layer quotes on top of them.

8. Arrow graphics

These are popular across platforms, and I consider them my sort of landing page for my book—my call to action. It’s a picture of the book, with arrows leading out from it to detail the things that are in there—normally tropes, representation or vibes within. It’s like a little bullet-point list of reasons people will enjoy the book, so if I tease a quote or moment, I try to end with the arrow graphic. You can make these on Canva or speak to your publisher.

9.     Publishing moments and achievements

Publishing is emotional! It’s a dream industry! So shout about achievements and cry about losses, it’s all real and authenticity is key on TikTok. The moment you got your deal, hit a list, saw your book in stores, signed with a literary agent, was nominated for an award—share it! It’s not bragging, it’s aspirational!

And finally, and please, if you take anything onboard, let it be this one:

10.  People can see you

Your publisher, potential publishers, agents, other authors—they can all see the content you’re posting. So don’t be rude, don’t be mean, don’t be scathing to other authors; if you write, then you’re an author, which makes those people your colleagues. If you’re a reviewer, then absolutely review away—but authors cannot intrude into reviewer spaces and though you might be an author who also reviews books, you cannot exist in both on online spaces without treading a very fine balance. If you think you can, then great. Otherwise be considerate, be upbeat, and use your platform to lift others up rather than tear them down.

The reading community on TikTok is an incredible one, it’s a joyful place to be and a brilliant resource for authors, so let’s all make an effort to support one another because, at the end of the day, we all just really really love books—and that’s a very wonderful thing!

For more insights into literary techniques, coaching and a supportive writing community, join us on a creative writing course at The Novelry—the world’s top-rated writing school.

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Bea Fitzgerald
Bea Fitzgerald

Bea Fitzgerald is the award-winning, Sunday Times bestselling author of the Hades and Persephone YA fantasy reimagining, Girl, Goddess, Queen, which was named the Fantasy Romantic Novel of the Year. Her new book, The End Crowns All, is a sapphic, rivals to lovers reimagining of the Trojan War in which Cassandra and Helen must work together to reweave fate to save their city from the men—and gods—who would see it fall.

Under her username @chaosonolympus, Bea has more than 116k followers on TikTok and her videos have accrued 8 million likes.

Members of The Novelry team