I’ve known for a while now that there are hundreds of writers out there who swear by TikTok to promote their books and connect with the perfect audience of potential readers. The whole idea of filming myself and coming up with content that people might actually see filled me with abject horror, and I was dreading the moment the time came to actually get out there and start promoting.
Well, that time came last week. The Suffering had just been released and I decided there was no better time to bite the bullet, download the TikTok app, and post my first video.
You guys. I actually LOVE IT!
I never thought I’d ever say that in a million years, but it’s true.
As I say, I’ve only been on there for a week and haven’t yet built any kind of following so I’m hardly an expert. But I wanted to let other authors who are grappling with the idea of starting a TikTok know what my experience has been, and encourage you to give it a go. I’ll also give you a rundown of a few book-themed video ideas to get started.
The Best Things about Promoting on TikTok
- It’s free! All you need is your phone. The app has a built-in editing suite that’s extremely easy to work your way around. If you make a mistake you can hit the ‘undo’ key so there’s never any risk when you’re playing around with your first few videos.
- You can post about your book all day long if you like. Unlike Twitter and Instagram, the BookTok community is extremely receptive to self-promotion. The great thing about it is you can slant almost all trending videos and sounds to fit your books. So even though you’re regularly discussing your releases, all of your videos can be a little different, keeping your followers interested.
- The algorithm automatically targets your ideal readership. TikTok’s algorithm is scarily accurate. When you first start to use it, you’ll be shown generic or popular videos that have been decided based on your initial data. But within a couple of days you should find that most of the videos you see are targeted to match the content you are watching and producing. This means that the same can be said of the people who are shown your video. Your content will be made visible to people who want to see it, and that makes a huge difference in terms of sales.
- You can imitate other people’s videos, and it isn’t stealing! In fact, copying trends is encouraged. My friend watches mostly dog content and introduced me to the ‘cheese tax’ song and videos that are doing the rounds at the moment. She made a fantastic version with her own dog (check out Kirsty B’s account @kirsty709 to see it!). You can scroll through the BookTok trend videos, make notes of the ones you like, and come up with your own. This can be as simple as using a funny filter with a reading or writing twist.
That’s all very well and good, but what in the heck are you going to post? Here’s a few ideas to get you started:
Bookish TikTok ideas
- Introduce yourself and your book. For your first post, it’s that simple. Tell people who you are, what you write, and what they can expect from your books. Use hashtags such as #booktok, #myfirsttiktok, and multiple tags related to the genre you write so that it finds its way to your reading community.
- Flip reveals and page flicks. As you spend time getting to know BookTok, you’ll probably see a lot of these. Simply hold your phone and film either your book’s spine for a few moments, or film yourself slowly flicking through the pages. At the last minute, reveal the cover and record for a few seconds. Then, edit the video and add text that describes your book, characters, or plot. Play around with filters and effects and be sure to add music that is popular in your chosen genre.
- Filter fun. There are so many filters readily available on TikTok, you can make hours of content. Consider what may be relatable to a writer or a reader and try and add a bookish slant to the filter you use.
- What are you reading? As well as learning about what you’ve written, the BookTok community is also keen to fill their TBR pile with recommendations. There are multiple ways you can present these videos. Pulling a new book from a shopping bag or unpacking a delivered box of shiny new books is always attractive to fellow book hawks! But it can be as simple as putting books in a pile and slowly lifting each one up to reveal the next. Be sure to give a little bit of information about each title, or, if you’ve already read it, an honest review.
- Lip Syncs. Okay, I feel your panic. This is a trend that only the bravest attempt, but they can be extremely effective. Search for soundbites that relate to a topic. They might be snippets from a movie, or even lyrics to songs. Practice until you know the words and the timing, then simply record yourself mouthing along. If the thought of introducing yourself is terrifying at the moment, I’m sure this is the last thing on your mind. But you never know, you might find yourself so comfortable with TikTok you’re giving it a whirl in no time!
You don’t have anything to lose (unless you work for an establishment that doesn’t allow TikTok. Seriously guys, check with your workplace before downloading the app if you are in a data-sensitive environment!). Why not give it a try? You can always delete it if you hate it.
I’m brand new to TikTok, so come and follow me as soon as you get set up and I’ll follow you back! You’ll find me @mjmarsauthor.
One last thing, if you’re a writer you may have heard the rumours this week about a literary agent stating that you need “40k followers on Instagram and 100k on TikTok” to even be considered by a publisher. This may be true for some (if it is, it’s a sad state of affairs, and rules out a humongous portion of excellent talent out there). But I am proof that this isn’t true for all. I have about 2k followers on Insta, and I had 0 followers on TikTok a few days ago, since I didn’t even have an account! Don’t be disheartened by statements like this. Keep on submitting. And, if you’re worried and feel pressured into starting TikTok because of this agent’s comment, don’t let it stress you out. Like me, you might find it is surprisingly fun. And, if it really isn’t for you, don’t give up on your publishing dream. The right publisher is out there waiting, and doesn’t give a damn about your social media status. All they care about is your talent. As it should be.