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TikTok has launched the careers of countless authors. They say they’re worried about what a potential ban could do to the industry.

TikTok has launched the careers of countless authors. They say they’re worried about what a potential ban could do to the industry.

Authors and book lovers on TikTok are concerned that a nationwide ban of the social media platform could endanger their hobbies, their livelihoods and the publishing industry at large.

Legislation that President Joe Biden signed in April could ban the use of TikTok in the U.S. as soon as January 2025. Though people have been talking about books online for decades, TikTok in particular has had a tangible impact on book sales, impacting what books publishers are looking for and even influencing people to read more books.

TikTok’s book-loving community, also known as BookTok, has helped launch the careers of authors like Lauren Roberts, who first shared a book idea on TikTok at age 18. Her audience loved it, so while balancing her work as a college student, she wrote and self-published the YA fantasy novel Powerless in 2023. It was a BookTok smash.

“I remember when it first started going viral, Prince Harry’s book had just come out. … After a few days, I beat Prince Harry” in book sales, Roberts, now 20, told Yahoo Entertainment. Powerless ultimately became a New York Times bestseller and got picked up by traditional publisher Simon & Schuster. Roberts released a novella on Tuesday and has another book, Reckless, due out in July.

Roberts said “so much talent would go to waste” if TikTok went away.

“I feel like publishing may revert back to this super traditional route, which would be a huge loss,” Roberts said. “There are a lot of great authors who just need to get their name out there and everyone would fall in love. Without TikTok, you don’t have that.”

So how did TikTok become the most popular platform in the literary space? BookToker Tishni Weerasinghe explained that TikTok’s “For You” page algorithm is extremely good at recommending books and creators tailored to each user’s taste.

“I hate to say it, but it’s addictive, too,” she told Yahoo Entertainment. “It has become the Google of our generation because of how easily you can search something and find numerous sources and points of view, all right there.”

TikTok is not just a fun pastime or a search tool, though those are certainly reasons why so many people have been able to grow their audiences there. In the same way that TikTok has minted new authors, it has created professional BookTokers, too.

“A lot of people have made careers out of TikTok,” Weerasinghe said. “Now, creators [could be] losing their platforms, which is unfortunately also a loss of income.”

The Authors Guild released a statement in March formally opposing the TikTok ban, citing the platform’s use as a tool “for authors to connect with readers, promote their books, and generate significant income streams” as the publishing industry has decreased book advances and eliminated jobs.

Other independent authors who haven’t yet been signed to traditional publishing houses praised TikTok for raising awareness about their work and driving sales, even when they don’t have a massive viral hit.

Tobie Carter, author of the romance novel The Bottom Line, said traditional publishers typically don’t pick up books like hers with heavy mental health themes. When BookTok creators share posts about her work, it drives sales. She told Yahoo Entertainment that without TikTok, “traditional publishing would have a monopoly on readers.”

“[Independent authors] would no longer have the visibility to find readers,” she said. “We’d lose the ability to sell our books without going through the middleman. It would effectively steal books from readers and money from writers.”

Thea Verdone, the independent gothic romance writer of Never Leave, Never Lie, told Yahoo Entertainment that there are a lot of writers chasing the dream of going viral on BookTok.

“All it takes is one video, and your sales can explode exponentially,” she said. “I reached out to this creator … and she’s made these short videos that have reached far more people than my tiny account ever could. Entirely for free.”

If BookTok goes away, Verdone predicts that the community “will scatter and never quite rebuild,” sharing posts across platforms like Reddit, X and Instagram that make less of an impact on readers than TikTok does.

“I’ve seen many authors complain about how exhausting it is and impossible to keep up with [multiple social media platforms] while still writing and working and caring for families,” she said. “It’s just not feasible for most people long-term.”

Ken Goldstein, CEO of ThriftBooks, where many users purchase discounted books they’ve seen on TikTok, told Yahoo Entertainment that even if TikTok goes away, authors and readers would still be able to find communities elsewhere: at book clubs, readings, festivals and other online forums.

“BookTok is the latest evolution of that, and it has provided an energetic, innovative forum for creative expression and exchange,” he said. “If TikTok were to be banned, we think the community is likely to reemerge on another platform. … A ban will be felt for a short time, but it won’t stop people from gathering around the books they love.”

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