- After the viral success of BookTok, TikTok’s parent company has now launched 8th Note Publishing.
- But authors are concerned the company will promote their own books over others’ on TikTok.
- Meanwhile, publishing professionals are skeptical that viral success alone could sustain sales.
TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, has launched a new publishing company, worrying some authors who told the New York Times they’re concerned the social media company will unfairly promote their own books.
BookTok — a community of bibliophiles on TikTok who discuss and share books, particularly those in the romance and fantasy genres — has rocketed both new and experienced authors to fame through viral videos over the last two years, Insider reported.
While some authors strategically use the BookTok hashtag to market their work, others have been surprised by the organic success they found without even trying. For example, author Dustin Thao told Insider in May he never once posted to TikTok, and yet his book “blew up overnight” after readers made their own viral videos.
But with TikTok’s algorithm-driven feed, which does not always reward even the most dedicated content creators, authors told the Times they’re concerned ByteDance may choose to use user data to promote their own books from 8th Note Publishing over books that may otherwise find success naturally.
“People would give their eye teeth to get in front of that audience and to be pushed in that way,” Ella Fox, a self-published author and advertising consultant specializing in TikTok content, told the Times.
Meanwhile, publishing experts say there’s a difference between going viral and getting readers to actually purchase a book.
“They can get more eyeballs, but is that going to translate into sales?” Cindy Hwang, vice president and editorial director of Berkley, a mainstream commercial and genre fiction publisher, told The Times.
Furthermore, 8th Note Publishing has yet to offer authors competitive advances compared to traditional publishing companies, the Times reports.
In response to these concerns, TikTok told the Times that 8th Note Publishing would operate separately from TikTok.