Wanna make it big on TikTok?!  Yes, if you’re an author you do—particularly a fiction author.

What is #BookTok?! 

#BookTok is a linkable “hashtag” inside of the TikTok app, and somehow it is driving book sales in a big way.  TikTok is probably not the social media platform that you would assume would be frequented by voracious readers. But apparently, they are on there. Reader-fans are going on TikTok, sharing about their new favorite book(s), and tagging them with “#BookTok.”  And the click-throughs go wild.

The smart people at NPD BookScan did some digging into this latest book marketing phenomenon. They tracked a group of 90 fiction authors who were featured on #BookTok.  Comparing those authors’ sales in 2020 (before #BookTok started) to 2021, they found that those #BookTok authors saw sales growth of 73% for the titles being tracked.  Those authors alone saw sales go from 9 million copies to 20 million copies in just one year!

Backlist Boom

For reasons not entirely determinable (but, clearly #BookTok is a contributing factor), the publishing industry has seen material growth in backlist book sales. While frontlist books (books that have been published within the last 6-12 months) get most of the attention—and nearly all the marketing dollars—older, established books have always been a profit center for publishers.  But, over the last several years, backlist sales have been climbing and, according to NPD BookScan, they now account for a full 70% of all print sales.  

Weekly Numbers—March 2022

As Q1 2022 came to a close, print book sales were off 8.9% year-over-year. But after the historic first quarter—and full year—of 2021, those results were not a surprise. Another material factor: is the resurrection of Jesus.  

Easter fell extremely late in 2022; so late that nearly no Easter sales bump was felt in the first quarter.  That would be like Black Friday somehow getting pushed back to the first week in January.  So, we can expect some leveling out after the strong Easter sales numbers in April (detailed report below). In fact, Easter already got us some of the way out of that 8.9% Q1 hole. After the Easter bump (i.e., sales for the first 3 weeks of Q2), that deficit was already down to 6.6% off 2021’s figures.  And remember, we are still fighting the battle of comparison this year—and we’re stuck comparing to the best year ever recorded.  So, a down quarter aside, publishing is still stronger than ever (at least since NPD BookScan started keeping track).

Here are the weekly results:

          Week ended April  2, 2022: Down 8.9%

          Week ended April  9, 2022:  Up 10.2%

          Week ended April 16, 2022:  Up 16.8% (Easter fell on April 17 this year)

          Week ended April 23, 2022:  Down 12.6%

Going back to TikTok, again, do you ever wonder what you need to know about using social media to grow your career as an author?   Do you find yourself asking:

  • How many social media followers or email subscribers do I need to get published?
  • Is there a way for platform building to be less overwhelming?
  • How can I accumulate a reader following in a way that’s organic and authentic?

We want to invite you to our free online training: Your Author Platform Made Simple. In this training, we’ll teach you the 4 keys to building an author platform authentically and strategically using the tools you already have.

We’re excited to be with you LIVE on May 10th at 12:00 PM PT / 3:00 PM ET. We’ll help you navigate how to build your author platform, and we’re even doing a LIVE Q&A!

So, be sure to join us!


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