Building a fanbase is one of the biggest challenges for authors. Whether you're just starting or have a catalog of published books, you're likely struggling with the same thing. It can take years, tears, and lots of hard work to successfully establish yourself as an author. Writing your book is hard, but promoting it can be even more challenging. That's where TikTok comes in.
Yes, that social media app that’s known for dance videos and lip-syncing. There’s a lot more to TikTok than that.
Through the power of TikTok, you can get discovered as an author and start building your reader fanbase. When compared to other platforms like Facebook or Instagram, it’s a lot easier to reach new people organically on this social media network. And you don’t have to pay for ads in the hopes of reaching your target audience. TikTok is great at pushing your content to the right, receptive audience. It’s almost magical how quickly you can use this platform to grow your author brand.
In this guide, we’ll explore TikTok and how to use it as an author.
What is TikTok?
TikTok is a social media app that became an overnight sensation during the COVID-19 pandemic for easy entertainment in the form of pranks, stunts, and dance trends. It was the most downloaded app of 2021 and has steadily gained popularity as it expands beyond the latest dance craze and into more substantial content. Many authors use this platform to grow their fan base.
TikTok has over one billion monthly active users, and that number is expected to grow by 50% to 1.5 billion users by the end of 2022. While TikTok is a relatively young social media platform, it has climbed its way to the 6th spot of the top 10 most popular social media platforms, behind beloved giants like Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Worldwide, there are more TikTok users than Pinterest and Twitter users combined. This platform also has more monthly active users than Reddit, Quora, Snapchat, and Facebook Messenger, despite being the newest of these platforms.
This social media platform is especially popular with younger users. Gen Z users (those born between 1997 to 2012) represent the largest share of TikTokers. These younger users also prefer TikTok over the photo and video sharing network Instagram.
Of course, popularity alone is not the only reason to consider using TikTok as an author.
TikTok makes it possible to create snackable content. This video platform gives users the option to create short videos up to three minutes in length. (Some beta users are now able to record videos up to 10 minutes in length.) In addition to making it possible for users to record and upload these videos, TikTok also gives users the option to edit videos and add filters and special effects to them.
TikTok users can like, comment on, save, and share videos. They can also engage with videos in others, using advanced features like Stitch (which allows users to combine their video with another video on Tiktok) and Duet (which gives users the ability to create a side-by-side video with another video on TikTok in a split-screen fashion).
TikTok also offers the ability to live stream. This comes in handy when you’d like to interact directly with your audience and answer questions.
What is Author TikTok?
Author TikTok is the unofficial side of TikTok where authors and readers hang out. Simply search for key terms like author, writer, and books you love. You can also use hashtags on TikTok to find others, such as #booktok.
TikTok has a finely tuned algorithm that can also guide its users to videos that they’re most likely to enjoy. The more videos that a user likes and comments on, the smarter the TikTok algorithm gets for that user.
TikTok will then show more of the same types of videos to users on a curated “For You” page. This applies to the author- and book-related videos, and is one way that book lovers and authors find themselves on Author TikTok.
Why Should Authors Use TikTok?
TikTok is free and makes it easy for authors to reach their audience organically. While you can also run ads on TikTok, doing so is expensive. Tiktok requires marketers to spend a minimum of $500 for ad campaigns. This can be cost-prohibitive for a lot of authors who simply don't have that much cash to invest in promoting their book to an uncertain audience. Fortunately, you don't have to pay to play with TikTok.
TikTok is also wildly popular and growing its user base every day. With over one billion active monthly users worldwide, that equates to increased exposure for your brand and your books. It’s free, easy to use, and popular—a winning combo for all authors who want to connect with more people.
Best Practices for Using TikTok as an Author
Now let’s get into the nitty-gritty of how to find success with TikTok.
Post Different Types of Videos
You're not limited to one type of video. Mix up your content.
Share unpolished vlogs that show a glimpse into who you are as a person. This allows your readers to connect with you as a person, which is such a wonderful gift you can offer to others.
Here are several types of videos you can post on TikTok:
Book summary - Give an overview of your book (without spoilers).
Share your writing process - Discuss how you write.
Vlog - Create a video blog to show a day in your life.
Host a giveaway - Run a contest and give away a copy of your book to a follower.
Show your office - Share a peek into your writing space.
Question and answer session - Create a series of videos to answer your readers' questions.
Book unboxing - Open your newly published book when it arrives, or duet with a reader who’s posting their book unboxing.
Whether you're posting once a week or once a day, keep the same posting rhythm. Posting erratically can negatively affect how often the algorithm chooses to promote your content. Plus, if you have large gaps between posts, your audience may forget you. Stay at the top of their minds by posting regularly.
Jump Straight Into the Action
Most TikTok videos are under three minutes. That doesn't give you a lot of time for throat clearing. Get to the point quickly.
Even though TikTok allows users to search for videos more naturally than Instagram (TikTok allows users to search with phrases instead of only hashtagged keywords), you can also use hashtags with this platform. Use hashtags to increase your chances of showing up in search results.
Follow Users Who are Active on Author TikTok
The first step is to get active on Author TikTok. Watch, comment, and like TikTok videos posted by other authors. Then, go to the comments section and find users who have left thoughtful comments. Follow those users.
Use Popular Sounds in Your Videos
You can add music to your videos that won’t compete with your video narration. People can discover your videos simply because you've used this sound. Sounds, like hashtags, are searchable in TikTok. Users often search for other videos that use a popular sound.
Interact in the Comments Section
The comments are the best part of TikTok. This network is meant to connect you directly to your users in a way that no other platform is able to do.
A Starter List of Author TikTokers to Follow
Here’s a list of popular author accounts on TikTok:
TikTok is a great platform to gain free exposure for your books and your brand. Use the above tips to get started immediately. Remember to have fun! At its heart, TikTok is a fun app. It's not meant to be heavy. Since TikTok doesn't take itself too seriously, don’t be afraid to be silly, goofy, and fun in your posts. It’s practically expected.