BookTok has taken the internet by storm over the past couple of years. All of a sudden, people are finally becoming interested in books that have been out for years or are finally beginning to understand that independently published (indie) books are just as captivating as traditionally published books.
For those who are unaware, an indie published book is one published with little assistance from outside sources. Typically, indie authors receive more royalties, but usually face challenges with advertising. If a book is not marketed in the correct way, few people will hear about the book, or it won’t reach the intended audience. With the introduction of BookTok, however, indie books are finally getting the credit they deserve.
The main reason why I bring this up is because I had the opportunity to go to a book convention, and I was lucky enough to meet some indie authors that many probably haven’t heard of. ApollyCon is a book convention hosted by Jennifer L. Armentrout, a widely known and respected author, popular for her fantasy series Blood and Ash. She invited some of romance readers’ favorite indie-published authors and attendees got a chance to meet those authors and have them sign books.
To be honest, as a 17-year-old girl, I was quite apprehensive about walking into a romance book convention, where I was extremely aware of the fact that I would most likely be one of the youngest there (and I was!), but it was an experience that was so empowering in the end. I chose the authors I wanted to have conversations with. I had the opportunity to finally meet friends from BookTube, and I gained an independence that could only come from facing new things.
My mom and I traveled from New Jersey to Washington D.C. for the four-day long convention, and it was a busy schedule, but Saturday was general signing day, and the day that was most packed. I met authors like B. Celeste, Coralee June, Ali Hazelwood (who wrote the popular novel, The Love Hypothesis) and many more, including the host, Armentrout herself. In total, I came home with 21 books, when I went in with only nine. I also came home with book accessories including bookmarks, magnets, and pens.
My experience was unlike anything I have ever done before, and I feel so grateful that I was able to meet like-minded people who shared similar interests and passions with me. Though I was a romance reader prior to BookTok becoming as popular as it is, there is no doubt in my mind that ApollyCon and the romance book industry has gained so many more readers over these past couple years than ever before. It goes to show that the internet has so much power, and though there is much stigma surrounding social media, good things can come out of it. For me, I got the opportunity to meet friends from all over the country that I couldn’t meet sitting at home simply reading the books. Now, I can talk to people online about my favorites, and meet them in person at events such as ApollyCon. Going to a convention was an eye-opening experience, and I am already looking forward to going back to ApollyCon next year, and maybe even Book Bananza in Texas, hosted by an even more popular writer, Colleen Hoover.