Books to read to get in the mood for the new Downton Abbey movie

The new Downton movie, Downton Abbey: A New Era, is releasing on May 18, and if your stomach also flips when you hear the theme music begin to play, these books are perfect to add to your TBR! Ranging from early 1800s to late 1900s, these historical books will capture your attention as a fellow fan of drama, history, love, scandal (and yes, some sprinkled with humor) all packed into one read.

To Marry an English Lord by Gail MacColl and Carol Wallace

“Marvelous and entertaining.” –Julian Fellowes, creator of Downton Abbey
Discover the true stories behind the women who inspired Downton Abbey and HBO’s The Gilded Age, the heiresses–including a Vanderbilt (railroads), a LaRoche (pharmaceuticals), and a Rogers (oil)–who staked their ground in England, swapping dollars for titles and marrying peers of the British realm. Filled with vivid personalities, grand houses, dashing earls, and a wealth of period details and quotes on the finer points of Victorian and Edwardian etiquette, To Marry an English Lord is social history at its liveliest and most accessible. Sex, snobbery, humor, social triumphs (and gaffes), are all recalled in marvelous detail, complete with parties, clothes, scandals, affairs, and 100-year-old gossip that’s still scorching.

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The Loyal League Series by Alyssa Cole

All of the suspense and adventure of an espionage thriller paired with swoon-worthy romance and hidden American history.

An Extraordinary Union: An Epic Love Story of the Civil War: The first of award-winning author Alyssa Cole’s highly-acclaimed Loyal League series! As the Civil War rages between the states, a courageous pair of spies plunge fearlessly into a maelstrom of ignorance, deceit, and danger, combining their unique skills to alter the course of history and break the chains of the past . . .
Elle Burns is a former slave with a passion for justice and an eidetic memory. Trading in her life of freedom in Massachusetts, she returns to the indignity of slavery in the South–to spy for the Union Army.
Malcolm McCall is a detective for Pinkerton’s Secret Service. Subterfuge is his calling, but he’s facing his deadliest mission yet–risking his life to infiltrate a Rebel enclave in Virginia.
Two undercover agents who share a common cause–and an undeniable attraction–Malcolm and Elle join forces when they discover a plot that could turn the tide of the war in the Confederacy’s favor. Caught in a tightening web of wartime intrigue, and fighting a fiery and forbidden love, Malcolm and Elle must make their boldest move to preserve the Union at any cost–even if it means losing each other . . .

Follow Alyssa Cole on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook

Passing by Nella Larsen

The tale is simple on the surface with several adventures in Chicago and New York’s high life. But underneath, it seethes with rage, guilt, sex, and complex deceptions.

Generally regarded as Nella Larsen’s best work, Passing was first published in 1929 but has received a lot of renewed attention because of its close examination of racial and sexual ambiguities. It has achieved canonical status in many American universities. Clare Kendry is living on the edge. Light-skinned, elegant, and ambitious, she is married to a racist white man unaware of her African American heritage, and has severed all ties to her past after deciding to ‘pass’ as a white woman. Clare’s childhood friend, Irene Redfield, just as light-skinned, has chosen to remain within the African American community, and is simultaneously allured and repelled by Clare’s risky decision to engage in racial masquerade for personal and societal gain. After frequenting African American-centric gatherings together in Harlem, Clare’s interest in Irene turns into a homoerotic longing for Irene’s black identity that she abandoned and can never embrace again, and she is forced to grapple with her decision to pass for white in a way that is both tragic and telling.

Snobs by Julian Fellowes

Once I became obsessed with Downton Abbey, I came across the creator of the show, Julian Fellowes, and his book Snobs. I had to read it knowing he created Downton Abbey, and his work definitely did not disappoint if you’re a fan of witty storytelling.

In his superbly observed first novel, Julian Fellowes, creator of the Masterpiece sensation Downton Abbey and winner of an Academy Award for his original screenplay of Gosford Park, brings us an insider’s look at a contemporary England that is still not as classless as is popularly supposed.
Edith Lavery, an English blonde with large eyes and nice manners, is the daughter of a moderately successful accountant and his social-climbing wife. While visiting his parents’ stately home as a paying guest, Edith meets Charles, the Earl Broughton, and heir to the Marquess of Uckfield, who runs the family estates in East Sussex and Norfolk. To the gossip columns he is one of the most eligible young aristocrats around. When he proposes, Edith accepts. But is she really in love with Charles? Or with his title, his position, and all that goes with it?
One inescapable part of life at Broughton Hall is Charles’s mother, the shrewd Lady Uckfield, known to her friends as Googie and described by the narrator—an actor who moves comfortably among the upper classes while chronicling their foibles—as the most socially expert individual I have ever known at all well. She combined a watchmaker’s eye for detail with a madam’s knowledge of the world. Lady Uckfield is convinced that Edith is more interested in becoming a countess than in being a good wife to her son. And when a television company, complete with a gorgeous leading man, descends on Broughton Hall to film a period drama, Googie’s worst fears seem fully justified.

The Bridgerton Series by Julia Quinn

We burn for the Bridgerton series! It takes place in the 1800s, long before Downton Abbey, but follows similar themes with a more lighthearted, romance-focused tone.

The Duke and I: In the ballrooms and drawing rooms of Regency London, rules abound. From their earliest days, children of aristocrats learn how to address an earl and curtsey before a prince–while other dictates of the town are unspoken yet universally understood. A proper duke should be imperious and aloof. A young, marriageable lady should be amiable…but not too amiable.
Daphne Bridgerton has always failed at the latter. The fourth of eight siblings in her close-knit family, she has formed friendships with the most eligible young men in London. Everyone likes Daphne for her kindness and wit. But no one truly desires her.
Amiability is not a characteristic shared by Simon Basset, Duke of Hastings. Recently returned to England from abroad, he intends to shun both marriage and society–just as his callous father shunned Simon throughout his painful childhood. Yet an encounter with his best friend’s sister offers another option. If Daphne agrees to a fake courtship, Simon can deter the mamas who parade their daughters before him. Daphne, meanwhile, will see her prospects and her reputation soar.
The plan works like a charm–at first. But amid the glittering, gossipy, cut-throat world of London’s elite, there is only one certainty: love ignores every rule…

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The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

This book is a non-linear, emotional and captivating historical fiction that I read in about two days. If you haven’t picked it up yet, this is your sign to do so.

