First-Time Fantasy Writer Has BookTok’s Newest Viral Bestseller

Publishing is brutal. Writing a ebook is tough sufficient, however selling it’s one other problem that the majority authors really feel unprepared for. Social media has all the time been a little bit of a crapshoot in terms of promoting something, however someway TikTok has amassed a large cohort of readers and authors who’ve the facility to make any ebook—even one from a small press by an unknown author—a bestseller.

Shawn M. Warner, the first-time writer of Leigh Howard and the Ghosts of Simmons-Pierce Manor, which revealed in November of 2022 from Black Rose Press in Texas, had the nice fortune to go viral on BookTok after a younger man filmed him promoting his books. Warner politely and fortunately answered questions, and his earnest nature and grandfatherly demeanor earned him instantaneous followers on the social media web site. So many followers, in truth, that his ebook has jumped to the highest of the Amazon bestseller record.

Screenshot: io9 | Linda Codega

This unimaginable rise by means of the lists attributable to a stray social media put up isn’t unprecedented. All of us bear in mind your buddy and mine, Mister Bigolas Dickolas Wolfwood, who earlier within the 12 months despatched That is How You Lose the Time Battle by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone up the bestseller record like a shot. Whereas each of those examples are extremes, this phenomenon has been happening for the previous 5 or so years, a lot in order that publishers have began together with the phrase “BookTok sensation” in PR copy.

I usually have a reasonably pessimistic view of BookTok. Not due to the content material or the individuals who take part, however as a result of publishers have begun to depend on going viral, or beginning out viral, as a technique of promoting and buying books, which makes me really feel unusually unhappy. It’s not a query of who deserves to get revealed, however I’ve considerations in regards to the elevated reliance on social media as a technique for promoting books in any respect.

BookTok has accomplished plenty of good for many individuals, nevertheless it’s additionally created this inflated consideration economic system the place books change into collateral, exchanged within the hope of getting observed. It’s a wierd house that feels at odds with the manufacturing of books, the place craft and care is poured right into a single ebook for years. In some circumstances, whether or not a ebook sells out or makes the bestseller record is now as much as BookTok—which might be superb for the individuals who profit, however seems like a technique to encourage a big scale reliance on an algorithm that’s, for essentially the most half, a black field of random content material.

If Warner reads this, congratulations in your success, and I hope you proceed writing books many individuals take pleasure in sooner or later. If any potential writer reads this: please don’t depend on BookTok or going viral. Who is aware of how lengthy any of the social media websites will final.


Need extra io9 information? Try when to anticipate the newest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s subsequent for the DC Universe on film and TV, and every part it is advisable find out about the way forward for Doctor Who.

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