In the world of social media, TikTok stands out as a platform where creativity, engagement, and community thrive. For those looking to grow an engaged, organic audience, especially in the realm of literature and books, BookTok is a goldmine. Whether you’re an aspiring author, a seasoned writer, or a book enthusiast, understanding how to navigate and grow on BookTok can open doors to a community of passionate readers and fellow book lovers. But how do you gain followers on BookTok? Like, specifically, what exactly do you need to do?
I recently refocused on my fiction writing and, as part of that, decided it was high time I built a real author platform. Part of that is a new BookTok account on TikTok (full disclosure, I say ‘new’, it wasn’t a brand spanking new account. I had a couple of hundred followers and a few sporadic, random videos posted a few years ago!). In November, as I started trying to get positive and motivated to write fiction again, I gained over 2,000 followers in just one month on BookTok, using entirely organic strategies.
I will not pretend this is a huge number of followers – we all know it’s not. Nor will I say I’m the best on BookTok when it comes to mastering the algorithm and growing my audience. What I am, however, is a marketeer, and as such I understand just how important it is to have a clear strategy to grow your account.
So, if (like me) you’re looking to grow a BookTok account as a platform for your writing or to become an influencer, here’s how I got started. From understanding your audience to engaging with fellow BookTok enthusiasts, these steps are designed to help you build a meaningful and engaged following on this vibrant platform.
Understand Your Audience
Embarking on a BookTok journey means immersing yourself in a vibrant and passionate community dedicated to all things literary. This segment of TikTok is a haven for those who adore reading, discussing, and exploring the world of books. To carve out your own space in BookTok, it’s vital to delve deep into the community’s dynamics.
Begin by dedicating time to navigate through BookTok. Observe and absorb – the types of books discussed, the themes that resonate, and the conversations that spark engagement. BookTok is not just a genre-specific community; it’s an eclectic mix where various literary interests converge. Whether it’s fantasy, non-fiction, or young adult literature, there’s a place for every book lover.
While honing in on your specific niche seems appealing, consider the broader picture. For instance, my focus lies predominantly in fantasy literature. However, I consciously avoid limiting myself to just FantasyBookTok, despite its allure. Why? Simply because the readership in BookTok transcends genre boundaries. Someone who enjoys fantasy might also find pleasure in other genres. Narrowing your focus too much might lead you to miss out on engaging with a wider, potential audience who could be interested in your content.
Be aware of your specific niche (in my case, fantasy) but don’t limit yourself to it. That may mean doing some posts that are niche-specific and some that are more broadly appealing to BookTok as a whole. Or, you may create content that is entirely niche-related, but use your captions and hashtags to target BookTok as a whole as well as your niche.
In other words, when I create a video about a Fantasy book I use both #FantasyBookTok and #BookTok, if I’m recommending I use #FantasyBookRecs and #BookRecommendations. Your specific niche will love what you’re creating, but there will also be a ton of people who have far broader bookish interests who will also like it.
The exception to this is if you have a really polarising niche, or one that may be inappropriate for a more general audience. For example, spicy books are great, but there are a LOT of underage users on BookTok, so niching down to #SpicyBookTok and focusing on captions and hashtags that relate specifically to this niche helps you avoid putting your content in front of people who are either too young for it, or may find it uncomfortable.
Your audience will tell you which is best for the type of BookTok account you’re trying to grow; look at their own behaviour, their own targeting, their own approach. Understand what they’re looking for, and give it to them.
It’s that simple and that impossible!
Train the TikTok Algorithm
Navigating TikTok’s algorithm is a crucial step in establishing your presence on BookTok. This unique algorithm acts as the gatekeeper, deciding what content appears in users’ feeds. To make it work in your favour, especially in the realm of BookTok, strategic engagement is key.
When you actively interact with BookTok content – be it through watching full videos, liking posts, or following accounts that resonate with your literary interests – you’re essentially signalling to TikTok’s algorithm what kind of content you prefer. This consistent engagement has a two-fold benefit: firstly, it personalises your For You Page (FYP) with more BookTok content, and secondly, it helps TikTok understand that your content belongs in the BookTok realm.
This is more than just passive scrolling; it’s about deliberate interaction. If you’re looking to attract a BookTok audience, watch and engage with videos from prominent BookTokers. Show interest in content that aligns with your own – whether it’s book reviews, discussions about genres, or literary trends. The more you engage with such content, the more the algorithm learns to associate your profile with these interests.
Moreover, this engagement isn’t just a one-way street. As you train the algorithm by your interactions, TikTok reciprocates by increasing the likelihood of your content being shown to users who share these interests. This is particularly important in the initial phases of your BookTok journey, as it helps in carving out your niche and reaching the right audience.
By understanding and leveraging TikTok’s algorithm, you can effectively position your BookTok content in front of an audience that is most likely to appreciate and engage with it, paving the way for organic growth and community building.
