How TikTok Helps You Build Your Author Brand

Have you heard of TikTok? And the trending hashtag #BookTok? We joined Alex McCarthy and Helen Lewis from Literally PR to learn more about the social media platform which is helping authors to build their author brand and increase their visibility with potential new readers:

What is TikTok?

Launched in 2017 as a video sharing app, TikTok is the social media platform designed for entertainment. It allows you to create or upload videos of just a few seconds, up to 10 minutes of content. However, the best-performing videos are between 21-34 seconds long.

  • There is an extensive music and sounds library inside the app, enabling you to customise and edit content for your followers.
  • You can easily add filters, stickers, gifs and captions to the video before sharing it.
  • The drafts folder in the app means you can prepare content in batches to share when you’re ready.
  • By 2022, there were one billion active users on TikTok and the audience, although the majority are ages 16-24 years, is still growing rapidly.

Why is TikTok important for authors?

TikTok has seen a growing viral thread with the caption, "TikTok made me buy it" and this applies just as much to books as it does to other products featured in the content. Authors can use the platform to engage with readers and it’s different to other social media platforms because of how authentic and fun the content can be.

Users can use hashtags to search for their interests and book genres they like reading. BookTok grew in popularity then became a sub-community on TikTok. It mainly focuses on Young Adult fiction, fantasy and romance, with video creators posting jokes, reviews and thoughts about the books they are reading.

Data from 2021 shows that 18% of book buyers cited TikTok as a source of new books they want to read - a stat which jumps to 40% in the age category 20-24 years. Young adult books are the most popular genre seeing success on TikTok, however, that will change as the audience grows. A BBC article mentions the increase in book sales, attributed in part to TikTok.

Content on TikTok to Develop Your Author Brand

To start developing lasting relationships with readers and users on TikTok, you can share content which they’ll enjoy.

What sort of things can authors share? Alex has a list of ten ideas for you to get started:
  1. Cover reveal videos or cover flip videos of already-published titles.
  2. Bookshelf of your favourite books - obviously including your own titles.
  3. Audience question and answer - what five things will readers want to know about you? Include your favourite book of all time.
  4. Wrapping and packaging up your books - with a little personalised touch like a signature or thank you note.
  5. Giveaway competition - announcing the giveaway then revealing the lucky winner.
  6. Publishing and writing tips for other aspiring authors.
  7. Day in the life or behind the scenes content - what’s on your desk, where’s your writing space, what view do you have while you write?
  8. Trending sounds or music - edited with your thoughts of the day.
  9. Your inspiration - other books, quotes, authors who you look up to - do tag them if they’re also on TikTok.
  10. Unboxing videos - film the arrival of your own books from the printers/publishers and share other books you’ve ordered.

Best practice for engaging potential new readers on TikTok

  • Before you start posting, spend time on the platform, getting to know the types of content you enjoy and what inspires you from other authors. This is market research.
  • Engage with the app, follow others, and interact with their content, instead of posting yours and rushing off.
  • Learn how the app’s features and functionality work and bring them into your content. You can record videos and save them in drafts to edit when you’re ready to publish them.
  • Deepen the connection with your followers, by giving them more about yourself, your day and your values. Avoid a sell - sell approach.
  • Check out how your genre shows up on TikTok and determine which types of users are in your ideal audience - remember your content needs to appeal to them.
  • Don’t be a perfectionist and overthink your videos - just start practicing and trust that you’ll get better at it.
  • Use hashtags in your video captions to enhance your content and get more engagement from people who are following those hashtags.
  • Be consistent, posting one video a day - and bear in mind the more you post, the more you learn and the easier it becomes.
  • Create your videos in batches, planning what you want to say for a whole week and saving the raw recordings in your drafts to post later.

TikTok offers a great opportunity to get to know your audience and have fun while promoting your books. 

Need more help?

If you’d like more help with raising your profile, publicity, or social media, our marketing consultant Debra can help with a Book Marketing Consultation, or you could arrange a Power Hour session with LitPR. Drop us an email to enquire.

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