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?
Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

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One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Mārquez

I have to agree with the New York Times Book Review that this book should be “required reading”… This book is epic and profound.

One of the most influential literary works of our time, One Hundred Years of Solitude remains a dazzling and original achievement by the masterful Gabriel Garcia Marquez, winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.
One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of the rise and fall, birth and death of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendiá family. Inventive, amusing, magnetic, sad and alive with unforgettable men and women–brimming with truth, compassion, and a lyrical magic that strikes the soul–this novel is a masterpiece in the art of fiction.

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The House of Spirits by Isabel Allende

If Emma Watson recommends a book, I am more than happy to read it. So I did exactly that when this book was on Our Shared Shelf in 2020. I quickly began to read much of Allende’s other English translated work, including A Long Petal of the Sea and Violeta. To put it simply, her work is exquisite.

The House of the Spirits, the unforgettable first novel that established Isabel Allende as one of the world’s most gifted storytellers, brings to life the triumphs and tragedies of three generations of the Trueba family. The patriarch Esteban is a volatile, proud man whose voracious pursuit of political power is tempered only by his love for his delicate wife Clara, a woman with a mystical connection to the spirit world. When their daughter Blanca embarks on a forbidden love affair in defiance of her implacable father, the result is an unexpected gift to Esteban: his adored granddaughter Alba, a beautiful and strong-willed child who will lead her family and her country into a revolutionary future.
One of the most important novels of the twentieth century, The House of the Spirits is an enthralling epic that spans decades and lives, weaving the personal and the political into a universal story of love, magic, and fate.

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The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillippa Gregory

From “the queen of royal fiction” (USA TODAY), this is another historical fiction that I devoured.

When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of the handsome and charming Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family’s ambitious plots as the king’s interest begins to wane, and soon she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. With her own destiny suddenly unknown, Mary realizes that she must defy her family and take fate into her own hands.
With more than one million copies in print and adapted for the big screen, The Other Boleyn Girl is a riveting historical drama. It brings to light a woman of extraordinary determination and desire who lived at the heart of the most exciting and glamorous court in Europe, and survived a treacherous political landscape by following her heart.

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The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I recently read this one after seeing it all over social media for the past year, and I have to admit, I’m now obsessed with it too. I’m now reading Malibu Rising by Reid, and enjoying it ~almost~ just as much.

Aging and reclusive Hollywood movie icon Evelyn Hugo is finally ready to tell the truth about her glamorous and scandalous life. But when she chooses unknown magazine reporter Monique Grant for the job, no one is more astounded than Monique herself. Why her? Why now?
Monique is not exactly on top of the world. Her husband has left her, and her professional life is going nowhere. Regardless of why Evelyn has selected her to write her biography, Monique is determined to use this opportunity to jump start her career.
Summoned to Evelyn’s luxurious apartment, Monique listens in fascination as the actress tells her story. From making her way to Los Angeles in the 1950s to her decision to leave show business in the ’80s, and, of course, the seven husbands along the way, Evelyn unspools a tale of ruthless ambition, unexpected friendship, and a great forbidden love. Monique begins to feel a very real connection to the legendary star, but as Evelyn’s story near its conclusion, it becomes clear that her life intersects with Monique’s own in tragic and irreversible ways.

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Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words by Andrew Morton

This one is nonfiction, but if you are interested in English history and Princess Diana’s story, you’ll truly love this book.

The sensational biography of Princess Diana, written with her cooperation and now featuring exclusive new material to commemorate the 20th anniversary of her death.
When Diana: Her True Story was first published in 1992, it forever changed the way the public viewed the British monarchy. Greeted initially with disbelief and ridicule, the #1 New York Times bestselling biography has become a unique literary classic, not just because of its explosive contents but also because of Diana’s intimate involvement in the publication. Never before had a senior royal spoken in such a raw, unfiltered way about her unhappy marriage, her relationship with the Queen, her extraordinary life inside the House of Windsor, her hopes, her fears, and her dreams. Now, twenty-five years on, biographer Andrew Morton has revisited the secret tapes he and the late princess made to reveal startling new insights into her life and mind. In this fully revised edition of his groundbreaking biography, Morton considers Diana’s legacy and her relevance to the modern royal family.
An icon in life and a legend in death, Diana continues to fascinate. Diana: Her True Story in Her Own Words is the closest we will ever come to her autobiography.

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Book marketing: What it is, and why it is never done

When authors write a book, what is the goal? To sell copies, to create a reader base, to retire from their day job and become full time writers – career goals can vary, but the answer to finding long-term success as an author remains the same: market your book.

A lot of the time, authors think writing the book is enough. It is, of course, a crucial part of being a successful writer, but writing a book and launching it into the world isn’t enough to get the book in front of its target audience to sell copies.

I am not discrediting all the work that goes into getting your book published, whether self publishing, traditionally publishing, or indie publishing. It is a long, tedious, process that takes a lot of work and good writing.

However, not marketing your book is like tripping at the finish line, and you’ll be doing yourself and your book a huge disservice without marketing!

So, what is book marketing?

The point of book marketing is to create awareness among booksellers and consumers for a specific book. The long-term goal of marketing is to generate book sales, but how do we get there?

When looking at famous authors with strong readerships, what do they all have in common?
They follow well-researched marketing strategies that help get their book to the ideal audience. Having a well-written book is important, but a book’s success is also dependent on making sure the right people are reading it.

First, identify your genre and target audience.

An important pillar to being a great writer is also being a reader. If you want to write thriller books, but never read that genre, how will you know what your fanbase is interested in reading? How will you know what book is missing from the millions? It is important to know the nuances of your genre, as well as the other authors who write what you write.

Along with identifying your genre comes identifying your target audience. If you write thrillers, go see who authors in your genre are following and who follows them on social media. That is a great way to start finding your audience members and engaging with them!

Build relationships with authors and readers.

