Updated: Nov 4
With the ever-changing world of social media, there's a new platform on the rise that is capturing the attention of millions of users worldwide - TikTok. TikTok is a social media platform that has quickly become popular for its short-form videos that can range from silly dances to life hacks to book recommendations. In this blog post, we will discuss how authors can use TikTok to promote their books. We'll cover everything from understanding the algorithm to creating engaging content and even share examples of successful TikTok marketing campaigns by authors. Here's a rundown of what we'll cover in this article:
Let's get started!
What Is TikTok?
You might've heard of TikTok - the app where you can make and share short videos with cool filters and soundtracks. Well, did you know that this app has over 1 billion active users worldwide? Crazy, right? And it's not just for fun and games either! For self-published authors, TikTok can be an awesome platform to promote their books and reach a wider audience with creative and engaging content. How cool is that?
Understanding How TikTok's Algorithm Works
TikTok's algorithm is what sets it apart from other social media platforms, and understanding how it works is crucial to effectively using the app to promote books. Here are the key factors that influence TikTok's recommendations:
User Interactions: This includes accounts you follow, videos you like or share, videos you've saved, and even videos you've marked as "Not Interested." Based on this information, the algorithm suggests other videos that it thinks you'll enjoy.
Video Information: This factor is based on the content you tend to seek out through Discover or Search. It includes details like captions, sounds, hashtags, effects, and trending topics.
Device and Account Settings: The algorithm also takes into account device and account settings such as your language preference, country setting, and the type of mobile device you're using.
What's great about TikTok's algorithm is that it doesn't prioritize follower count or previous high-performing videos. This means that even if you're new to the platform or don't have a large following, you still have a chance to be recommended to users on the “For You” page.
Hashtags Authors Can Use on TikTok
TikTok is all about hashtags. They are an essential tool for connecting with your target audience and increasing your visibility on the platform. By using relevant hashtags, you can reach a wider audience and get your content in front of people who are interested in your topic.
Here are some popular book-related hashtags that can help authors connect with their target audience:
#BookTok - This hashtag is perfect for book lovers out there. By using this hashtag, you can get your content in front of people who are passionate about reading.
#WritingCommunity - This hashtag is a great way to connect with fellow writers on TikTok. By using this hashtag, you can join a supportive community and get your work noticed by other writers.
#AuthorLife - Want to show your followers what it takes to be an author? Use this hashtag to share behind-the-scenes glimpses of your writing process and connect with other authors.
#SelfPublishing - If you've self-published your book, this hashtag is a must-use. By using this hashtag, you can reach out to other self-published authors and connect with readers who are interested in independent publishing.
#BookRecommendations - If you're looking to share your favorite books with your followers, this is the hashtag for you. By using this hashtag, you can connect with readers who are always on the lookout for their next great read.
#IndieAuthors - This hashtag is used by independent authors to promote their work and connect with other indie authors on TikTok.
#WritingTips - This hashtag is great for authors who want to share tips and advice on writing. By using this hashtag, you can connect with other writers and readers who are interested in improving their writing skills.
#ReadingList - This hashtag is useful for authors who want to share their reading list with their followers. By using this hashtag, you can connect with readers who are looking for new books to read and expand your audience.
#AmWriting - This hashtag is used by writers who are currently working on a writing project. By using this hashtag, you can connect with other writers who are also in the process of writing and share your progress with your followers.
#Bookish - This hashtag is commonly used by book lovers and readers on TikTok. By using this hashtag, you can connect with a wider audience who is interested in all things book-related.
Using hashtags effectively is essential for reaching a wider audience on TikTok. Here are some tips for using hashtags effectively:
Use relevant hashtags that are related to your content. Using too many irrelevant hashtags can actually hurt your visibility on the platform.
Use a mix of popular and niche hashtags to reach a wider audience while still targeting your specific niche.
Create your own branded hashtags to promote your brand and make it easier for people to find your content.
Research and keep up with trending hashtags in your industry to stay relevant and get your content seen by more people.
By using these tips and incorporating popular book-related hashtags in your content, authors can effectively use TikTok to reach a wider audience and promote their work.
Tips and tricks for using TikTok as a marketing platform
Below are some tips and tricks to help you effectively use TikTok for promoting your books.
Best practices for creating engaging content:
Strive for authenticity, and aim to get viewers' attention immediately. The hook needs to come first, not last.
