As the fastest-growing social media platform in 2022, TikTok can no longer be dismissed as a frivolous platform where people make dance videos. With a growing tribe of readers (#BookTok), Tiktok is a great place for authors to gain popularity, showcase their books, and build a loyal community of readers.
In fact, publishing industry trends reveal that social media communities (especially #BookTok) will play a crucial role in book marketing and promotion in 2022 and beyond. While this is especially true for authors who write romance and fiction for younger audiences, the BookTok community is steadily growing across all genres and ages. Authors who have learned to leverage the power of social media have gained immense exposure and quickly found their way onto bestseller lists.
If you’ve already put in the hard work of getting your book out there, why miss out on this opportunity to boost sales and also connect with new readers? You may say “I’m an author. I write. I wouldn’t know where to begin with these videos.” Fair enough. It can be overwhelming and scary to step out of your comfort zone completely uninformed. However, it might help to take inspiration from and follow the footsteps of fellow authors who’ve got TikTok figured out!
Let’s take a look at lessons we can learn from 5 authors who’ve put TikTok to good use.
1. Use trending sounds
Victoria Aveyard, the author of Realm Breaker and The Red Queen series, uses trending sounds and hashtags on most of her TikToks to expand her reach. A trending sound is a song snippet or audio that becomes popular for a certain time period because of a viral dance, an ongoing challenge, etc. You can use them in the background of your videos while tailoring your content to suit your purpose. Using these sounds helps get your videos in front of a bigger audience. Moreover, since people already recognize the sound, they like to see the creative twists people put on them. For example, as seen in this video, she used a trending sound (in an admittedly funny manner) to convey that she’s taking over Barnes and Noble’s TikTok for a day.
2. Engage with fans by answering questions
On TikTok, people can easily comment on your video via text or with another video. Colleen Hoover, the author of It Ends With Us, often engages with questions left on her videos by fans. These questions are sometimes lighthearted and fun (‘You’re just a hot mess like the rest of us, huh?’) or serious and inspiring.
In fact, Q&As are a very reliable and popular style of video used by most authors — just make sure to keep your answers candid, personal, and fun. You can also engage with fans in other ways — responding to people’s comments, reposting, and engaging with the videos they make about your book are all great ways to show readers you care about their input.
3. Be relatable and personal
Only 23 years old, author of The Violent Delights series Chloe Gong presents a very relatable persona on her TikTok. She provides regular updates on her life, and her books, and also creates funny content about the treatment she gets as a young author (jokes about people asking her if she’s old enough to drink, etc). These jokes about her age resonate deeply with other young people who then feel seen, understood, and thus enjoy her content. But it’s not just endearing to fellow young people: it shows viewers of any age that she’s down to earth and able to take a joke, which makes her instantly likable, and someone people will want to support.
4. Immerse readers in your fictional world
Jennifer Millikin, best-selling author of women’s fiction, does not limit her creativity to her book’s plot. Her TikTok features teasers, where she brings to life (literally) her book’s characters — she impersonates the characters as though they are directly vlogging about their own life, and does so with complete authenticity and passion. This creates a lot of excitement around the plot, gets readers to invest in particular characters, and leaves them wanting to know what happens next. By bringing her audience closer to the characters, Millikin slowly turns casual readers into superfans (and who better than your superfans to be free, 24/7 publicists and drive up those sales!)
5. Run author giveaways
Amidst life vlogs and updates, author Aiden Thomas takes the classic social media author giveaway strategy and gives it a TikTok spin. To enter the giveaway, a viewer must like the video as well as leave a comment on it. Naturally, this means that a lot more people to engage with the video, increasing the chances of the video landing on the ‘For You’ page (the landing page on TikTok when a user opens the app). This is a great way to grow an account and reach people with relevant interests outside your pool of followers.
A couple of other things that you may wish to try on TikTok as you start off are sharing your process as an author (from writing to publishing your book) and posting interesting behind-the-scenes content. So, what’s the wait for? Set up (or revive) your TikTok account and get creating! Remember, the only way you’ll get rid of the fear is by getting started. Oh, and be sure to leave a #BookTok on all your posts to help users discover you.
Neeha Gupta is a content writer with Reedsy, a marketplace that connects authors with the world’s best self-publishing resources and professionals. She’s also the author of two books, ‘Different’ and ‘Swapped,’ and is a student at University College London.