TikTok is a social media app that allows users to create short videos (fifteen or sixty seconds, with three-minute videos being beta tested). You can also add filters, background music, stickers, and captions to videos, and create split-screen videos with other creators.
- What’s in a name?
A username is the @username other TikTok users can use to find you, while a “nickname” is the name visible to users on your profile. Give yourself a username, or TikTok will assign one as “user” followed by a twelve digit, randomly generated number.
Pro-tip: Keep your name consistent across all of your social media platforms—make it as easy as possible for readers to find you.
In the bio section you only have eighty words to tell people who you are and what you do, and to ensure you stand out from the crowd. State right up front that you’re an [insert genre here] author. List some interests people might have in common with you and let other like-minded, quirky souls gravitate to you.
- Creating content
To create a TikTok, you can record a video with your own camera and load one video, or a series of shorter videos, up to one minute long into the app. You can also film a TikTok directly in the app. Once the video is recorded, you have menu options at the bottom of the screen to add sounds (background music), effects, text, and/or stickers. Along the right-hand side of the screen, there are menu options for filters, adjusting clip length, voice effects, or to add a voice over to your video.
Pro Tip: At time of publishing, TikTok is beta testing an option to add captions to your videos. In the meantime, you can download the “Threads” app and use it to film fifteen second videos with captions, then compile them in the TikTok app and post as one video.
- Learn the lingo
When using the app you will find a lot of terminology that might be confusing at first.
- Stitch: choose up to five seconds of another TikTok to “stitch” or attach to your own video.
- Duet: someone else’s video appears side-by-side on screen with yours.
- Transitions: short effects between one scene and another; used to show off a before and after (of a haircut, a recipe you’re making) or switch between two or more characters speaking in a skit you’re recording.
- A blind react: record your initial reaction to a TikTok “live,” i.e., without having previewed the video, so you show your genuine/authentic reaction to something unexpected.
- How often (and when) should I post?
To work this out for your audience, post four times a day for seven to ten days. Post at the same times every day. At the end of this test period, use TikTok Analytics to assess your followers’ viewing habits and pick the best times of day to post. Posting consistently and frequently—at least two to three times a day—is key to building engagement.
- Advance prep
While you cannot schedule posts, TikTok has a “drafts” folder. Take an hour or two and bulk record your videos, tag them with hashtags, and stack them all up in your drafts folder. Then hit “post” at the right times each day. You can intersperse saved videos with other videos you make that come up during the week.
If you see a TikTok with a backing track or humorous voice over you’d like to use, click it and “save to favorites,” then it’ll be in your favorite sounds when you get time to recreate the TikTok you have your eye on.
- Keeping tabs on hot trends
When you open the app, there are five symbols across the bottom. Click the “discover” tab with the magnifying glass icon. Here you will find “trends” and “sounds” that are currently trending on TikTok.
The sounds tag shows the top fifty trending “sounds” people have used as background music to their videos on that day. Use one of the hottest daily sounds for your video, so when people search for videos with that sound, yours will be one they find.
Many creators make original content, but TikTok is also based on the idea of being “uniquely different,” adding your own spin, flair, and creativity to something that’s been done before. Watch TikToks made by other authors who write similar books to you to find what works for your genre.
- Tag, you’re it
TikTok allows you space to write a brief description of your video (150 characters). You can tag other creators, and use hashtags to make your TikTok discoverable.
Pro tip: Use at least six hashtags with each of your videos. TikTok will tell you how many views each hashtag has; include some hashtags that have views totaling millions or billions.
Each genre has genre-appropriate hashtags to use for their videos, but a few generic hashtags to get you started include #booktok, #bookish, #authorsoftiktok, #authortok, #writersoftiktok, and #writertok.
Pro-tip: Check trending hashtags each day to see if there are any relevant to your video that you can add to your description.
- Embrace the BookTok community
Like Bookstagrammers, Booktokers can be highly influential on the app. Reviews, unboxings, and readings are all tools that can increase your visibility on the app. If a reader does a review of your book, or an unboxing video, duet their video for your own feed. Do you need ARC readers? Make a TikTok asking for volunteers to apply for your ARC team. Booktokers love giveaways, especially for swag and signed paperbacks.
Pro Tip: If you want to stand out, offer a global giveaway. Many authors restrict the winners to the US/UK, so readers are positively disposed when an author extends the reach of the giveaway.
- Couch to 1k.
One thousand followers is your first major goal. When you reach this mark (and are over eighteen years old), you can:
- go “live” to your followers (connect directly with your followers in real time and share through a longer form video), and
- put a link in your bio (for example a linktree link to your website and all your other socials) .
Pro-tip: As you near 1k, make videos talking about it, to drive up your follower count.
- If it ain’t fun, what’s the point?
TikTok doesn’t take itself too seriously, so be willing to embrace the ridiculous. If you care too much about what other people think, this may not be the app for you.
Increasing engagement and reach on the app through contributing your take on viral trends means more eyes on your TikToks, and more potential new readers for your books. There is an engaged community of voracious readers on TikTok—winning them over is worth the time investment.
Pro Tip: Talk to your readers, ask what they want to see from you. Before you know it, your readers will send you videos to blind react to, stitch, or duet, and you’ll have all the inspiration you need for relevant, engaging content.
Most of all, have fun—if you are genuinely enjoying yourself that will shine through in your videos.