Jump On The Follow Trains, Join The Reader Parties
A distinctive aspect of the BookTok community is the prevalence of follow trains or parties. These gatherings are a hub for BookTok enthusiasts to connect and mutually support each other’s accounts. When you participate in a BookTok follow train, you’re not just increasing your follower count; you’re joining a community of individuals who share your passion for books.
These follow trains are more than just a mechanism for gaining followers; they’re about fostering a community of like-minded book lovers. When you join these trains, you engage with others who are also looking to expand their literary circles on TikTok. It’s a reciprocal process – you follow accounts that align with your interests in books, and they follow you back, creating a network of potentially engaged and interested followers.
However, it’s essential to approach these trains with authenticity. The aim is to build a genuine community, not just inflate follower numbers. Avoid the follow-unfollow tactic, which can be counterproductive and damaging to your reputation within the community. Instead, focus on establishing sincere connections with other BookTok creators and followers. Engage with their content, comment on their posts, and be an active member of the community.
By participating thoughtfully in BookTok follow trains, you can organically grow your follower base with individuals who genuinely appreciate your content and contribute to meaningful interactions. This approach not only helps in increasing your visibility on the platform but also in building a community that resonates with your passion for books.
You can engage in other people’s Reader Follow Parties, or host your own – I’d suggest doing both! Just don’t overdo it; remember, you’re trying to create genuine, mutual connections. Not just gain as many followers as you can.
Yes, I know, this whole post is about gaining followers. But there’s ZERO point in gaining them rapidly just to lose them again. Or in gaining them only to have them never interact with your content. Those are empty followers, worthless followers, they won’t help you at all.
@fantasygirlwrites Who’s up for growing each other’s accounts with a little #ReaderFollowParty ♥️🔥📚#booktok #reader #bookcommunity ♬ original sound – Kingdom of Threads
Post Consistently 1-3 Times Per Day
Maintaining a consistent posting schedule is vital. However, the ideal frequency of posts can be a balancing act. Common advice suggests that posting as often as three times a day can be beneficial, but it’s crucial to find a rhythm that’s sustainable for you.
The essence of success on BookTok lies not in the volume of your posts but in their consistency and quality. If the thought of producing three high-quality posts every day seems daunting, it’s more pragmatic to scale back. Aim for a frequency that allows you to create content that you’re proud of and that will genuinely engage your audience. For many, this might mean posting once a day.
Consistency in your posting schedule helps your audience know when to expect new content from you, fostering a habit of engagement. This regularity is more valuable than a sporadic burst of multiple posts. Each post should be a reflection of your passion for books, whether it’s through reviews, discussions, or creative book-themed content.
Remember, each piece of content is an opportunity to connect with your audience. Therefore, it’s more beneficial to focus on crafting posts that resonate with the BookTok community rather than overwhelming yourself and your followers with quantity. Finding your own pace and sticking to it is key to building and maintaining a dedicated following on BookTok.
Experimenting With Content On BookTok: What Worked For Me
Experimenting with various types of content is key to discovering what truly captivates your audience. In my own journey on BookTok, I explored a range of content types, which allowed me to understand what engaged my followers the most.
I dived into creating content related to books, naturally, since my aim was to promote my fiction writing. Given that my focus is on fantasy literature, most of my content revolved around this genre. However, I didn’t restrict myself to just FantasyBookTok. Instead, I aimed for a broader appeal within the BookTok community while still maintaining my specific niche. I also tested a lot of different types of content, figuring out which worked best and then making more of that and less of what didn’t.
Some of the content types I experimented with included:
Lip-syncing Videos: I created several lip-syncing videos that I related back to books, incorporating transitions and tying them to current trends in the BookTok community. These proved to be quite popular.
@fantasygirlwrites I say this knowing full well the Twilight Saga is somewhere on that shelf… still better than the real world! #booktok #booktoker #booksarebetter #bookworm #bookish #bookishthoughts ♬ original sound – Jaysen
Unboxing Bookmail: Videos where I unboxed new books and shared my excitement about them also resonated well with the audience. It’s a great way to generate interest and start conversations about upcoming reads.
@fantasygirlwrites #Bookmail !! Just what I needed to cheer me up this morning, I have plague 🤧 one of these was on pre-order and I’ve been eagerly awaiting it. The other is a new #NatalieHaynes #GreekRetelling to add to my collection ♥️ @Natalie Haynes @Travis Baldree ♬ som original – Gui
Timelapses of Writing Sessions: I shared glimpses of my writing process, sometimes including quotes from what I had written. These behind-the-scenes looks into a writer’s life were well received, but nowhere near as popular as other types of content.
@fantasygirlwrites Writing at home today and struggling to like anything I wrote 🙈 Anyone else have this issue? #booktok #nano #writertok ♬ Sweet Child O’ Mine – Acoustic – Jae Hall
Skits Featuring Different Personas: I created skits featuring conversations about prominent figures in Greek mythology, linking them back to my interest in writing a novel based on these myths. These skits, where I played different versions of myself, were among the more time-consuming videos to make but turned out to be quite popular. While they don’t seem to be as good at attracting new followers as other types of content, they’re the ones my existing followers love and engage with the most.