Once you’ve established your niche in the world of books and readers, start interacting with the people who appreciate what you appreciate! Message the authors you followed on social media, and start networking with them. Consider collaborating with authors. This could be as simple as a social media post about them and their book, or a joint book giveaway.

A 2017 study from Digital Book World said that 95 percent of books were sold by word of mouth. Readers talk to other readers! There are so many books I would have never known about if I didn’t hear about them on Bookstagram or Booktok. If you want to be part of the conversation, interact with your readers. Send select readers with large engagements a copy of your book in exchange for an honest review or post about your book. This is a great way to start garnering attention for your book, as well as a loyal fanbase!

Get active on social media.

Trust me, I know social media can seem like a daunting place. It’s one of the biggest concerns and questions I get from the authors I work with.

There are so many directions you can go with social media, but if the idea of getting started is overwhelming you, start small. Start with the platform that feels easiest to you, whether that’s Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, or Twitter!

The idea is to make sure readers can find you, see who you are and what you write, and to stay updated on your books! It’s also the perfect place to find readers and authors to interact with.

Again, if we’re starting small, there’s no need to come out the gate posting 3 times a day. Start with two posts a week, and plan them out ahead of time. Sit down one day of the week for a few hours, plan two posts, schedule them out, follow new accounts, engage with users, and be done for the week. As you get more comfortable with it, you can add in more posts, more engagement, and more platforms!

Run Facebook ads.

There are so many strategies just through Facebook advertising you can get started with, but again, it makes sense to just start small!

If you’re new to social media, specifically to Facebook and/or Instagram, you can run Facebook Page Like ads. This is a great way to gain more followers on your social media platforms. When you create a Facebook ad, as long as your Instagram is linked to your Facebook, the ads will also go to your account on Instagram.

You can also run Sales ads, which will redirect users to your book on your website, Bookshop, Amazon, anywhere you choose! People will be able to see your ad, interact with it, and immediately buy your book.

Utilize Amazon author central.

Amazon is the largest book retailer in the world, and has completely changed nearly everything about the way we market and publish books. Having an Amazon Author Central account is one of the most important things you can do for yourself as an author.

There are multiple ways to utilize it, and the most important is to optimize your author page. Make sure you have an updated profile picture, bio, social media and website links, and that all of your books can be found under your author page.

You can also update your book’s categories on Amazon. This means you can change the categories your book falls in. For example, if you write thriller books and your book is in the thriller category, that’s great. But that category is so broad and encompasses every single thriller book on Amazon, so being more niche benefits the book. For example: thriller books with women sleuth leads.

The benefit of having niche categories is that it gives your book a better chance of hitting number one in that category on Amazon, which is another great marketing tool you can use if you do hit number one, or even if you hit the top 100 list in a category.

Run Amazon ads.

Amazon ads are another useful strategy to get your book out there. Advertising on Amazon is done through keyword targeting, using keywords that you personally choose. For example, again if you write thriller books, you can use “thriller books” as a keyword, and your book will pop up as a sponsored option when people search for thriller books on Amazon. This is a broad category, so it makes sense to be quite niche when it comes to choosing your keywords as well.

Amazon lets you update and trade out keywords as much as you need to until you find the ones that are targeting the right audience to sell your book.

Make videos!

Making videos is a fun marketing strategy that is blowing up in 2022. This doesn’t mean you have to be active on TikTok, posting videos every day, but we cannot deny the huge reader base that interacts with video content. Videos are a huge way to get engagement, and you can also post them on any social media platforms, not just TikTok.

There are also a lot of authors out there who have book trailers, but in today’s day in age, it seems to make more sense to make a personalized video. That can be anything from behind the scenes of your writing process, a book aesthetic video, a video of you unboxing your books, a tour of your writing desk, you thanking your readers, whatever feels natural to you!

Start small.

As you can see with all of the above marketing strategies, you just have to start small. Nobody is expecting you to do every single tip above, to have 100k followers on social media overnight, or to sell 500k copies of your book in a week. However, these strategies are all a great way to build up your author brand, books, and audience to get where you want to be as an author.

If you strategically look at where you feel you need growth as an author and start there, you’ll be able to look back and see how far you’ve come in a matter of months, even if that growth is just selling 10 more copies of your book, or gaining 100 Instagram followers! All of it builds on itself, so take it one step at a time and remember to enjoy the journey of gaining readers for your books.

amazon book

How to make your Amazon page pop

It’s key to list your book on multiple platforms such as Indiebound, Bookshop, Barnes and Noble, and Apple Books, but we cannot deny the importance of optimizing your book’s presence on the largest bookselling site in the world: Amazon. If you’ve ever wondered about specific ways to make your book stand out among the millions of books listed on Amazon, we’ve got you covered with a list of tips to make your page look optimized and professional!

Book Description

Your book description (after the book cover) is one of the first things people will see when looking at your book on Amazon, so here are some ways to make it pop.

  • Make the first sentence of your description a quick, catchy blurb of your book, and put it in bold!
    • Christopher Parker has a great example of this, with his short but gripping description of the book right off the bat, front and center.
    • You can then go into a more detailed description of your book, after initially catching their attention with the first sentence!
  • Add quotes to the end of your book’s description to give readers a taste of what is to come if they read the book!

Editorial Reviews

The Editorial Reviews section on your book’s Amazon page highlights reviews, usually from non-customers, such as other authors, media outlets, bloggers, or experts in the field (like an industry publication). However, if you don’t have as many reviews from that kind of outlet, you can start out by adding reviews you’ve received from Amazon, Goodreads, or NetGalley!

Some examples of Books Forward authors that have Amazon pages with Editorial Reviews:

As you can see on Christopher Parker’s listing, he uses quotes from other authors, Kirkus, and bloggers. And Kelle Z. Riley used reviews from readers on Amazon and NetGalley! Either way is beneficial. As the editorial review section is more eye-catching and closer to the top of the Amazon page, readers don’t have to scroll all the way down to Customer Reviews to see what readers are thinking of the book.

Editorial Reviews highlight some of the most positive reviews of your book, as well as aspects of the content that maybe weren’t covered in the book’s description.

