“I work in video marketing in my day job and I was pretty strategic with it,” said Cayouette, 23, from Salem and a Brandeis University graduate who originally started the account. “I think I’ve cultivated a perfect storm of just the right length videos.”
Video maker and editor for fashion label Aerie, Cayouette has spent a lot of time studying what the modern viewer finds appealing on social media. When she launched her passion project TikTok, she made sure to keep her videos short, engaging, and to the point.
“At first, people think it’s a true story,” she explained. “It obviously attracts them too.”
Cayouette started posting videos daily for @bettysbooklist in April and attracted over 258,000 subscribers. It highlights a wide range of books, from longtime bestsellers like Gillian Flynn’s Winding Satanic Panic Thriller “Dark Places” to recent versions, including Hollywood by Catherine Steadman mystery “The act of disappearance” and The romance of a night in Vegas by Morgan Rogers “Honey Girl”. Most often, the account features work by women and non-binary authors. The stories are often directed by women and fall under the thriller or romance categories.
“I really love reading books with female protagonists and I love reading books that are queer stories and feature interesting people,” Cayouette said. “These are just what I read organically. I created this a bit on the spur of the moment.
The idea for the account arose out of an interest in promoting the book. Cayouette wrote a book during the pandemic and wants a way that she can eventually commercialize it. She was also looking for a way to promote her friend’s book, Local Boston Hanna Halperin’s novel “Something Wild” and started posting ahead of time to make sure she had an audience. Within days, Cayouette’s account gained popularity.
People were immediately intrigued. The first comments praised the bait and the change in believing that Cayouette was confessing to a real problem she had. Commentators said they were “hooked” and “therefore invested” in the stories.
“If the books were explained like this, I would only be reading,” wrote one viewer. “It’s literally the best way to recommend a book,” said another.
Since the creation of the account, Cayouette has started offering additional narrators. Sometimes videos are collaborations; at other times Cayouette passes the baton entirely. She collaborates with friends when stories feature male or colored protagonists, to ensure that she “doesn’t inauthentically portray characters” who are unlike her. She will send out some script ideas for books and ask them to choose what interests them, so that everyone is excited about the project.
Cayouette said she has also started hearing from publishing houses in response to her videos, which excites her because she believes book advertising needs to catch up with modern demands.
“Publishing is a bit of an old-fashioned industry, where TikTok and abbreviated video content is not yet the center of attention, although it is the future,” she said.
Meryl Wilsner, author of queer romance novel “Something to Talk About”, noted the merit of these types of videos last month. Their debut novel follows a Hollywood big shot and his assistant as they navigate their jobs (and growing feelings) after the tabloids falsely claimed they were dating. Cayouette made a video, in which she voiced the assistant, and Wilsner shared it on Twitter with the caption: “I don’t know what counts as viral, but I can confirm that this tiktok literally tripled my sales last week. God bless the people who talk about the books they love.
Cayouette explained that all of the books featured are stories that she really loves, and that many posts are older than 2021, as she goes back to her reading history for inspiration.
“As I move forward, there will be a new [book] sprinkled here and there, ”she said. “But that’s really what I read and liked.”