The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
Writing a book is half the battle. It is the publishing and marketing that people often overlook. If you are an indie author, this step is vital to the success of your novel. Indie publishing is a method of getting your book out there without an agent or a publisher. Also known as self-publishing, this method requires the author to be the CEO, COO, brand manager, and talent behind their book. Oftentimes, the author will also edit and create a book cover themselves. Though it is a lot of work for one person, you may find that you aren’t really alone. Let me introduce you to BookTok, the TikTok community that makes even the biggest nerds feel at home (and I mean that as a compliment).
When I first joined BookTok, I did not know what to expect. If I saw anyone doing a TikTok dance with a book in their hand, I would have simply deleted the app. I was pleasantly surprised with what I encountered: authors in a similar position to my own and readers who were willing to make our dreams come true. I began to create content, whether original or trend-related, to see if anyone would be interested in reading my debut YA fantasy novel, Intangible. I was overwhelmed with the responses I got. My first video about my book got over 2000 views, and while that probably isn’t a lot for TikTok, it gave me the hope I needed to continue the self-publication process.
One video I created was directed at book cover designers, beta readers, and editors. As a university student, I do not feel comfortable with investing in any of the above processes just yet. The video was based off the trend, “Who got you crying like that.” The answer: wanting to invest in an editor and book cover designer without going broke, obviously. I received multiple comments from interested beta readers and digital artists willing to design a cover for free, and editors who pride themselves on being affordable for aspiring authors. I am now going through the edits of my beloved betas and working on a cover with an amazing artist! I never thought I would be anywhere near this stage, and here I am, a part of this incredibly welcoming community.
The only downside is that TikTok has a very random algorithm, and it can be hard to go viral through their platform. Believe me, I’m still trying. As a result, I also turned to Goodreads to help me promote my book. Goodreads has an author program that allows authors to post their books, whether published or unpublished, to gain an audience! I posted Intangible without a cover or publication date to Goodreads through this program using a short synopsis to spark interest. I was able to round up a small following quite quickly, with avid readers adding my book to their TBR (to be read) list. Though my book isn’t yet out, having an audience and a platform to use as a starting point will be instrumental once I do publish it. This way, I already have people excited about reading my book, and they are more likely to purchase it.
I have also used Discord and Facebook as a way to connect with others in the writing world. Through these group chats, I learned valuable information about what to keep in mind when designing a cover, how to use KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) when self-publishing, and what on earth an ARC reader is (Advanced Reader Copy). As an aspiring young author, there is a lot I don’t know about this world, and like in any good fantasy novel, it always helps to make some friends and find a mentor and maybe a weird creature to help guide you through it.
Whether you were traditionally published or self-published, having readers is what keeps your book from sinking. BookTok and Goodreads are just two methods I have personally used to gain a following, but Instagram, Twitter, and a good, old-fashioned blog are also viable options. I’m not going to lie to you; it does take a lot of work to grow an account, but then again, it also takes a lot of work to write the book! It comes down to this: if you can write a whole book, you can most definitely go viral.