@fantasygirlwrites I know I’m currently writing a retelling of Athena, but Hades and Persephone are both side characters and their story is 💯 next. Bit obsessed. Just a tad. #greekmythology #hadesxpersephone #greekretelling ♬ original sound – Fantasy Girl Writes
Funny and Trending Content: Jumping on trending videos at the start, especially ones that I could relate back to books, was effective. These types of videos were among my most popular.
@fantasygirlwrites When you’re not magically transformed into Belle and whisked away to a castle, no matter how hard you try… #bookishproblems #booktok #booktoker #fairytales #bookish ♬ original sound – Fantasy Girl Writes
Through this process, I learned the importance of not just following trends but also adding my own unique twist to them. It’s about striking the right balance between what your audience enjoys and your personal creative expression. By continuously testing and adapting my content strategy, I was able to find what worked best for me on BookTok, leading to a significant increase in engagement and followers.
By the end of that first month I’d figure out that putting my own spin on trends on BookTok – like trying to dive into a book, and comically leaning on my door frame – was going to be the most effective form of content in terms of views and gaining new followers. I also realised that this type of trend isn’t actually that common on BookTok, meaning you can’t make videos like this regularly; you just have to jump on the trends as they happen and try and do them as soon as possible when they do.
I was posting multiple times a day for a month and only TWO of those posts were jumping on trends. And one of those trends was already old when I did it!
The rest of the time, you need a form of content you can create consistently and frequently to populate your feed. For this, lip lync videos are my best option. They have consistently generated the highest views and engagement for me (aside from those big trend videos).
Beyond this you want to create content that may not be going viral, but helps you achieve your objectives. I ultimately want to use my BookTok to promote my books, so creating content that relates specifically to Greek Retellings – what I’m currently working on – makes sense. Even if they don’t get quite as much reach and engagement. And that’s not to say this content doesn’t help me grow my account. It does, by fostering engagement among my followers, and ensuring they really know who I am, what I’m about, and have an interest in the book I’m working on.
That way, when I come to promote it, they will be far more likely to buy it.
Not all your content needs to be created with the objective of gaining new followers. Be sure you’re also creating content that nurtures the relationship you have with your existing followers, and gently leads them towards whatever it is you need them to do.
Even if all you need them to do is consistently engage with all your new content.
Engage with Content Created by Your Audience
An integral part of establishing a successful presence on BookTok lies in how you engage with the content created by others in the community. It’s a realm that extends beyond just producing your own content; it’s about actively participating in the vibrant BookTok world.
Setting aside time each day to interact with posts from your followers and fellow BookTok creators is essential. This interaction can take various forms: liking posts, leaving thoughtful comments, and sharing content that resonates with you. Such engagement is not just a courtesy; it’s a way to weave yourself into the fabric of the BookTok community.
This consistent engagement serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it keeps your followers involved and connected to your profile, fostering a sense of belonging and community. Secondly, it keeps you abreast of the latest trends, popular books, and ongoing discussions within BookTok. Being up-to-date with these trends allows you to tailor your content to what’s current and relevant, further enhancing your appeal to the audience.
Moreover, engaging with others’ content encourages reciprocal interaction. When you show genuine interest in the posts of others, they are more likely to return the favour. This mutual engagement creates a dynamic and interactive environment, crucial for building a loyal and active following.
Engaging with content created by your BookTok audience is not just beneficial for building connections; it’s a fundamental strategy for nurturing a thriving and interactive community around your profile.
Engage with Those Who Engage with You
A crucial aspect of growing your presence on BookTok involves how you respond to those who engage with your content. When individuals take the time to interact with your posts, reciprocating that engagement becomes key in fostering lasting relationships within the community.
The act of responding to comments, whether through thoughtful replies or even a simple emoji, is significant. It demonstrates that you value the time and effort your audience has put into engaging with your content. This kind of acknowledgment can strengthen the bond between you and your followers, encouraging further interaction and fostering a sense of community.
Furthermore, make it a habit to observe those who frequently interact with your posts. Take the initiative to visit their profiles and engage with their content in return. This action is not just a gesture of appreciation; it’s a way of nurturing a loyal and active following. By showing interest in the content of your regular interactors, you’re building a network of mutual support and engagement.
Such reciprocal engagement is more than just a strategy; it’s about creating a vibrant and interactive community on BookTok. When you engage with those who support you, it encourages a sense of camaraderie and community spirit, essential for establishing a dynamic and engaging presence on the platform.
Engaging with those who engage with you is an effective method to build and maintain a loyal following on BookTok. It’s about creating a two-way street of communication, appreciation, and support, which is vital for thriving in the BookTok ecosystem.
How To Gain Followers On BookTok
The fact I was able to gain over 2,000 followers on BookTok in a single month is a testament to the power of understanding your audience, engaging authentically, and consistently providing value through your content. Remember, the journey on BookTok is not just about numbers; it’s about connecting with like-minded individuals who share your passion for books and literature. By following these steps, you can create a thriving presence on BookTok, where your love for books meets a community eager to engage with your content.