About The Author

Adding information and editing your About The Author section gives readers more context into who YOU are!

You can customize your Author page in your Amazon Author Central account. Even if you only have one book, it is important to set up your author page because it adds your author bio and headshot to each individual book’s Amazon page. This gives readers more information on who you are and how to keep up to date with your author endeavors!

Here are some examples of authors who have great Author pages and About The Author sections for reference:

As you can see on all of those author pages, each of them has all of their books listed, their author bios, their author headshots, and other places you can find them (websites or social media accounts).

Benefits of editing your About The Author section:

  • Would you rather purchase from somebody who has a profile picture, references, and a decent description, or would you rather purchase from an empty profile with just a photo of the object for sale? When authors do not have a profile picture or even a description, readers are less inclined to trust that it’s a reliable source.
  • It drives sales of your book and other works if you have them. If you are an author with multiple books, having all of them linked in one section under the author makes it much easier for the reader to not only buy your books but just to find your books in general!
  • It helps readers keep up with you. You can link to your website and social media accounts so that readers can follow along with you! Readers are less inclined to stay up to date with you via Amazon, so linking to where they can get updates more often can be really helpful to building and keeping a fanbase growing.

A+ Content

Have you noticed the brand-themed graphics that some authors have on their book’s Amazon page under the From The Publisher section?

Here are a few examples from some authors we work with:

Amazon recently made A+ Content available to indie published authors, and you just have to be approved through Amazon as a professional seller who owns your book’s brand. Once you are approved, you are able to add A+ Content to products that are part of your approved brand catalog!

The next step after approval: design some graphics!

  • Once you are in the A+ Content design section of Amazon after approval, you’ll be redirected to an area where you choose the image sizes you’d like to add to your book’s page.
  • Using the measurement and graphic sizes you choose, you can then go to Canva, or any other design program, to create your own graphics. The most important part about the graphics is making sure the colors and fonts match the theme of your book.
  • You can then pull quotes you’ve received – whether it’s reviews from authors in your genre or industry publications like Kirkus or Booklife – as the text on your graphics. As you can see from the examples above, both authors stuck to the brand of their book for their graphics and pulled quotes that highlight the content of their books.
  • Avoid using the term “Goodreads reviewer” or “Amazon reviewer” because odds are that Amazon will not approve this graphic.
  • Another idea for graphics is your author photo and bio, which you can see J. Elle did for both of her books.

It can take up to seven days for Amazon to approve your A+ Content!

  • Benefits for A+ Content, other than more brand cohesiveness and professionalism:
  • Describe your book by including opinions from readers who grasped aspects of the book that the book’s description may not relay.
  • Use enhanced images and text placements to catch the reader’s eye and attention.
    Can result in higher conversion rates, increased traffic and increased sales when used effectively!

With these tips in mind, you can get to work on creating a fun, inviting and optimized book page on Amazon!

Thrilling books to read before the reboot of Dexter premieres

Were you shocked when they announced a new season of Dexter would be coming out? I was! If you’re like me, you’ll still be cozying up on the couch to enjoy another twisted season, despite all the atrocities that went down throughout the course of the show (season four finale, season eight finale, and many more moments). It’s time to re-equip your detective skills with these 10 books before the new season of Dexter comes out Nov. 7!

1. The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

Fried Green Tomatoes and Steel Magnolias meet Dracula in this Southern-flavored supernatural thriller set in the ’90s about a women’s book club that must protect its suburban community from a mysterious and handsome stranger who turns out to be a blood-sucking fiend.

Patricia Campbell had always planned for a big life, but after giving up her career as a nurse to marry an ambitious doctor and become a mother, Patricia’s life has never felt smaller. The days are long, her kids are ungrateful, her husband is distant, and her to-do list is never really done. The one thing she has to look forward to is her book club, a group of Charleston mothers united only by their love for true-crime and suspenseful fiction. In these meetings, they’re more likely to discuss the FBI’s recent siege of Waco as much as the ups and downs of marriage and motherhood.

But when an artistic and sensitive stranger moves into the neighborhood, the book club’s meetings turn into speculation about the newcomer. Patricia is initially attracted to him, but when some local children go missing, she starts to suspect the newcomer is involved. She begins her own investigation, assuming that he’s a Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. What she uncovers is far more terrifying, and soon she — and her book club — are the only people standing between the monster they’ve invited into their homes and their unsuspecting community.

2. My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…

My Sister, the Serial Killer is a blackly comic novel about how blood is thicker — and more difficult to get out of the carpet — than water..

3. My Lovely Wife by Samanth Downing

A couple’s fifteen-year marriage has finally gotten too interesting… Our love story is simple. I met a gorgeous woman. We fell in love. We had kids. We moved to the suburbs. We told each other our biggest dreams, and our darkest secrets. And then we got bored. We look like a normal couple. We’re your neighbors, the parents of your kid’s friend, the acquaintances you keep meaning to get dinner with.

We all have secrets to keeping a marriage alive. Ours just happens to be getting away with murder.

4. The Hole by Hiroko Oyamada

Asa’s husband is transferring jobs, and his new office is located near his family’s home in the countryside. During an exceptionally hot summer, the young married couple move in, and Asa does her best to quickly adjust to their new rural lives, to their remoteness, to the constant presence of her in-laws and the incessant buzz of cicadas. While her husband is consumed with his job, Asa is left to explore her surroundings on her own: she makes trips to the supermarket, halfheartedly looks for work, and tries to find interesting ways of killing time.

One day, while running an errand for her mother-in-law, she comes across a strange creature, follows it to the embankment of a river, and ends up falling into a hole—a hole that seems to have been made specifically for her. This is the first in a series of bizarre experiences that drive Asa deeper into the mysteries of this rural landscape filled with eccentric characters and unidentifiable creatures, leading her to question her role in this world, and eventually, her sanity.

5. Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable — more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best — and only — friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less helpful.

As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?

6. Survive the Night by Riley Sager

It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.
Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone and in a place where there’s nowhere to run. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing–survive the night.