Use trends in a unique way that can show your personality and allow people to see what your page is about. Don't be afraid to try out different things.
Let your true personality shine, and connect with readers who will love your writing and your books.
Make sure every post invites engagement. End each video with a question, ask viewers to give their opinion on whatever you're discussing, or find some fun, creative incentive to get users to comment. Videos with lots of engagement get more views!
Don't be afraid to laugh at yourself. If you're having fun, your viewers and potential readers will too.
How to use TikTok's features to promote books:
Post about some aspect of your book in a short, fun or informative way. Offer some insight or fun fact from your genre.
Find what is catching people's interest, and go with it. Once you've built your base, you can start to push your agenda.
Utilize TikTok's duet feature to collaborate with other authors or book reviewers. This can help you reach a wider audience and gain more followers.
Strategies for growing a following on TikTok:
Follow people within your sphere so you can build relationships with them. If you follow a large variety of subject matter and content creators, TikTok will show you more of that. Try not to mix your author business with your personal interests.
Find your niche. Whether it be reactions to thirst traps, book reviews, or just cosplaying your favorite book characters, find what your followers love and run with it.
Persistence is key. Just keep trying, and keep using TikTok even when it feels tough or you're procrastinating.
Post in more than one niche to maximize your chances of selling more books.
Determine what your focus is, and cultivate the right kind of followers.
Utilize TikTok as a consumer, not just a content creator. This will allow you to train your algorithm and see what's currently hot in Booktok, and alter your content to fit.
Remember, TikTok is a whole different ball game. Throw out everything you know about social media apps and use the platform's unique features to your advantage. With persistence, creativity, and engagement, you can effectively promote your books and grow your audience on TikTok.
Examples of successful TikTok marketing campaigns by authors
Now it's time to explore how some authors are using the platform to boost their success! One way to do this is by promoting their books, and some have done so with great success. Let's take a look at some case studies of authors who have successfully promoted their books on TikTok, including some of the most popular BookTok books.
Meet A.P. Beswick, a dark and urban fantasy author who started publishing in 2018! In just 4 months from January to April 2022, he went from zero to 24k followers on TikTok through the #booktok hashtag. And the best part? He generated more income from his books than his monthly nursing salary, so he became a full-time author. His secret to success? Posting consistently every day, engaging with people who take the time to comment on his posts, being open to new ideas, and tweaking his content to make it better. He treats every post like a fresh opportunity to connect with readers, and it's paid off big time! Now he's got an army of fans who love his books, which include some of the most popular BookTok books.
Aiden Thomas has gained a huge following on the app by sharing swag giveaways, hilarious author jokes, and giving us a peek into what it's like being a QTPOC author. With unboxings, trips to bookstores, and even some appearances from his adorable pets, Aiden's content is always entertaining. Plus, he is not afraid to call out those who can't spell "cemetery" correctly! Aiden's debut novel, Cemetery Boys, has become one of the most popular BookTok books, and it's not hard to see why.
Melissa Sercia, a spicy romance author, saw her career skyrocket thanks to TikTok. By posting four times a day, using trending sounds, and studying the algorithm to understand what was working in her genre, Melissa saw her video views and likes soar. Although it required a lot of time and effort, the results were worth it. As her book sales and Kindle Unlimited reads started to increase, she knew TikTok had played a significant role in her success. She has since become one of the most popular BookTok authors, with her books being featured in countless videos.
Suzanne Kelman is another author who found success on TikTok. She shares that the best advice she received was about promoting her book on the platform. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, where you have to be careful about over-promoting, TikTok's algorithm is designed to push your content to different people, allowing you to promote your book as much as you like. Suzanne still follows the 7-3 rule (7 posts about other content, 3 about her book), but she hasn't seen any drop off when promoting her book. With this newfound freedom, Suzanne is able to promote her work with confidence and has had one of the most popular BookTok books.
