The Power of BookTok: Alex Aster Lands a Six-Figure Deal

After being dropped by her agent, Aster took to BookTok to pitch her YA novel. Now, she’s living every author’s dream, signing a massive book (and movie) deal.

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Alex Aster has a modern author success story for the ages. Since the age of 12, Aster has been avidly writing books, fueled by the dream of having a YA series published. Thanks to the ever-growing influence of BookTok, her childhood dream has now come to fruition (and then some!). Her story as a writer proves that no matter how many rejections you face, getting your voice and ideas out there can change your entire life. On that inspiring note, let’s learn a little more about this dedicated dreamer and her skyrocketing trajectory of author success.

The TikTok Pitch

Despite being dropped by her agent, Alex Aster did not give up on her YA draft titled Lightlark – a project she’d been writing and editing for years. Circa March 2021, with no publisher taking up her manuscript, Aster decided to pitch the novel online and see the response. Little did she know, this single TikTok would amass 1.8 million views and fast-track her writing dreams.

Though she was told that there wasn’t a market for Lightlark, Aster woke up the next day to find more than a million views on the video and a flurry of positive responses and engagement. Apparently, all the publishers that threw her story to the wayside were off on predicting what the YA fanbase wanted. A mere week later, Lightlark went to auction and secured a six-figure deal with Amulet Books.

Lightlark Takes Off

As it stands, a six-figure book deal was only the beginning of Aster’s BookTok success story. Last month, Universal preliminarily purchased the rights for a movie adaptation of Lightlark, recognizing its franchise potential. Per the Hollywood Reporter, Universal is partnering with Temple Hill to develop this screen adaptation of Aster’s novel (which has yet to even be officially released). Aster will also act as executive producer.

In a recent piece for The Guardian, Aster expressed her astounded joy about Universal buying the film rights for her YA release for “more zeros than I’ve seen in my life.” The author also made a recent appearance at San Diego Comic-Con, leading up to the official release of Lightlark on August 23rd.

The Power of BookTok

Aster’s inspiring story of TikTok fame proves once again that a social media following comes with truly life-altering results. In regards to the influence of BookTok in particular, this prominent social media platform is, in many ways, better able to communicate to publishers where the interests of millions of readers lie. Bridging this disconnect is another key lesson that Aster’s experience engenders. She notes: “there’s such a big disconnect between the people making decisions in boardrooms and the readers who are hungry for these types of books.”

In many ways, BookTok is, at its finest, a way to put the readers in the driver’s seat and a way to help writers get discovered. Aster uses her current platform of close to 1 million followers to work toward just that. Her message is one of hope and encouragement for other aspiring authors not to give up on their literary dreams.

Chronicling her journey to her YA writing dreams with candidness and gratitude, Aster’s story is a remarkable insight into BookTok’s influence on the mass market and its transformative effect on individual lives. In her concluding comments for The Guardian, Aster summed: “I haven’t tried to mask the fact that I failed for so long. I didn’t have a plan. I just wanted to be a part of this community. And it led to big moments.” On that beautiful note, congratulations, Alex! May the big moments keep rolling as Lightlark makes its official debut on August 23rd.

Finally, for more on how BookTok is changing the publishing industry, click here.