How Rona sells books on TikTok

We were liarsWas revealed in 2014, so when the author of the book, E.W. She was overjoyed when Lockhart noticed that it had returned to the best-selling list last summer. And is confused.

“I didn’t know what the hell was happening,” he said.

Lockhart’s children filled him in: it was due to Ticktock.

An app known for serving short videos on everything from dance moves to fashion tips, cooking tutorials, and funny skits, TickTalk is not an obvious destination for Book Buzz. But videos created by most women in their teens and into their 20s have dominated a growing field under the hashtag #BookTok, where users recommend reading books, reducing their own reading time, or Speak openly into the camera after the end of the emotional crush.

These videos are starting to sell a lot of books, and are as surprising to many creators as everyone else.

“I want people to feel what I feel,” said 15-year-old Mirille Lee, who started @Alifofliterature In February, with her sister Elodie, 13 and now she has about 200,000 followers. “In school, people don’t really accept books, which is really annoying.”

Many Barnes and Noble locations around the United States have established booktalk tables, including “they both die in the end”, “The Cruel Prince,” “A Little Life” and others that have gone viral such as Display the title. However, there is no Instagram or Twitter table, as no other social-media platform transfers Tictoc the way it does.

“These creators are unafraid to be open and passionate about books that make them cry and cry or shout or get so angry that they throw it all over the room, and it becomes this very emotional video of 45 seconds Goes people instantly, “Shannon DeVito, director of books at Barnes & Noble. “We haven’t seen this kind of crazy sales – I mean tens of thousands of copies a month – along with other social media formats.”

The Lee sisters, who live in Brighton in England, began making booktalk videos of boredom at home during the epidemic. Many of his posts feel like short film trailers, where photos flash across the screen for an intoxicating sound.

For “The cruelle prince, “When you look at the book cover, a woman riding a horse, a bloody sickle, a castle in a tree – one division to another, while the Billy Illish song” You should see me in a crown “plays in the background There is no need for a spoiler alert: in about 12 seconds the whole thing is over, leaving you with a sense of the book, but little understanding of what happens in it.

Video they created That highlight “We Were Liars” has been viewed more than 5 million times.

The majority of the Booktalk video is organized, posted by enthusiastic young readers. This has been an unexpected setback for publishers: an industry that relies on lost people in the printed word is reaping dividends from digital apps built for fleeting attention. Publishers are now approached with large offers in exchange for free books or paid to publicize their titles. (The Lee sisters have received books from authors but have not yet been contacted by publishers or paid for their posts.)

Many popular techtoks are a strategy for maximizing the views of users. They can use background songs that are already doing well on the app, for example, using Tiktok’s analytics to see what times of the day their posts do best and try to put videos at regular times We do. But it is still difficult to predict what will happen.

“The ideas that take me 30 seconds to arrive do really well, and the ones I work on for days or hours are completely tanned.” Pauline JuanOne student, who is 25, says she is “slightly older” than many people at Booktalk. “But the most popular videos are about books that make you cry. If you are crying on camera, your thoughts will increase! “

Most of the BookTalk favorites are books that sold well when they were first published, and some are award-winning, such as “Song of grief, “Which won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2012, a prestigious fiction award. The novel recounts the Greek myth of Achilles as a romance between him and his fellow Patroclus. It does not have a happy ending.

“Hey, it’s 1 day for me ‘The Song of Achilles,” Ayan Choudhary, 20, in Chicago Posted on TikTok, Placed the book next to her Burbari pattern hijab and smiling face.

“And it’s ending me!” She leaps into the camera, helping to describe “dramatic sailing and shouting” in the onscreen caption. The video, which has been viewed more than 150,000 times, lasts for about 7 seconds.

The #songofachilles hashtag has 19 million views on Tiksok.

“I wish I could send them all the chocolate!” said Madeline millerAuthor of the book.

Published in 2012, “The Song of Achilles” sold well, but not nearly as well as it is now selling. According to NPD BookScan, which tracks print copies of books sold at most US retailers, “The Song of Achilles” is selling about 10,000 copies a week, about nine times when it won the prestigious Orange Award. It ranks third on the New York Times best-seller list for paperback fiction.

Miriam Parker, a vice president and associate publisher at Echo, which released “The Song of Akilis”, said the company had increased sales on August 9, but could not find out. It eventually detects a TikTok video called “Books that will suit you, “On August 8, published by @Peanut_ Today, that video, which also includes “We Were Liars”, has been viewed nearly 6 million times.

Ms Miller, who described herself as “barely functional on Twitter”, said she didn’t know about the TeakTok video until her publisher pointed it out. “I feel speechless in the best way,” she said. “Can there be anything better for a writer than watching people take their work to heart?”

The person behind @Moongirlreads_ is Selene Velez, an 18-year-old from the Los Angeles area who joined Tickcock last year after completing high school on Zoom. She said she made a “books that will make you sob” video because a commentator asked her for tear-jerk recommendations.

“I was just like that, we’ll see how that goes,” Ms. Velez said. “I’m not sure how many people want to hear how much a random girl cried about a book.”

So she posted the video and went and had lunch with her family. When he re-checked Tiktok a few hours later, he said, the video had been viewed 100,000 times.

Ms. Velez, who has more than 130,000 followers on Tickcock, said publishers now send their free books before they hit the market so they can post about them, and have started making videos that publishers pay to produce . He and about two dozen other Booktalk creators have a chat on Instagram about which publishers have contacted him and are charging. The fees range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars per post.

John Adamo, head of marketing at Random House Children’s Books, said it now works with about 100 Tiktok users. Once a title has been put on TickTalk, he said, the publishing machine can start following it: large retailers can discount it, a publisher can start running ads, and if a book becomes a best seller Goes, it leads to more sales. But without Tiktok, he said, “We will not talk about this.”

Jenna is a high school student in Starkey, Minnesota who posts under the name @jennajustreads And he has more than 160,000 followers, saying he has been approached by publishers and even by authors offering free books. A prominent housemate said they would pay her for a position, but the agreement came with a structure and deadline, and she was concerned about the fitting around her homework and school schedule.

Right now, “I film two on Saturday, two on Sunday and two on Wednesday, so I have pre-filmed posts – while I’m actually in class.”

Some BookTalk users say that the app provided more than just a pastime during the epidemic, it has brought them a community.

“I don’t have a lot of friends in real life who actually read,” said Ms. Juan. But both she and Ms. Velez live in the Los Angeles area, and they’ve probably talked about this, once it’s safe, talking in books in person. “I always like when the epidemic is over and we both get vaccinated,” Ms. Juan said, “I’ll come to you.”

Taylor Lorenz contributed reporting.

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