TikTok is a popular platform for the younger generation. While its number of users (1 billion as of September 2021) falls shy of Facebooks 2.89 billion users, it actually has more users aged 10–20 than Facebook does, and it’s growing quickly. So if you’re writing middle grade or young adult books, and you like to create videos, TikTok may be the social media platform for you. Here are 5 steps to promote your books on TikTok.
1. Set up Your Account
Download the TikTok app on your phone. To create videos, you must use the app. At this point, you can view videos but not interact with them and other users.
Click on the profile image on the bottom right of the screen and sign up. Follow the prompts, then go back to the profile again and click “Edit Profile.” Add your author picture, your author name, your user name, and your short author bio.
Go back to your profile tab again, and click on the menu icon at the top right, then choose “Content preferences,” then “Update interests” and select the interests that your readers will be interested in. That way, you’ll see videos under the “For You” page of your Home screen that will interest your target audience, and you’ll be able to get some creative inspiration.
2. Follow Others and Like Videos (Research!)
Before posting a video, take some time to get comfortable with the app and the video format used. Watch videos that others have posted, especially book- and reader-related videos that are trending, to get a feel for what type of videos do well. Also check out #booktok and #authortok for ideas.
Like a few videos and follow a few people—similar to most social media platforms, when you follow someone, they are more likely to follow you back. Plus, by following others, you show your future audience that you are engaged and interested (and interesting!).
As you do your research, be sure to make a note of a few things that’ll help you when you start making videos:
- Note specific (not general ones like #fyp), popular hashtags related to reading and to your genre so you can be sure to use them with your videos when relevant.
- On the “Trending” page, see what music and sound bites are trending and add relevant ones to your Favorites folder so you can use them in your first videos (and be sure to do this regularly).
- Note what time of days that the popular videos that your target audience would like are posted.
- Note popular challenges by watching for people doing the same things across a lot of videos and using the same hashtag.
3. Post Your First Video
Now it’s time to make your first video! For the first video, introduce yourself to the community by recording a video that captures you. This could be you reading, or writing, or biking, or biking while reading (heh, be careful with that); post something that shows who you are!
To create your first video, press the plus button at the bottom center of the screen. You’ll see you can choose filters, playback speed, add effects, add sound, and set timers (on when the video starts and stops, and on how long an effect is used). After recording, you can add text and stickers. Before posting, be sure to click “Select Cover” to choose the most intriguing image for your video’s thumbnail.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind when creating videos on TikTok:
- When starting out, don’t use your own sound; instead use the TikTok sounds. Not only can users search by sounds (so people may find your video just because you used a trending sound), TikTok often removes videos that use their own sounds, including music or even you talking (crazy, right?). Their automated system does this to protect copyright, and it errs on the side of too strict. So save yourself some trouble and use the music and sounds that TikTok provides. If you need text, you can always add text to the video for people to read. You can also turn their sound way down and voice over it.
- Watch out for other copyright infringements. Copyrighted artwork and films can also lead to your video being taken down. So be sure to check the environment before filming. (Book covers are okay!) Additionally, since you are on TitTok for commercial purposes (to promote and sell your books), be sure that everyone who is identifiable in your videos has given you permission to post your video with them in it.
- You can record 60-second clips on TikTok, but the shorter videos generally do better, especially when you aren’t established yet.
So keep your videos short for now and put in the hook early.
- You get 100 characters for a caption and hashtags. Keep your captions as short as possible, but also interesting. A caption may be a related question to encourage comments, or a phrase that piques potential viewers’ interest in the video. After the caption, include a few relevant hashtags. Don’t use hashtags that are very broad; you want to reach your target audience, the audience that will love your books. Be sure to proofread your completed caption because you cannot edit it after posting.
- Make high quality videos. Your videos shouldn’t be blurry or grainy. Your phone should offer a high-definition filming option; use it.
4. Create More Videos
At least half of your posts should be non-promotional, or engagement-only posts. The others can be business-building, promotional posts. Here are a few ideas on the types of videos you can create.
- Writing tips
- Books lists (include one of your books)
- Scenes from your book
- Your writing process
- A day in your life
- More about you—your hobbies and interests
- Answer questions your target audience may have about writing and publishing
- DIY book- and reader-related crafts and projects
- Your inspiration
- Reading tips
- New book unboxing
- Book cover reveal
- A sale for your book
- Super short book trailer
- Events related to your books (a book signing, a book reading, etc.)
- A synopsis of your book (one way you can do this is by including one line at a time as text on the video, with you in the background, perhaps reacting to the text, then reveal that it is the synopsis for your book and show your book cover)
- Updates on the progress of writing and publishing your next book
5. Keep Posting!
Here are a few additional tips to help you build your viewership:
- Experiment with posting at different times of the day. Start with the times of days your noted during your research process, and experiment to find the best time(s) to post for you.
- Balance text-heavy videos with traditional videos. You’re able to convey a lot of information by putting text on a page and just having yourself or books as the background, but this should be done sparingly. If you can act out your video, do it! But if you need text, like for a synopsis or a Q&A session, don’t be afraid to add it.
- Participate in trending challenges that fit your brand. Preferably choose challenges that are related to reading, writing, or your book genre (or that you can spin to make them related). If the challenge is doing something stupid that would make you lose authority with your target audience, like eating a Tide pod, don’t do it!
- Post a video at least once a day. One you have a few followers, create your own challenges for your followers to do, related to your books or to reading. Many successful TikTok accounts post at LEAST three times a day, which helps build a following.
- Get your viewers involved in promoting your book. Ask them, for example, to act out a favorite scene from your book, or dress up like a character from your book, or post of video of them reading your book and their reactions to a chosen scene, etc.
- Ask book reviewers on TikTok to read your book.
- Keep following readers, and like, comment on, and share other videos.
- Try to simplify so making videos doesn’t take all day.
There are a few other cool things about TikTok that you’ll want to know:
- When you get enough followers, you can add a link to your website in your profile.
- Once you get 100 followers, you can switch to a pro account and see more data about your followers that will help you continue to grow your audience.
- You can post your TikTok video to other platforms as well, including Instagram Stories, Facebook, and Twitter, but keep in mind the audience difference between these platforms when cross posting.
Do you use TikTok to promote your books? What kind of videos do you post? Let us know in the comments below!