7. The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey

Bombay, 1921: Perveen Mistry, the daughter of a respected Zoroastrian family, has just joined her father’s law firm, becoming one of the first female lawyers in India. Armed with a legal education from Oxford, Perveen also has a tragic personal history that makes her especially devoted to championing and protecting women’s rights.

Mistry Law is handling the will of Mr. Omar Farid, a wealthy Muslim mill owner who has left three widows behind. But as Perveen goes through the papers, she notices something strange: all three have signed over their inheritance to a charity. What will they live on if they forefeit what their husband left them? Perveen is suspicious.

The Farid widows live in purdah: strict seclusion, never leaving the women’s quarters or speaking to any men. Are they being taken advantage of by an unscrupulous guardian? Perveen tries to investigate and realizes her instincts about the will were correct when tensions escalate to murder. It’s her responsibility to figure out what really happened on Malabar Hill, and to ensure that nobody is in further danger.

8. When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole

The gentrification of a Brooklyn neighborhood takes on a sinister new meaning…
Sydney Green is Brooklyn born and raised, but her beloved neighborhood seems to change every time she blinks. Condos are sprouting like weeds, FOR SALE signs are popping up overnight, and the neighbors she’s known all her life are disappearing. To hold onto her community’s past and present, Sydney channels her frustration into a walking tour and finds an unlikely and unwanted assistant in one of the new arrivals to the block—her neighbor Theo.

But Sydney and Theo’s deep dive into history quickly becomes a dizzying descent into paranoia and fear. Their neighbors may not have moved to the suburbs after all, and the push to revitalize the community may be more deadly than advertised.

When does coincidence become a conspiracy? Where do people go when gentrification pushes them out? Can Sydney and Theo trust each other—or themselves—long enough to find out before they too disappear?

9. The Whisper Man by Alex North

In this dark, suspenseful thriller, Alex North weaves a multi-generational tale of a father and son caught in the crosshairs of an investigation to catch a serial killer preying on a small town.

After the sudden death of his wife, Tom Kennedy believes a fresh start will help him and his young son Jake heal. A new beginning, a new house, a new town: Featherbank.

But Featherbank has a dark past. Twenty years ago, a serial killer abducted and murdered five residents. Until Frank Carter was finally caught, he was nicknamed “The Whisper Man,” for he would lure his victims out by whispering at their windows at night.

Just as Tom and Jake settle into their new home, a young boy vanishes. His disappearance bears an unnerving resemblance to Frank Carter’s crimes, reigniting old rumors that he preyed with an accomplice. Now, detectives Amanda Beck and Pete Willis must find the boy before it is too late, even if that means Pete has to revisit his great foe in prison: The Whisper Man. And then Jake begins acting strangely. He hears a whisper at his window.

10. You by Caroline Kepnes

When a beautiful aspiring writer strides into the East Village bookstore where Joe Goldberg works, he does what anyone would do: he Googles the name on her credit card.

There is only one Guinevere Beck in New York City. She has a public Facebook account and tweets incessantly, telling Joe everything he needs to know: she is simply Beck to her friends, she went to Brown University, she lives on Bank Street, and she’ll be at a bar in Brooklyn tonight — the perfect place for a “chance” meeting.

As Joe invisibly and obsessively takes control of Beck’s life, he orchestrates a series of events to ensure Beck finds herself in his waiting arms. Moving from stalker to boyfriend, Joe transforms himself into Beck’s perfect man, all while quietly removing the obstacles that stand in their way — even if it means murder.

A terrifying exploration of how vulnerable we all are to stalking and manipulation, Caroline Kepnes delivers a razor-sharp novel for our hyper-connected digital age.

Must-Have Elements On Your Author Website

Have you created an author website, only to realize you have no idea what you need to include on it? What is it that people want to know when they visit your website, other than what your book is about? Whether you have a well-designed website already or are planning ahead, this list should clarify what you really need.

Most Important Elements

Homepage: order links and book cover

When anyone visits to your website, it is important that they are immediately met with what is most important: the book cover for context, and order links. (Have you heard of burying the lede, or am I being a journalist?) People have very short attention spans, especially nowadays, so making it as easy as possible for anyone visiting your site to order your book is the best way to go. If your book isn’t out yet, that’s okay too, you can add preorder links. If you don’t have those yet, a body of text that says COMING SOON will do in the meantime!

We also usually recommend that authors give their readers multiple retailer options to order from. A link to your book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Bookshop or Indiebound usually does the trick! That way people can order from their favorite indie bookstore.

It is also important to have your book cover front and center on your homepage so people know what they are ordering. If you are an author of multiple books, you can include your newest book on the homepage, with a tab on the website to all of your other books. You can also include a brief description of the book (25-100 words) on the homepage. I wouldn’t recommend a long description on the homepage, because again, short attention spans!

About page: author information

This is usually where visitors go to learn more information about the author: you! It makes the most sense to include your author headshot and your professional bio in this section. (Check out our blog post on the importance of headshots if you’d like more info!)

Your bio can be around 300 words, and are usually written in the third person. It’s okay to brag on yourself here, people are going to this section to learn about you, so let them learn!

This tab is also great for adding social media links. Whatever platforms you are on, even if you aren’t super active, I would recommend adding here. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, even TikTok if you have it, can go in this section! It’s always great for readers to be able to find you on social media, because they are more likely to keep up with you via those platforms rather than regularly visiting your website. If you aren’t active on social media, that’s okay (though I do recommend you create some accounts)!

Contact page: who are people contacting?

This is usually where we recommend our authors add our information, but if you don’t have a publicist, you can add whoever is fielding queries for you! Some authors add their agent here, their publisher’s information, or if you are handling all inquiries, you can add your contact info! The best form of contact here is email, or a contact form.

You can also add social media to this tab. Don’t be afraid to double up on information when it comes to where readers can find you. I know I keep saying it, but since people do have short attention spans, they may be coming to your website only to find your social media links. If they can’t find it quickly, they will probably give up. So put it everywhere!

Book page: all about your books

This is what we are all here for, right? The BOOKS. This tab is the perfect place to include your book cover with a longer description about your book, usually your back cover copy! If you have multiple books out, you can include them all on this tab, or have separate tabs for each book!

