TikTok is taking authors to greater heights

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Despite the millions of reads of her books, Ariana Godoy isn’t a household name—her fan base consists mostly of romantic readers aged 13 to 24 who love vampire stories. The year is 2009, and the niche Internet community is at its peak. Consider Wattpad, the go-to site for Tumblr, Myspace, and Godoy.

Wattpad is a fanatical, fanatical book-sharing platform, The author puts on an online persona and escapes his day job, taking the reader on a journey of whimsy, love and the occasional typo. One of Godoy’s first novels, “Through My Window” or “A Traves De Mi Ventana,” went viral there — and brought her a book and a movie deal.

Then after 12 years and 950 million reads, Godoy’s work was all the rage again. But this time was different: It went viral in a post she didn’t even know about. It went viral on TikTok.

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The Internet of Books culture has changed dramatically over the past decade. Wattpad can (and still does) get book deals from amateur authors, but TikTok is sending established authors into the stratosphere. But there’s a trade-off: On Wattpad, authors retain a lot of control, but on TikTok, it’s hard to know when and how a story goes viral, and when authors try to control the narrative, they can be blamed for it. Cue more reviews – 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 the place where novice writers start, they’ve also launched several models to help their writers make money.

“I do think Wattpad started the book culture in many ways, especially from small authors,” said Jeanne Lam, president of Wattpad. “I think part of the [book culture] It’s cool to learn about all the different editions of the book and read. With Wattpad, we know we can be nerds together and that’s okay. “

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In recent years, other forms of book internet culture have emerged — such as BookTok, a popular aspect of the video-sharing app TikTok, where readers can discuss their favorite books in short narrative form. When books go viral on BookTok, sales soar. A movie deal is struck. It can make a self-published author an overnight sensation.

According to Anna Todd, author of the viral book and film series “After,” between the heyday of Wattpad in the early 2010s and the rise of BookTok in recent years, there seemed to be a period of decline in reading interest.Overall, Todd said, there wasn’t much interest in romance stories, and “people were just fed up with it” [them]. During this hiatus, it appears that the public’s obsession with certain types of love books has decreased.

But with BookTok’s rise during the pandemic, that lull came to an abrupt end. Suddenly, self-published indie authors went viral again and saw book sales soar. Book sales rose nearly 30% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020, according to NPD BookScan, which tracks sales. Sales of adult novels, such as those by former Wattpad author and BookTok mainstay Colleen Hoover, continue to grow even as the book market begins to decline again.

On TikTok, crying is encouraged. Colleen Hoover’s book does the job.

Todd noticed BookTok’s influence when the first part of her one-way fan novel “The After” hit the big screen. Suddenly, her followers didn’t just exist on message boards or Tumblr pages. This means she has more readers. There is more hatred.

Authors who publish articles on Wattpad do not face the same scrutiny.Potential readers who stumble upon the author’s article on Wattpad Know exactly what they got. Judgment 20-somethings who have never heard of fan fiction won’t.

“it depends [a book] Because I’ve seen this trend of people destroying authors lately, it’s going viral,” Todd said. “When people on the internet can say anything, there’s always a downside. But I definitely think it’s a good thing authors sometimes don’t have a lot of control, especially if they’re not too used to promoting themselves. “

To fully understand the power of BookTok to make or break a career, you must delve into BookTok itself. Part-time content creator Tishni Weerasinghe started making BookToks in December 2020. Since then, she has had the opportunity to become “one of the book industry influencers on the bestseller lists”.

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But, like Godoy and Todd, her Internet book journey started with Wattpad long ago. Unlike the author, Weerasinghe is still just a reader, leaving the occasional comment or two and messaging her favorite authors in the app. It wasn’t until BookTok that she realized that readers could be content creators too. While it was a rewarding experience, she agrees with Todd that going viral isn’t always a good thing.

“BookTok has a dark side,” Weerasinghe said. “I feel like a lot of people are starting to go above and beyond, judging people based on what they read — which goes against the whole point of BookTok, which is not judging people based on what they read.”

While criticism can ruin a book, positive reviews can become a bestseller. Increased sales aren’t the only positive for BookTok. There is power in bringing book culture into the mainstream, taking it from a limited space into the realm of algorithms. For younger readers, BookTok also brings favorite books from the shadows of Wattpad into the mainstream.

“People can say, ‘Hey, yes, I’m a reader,'” Weerasinghe said. “Before, when you heard someone say, ‘Oh, I’m a reader,’ you thought of grandma. Now, when someone says, ‘I’m a reader,’ I think of a cool 20-year-old girl who has this All the people with her venti Starbucks.”

Especially for authors, it’s hard to rationalize something easier. More reading or more community? More love or more hate? But at the end of the day, click to pay the bill. Godoy realized this when her Spanish version of the book “Heist” went viral on TikTok. She even remembers how she found out.

Godoy gets a lot of notifications about book sales and social media hashtags. One morning, she clicked on one of the many notifications on her phone, and a brunette greeted her. She holds Godoy’s book in her left hand, and just below it is a small icon that says “16.4K likes.”

“Isn’t that crazy?” Godoy said with a smile, then stopped. “It’s not even that long. The video is only around 15 seconds. The reader is just in control right now — which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

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