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I’m sure none of us are strangers to social media platforms such as Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and the latest phenomenon that we saw soar in popularity over lockdown, TikTok. The Power of BookTok even had its own segment in this year’s ‘The Bookseller Children’s Conference’. Whilst for many these are simply platforms to entertain and communicate, others have found clever ways to boost their profile and presence to become influencers to their many followers. The power of these influencers is often underestimated, yet they can have a huge impact on trends.

On October 13th, BookMachine held their virtual event ‘Book Influencer Secrets: Maximising your Social Campaign Reach’, which I was lucky enough to attend. Through conversations with both Book Influencers and Marketing Managers from well-known Publishing Houses, the potential benefits of a good relationship with an influencer in promoting marketing campaigns was made very clear.

Hannah Paget, the Senior Marketing Manager at Simon & Schuster explained the importance of influencers and their connection with readers in creating the marketing campaign for Lisa Taddeo’s Three Women. She made it clear that despite initial concerns about the difficulties in describing the book, she sent proofs to a huge number of influencers from her database of contacts. The book received great feedback and the message was passed around that this was a book everybody should be reading, to the point that the publishers no longer had to get involved in getting the word out about Three Women, influencers were doing it for them.

Several of the influencers talked about how these social media platforms provided a real community for them to share their book opinions with and develop a following that want to know which book to read next. Kevin (known as Irish Reader on YouTube) explained that he has established a sense of trust with his viewers so when he recommends a book, they are more inclined to get the book themselves. This is obviously a great way of advertising for publishers to take advantage of, and it is a method that is spanning across a range of platforms now. David White has a very successful Instagram page under the name of @nonfiction__reads, whilst Jules Swain (@julesbuddle) has cleverly utilised twitter to review books to her many followers. The newest wave of influencers can be found on TikTok, or more specifically in the community known as BookTok.

“It’s only going to get bigger and bigger and bigger”

Bethan (@doriansbooks) on the rise of BookTok

Content creator Bethan, under the TikTok handle ‘doriansbooks’ conveyed the potential that this new app has for the industry. TikTok has such a huge audience with the ability to sell out books if content goes viral, look at the success of Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles as proof after it trended. The app is definitely a new fun way to advertise books, and an option that publishers should take advantage of. Both Hannah Paget and Liv Marsden, Marketing Manager at 4th Estate and William Collins, agreed on the possibilities of TikTok within Publishing, but admitted that the industry is still wary of using it as it is still so new. Even so, it certainly seems that the future of book marketing is online with the help of influencers, and who knows what the next new media platform for this will be?