TikTok launches authors to great heights


Although her books have had millions of reads, Ariana Godoy wasn’t a household name – her fan base consisted mostly of 13-24 year old romance readers who had a thing for vampire stories. The year was 2009, and online niche communities were at their peak. Think Tumblr, Myspace, and Godoy’s favorite website, Wattpad.

Wattpad, the sparkling and erudite book-sharing platform, was so Where authors have dressed up as online characters, escaped from their day jobs and brought readers on a journey of whims, love, and occasional typos. One of Godoy’s first novels, “Through My Window” or “A Traves De Mi Ventana,” went viral, and got a book and movie deal for it.

Then, after 12 years and 950 million reads, Godoy’s writings spread again. But this time it was different: it went viral on a post you didn’t publish or even know about. It has spread on TikTok.

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Online book culture has changed dramatically in the past decade. Wattpad can (and still) get amateur book deals, but TikTok sends well-known authors into the stratosphere. There’s a trade-off though: On Wattpad, authors retain a lot of control, but on TikTok, it’s hard to know when and how the story will unfold, and when authors try to control the narrative, they can be disciplined because of he-she. Do more scrutiny – but also more sales.

Wattpad started in 2006 as a platform for users to share and read original stories for free. While the company still prides itself on being a place for beginner writers to start, they have also launched several modes to help their writers make money.

“I think Wattpad, in many ways, has pioneered book culture, particularly from young authors,” said Jane Lamm, chair of Wattpad. “I think that’s part of what makes [book culture] Great is understanding all the different versions of books and reading. With Wattpad, there was an understanding that we could be close together and that’s a good thing.”

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In recent years, other forms of book culture have emerged online – such as BookTok, a popular aspect of video sharing app TikTok, where readers discuss their favorite books in short narrative batches. When books go viral on BookTok, sales go up. Movie deals are made. A self-published author can make an overnight sensation.

According to Anna Todd, author of the viral book series and movie franchise After, there was a period when interest in reading seemed to decline between the heyday of Wattpad in the early 2010s and the rise of BookTok in recent years. Todd said that across the board there was less interest in romance stories, and “people are tired of [them]. During this gap of sorts, there seemed to be less general obsession with certain kinds of romance books.

But that calm ended abruptly with the rise of BookTok during the pandemic. Suddenly, self-published independent authors were able to spread again and see soaring book sales. In the first quarter of 2021, book sales were up nearly 30 percent compared to the same period in 2020, according to NPD BookScan, which tracks sales. Even as the book market began to evening again, sales of adult literature, such as the novels of former Wattpad author and Colin Hoover, a BookTok mainstay, were able to continue to increase.

On TikTok, crying is encouraged. Colin Hoover’s books get the job done.

Todd noticed BookTok’s impact when the first installment of her One Direction fan novel, After, hit the big screen. Suddenly, her fans weren’t just on her message boards or Tumblr pages. Which means it got a lot of readers. And a lot of hate.

Authors who post on Wattpad have not been vetted in the same way. Potential readers who found the author’s writing on Wattpad They knew exactly what they were getting. 20- Guys who have never heard of fan stories don’t.

“It depends on which method [a book] It’s spreading fast because recently I’ve seen this trend of destroying authors,” Todd said. “There is always a downside when people on the internet can say anything. But I definitely think it’s good sometimes for an author not to be in too much control, especially if he’s not really comfortable with marketing himself.”

To fully understand the power that BookTok has in making or breaking a career, you have to go to BookTok itself. Part-time content creator Tishni Weerasinghe started BookToks in December 2020. Since then, she has had the opportunity to be “one of those people in the book world that influences bestselling charts.”

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But, like Godoy and Todd, her book’s online journey began a long time ago with Wattpad. Unlike the authors, Weerasinghe remained just a reader, leaving a comment or two occasionally and messaging her favorite authors within the app. It wasn’t until BookTok realized that there was a way for readers to also be content creators. And while it was a rewarding experience, it echoes Todd’s point: Viral spread isn’t always a good thing.

“There is a darker side to BookTok,” Weerasinghe said. “I feel like a lot of people have started riding their high horse and judging people for what they read – which goes against the whole purpose of BookTok, which is not to judge people based on what they read.”

While criticism may weaken the book, positive reviews may make it a bestseller. And increasing sales isn’t the only positive factor for BookTok. There is power in bringing book culture into the mainstream, and taking it out of a limited space into the land of algorithms. For younger readers, BookTok has also brought beloved books from the shades of Wattpad into the mainstream.

“It becomes good for people to say, ‘Hey, yes, I’m a reader,’ said Weerasinghe. ‘Before, when you hear someone say, ‘Oh, I’m a reader,’ you think of Grandma. Now when someone says, “I’m a reader,” I think of a wonderful 20-year-old who has everything with a Fenty Starbucks. “

For authors in particular, it’s hard to justify what’s easier. More readings or more community? More love or more hate? But at the end of the day, clicks pay the bills. Godoy realized this when the Spanish version of her book “Heist” went viral on TikTok. She even remembers how she found out.

Godoy has been inundated with notifications — both for book sales and for social media tags. She clicked one of the many notifications on her phone one morning and was greeted by a brunette. In her left hand was Godoy’s book, and just below it was a small icon that read “16.4 thousand likes”.

“Isn’t that crazy?” said Godoy who laughs and then stops. “It wasn’t even that long. The video is only 15 seconds long or something. Only the readers are in control now – that’s not necessarily a bad thing.”

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