Alex Aster, a Colombian-American author, has achieved success with her young adult novel, Lightlark, and its subsequent movie deal. She had been writing for over 15 years and published six books before her first book deal. Despite her previous book series, Emblem, Island not receiving the attention she hoped for, she continued to write and posted about Lightlark on TikTok. Her post went viral, leading to her book being acquired by a publisher, reaching the bestsellers list on Barnes & Noble even before its release, and securing a Universal movie deal. Aster highlights that rejection is a significant part of the process, and she has had to learn from failures to achieve success. Lightlark is now one
Lloyd Devereux Richards, a full-time attorney and father of three, had a dream of becoming a successful writer. It took him 14 long years to write his thriller book, Stone Maidens, and another 11 years to wait for it to take off. But that all changed when his daughter posted a 16-second TikTok video, asking people to buy her father's book. In just one week, the video went viral and Stone Maidens hit number one on Amazon, turning Lloyd into an overnight sensation. The experience has taught him never to give up on his dreams and always persevere, no matter how long it takes.
Shelby Leigh is a poet and author who achieved success through TikTok. When she first joined the platform, she had self-published two poetry books. But it was her engaging content about mental health issues that helped her build a following on the app. Although initially nerve-wracking and challenging, she persevered and soon found that her TikTok presence was driving sales for her books. In fact, her bestseller was re-published by Simon & Schuster in July 2022 because of her sales track record. With a third book on the way, Shelby has left her corporate job to pursue writing full-time. Her success on TikTok feels reminiscent of other Instapoets like Rupi Kaur, who began using Instagram to share poems in the early 2010s and went on to commercial stardom.
Aparna Verma, a novelist, has successfully used TikTok to promote her Indian fantasy novel, The Boy with Fire. Verma knew that she wanted to target South Asian readers and not just make writing advice videos, so she began creating videos that would appeal to her audience. Her book hit number one on Amazon in its category and was featured on NBC News. It will be republished as The Phoenix King next year by Orbit, a division of Hachette. Verma suggests that authors learn about the popular BookTok tropes and point to them in their work, and research other nonfiction writers and readers in their category to see what video styles work best.
Common mistakes authors should avoid when using TikTok
When it comes to TikTok, there are some common mistakes that authors make that can hinder their marketing efforts. It's important to be aware of these pitfalls and take steps to avoid them. Here are some common mistakes to avoid:
Being impatient: It's important to remember that building a following and engaging with readers on TikTok takes time and effort. Be patient and enjoy the journey.
Overemphasizing TikTok in your marketing plan: While TikTok can be a great platform for promoting your books, it should not be the only focus of your marketing efforts.
Being too sales-focused: TikTok is all about engagement, not direct sales. Create fun and engaging content that readers will want to interact with.
Not utilizing the platform's features: TikTok has a variety of features like stitching and duetting that can help you create unique and engaging content. Be sure to explore all the features available to you.
Letting frustration show: It's important to stay positive and not let frustration show in your content. Focus on creating great content and engaging with readers.
Treating TikTok users as mere sales tools: Remember that TikTok users are real people, not just tools for selling your books.
Straying from your genre: Stick to your genre to engage with the right audience. Trying to appeal to all readers with your content is unlikely to be successful.
Ideas and examples of content that authors can post on TikTok to market their books
TikTok can be a great marketing tool for authors if used effectively. Here are some ideas for the types of content that work well on TikTok:
Share a personal story that relates to your book or its themes.
Act like a character from your book without giving away the story.
Create a slideshow that showcases elements of your book.
Discuss your favorite books or a book that inspired your story.
Promote a book series or an upcoming book.
Share your writing experience, including tips and advice for aspiring writers.
Provide day-to-day updates about your life as an author.
Share exciting updates, like reaching a bestseller list or hitting a certain number of books sold.
Respond to Q&A submissions from your followers.
Describe your book launch experiences.
Host giveaways in which people enter by following you, liking the video, and tagging a friend in the comments.
Show an unboxing of your book or do a book cover reveal.
Present a book synopsis or create book teasers by pretending to be a book character.
Connect your work to popular media, like a Netflix series or movie, to attract potential readers.
Use the duet feature to share videos that readers have made about your book.
Other Authors on TikTok
In conclusion, TikTok is a powerful marketing tool for authors looking to promote their books and engage with readers. With its massive user base and unique features, TikTok offers authors a platform to showcase their personalities, creativity, and writing skills. By following the best practices and avoiding common mistakes, authors can leverage TikTok's potential to grow their following and increase book sales. With a variety of content ideas and examples at their disposal, authors can create engaging TikToks that will attract new readers and keep current ones interested. As social media continues to play an essential role in book marketing, TikTok provides a new and exciting way for authors to connect with their audience and share their passion for writing.