As ‘The Atlas Six’ author Olivie Blake went into labor, her book went viral on TikTok – Press Enterprise

Olivie Blake, the pseudonym for Los Angeles-based author Alexene Farol Follmuth, still isn’t quite sure what to make of her viral moment, courtesy of the social media app TikTok last year.

She had self-published and released her dark fantasy novel, “The Atlas Six,” in late January 2020, just before the pandemic hit the United States. Through her years of writing fan fiction and self-publishing, Blake said she knew she had a small, loyal audience that she thought would appreciate her latest effort, which chronicles the tumultuous journey of six magicians vying for a place in the secret Alexandrian Society of magical academicians.

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But as her husband told her, “There’s just something different about this book.”

Over a year had passed since “The Atlas Six” was first released into the universe, and in May 2021 Blake and her husband were busy preparing to welcome their first child when they suddenly noticed an uptick in sales of the book.

“I was literally in the hospital giving birth and my husband said, ‘The sales on ‘The Six’ have really spiked’,” she recalled with a laugh during a recent phone interview. “Later that day, someone sent me a Tumblr message like, ‘You know this went viral on TikTok.’ I saw it and I just had no idea other people knew about this book. I’m not even on TikTok, so I was watching it all from the outside like, ‘Holy crap!’ There was this whole sensation happening.”

The sensation she speaks of consisted of TikTok users responding to the book by making videos that praised it, sharing its artwork and discussing its plot using the #theatlassix hashtag among the #BookTok community. Currently, the hashtag has more than 20 million views on the social media network.

Going viral landed Blake a publishing deal and “The Atlas Six,” which is the first part of a three-part trilogy, was re-released with additional content and edits by Tor Books this month. (Her editor at Tor, Molly McGhee, went viral on Twitter after this interview had been conducted when she said in a letter that she was leaving the publisher after being denied a promotion, which sparked a larger conversation about labor and equity in publishing.) The second installation, “The Atlas Paradox,” will be out Oct. 25.

Blake said she enjoyed the video banter and creative ways fans were interacting with her work using the hashtag #BookTok on TikTok, and she has seen similar posts being shared via Twitter and Instagram as well.

“The things the fans create out of a book are just incredible,” she said. “It’s beyond any kind of marketing I could do myself.”

Having her first book go viral, Blake said there’s external pressure now in writing the next two books.

“It’s a bit scary because I’ve seen so many opinions,” she said about fans on social media musing about what should happen next. “So I’ve had to isolate myself to really focus on bringing it back to the story that I always wanted to tell, and I have to trust that where I was going with this is right.”

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