BookTok has taken bookworms by storm – folks have discovered a reignited passion for reading, bookstores have seen huge upticks in sales, and eager creators have cultivated a special, diverse community.
It’s a uniquely warm & charming corner of the internet … but it can also be quite intimidating. When I first stumbled into BookTok, I felt lost and overwhelmed. How could I break in? How could I find people that would recommend books that aligned with my taste? How could I build my own audience?
Many months later, I’ve found real friends, read hundreds of books, and reached millions of viewers through my account. I’ve learned a lot since my first video, and I’d love to pass some knowledge along to you – future BookTok community members! Here are some tips that I wish I knew when I began.
The charm of BookTok lies in its micro communities. As you browse, you’ll stumble across specific hashtags for all sorts of genres and identities (such as #fantasybooktok, #queerbooktok, and so on). Explore them! You’ll find creators that exactly align with your interests. You’ll discover faces that aren’t necessarily being pushed in the algorithm otherwise (especially marginalized creators). Once you start engaging under these hashtags, you’ll get to dive deeper into their attached communities. And truly … there’s no such thing as too niche when it comes to books.
Additionally, getting specific with the recommendations that you share can help connect you with a compatible audience. For example, I’ve created series based on musicals and Criminal Minds episodes – two topics I adore. Others stumble into specialities like Shakespearean retellings, cozy fantasy books, or sapphic romances.
Yes, TikTok can be a place for fun trends and call-and-response types of memes. But if you show your originality and your specific style? You’ll really soar.
It’s the social-media-algorithm advice that nobody wants to hear. If you want to grow your account and cultivate an audience … you’ve got to post regularly! If you’re feeling ambitious, this may be multiple times a day. Many creators do their best to post daily. If you’re not able to commit to that (it’s definitely a lot of work), try uploading videos a few times a week.
There’s also another type of important consistency: engaging with the videos of other BookTok creators! You can’t ‘post and go’ and expect to be successful; your videos don’t exist in a vacuum. In order to have a voice on BookTok, you’ve got to stay in touch with other BookTokers. Which brings me to my next tip …
Support each other.
BookTok is a tight community. Do your part to keep it an encouraging place! Uplift other creators. Give credit to those who inspire you. Show gratitude to your new bookish friend who helped you discover a favorite read.
As you discover all the delightful niches within the space, you’ll learn to speak the “BookTok language.” You’ll start to grow your TBR (“to be read” list), hunger for exciting ARCs (“advanced reader copies”), and occasionally DNF (“do not finish”) a book that just isn’t up your alley. You’ll connect with other friendly nerds & discover you love unexpected genres & celebrate together when you hit your reading goals.
If you’re an author, please make sure you’re engaging authentically. A lot of authors make the mistake of treating TikTok like a giant sales opportunity. The problem with that is … we can tell! Social media is a powerful way to help your book find new readers, but if you want others to be excited for you and support you back, you’ve got to make yourself an authentic presence. Don’t exclusively talk about your book. Don’t post and ghost. If you enter BookTok with an open mind and a friendly attitude, you’ll find a community of folks authentically eager to check out your writing.
Develop a growth mindset.
When you enter BookTok, you’ll have access to voices from around the world. It’s incredible!
Challenge yourself. Diversify your reading; question what’s missing from your shelf.
It’s never been easier to find recommendations by marginalized voices shared by people from those same communities. Be open and stay humble. We all make mistakes and we all get lost in translation sometimes. Try to view stumbles as opportunities: continue to uplift diverse voices and remain excited for new ways to grow and mature.
We’re so happy to have you be part of BookTok. Grab a cup of coffee and stay a while – your TBR will never stop expanding. 😉
Author: Steph Pilavin is a content creator, actor, and head of operations for a meditation & mindfulness startup. She’s an avid reader and book reviewer … which led her to create her bookish TikTok account, starrysteph. Steph is dedicated to reading and recommending diverse literature and voices. She firmly believes that TikTok can be a platform for thoughtful discussion and community building. Steph is also a huge animal lover and loves to talk about her adorable pets, Persephone (“Percy”) her bunny and Artemis (“Artie”) her cat.