Other elements to consider

Blurbs: People like to see that other people like your book. So, if you have some great blurbs from other authors, or even just a really great quote you can take from a reader on NetGalley or Goodreads, put it on your website! I think it’s great to just sprinkle these all over your website, and definitely on your homepage so people can see right away that others are loving your book!

Newsletter: If you have an author newsletter that you send out, you can definitely include a sign up section in your About tab, or Contact tab!

Blog: Do you have a blog? This isn’t mandatory, but I know some authors have their own blog that they regularly write. If you have a blog, I would include a tab dedicated to your blog so it’s easy for readers to find and access! If your blog is on a separate website, I would definitely consider consolidating, but you can link to it in your About tab!

Media: If you already have some coverage coming in about your book, that’s great! You can also include that on your website so visitors can go to those links and read what people are saying about your book, or see where your book is being featured. Where on your website you include this information is up to you! You can include it in your About tab, your Books tab, or create an entirely new tab specifically for coverage you’ve received. It sort of depends on how much coverage you have!

As you can see, there is a lot of information to put on your website, but don’t be overwhelmed! It is most important to make sure people know what book you are promoting, how they can buy it, and where they can find you. So, if you’re new to this, start with that! The rest of these key elements will fall into place as you begin to craft your website, and make it your own!

Here is an example of a great author website our team created. If you need some help building your author website, you can contact us at: info@booksforward.com.

Links used: https://www.janefriedman.com/author-websites/

TikTok Trends

How Authors Can Take Advantage of TikTok “Trends”

TikTok “trends” are unpredictable. There is no way to tell which videos will go viral and be recreated by the masses, but paying attention to those that do, and recreating them in your own “bookish” style, is a way to have fun on the app while also staying relevant. Here are some examples and tips on how you can recreate some iconic TikTok videos as your own! If you’re still not sure if TikTok is for you or you’re unfamiliar with the app, check out our other TikTok blogs: “Is TikTok the Next Bookstagram?” and “3 Tips for Authors to Make the Most Out of BookTok.

This or That: This is an older trend that started out as people comparing “This or That” about personal preferences when searching for significant others. But the “BookTok” community took it over and made it their own! You can do the same, but tie it into your personal author brand by referring to books you’ve written, genres you prefer, or writing styles you like!

Pass the Phone: This trend was popular before Kourtney Kardashian and boyfriend Travis Barker took it upon themselves to create their own version of the video with their kids, but the entire internet blew up when they did decide to make their own. As an author, you may be wondering, “What does this have to do with me?” Well, you can also make the trend your own with personalized “bookish” responses! For example, here is Book Forward’s remake of the challenge.

Saved Sound: TikTok trends can also take the form of “sounds.” Whenever a certain song, monologue, or other sound is popular on TikTok, like this sound originally from The Notebook, you’ll notice that videos all over TikTok will start using the same sound in their videos, but they’ll adapt it slightly to change the meaning each time. As an author, you can take advantage of these sounds by saving them to your sound collection, and making your own video out of it! For this video for example, you could make it “bookish” by having the dramatic music kick in when a person mentions casually that they don’t like reading. That is just a fun and simple example of how to take advantage of a current TikTok trend!

If you do decide that you’d like to recreate some trending Tiktok videos in a way that makes sense for you, below are some tips on how to do so:

  • Hashtag the video with the name of the challenge. For example, if you recreate the pass the phone challenge, don’t forget to put #passthephonechallenge in your caption. This will place it in the same area as all the other pass the phone videos, and give your video a more likely chance of being seen.
  • Scroll through the For You page: Any videos that have a lot of views may be trending. You can click the hashtags in the caption of the video to watch other videos that were made with the same idea in mind. If the video is based off of the sound playing with the video, you can click the words scrolling by on the bottom of the video by this: 🎵 symbol, and hit “Add To Favorites”. Then when you go to create a new video at a later time, it’ll be stored in your favorite sounds folder, where you can access it! Or, you can click the sound and create a video immediately by pressing “Use this sound!”

I know TikTok can be intimidating, and creativity does not always strike when trying to recreate basic trends in bookish ways. But TikTok is a safe platform to experience and experiment with, because a lot of people come to the app to laugh or get inspired. The app is not as serious as a Facebook post or Instagram photo, so try to let loose and have fun with making these videos!

Seven LGBTQIA+ Booktokers to follow for Pride Month, and books they recommend


June is a time to be proud of who you were born to be, and to increase the visibility of LGBTQIA+ people in the world! We reached out to Booktokers to recommend books that represent the LGBTQIA+ community. Get your TBR lists out, these are perfect to read in honor of Pride month, and beyond!

Read By Fin: “My recommendation is Once & Future by Cori McCarthy and Amy Rose Capetta! It is a young adult sci-fi retelling of Arthurian legend! I loved the unique gender-bent world with casual LGBTQ+ representation! Filled with non-binary, lesbian, and queer characters, Once & Future tackles topics of climate change and what it means to be family. It is one of my favorite books that had me laughing out loud from the hilarious banter! With Black characters, queer characters, and more, Once & Future sets the bar for the inclusion and diversity we need to see in books today.”

Kevin T Norman: “My most recent favorite 5 star gay read was Less by Andrew Sean Greer. I even made this unique storytime TikTok convincing others to read it!”

Cityveinlights: “I would recommend More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera. I recommend this because it was one of, if not the first, book I read that had a gay main character. Aaron’s journey of self-discovery and acceptance is one that speaks true to many people. It holds a special place in my heart, and is one I try to read every year. The writing is gorgeous and the different representations, specifically the Latinx representation, is enough to grab anyone’s attention.”

