Author Topic: ARTICLE: TikTok Is Becoming a Publisher. Will It Ruin the Book Industry?  (Read 1009 times)

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https://thewalrus.ca/booktok-publisher/

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The publishing industry is speckled with efforts to bottle TikTok’s lightning: walk into a big-box bookstore and you’ll probably see a shelf of volumes—maybe even an entire table—displayed because they’re trending. Ditto these stores’ e-commerce. In a different crossover, some BookTokers take on paid partnerships to promote titles to their audiences, and publishers themselves even joined the platform to market their books, though BookTok users are known to be adept at sniffing out (and duly dismissing) anything that scans as corporate or inauthentic. The methods can feel clunky, but in various ways, TikTok has been at least partially digested by the book world.

Now, the platform may become an even more transformative force in how people find and buy books. On April 20, a subsidiary of TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, filed a trademark for a publishing company. Called 8th Note Press, the proposed entity seems to sit at the intersection of a major publisher and a site like Amazon or Goodreads, but with a social media twist. The trademark filing covers book publishing in print, e-book, and audio formats but also mentions downloadable software “for use in connecting registered users to virtual communities to participate in discussions, consumer reviews, and social networking.”




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...The trademark filing covers book publishing in print, e-book, and audio formats...


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writeway

No.
 
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LilyBLily

 

Crystal

I wouldn't describe TikTok as a democratic force. If you scroll BookTok, you will really struggle to get the algo to recommend you anything outside the current 10-20 hot books. Colleen Hoover will come up in every other video. Mafia romance is there whether you want it or not. Etc.

I would argue TikTok is already changing the book industry.

But this is another article that seems unaware indie authors have been advertising our own books for 10+ years.
 
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Hopscotch

I would argue TikTok is already changing the book industry.

Which "book industry" is TikTok changing - that mass media producing mindless muck for the masses?  Then let 'em at it, I say.  We indies will survive - after all, we've been around since Mesopotamian clay tablets when every writer was indie and didn't know it.
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Crystal

I would argue TikTok is already changing the book industry.

Which "book industry" is TikTok changing - that mass media producing mindless muck for the masses?  Then let 'em at it, I say.  We indies will survive - after all, we've been around since Mesopotamian clay tablets when every writer was indie and didn't know it.

TikTok has been terrible for indie romance authors, as a whole. It has caused major changes in indie romance. Just look at the Top 100 on any retailer. The books will look really odd to you if you haven't kept up with trends. They do not look like what sold 3-4 years ago.

It's great for the small percent of people who are having TT success. The rest of us are making way less money.

It's not just TikTok. It's other things too. But TikTok has been occasionally very good for me and overall very bad for me and this is true for most of the indie authors I know.
 
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Hopscotch

TikTok has been terrible for indie romance authors, as a whole....TikTok has been occasionally very good for me and overall very bad for me and this is true for most of the indie authors I know.

As romance is the bellwether in genre fiction, I'm curious to hear your assessment as to why readers are so receptive of TT leadership in book choice.
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idontknowyet

Steamy seems to do better than sweet in tik tok and you can grow your own platform there, but the real money seems to be in paying influencers to hype your books.

One good tik tok account is good. 20 or 50 big tik tok accounts are even better.

I don't have the money or the drive to try doing that. But every so often i think of trying smaller influencers to see what happens.
 

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It will be interesting to see whether TikTok influencers retain their influence as time goes on.

For a while, there was a trend for celebrities to do pay-to-tweet programs on Twitter. It's hard to imagine one tweet, even from a celeb, doing that much, but people were paying thousands of dollars for that one tweet. I haven't heard about that in a long time, though, so I think it may have died out.


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Hopscotch

Re: ARTICLE: TikTok Is Becoming a Publisher. Will It Ruin the Book Industry?
« Reply #10 on: August 13, 2023, 08:15:10 AM »
It will be interesting to see whether TikTok influencers retain their influence as time goes on.

