Week 4: Alex Aster Case Study
Case Study: Alex Aster
Hi everyone, this week I focused on the case of author Alex Aster, whose success I primarily attribute to her savvy use of TikTok.
Who is Alex Aster?
Alex Aster is a New York Times bestselling author with three published books, most notably 2022’s Lightlark. She has over 1 million followers on TikTok and primarily posts promotional snippets of her books and experiences as a published author. The hashtag for her most recent novel, Lightlark, has 89.9 million views on TikTok and tens of thousands of reviews on Goodreads.
What is the ‘Lightlark Controversy’?
The publishing of Alex Aster’s Lightlark is fairytale-esque. After struggling for months to find a publishing house for her novel, Aster posted a short video online detailing a summary of the book, which subsequently gained over a million views and secured her a six-figure publishing deal and a movie contract with Universal Studios. The real story, however, is a little more complex. Aster already had a significant following on TikTok before she posted that video, indicating that she held an influencer’s powers in her back pocket. Aster had also posted tens of videos to promote her book beforehand until she discovered the perfect way to activate TikTok’s user algorithm. Posting short snippets, book quotes, and image reels, all according to a specific mold the BookTok audience loves, allowed her to reach millions of people and potential buyers. After Lightlark‘s release, however, many fans were disappointed as chunks of Aster’s promotion were not in the book. She did not include half of the plot points and quotes she spent so long promoting. Also, non-Booktok users who purchased the book due to recommendations from their friends discovered its ‘bad quality.’ Of course, one’s reading taste is subjective. Still, investigating the hundreds of disgruntled TikTok videos and Goodreads reviews, it’s safe to conclude that Aster’s book was quite generic and appeared empty outside its ‘BookTok’ flattering plot.
Why is this significant to my project?
Alex Aster’s success, whether deserved or not, represents a shift in the reading world. The basis of getting published has seemingly shifted from quality, freshness, and depth to popularity without regard to content. Many feel Aster’s book would be nothing without its views and her social media following. It also signifies a trend in the literary world where most published YA novels fit a specific mold. Book tastes are automatically narrowed as the only novels that get attention are the entirely non-unique ones, like Aster’s Lightlark. In the same vein, authors are forced to flatten their creativity and promote and write their books just like Aster did, resulting in the mass release of Lightlark-esque books, which I believe would be a travesty. Thank you for reading! Next week, I will focus on expanding my quote outlines.
Cardy, Izzy, The ‘Lightlark’ Controversy: A Study In The Dangerous Influence Of BookTok, https://www.trillmag.com/life/social-media/the-lightlark-controversy-a-study-in-the-dangerous-influence-of-booktok/