Shania Chante1215: “I recommend A Dark and Hollow Star by Ashley Shuttleworth. It is a fantasy book consisting of furies, fae and faeries. It is about 4 queer teens: Vehan (a fae prince) who is bisexual, Aurelian (a guardian of the prince) who is gay, Arlo (half fae and half human outcast) who is queer, Nausicaä (a fury set on revenge) who is a lesbian. Who have to come together to solve a series of murders that risks the exposure of the faerie world to humans. This books includes a Titan who identifies as non-binary and uses gender neutral terms (they/them), and consists gender-neutral pronouns such as “Xe/Xis/xemself”. Vehan has strong feelings for his guardian (Aurelian), which are mutual, but Aurelian tries his hardest to keep his feelings a secret (from Vehan’s mother as well as Vehan) to protect Vehan from the control of his mother. Nausicaä has sworn off emotions after the death of her sister, but eventually learns to accept her emotions and be more open, whilst unexpectedly falling in love with the Arlo (the only one who is not afraid of Nausicaä‘s bad reputation).

The book is set in the 21st century, where the fae world co-exists with the human world (in secret), which allows the fae kind to take part in protests for LGBTQ+ rights and women’s rights etc.

There is a wide variety of LGBTQ+ representation within the book, which was greatly accepted within the society in the book. Which I loved because the main focus was not on the characters sexuality or sexual relationships being seen as taboo, but instead about the characters dealing with their feelings for each other (whilst trying to stop a serial killer). The story line of this book was so engaging that I couldn’t put the book down!!! I would definitely recommend this book, and I hope to see a sequel written (due to the cliffhanger).This books also covers issues of mental health such as depression, suicide and suicidal ideation.”

The Sequel Nobody Wanted: “My recommendations would definitely be The Magic Fish by Trung Le Nguyen. It’s a gorgeous graphic novel that follows a gay boy named Tién whose struggling to find the words to come out to his parents, because while they speak Vietnamese and struggle with English, he speaks English and struggles with Vietnamese. They end up communicating and spending time through fairy tales. It’s a story about how stories evolve to be what people need them to be. A language, a way to show acceptance or a way to learn things. It’s so brilliantly written, the art is gorgeous, and it quickly became one of my favourite books of all time after I finished it.”

The Laynie Rose: “My rec is gonna be Malice by Heather Walter! Reading this book felt like queering the narrative of my life and my childhood favorite fairytale: Sleeping Beauty. This sapphic retelling of the classic tale is magical and dark, perfect for those who love a good villain origin story. If you like seeing fairytales twisted on their head, queer retellings, and rooting for the villain, this book is for you!”

Emmm Reads: “My book recommendation: Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo. It is a gorgeously written book set in 1954 San Francisco, following a young Chinese girl as she discovers the lesbian bar scene, deals with the impacts of the Red Scare on her and her family, and falls in love with another girl.”

Eight BookToker Summer Reading Recommendations

Summer is fast approaching, and the warm weather has me wishing I permanently lived on a beach with a book in my hand. This list of summer reading recommendations from some of our favorite BookTokers is perfect to kickstart your summer reading list, so get ready!

  1. Nicole (@nicoleandbooks) starts our list off with: “A YA book I recently read called Melt My Heart by Bethany Rutter! This book is a perfect summer read as it takes place the summer before university, with the holidays vibes of the seaside, ice cream, friendship and romance! While being funny and cute it also has a great message of body positivity, loving yourself and figuring out who you actually love! Great fat rep and bisexual rep!
  2. Victoria (@thebasicbookworm) says: “My pick is my all-time favorite romance The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang. This story follows Stella as she navigates dating, while also being on the autism spectrum. This book has the most lovable characters, a steamy romance, and great neurodiversity representation. Helen Hoang will make you cry, laugh, and swoon all at the same time, so The Kiss Quotient should be at the top of your TBR this summer!”
  3. Faith (@yabooktok) recommends: “Legendborn by Tracy Deonn! Legendborn is an own-voices YA fantasy based on Arthurian legends, with a hint of dark academia. I read this book last summer and it was phenomenal! It has mystery, magic, and it also explores important themes such as grief and racism, by highlighting many of the struggles faced by people of colour. It also features an amazing and diverse cast of characters, led by the badass Bree, who is very strong-willed and feels her emotions deeply. Plus, the love interests in this book, golden boy Nick, along with dark and mysterious Sel, are to die for! This is one of my favourite books of all time and I think you’ll love it too!”
  4. Fatima (@wanderbooks) highly recommends: “The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon: “It’s a captivating, witty adult historical fiction with memorable characters and a WILD, mystery plotline that will have you on the edge of your seat. If you’re looking for a beautiful, melancholy ‘story within a story’ filled with drama, mystery and romance & just gorgeous, evocative writing all-round, try it out!!”
  5. Anny (@messermoony) says the perfect summer read is: “Heartstopper by Alice Oseman. It is an easy quick read and will immediately fill you with joy. It’s perfect to read out in the sun when you want a quick break and a comforting book. With Netflix adapting the books for screen soon, now is the perfect time to pick them up!”
  6. Lexi (@lexislibrary) says: “An awesome summer read is Sophie Gonzales’ newest novel Perfect on Paper. It’s a heartwarming Young Adult Contemporary packed full of lovable LGBTQ+ characters, witty banter, and adorable romance. It will make you laugh, it will make you smile, and it’s the “perfect” book to pick up this summer. Thank you so much for reaching out to me.”
  7. Erin (@erinreads) recommends a favorite series called: “The Mirror Visitor quartet, which was originally written in French! It takes place in a fantasy universe and follows the main character, Ophelia, who has the power to read objects’ histories by touching them and can travel through mirrors. She has to leave her family to be with her fiance, Thorne, who she was arranged to marry, and is faced with several dangers as a result. The magical plot is incredibly captivating, and the slow-burn romance between Thorne and Ophelia made my heart melt.”
  8. And lastly, as if the above recommendations weren’t enough, my recommendation is Summer Club by Katherine Dean Mazerov. The title hints that this novel is perfect for summer reading, and the story lives up to it. This hysterical, relaxed read has an ideal amount of excitement that keeps you constantly intrigued in the swim and tennis club antics at Meadow Glen. But apparently, dealing with club high jinks wasn’t enough for club president, Lydia. She also has to deal with a car following the club manager, a break-in at her home, and wait… a body in the river? Luckily as a former journalist, she’s perfect for the job!