Lounging on the beach today watched a little plane fly overhead towing a banner advertising a beer.  Wondered what the ROI could be for the cost of plane, pilot, sign-making, gas in # of bottles sold.  Or is there some other value to advertising than making another buck? 
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Post-Crisis D

Re: ARTICLE: TikTok Is Becoming a Publisher. Will It Ruin the Book Industry?
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2023, 08:43:37 AM »
Lounging on the beach today watched a little plane fly overhead towing a banner advertising a beer.  Wondered what the ROI could be for the cost of plane, pilot, sign-making, gas in # of bottles sold.  Or is there some other value to advertising than making another buck?

Building brand awareness.

Of course, one must be careful there because it is not easy to measure ROI on "brand awareness" thus it's the low-hanging fruit for unscrupulous marketers to sell you something of dubious value because they can say you shouldn't look at sale figures (or, typically, the lack thereof) but think of it in terms of building "brand awareness."

Literal consumable consumables, like food and beverages, have the advantage in that, using your beer example, if you like a beer, you may buy another of that brand, if not now, then tomorrow or the weekend or whenever.

No matter how much you like my book, you're probably not going to buy it again and again because, well, you already have a copy.  Maybe you'll buy one of my other books, but I cannot output books at the same level a brewery can output beer.  If you drink a beer every Friday, that's 52 beers per year.  Most of us don't have that many books.

So, yeah, the beer company can afford to spend money on a plane flying a banner because they might get (or keep) you as a lifetime customer.  Unless you're going to buy a copy of my book every Friday for the rest of your life, I'm probably not going to justify spending money to build "brand awareness" by paying someone to fly a banner on a plane.  I probably cannot justify spending the money on a banner either, unless it's a paper banner and I print it out on my laser printer and tape the sheets together.  If I only have an inkjet printer?  No way.  Inkjet ink is more expensive than gasoline.

Anyway, also, they say people need to see a brand name an average of three times before they might buy, so if you've got a beer tent at the beach with your beer brand name on it, and you're running a radio ad and you have that plane flying over the beach, okay, you might get some sales.
:cheers

But, books?  It's probably a money-losing situation.  And, ten years from now, people might still talk about how they saw a plane flying a banner over the beach advertising a book of all things, but they probably won't remember the name of the book or the author.  So, that would be a brand awareness fail.

Maybe the next big thing will be jingles for authors.  We can stick a speaker on top of our cars and drive around town.
"Please buy my book, it's worth a look!  It's got simple words and I brake for birds!  Please buy today as I've got bills to pay!"
 :band:

Might be less expensive than printing that banner on your inkjet printer.
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Re: ARTICLE: TikTok Is Becoming a Publisher. Will It Ruin the Book Industry?
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2023, 11:47:45 PM »
I had to laugh about the jingles. It's true, though, that information presented using rhyme or rhythm, especially in a musical setting, is easily absorbed by our brains. That's why advertisers do it so often. I can still remember commercial jingles I heard decades ago. The brand itself may be dead, but it will live on in my memory forever.


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Re: ARTICLE: TikTok Is Becoming a Publisher. Will It Ruin the Book Industry?
« Reply #13 on: August 14, 2023, 06:05:50 AM »
I had to laugh about the jingles. It's true, though, that information presented using rhyme or rhythm, especially in a musical setting, is easily absorbed by our brains. That's why advertisers do it so often. I can still remember commercial jingles I heard decades ago. The brand itself may be dead, but it will live on in my memory forever.

Not just jingles either.  A local radio station I used to listen to is long gone.  I think it has changed its call sign and format and possibly owners at least twice since then that I know of.  (Don't keep track anymore since they haven't played any kind of music I listen to since I used to listen to it.)  Anyway, I still remember their slogan which would get you money if you were the right caller at the right time back then.  And it doesn't even rhyme.
Mulder: "If you're distracted by fear of those around you, it keeps you from seeing the actions of those above."
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Re: ARTICLE: TikTok Is Becoming a Publisher. Will It Ruin the Book Industry?
« Reply #14 on: August 14, 2023, 11:11:48 PM »
Yes, there are a lot of techniques to embed slogans and similar material in people's minds.

