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3 Ways I Wrote My Novel With BookTok in Mind

Author Melissa Blair shares how she not only participated in the TikTok book community, but how she studied the community to help her write her debut novel.

In April of 2021, I was reading a lot of fantasy recommendations I got from BookTok. There wasn’t anything else for me to do—my entire province was locked down and there was three feet of snow on the ground.

(What Is BookTok (and Why Should Writers Care)?)

So, I dove into worlds of fae, elves, magic, and enemies-to-lovers romances again and again and again. Until I came up with a wild idea, what if I wrote one of these stories that BookTok seemed to love so much? What would that story be?

I couldn’t get those questions out of my head, so I sat down in front of my computer and started answering them. Here are three ways I wrote A Broken Blade with BookTok in mind.

1. Find Community First

I joined BookTok to find a bookish community and creators who loved the same stories I did. I didn’t join to write a book at all. I know the journey me and my novel took is an unconventional one, but I think this gave me a valuable perspective as I transitioned from BookToker to author.

BookTok is all about community. People are on there to connect. To share memes about their favorite books, discuss theories about upcoming releases, and argue about the best and worst tropes. Every video is about sharing and connection. So, if you’re an author you need to keep that in mind. You need to know that some spaces of the community are only for readers, and not only is that OK, but it’s also necessary.

You also need to know that readers want to connect with you in some way other than your stories. They want to know your sense of humor, your writing process, your opinions on your characters, and any secret details about upcoming work you can tell them. TikTok isn’t worth your time unless that kind of connection excites you.

3 Ways I Wrote My Novel With BookTok in Mind

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2. Put a Twist on Tropes

One of the first things you’ll notice on BookTok is that everyone loves a good trope. There are the clear favorites (enemies-to-lovers, one bed, found family) but I guarantee there is a community and a hashtag for every trope known to readers.

I was very aware of this when I was drafting A Broken Blade. The book I dedicated to BookTok had to include some staple tropes, but I made sure the tropes I included fit two simple criteria.

First, I had to genuinely like reading the trope in order to write it. This was important because it made sure I enjoyed the experience as a reader first and that I understood the elements and beats that made the trope so much fun. It became much easier to write them that way.

Second, I had to have an idea on how to put a twist on it. It was important to me that my enemies-to-lovers trope was more equal than other versions I read. That the male love interest wasn’t a vile villain coaxing the innocent main character. If anything, I wanted her to be the more villainous one. This helped me make sure I was writing something that I thought other BookTokers would enjoy, but also one I enjoyed writing.

3 Ways I Wrote My Novel With BookTok in Mind

3. Review for Content Warnings

Something BookTok has been pushing for and celebrating since I got on the app is the inclusion of content warnings. Many creators include them in their videos when talking about a book and even more list them in written reviews on other bookish platforms.

It was important to me that my book was released with the safety of the community in mind, so I made sure to include a content warning at the beginning of A Broken Blade and will include one in all future books. It is an important addition and one that probably wouldn’t have been included without the discourse BookTokers have been diligent about hosting.

The BookTok community is a great resource for learning what readers want to see in their books and how they would like stories presented to them in safe and accessible ways. For authors, I recommend taking the time to listen.

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