Because marketing is a challenge for many authors, Angela and I talk quite a bit about it, sharing tips on how to grow audiences on various platforms. One we don’t use is TikTok, and, frankly, we’d have no idea how to find readers there. Thankfully, Dominika Pin—a teen author with an impressive following there—has that info for us.
Almost every teenager in the United States knows about TikTok—the video-sharing social media platform with hundreds of millions of active users. And with the increasing popularity of the #BookTok hashtag, which readers use to talk about their favorite books, many YA authors are turning to TikTok to promote their work.
I began posting on the platform in August of 2020 and have since amassed nearly 225,000 followers (a number that is still growing by hundreds each day). TikTok makes it incredibly easy to go viral with minimal effort. Just one fifteen-second video can get you tens of thousands of followers; all you need is a decent strategy. Here are some tips that earned my videos millions of views:
1. Use Hashtags to Your Advantage
Many users believe that using popular hashtags (such as #fyp) will be enough for them to go viral. That isn’t entirely true. While there is a slight chance those hashtags will give you thousands of views, it is highly unlikely they will help you reach your target audience. Using hashtags such as #author, #writingabook, or anything relating to your genre will be much more effective. The first video I posted with those hashtags garnered nearly half a million views.
2. Post Consistently
If one of your videos does go viral and you disappear off the platform for the next few weeks, you’ll probably end up losing hundreds of followers. Your goal should be creating bonds with your fans so they’ll feel more inclined to buy your books, and one way to do that is posting at least once a day.
3. Don’t Just Promote
Believe me when I say this—nobody wants to hear you blatantly promote your book 24/7. A promotional post once in a while is fine, but your followers will get bored if everything on your page is just you talking about your book. Keep your content related to writing, but switch it up. One way to do that is by posting writing tips. Those are amazing choices for videos because they give you credibility. Not to mention, if you help someone with their writing, they’ll want to repay you in any way they can—like buying your book. Half of my followers wouldn’t be following me if it wasn’t for my writing tips.
4. Use Trending Sounds
This is probably the #1 factor that will help boost your videos. If you see that a sound has over ten thousand videos under it (most of which are recent), use it. You can even put it over a video of you talking (just lower the sound to zero if you don’t want it to be heard) and it will still boost your views.
5. Appeal to the Current Trends
Scroll through #BookTok for a bit and find what’s trending. If you see videos of readers swooning over slow-burn romance, make a video about the slow-burn romance in your book. Similarly, if you see someone praising the strong heroine in a popular novel, create a video depicting your book’s strong heroines. Show people what popular tropes your book includes to persuade them to buy it.
6. Post Scenes from Your Book in Second Person
This is a very clever tactic that filled my comments with people eager to read my book. Take an intriguing scene from your book (for me, it was my main character dancing in a ballroom), add a matching sound over it, and change it up to second person so whoever is reading feels like the action is happening to them. In the caption, you can add something like, “Scene from my upcoming book, ____”.
7. Have Your Fans Promote It
Once you publish a book, ask your fans to promote it for you. Many of them have platforms with thousands of their own followers. For instance, you can ask them to act out their favorite scene from your book and offer a free signed copy to the creator of your favorite video.
At the end of the day, marketing is a difficult task; especially if you’re simultaneously working on several projects. Posting on a popular app like TikTok could build you a fandom faster and quickly move your book up the charts. It only takes a couple of minutes to make a TikTok video. And if you do it well, it might just make you a best-seller.
Dominika Pindor is an author from Illinois. While developing her social media presence, she inspired hundreds of young people to write their own stories. She published her debut novel, Wings and Shadows, in March of 2021. You can find her online at TikTok.