Word play is one example. I still remember this slogan from decades ago. "Orient yourself to the Bank of Tokyo." Of course, it was sung, which also helps, but the word play would help it to stick.

Repetition can work if it's set to a catchier enough tune. "The Bank of California is the bank, the bank, it's the Bank...of California" There's absolutely no substance there, nor even anything particularly clever, but the tune was good.

Don't even ask me why I remember the directions to Pete Ellis Dodge, except that they were sung at the end of every commercial.

One of my colleagues used to teach grammar by getting the kids to create songs about each grammatical principle. The approach worked fairly well for retaining definitions, but not so much for application.


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Lorri Moulton

Re: ARTICLE: TikTok Is Becoming a Publisher. Will It Ruin the Book Industry?
« Reply #15 on: August 15, 2023, 01:58:48 AM »
"Figure 8 as double four.  Figure 4 as half of eight.  If you skate, you would be great...if you could make a figure 8.  That's a circle that turns round upon itself."

Songs can be very helpful in remembering math, too.  Multiplication rock!




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Re: ARTICLE: TikTok Is Becoming a Publisher. Will It Ruin the Book Industry?
« Reply #16 on: August 15, 2023, 04:01:01 AM »
"If you take the trouble to come to downtown____, we'll make it worth your while."--a car dealership slogan

Schwab's "We want your business; we'll earn your trust."

From the old days: "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should." (My mother despised that jingle. "As!")

The A-B-C song.

Back to the original topic:

Lots of authors will rush to join the TikTok publishing venture. Obviously, TikTok's new company isn't going to publish all the submissions it receives. It will be interesting to see what it does publish. Usually, brand new ventures find some best-selling author and pay them an enormous sum to sign on, to give their PR a boost. I wonder who it will be?

I am trying to imagine hiring a BookTok person (isn't this just like hiring a PR or marketing firm?) to promote my women's fiction titles:

"These books are about old people, really old women you can't possibly relate to because you will always be young and hip and cool and hep. Did I say old? Ancient! No one wants to read books about old women except old women. Any of you out there? No? Didn't think so. Next!"
 

Hopscotch

Re: ARTICLE: TikTok Is Becoming a Publisher. Will It Ruin the Book Industry?
« Reply #17 on: August 15, 2023, 04:55:57 AM »
I am trying to imagine hiring a BookTok person...to promote my women's fiction titles: "These books are about old people, really old women you can't possibly relate to because you will always be young and hip and cool and hep...."

Made me laugh.  I can't understand how the young can be so blank about their future when they've got codgers like me to see what it's like.  But I take smirking satisfaction in knowing that books like yours are eye-opening landmines lying in wait in their future. :littleclap
. .
 

Crystal

Re: ARTICLE: TikTok Is Becoming a Publisher. Will It Ruin the Book Industry?
« Reply #18 on: August 18, 2023, 05:19:24 AM »
TikTok has been terrible for indie romance authors, as a whole....TikTok has been occasionally very good for me and overall very bad for me and this is true for most of the indie authors I know.

As romance is the bellwether in genre fiction, I'm curious to hear your assessment as to why readers are so receptive of TT leadership in book choice.

