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Diving into the World of Book Influencing with Ayman Chaudhary

We know of influencers who promote clothes and makeup, but do you know of people on the internet who talk about books, review them, and literally possess the power to make or break an author?

On the 24th of December 2020, Ayman Chaudhary posted a 57-second-long video on TikTok with ‘stop what you are doing, shut up and read’ a book which she liked reading and do you know what happened? The book went out of stock in multiple stores across countries and topped the New York Times Best Sellers List within a few weeks. 

Her quirky way of talking about book scenes, authors, and recommendations are much loved by the book community online and has successfully garnered 18.9 million likes on TikTok and a large following on Instagram and Twitter, making her one of the most influential book influencers featured in Vogue

In conversation with Brown, Ayman shares with us her journey and the role of book influencers in the world of books and authors. 

What is book influencing according to you? 

For me, book influencing is just talking and sharing about the books that you read either for a promotion or just in conversation. Being a part of this book community is a marketplace for authors and publishers to get their books out and their voices heard and get recognition. Obviously, we, as readers, are the consumers. We, as influencers, make videos, content, pictures, and posts talking about the book, what we loved about it, and how it made us feel and overall getting other people involved in the community. The overall goal, I would say, is to get people into reading or get them back to reading by feeding recommendations and giving honest reviews while having fun ourselves. 

What is the role of ‘Booktokers’ and ‘Bookstagrammers’ on an author’s success today? 

A big portion of an author’s sales, publicity, and getting their names heard, comes from the book community and having a good marketing team. Authors who publish books independently or through publishers have a responsibility to reach out to the right influencers nowadays who they know will love the genre and convince them that they will love the book or that they should be reading it next. TikTok has become the best place to talk about books, and honestly, books translate so well on TikTok that many of these authors and publishers have started looking at the creators there to promote their books. While established authors have their fame and previous books to vouch for them, the newer ones rely on book influencers to get people talking about them and get their voices heard. 

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Image Source: Ayman Chaudhary

How did you become a book influencer across social media? What was your journey?

I always loved reading but hardly got the time to pick up and read books until the lockdown in 2020, when I finally found the time to read. I started reading books recommended by other BookTokers, and then it was in August last year, I started posting videos myself. I did not expect to go viral or become a book influencer even! I just posted funny videos about books and my recommendations. I started gaining followers – people who loved and related to my content, and my journey just happened like that – one video after another.  

Do you plan on writing your own book someday? What genre will it be? 

I have no plans of becoming a writer and writing books. While I do like the idea of being an author, I feel that you need certain skills and dedication, and I found writing even a simple high school essay a hassle! 

Proudest moment as a book influencer?

On my page, I post funny book videos and occasionally book recommendations to talk about a book in a video. Once I read a book called The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab and made a video on it, and it went viral and got a couple of million views which I did not expect at all. I had the author herself repost my video on her Instagram, and the publishing company reached out to me to send a signed copy; to this day, people associate that book with my video, which is huge for me. People even reached out to me, showing the book has been out of stock on Amazon for a whole month and several other bookstores. It was crazy, and I remember V. E. Schwab speaking about it. At that point, her book did not have that hype and publicity, but then she posted my content, saying this is why her book was on the Best Selling charts now and was shocked herself. And this is the proudest moment for me because it is surreal knowing that I made this much of an impact on one book.

Image Source: Ayman Chaudhary

You very openly share your experience of reading smut books. What is your view on the debate of erotic literature being undermined or called a sure-fire way of gaining profits?

I believe calling it a surefire way of getting profits is degrading to the author and the readers. Erotic literature is meant for a certain kind of audience, but that doesn’t mean it should be shadowbanned outside the community and looked down upon. This is the adult part of literature, so it doesn’t have the biggest community, but it is still valid. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying these books. Reading for pleasure makes the experience exciting and fun. There have been countless times where authors and readers have not gotten the same recognition as other trending books on the New York Times Bestselling List and other publishing lists. Women, including me, predominantly read and write romance. Most of these books are designed for women who want an outlet from the sexist society they live in. Degrading erotic literature is dehumanizing and misogynistic at its core.

You focus on South Asian and Middle Eastern writers and recommendations. As a person who has the power to influence, why do you think it is necessary to promote them? 

As a Pakistani growing up in western society, it is no secret that people like me have been countlessly silenced and spoken over. Authors of colour always have to work harder than their white counterparts to get at least half as far. Authors of colour do not get the same treatment as white authors. We see that in the publishing industry, and we see that in the books that are sold. It is not that the book is bad, but because most likely it is the white author who will be prioritized. Being an influencer, I can use my platform to give voice to these authors that other people have silenced. It is important for me to speak for the marginalized communities since I have a better understanding of what they go through. 

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As a book reviewer, there are times when you might not have anything positive to say about a book. How do you approach this issue? 

I have definitely read many books that I absolutely hated or didn’t like as much as everybody else did. When talking about books that I did not like, I try to stay neutral because I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Just because I don’t like a book doesn’t mean you liking it is invalid or wrong. Reading is subjective. I try to be as honest as possible in my videos about books I did not like. I combine a bit of humour with my honesty, so people don’t feel ashamed in any way, shape, or form. I’m not here to spread any hate, but it is important to me to stay as honest as possible when recommending books to not mislead anyone. 

Image Source: Ayman Chaudhary

As an avid book reader, which is more frustrating – a book not having a sequel or a favourite character dying/couple breaking up?

I would definitely say my favourite character dying or breaking up with another character would be more frustrating. Some books simply do not need a sequel, no matter how much I desperately want one. As readers, we always want the stories that we read to never end, but it’s not an author’s job to continue something they feel has finished. And I read somewhere that our brains cannot process the difference between a fictional death of a character versus a real death of someone we know, so when a fictional character dies, it hurts just as much. Fictional characters dying or breaking up is definitely frustrating, but it adds to the realness and relatability for the reader in the end. 

Your advice to upcoming book reviewers and influencers?

The best advice I would give to any future book influencer would be to be as honest as possible. Reading is subjective, and we all have different tastes. It does not matter how popular a book is or if no one knows about it at all. Being honest in your reviews is important. Most importantly, have fun and don’t pressurize and compare yourself to others. Doing that will take the fun out of reading. Reading is something that is to be enjoyed, so enjoy what you’re reading and what you’re posting on the Internet.

With great influence comes great responsibility and Ayman’s content is testimony to that. Staying true to her roots and the causes she stands for is reflected in her content and book recommendations, be it on the LGBTQI+ or South Asian writers and characters worth acknowledgement.  

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Automatically vibe with anyone who dreams of becoming the Next Big Thing. I'm either binge-watching random pasta videos or busy turning situations to stories and people to poetry.

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