First of all hooray for the return of the FC Trinity! In honor of such an occasion, here is a screed from the reply guy in FC’s comment section :D.

I think listening to this might have helped me reconcile my objections to Tiktok, with what is becoming an increasing audience of people I admire and respect using it and extolling its virtues which I find elusive.

It seems to be a similar pattern to most successful digital “communities”. Reaching all the way back to Diaryland and livejournal, all the way through to today’s twitter and tiktok.

The thing that seems to happen is the creators live in their own version of the platform and cultivate it based on that subject, niche, or “bubble” for lack of a better term, in order to create more content.

Much as the “booktok” Leigh refers to or Kat’s “YA twitter” these aren’t a specific url like a subreddit or tag you may see in your feed in Instagram, but closer resembles “content mindset” that one curates by choosing who they look at specifically or related jargon that they seek out in the tag system. They go on to the platform to find specifically the subject / area they are looking for, not to just “log on”. The pursuit of the content is to create more content, not to consume content per se.

These folks then kind of accidentally become advocates for a platform writ large, even though the way they use it is nothing like what the other 95% of users.

I have to assume (and PLEASE correct me if I am mistaken!) that the three of you use the search box and check up on specific accounts WAY more than everyone else does. I would suggest trying this experiment. Create a fake tiktok account, or even just open in an incognito / private tab and see the things it puts in front of you. Click on any video and just follow the rabbit for a bit.

I always say that the second someone says “think of the kids” you know they are talking about some bullshit. But in the brief time I poked around Tiktok, mostly because of Leigh, and hearing adults talk about using it way out here in the boonies. The shit I saw on there did not make me feel like this was gonna go well. The genie is out of the bottle, so I guess there is nothing to be done.

But all in all I appreciated this pod because it helped me decouple a bad thing from some good people in my head.

Hooray! Keep up the good stuff as always.

Expand full comment

Hearing Leigh Stein talk about the publishing industry on Feminine Chaos is my favorite thing to listen to on any podcast.

I loved many things in Leigh's amazing essay but one thing that I keep thinking about is the line about writers flocking by the thousands to AWP to complain about the industry. In 2014, AWP was in Seattle, where I live. I went and it was incredible. Amy Tan gave the keynote speech. I had such a great time and met a lot of writers I admire (whether it's true or not, Rachel Kushner telling me I'm the only one who's told her they read The Flame Throwers in a day is a big memory for me - which is true but I had a week at work where my manager was on vacation and had literally no work to do so I could read books through the web version for Kindle). I bet there were over 100 authors that I had read something by or knew from interacting with on Twitter and wanted to see (I have a large collection of signed books and meeting authors at their events is something I've loved doing over the past 20 years).

This year, AWP is again in Seattle (maybe in about 2 weeks) and I don't think there are fifty writers I've even heard of. It feels like there are hundreds and hundreds of panels with thoursands and thousands writers and they're all about identity or disrupting the patriarchy. It all sounds like spending an hour on Book Twitter and it sounds like an awful time. I could not find one panel or reading I'd want to go to.

As a counterpoint, considering how some authors acquit themselves online (see Dessen, Sarah and friends) maybe it is in their best interest to avoid TikTok?

Expand full comment

That so many books sell so very few copies is mind-boggling. Is a large proportion self-published?

Expand full comment

Loved this whole conversation!

Expand full comment

What are BookTok readers reading *for*?

Do they read to zip through a plot before bed?

Do they read to have a good cry?

Do they read to have an excuse to talk with their virtual book clubs?

Do they read to pick over the books for quips and life advice?

Do they read to project themselves onto the characters?

Do they read as freelance moral guardians who don’t use the word “moral” because it’s coded conservative?

Do they read because they have constructed a self-image as the kind of person who likes books?

What do they read *for*?

Expand full comment