I think there are a few reasons:

1) Decline in other platforms. FB ads are less effective these days. AMS ads are more expensive.
2) Ability to reach a younger readership. TikTok readers appear younger than average readers. This also means they have less experience with genre fiction, are more interested in staying trendy/ keeping up with their peers, and are more susceptible to "FOMO reading." A romance reader who's been reading Harlequin for 20 years knows exactly what she likes. A college student who grew up reading YA doesn't really know what different romance genres, tropes, archetypes mean, etc. They don't necessarily know what they like.
3) Glut of content. TikTok offers curation, and it even seems like a rec from a trusted friend. There are too many books. It's hard to choose. If you decide to read whatever is popular on TikTok, that's an easier choice. And if you look at ranks and also-boughts of popular TikTok books, you'll see people who read TikTok books often read TikTok books. They typically don't pick up one book, then go through the author's entire catalog. They pick up one book, then pick up another TikTok book. Readers can try out a variety of books without ever getting bored. I don't see a lot of TikTok trends, outside of niches that can only be advertised on TikTok (like reverse harem), and hockey romance (for some reason. With everything else, the popularity of one series does not lead to a popularity of similar books. Sara Cate's kink series is popular. It's the only one).
4) Amazon aglos. People who read on TikTok go to Amazon and type the book into the search function. Amazon rewards this.
5) Bookstore "algos." Similarly, bookstores are pushing TikTok books hard. The popularity is a virtuous cycle for those authors. The more they sell, the more bookstores shelve their books, the more readers make TiKToks.
6) TikTok aglo. TikTok seems to reward TikToks about books that are already popular, so people who are trying to get views will mention already popular books. I.e. if I want to push my book, I will probably make a video on how it's just like a different popular TikTok book, thus increasing the popularity of that TikTok book. If you go on BooKTok, you will really struggle to get the algo to recommend you videos that don't push the currently in vogue 10-20 books in a niche. Good luck watching 3-4 videos in a row without seeing Colleen Hoover mentioned!
 
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Re: ARTICLE: TikTok Is Becoming a Publisher. Will It Ruin the Book Industry?
« Reply #19 on: August 18, 2023, 08:04:18 AM »
Like so many other things, it sounds as if TikTok is an echo chamber, reinforcing what's already popular.

I wish I were a good video maker. Well, except for the concerns about TikTok challenges that motivate students to vandalize schools, the privacy and data-handling concerns, etc.

Sigh!


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Re: ARTICLE: TikTok Is Becoming a Publisher. Will It Ruin the Book Industry?
« Reply #20 on: August 18, 2023, 11:24:24 AM »
What happened with the US attempt to ban TikTok?

That was big news, then nothing.
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Re: ARTICLE: TikTok Is Becoming a Publisher. Will It Ruin the Book Industry?
« Reply #21 on: August 18, 2023, 11:37:46 PM »
The first official state ban, I think in Montana, has passed. Bans are being contemplated in several other states.

Oh, there's a Wikipedia article. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Restrictions_on_TikTok_in_the_United_States

Most of the bans are related to use in government facilities. There's also been some action at the federal level, normally based on national security concerns.

It's interesting that the movement is somewhat bipartisan, with actions by both Trump and Biden administrations and by state governments of different partisan affiliations.

Many colleges have also banned TikTok on campuses.

There are court challenges. The ground sound shaky to me, but we'll how they play out. The free speech one in particular seems shaky, since the bans don't seem motivated by what's being said on Tiktok but by how its data is being obtained and used.


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Re: ARTICLE: TikTok Is Becoming a Publisher. Will It Ruin the Book Industry?
« Reply #22 on: August 18, 2023, 11:57:39 PM »
I thought they were going for a national ban.

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Re: ARTICLE: TikTok Is Becoming a Publisher. Will It Ruin the Book Industry?
« Reply #23 on: August 19, 2023, 01:46:54 AM »
National bans have been proposed but have not yet cleared either house of Congress. I'm not sure of the politics on that. I think some representatives are concerned about setting a bad precedent by an outright ban and would prefer a situational one. There has been a lot of debate on the role of social media (and potential censorship on it or of it) in society. I think if the TikTok ban existed in a vacuum, it would have passed immediately. Because it could become wrapped up in other social media debates, some representative may want to go slow. Also, a lot of them have other priorities which they see as more urgent.


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