Millions of subscribers? For book sales, “It’s unreliable”.

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Crucially, executives say, the industry is also increasingly aware of the difference between the number of followers and their level of actual engagement. Do they comment? Do they share?

“There are people who cease to be famous who still have their millions of followers, or people who left office eight years ago,” said Eric Nelson, editorial director of Broadside Books. “The important thing is why people are talking about this person? This is what drives engagement.

A new dimension of this conversation is TikTok, which has become a powerful force in selling books. Best-selling “BookTok” titles are usually pushed by enthusiastic readers who mourn into their camera phones how much they liked the book, not by authors who pay for their own work. But the TikTok stars’ book submissions are now in the throes of being pulled up.

Mary Ann Naples, editor of Hachette Books, said she recently came across a proposal from an author who had quickly built up huge success on TikTok. Ms Naples said she wanted the book, but its price has skyrocketed.

“I didn’t feel comfortable going to these heights,” she said.

There are, however, many examples where following on social media helps sell books, such as Wally Koval’s “Accidentally Wes Anderson,” a book of photographs from around the world of things that resemble the filmmaker’s sets, like a pink bowling alley, yellow and blue. Mr. Koval’s Instagram account of the same name and concept had over a million subscribers when the book was acquired and now has 1.6 million. The book has sold more than 100,000 hardcover copies since its publication in January, its publisher said.

Another book that worked well was “How to Get the Job done” by Dr. Nicole LePera, a holistic psychologist with 4.4 million Instagram followers. Her Instagram bio reads “I’m teaching you how to heal + to consciously create a new version of yourself,” and her book has sold around 216,000 copies, according to BookScan.


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