Three Tips for Authors to Make the Most Out of “BookTok”

TikTok, or “BookTok”, as readers on the app call it, has had a massive effect on the reading community, to the point where even Barnes and Noble locations have BookTok stands in their stores for books that are trending on the app. BookTok has endless videos about all things books. You can find videos about favorite current reads, bookish trends that are going viral on the app, videos of towering TBR stacks, food and book pairings, or maybe even a feature about YOUR book!

No matter what the video is, lots of book lovers are flocking to BookTok, and Books Forward has 3 tips to help authors make the most out of it!

Post Consistently, Utilizing Trends and Saved Sounds

Posting everyday can get tedious–how do people come up with new ideas everyday? Well, a great feature on TikTok is the “saved sounds.” This means you save the audio from other people’s videos and use that audio file in your own video; that’s what our team at Books Forward did for this video. This helps with content ideas when you feel uncreative, and also gets you in on the action of trending sounds on TikTok. A lot of the time, trends on TikTok originate from saved sounds, meaning people all over the app are using the same sound and making similar videos with their own twist.

You do not have to post on TikTok everyday, because quality is still better than quantity. But TikTok does tend to reward accounts that are very active on the app, so if you have a bunch of video ideas, do not hesitate to post them!

Take Advantage of Hashtags

First of all, hashtags on TikTok are super convenient for helping people find exactly what they are looking for on the app. You can go to the search bar to find specific hashtags that interest you. A fan of romance books? Search #romancebooks and tons of videos with that hashtag will pop up for you to scroll through and interact with. So, if you are a romance author posting about your book, hashtag it with #romancebooks, or #romancebooktok in the description of your video, so that the video pops up in those hashtag sections for others to see. In fact, you can utilize any genre or hashtag that relates to your book (#yabooks #lovestory #historicalfiction, etc). Some other general hashtags you can use are #booktok, #bookish, #foryoupage, #fyp or #foryou. “For You” hashtags do not guarantee you a spot on the For You Page ( where basically all trending videos live), but it increases your chances!

Engage With Your Audience and Followers

BookTok is an active community of people who are genuinely interested in learning about new books to read. All. The. Time. They want to talk about books, look at books, post about books, cry over books, the list goes on and on! This is literally the IDEAL place for an author to be: interacting with people who love their genre. So what should you do? Talk to them! Play around in the #romancebooks (or whatever your genre may be) section of TikTok and find new people to follow! Comment on their videos, recommend books to them, engage with them! Not only does this help you build a genuine relationship with people in your fanbase, but it shows them that you are a real person who cares about your readership. If you build those relationships, chances are you will get follow backs and honest interest in the stories you write.

Do not get discouraged if your following does not grow overnight, because chances are it probably will not! Just remember to have fun talking about something all of us in the BookTok community are passionate about, the passion that started all of this: #books.

influencers

Influencer Marketing Tips and Tricks for Authors

The term “social media influencer” comes up often these days, though it is vague and meaningless to some people. Books Forward is here to help you find out who these people are, and how you both can work together!

Who are influencers?

Influencers are people who have a decent following on social media, full of an audience of people who are specifically interested in the influencer’s opinions on whatever topics or items it is they discuss. Some influencers are “fitness gurus” who post videos of workout plans, their healthy eating habits and fitness clothing brands they prefer. Other influencers post makeup tutorials and makeup brand preferences. In the book world, there is an entire community of influencers who make posts that center around books they love, books they are reading, books they are planning to read, books they bought six months ago but still haven’t had a chance to pick up, books with beautiful covers, books with sad endings. . . do you see the theme here? There is an entire social media world out there that focuses specifically on books. As an author searching for an audience, it is crucial and beneficial to tap into that!

What do influencers do?

All of the posts that influencers make on social media build their reputation on their platform. Twitter’s #BookTwitter, TikTok’s #Booktok, Youtube’s “Booktube” and Instagram’s “Bookstagram” accounts are popular platforms for booklovers to unite and discuss everything that is books. Twitter is a place where people typically discuss in-depth themes of books, while TikTok features aesthetically pleasing videos of bookshelves with books arranged by color, or book challengers for people to complete together. Youtube is a great place to find people talking through book reviews, and Bookstagram has beautiful, artsy pictures of books with thoughtful captions about the books featured.

Influencers with a large following are often sent book after book from many different publishers, so the books they decide are good enough to read, or have an attractive enough cover to post, hold significant value in the book world. However, large accounts can also be deceiving. Sometimes, sending your book to an account with a smaller following will garner just as many audience members because of engagement of posts and thoughtfulness in posts. People like to get an opinion on a book from somebody they trust, and when a well-respected influencer gives a raving review about a book on their account, it immediately gains leverage.

What Does This Mean for Authors?

This is the most important question, right? Why does this entire “book world” on social media matter? It just sounds like an outlet for people who are obsessed with reading, right? Well, that is right, and that is also why it is important for authors. Just like us, a lot of these influencers have their specific preferences. Maybe there’s one who LOVES historical fiction novels, or YA romance novels. If you are releasing your debut YA romance novel and manage to get an influencer to read and review your book positively, you now have a significant following of people listening. About YOUR book. Even if you only get the influencer to post a picture of your book, saying they are excited to read it, it gets your book in front of people who are potentially interested. You are tapping into a niche audience that was basically formulated for books like yours!

A lot of the time, influencers will be perfectly happy with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. A lot of bookstagrammers don’t post negative reviews so it depends on who you reach out to, but you basically send them the book for a post on their story, or a picture on their feed. Also they aren’t sent as many books as the bigger accounts and can be more thoughtful with posts.

Common Misconceptions

It is not always about the number of followers that a bookstagrammer has. If you get an influencer who has 100k followers to read your post your book, but your book is YA and the influencer prefers mystery books, the audience receiving the message is targeted to people who might not be interested in your book. It is best to find an influencer who’s brand lines up with yours, because the people representing your book are a reflection of it. You want people who support and appreciate your work as an author and your book’s genre. Accounts with smaller followings should not be cast aside because of their size; these accounts may look smaller but could have a high engagement level! This is something you should always consider when picking influencers to work with. Smaller accounts also don’t have as many books coming their way, and the chance of getting a review or post from them is higher. Reach out to a variety of followings, and focus on the branding of the individual influencer.