Organically Marketing A Book On TikTok

by Jack Thomas April 17, 2022

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First things first. If you’re not spending at least $5 per day on a follower campaign on TikTok right now you’re blowing big time. We are. TikTok is like Facebook in 2012. This is the next big social channel and you need to be on it. Scroll to the bottom of this article for more detail on this.

TikTok is hugely popular already and it's only growing. That fact alone makes it a great marketing opportunity. It should not be surprising that it's a fantastic marketing tool for promoting books and building your personal brand as an author. If you want to promote yourself or your book, obviously the goal is to reach as many people as possible. Authors are raving about the fast results they get on TikTok similar to other social media sites like Facebook, YouTube, & LinkedIn.

Remember retailers and publishers look for authors and books that are popular. You can actually grow your following on this sell books. It's worth it. 

Can You Promote Books on TikTok?

Yes, you can promote books on TikTok, whether it is your own or one you enjoyed reading. We do it all the time on our TikTok and it is part of our paid reviews offer. It’s an excellent social media site for promoting books because it has such a large number of monthly active users, including 130 million in the U.S. alone and 1 billion globally.

In fact, there are several popular TikTok hashtags devoted to books where you are more likely to find a target audience since these sites attract book lovers. They include #booktok, #book, #reading, #booknerd, #bookish, #bookrecommendations and #bookrecs, but you can find many more. For popularity concerning all things books and literature though, the short videos on #booktok top the list. This niche drives book sales.

So many authors are successful on this social media site, and the books sell via TikTok even though there is no direct link to buy the book. In order to link to your website you’ll need 1,000 followers so get posting! Again if you built a following on Facebook in 2012 you would be very thankful.

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When you look at your metrics on other social media sites, the majority of views come from people who are following you. TikTok is different in that it reports views of people who are not necessarily followers and watched your content without becoming a follower. For more on this read the book Contagious and learn why things catch on.

When a TikTok video goes viral your views, followers, engagement, and clickthroughs consistently increase. This means more sales too! Consistent increase means you sell a number of books every week or month after the initial surge in activity. It makes for a very nice revenue flow.

One TikTok marketing strategy is to promote yourself and your book by building an audience over the long term by recommending books in the same genre or books with a similar quality as yours - like emotional, funny, historically accurate, etc. Use the hashtags that help you reach your target audience. You can add relevant hashtags underneath your video as part of the caption that indicates the type of book you are selling, like #romancebooktok, #YAmystery, #scifibook or #mysterybook.

For authors, it might be something like #author or for an author trying to get his/her name out in front of a publisher, the hashtag #writingabook is effective. As mentioned, you can also use a hashtag that reflects a combination of writing and book genre, like #writinghealth. Give your hashtags careful thought.

The hashtags refer to niches, and if you can use ones that are on the verge of trending, the results could be impressive. It requires working TikTok in the sense that you must pay a lot of attention to content. Use 3-5 hashtags that have meaning to your video.

Something else to keep in mind is that you want to be "cool". You can't be posting lame content. You also can't say "I'm cool". It's an art. To understand how to create a "cool" brand read the books Chasing Cool and Hey Whipple Squeeze This.

More important than hashtags though is the music you select. You can choose music from the TikTok Sounds Library for free. Trending music is how TikTok’s algorithm pushes specific content to users. The machine is not going to be able to know if the music is making the video better or more entertaining, but it knows if the music is included in the content you post. If you select music that is going viral at the time, you’ll be more likely to get content picked up by the algorithm. So include music in your posts even if you turn the sound all the way down. The machine needs to see that it is included.

The actual sales are made on author websites or Amazon. Once you have 1,000 followers, link to Amazon or your website where your book is sold.

Do Writers use TikTok?

Writers use TikTok and are extremely creative in marketing themselves. Most do not simply hold up a finished book and say “buy my book”. An author shows herself typing lines from a book in progress with a caption that shows what she is writing. Some authors have a character come to life as a real person who is on the video or creates an image of one or more book characters, using a program like Artbreeder. Perhaps this is an opportunity for sharing character backstory.

This is a good viewer engagement tool and allows the writer to solidify the image of the characters in someone’s mind. This strategy can be used for any book, including non-fiction. For example, you write a series of nonfiction books on environmental sustainability in different cities. The video can show you explaining the concept while visiting various specific spots, or you can create images with captions. Making your video stand out is important.

TikTok is a great resource for independent authors, a growing community who bypass traditional publishers, and for authors who do use a publisher.

Why Does TikTok Work Well As A Platform For Promoting Books?

TikTok works well as a platform for promoting books because of the size of the audience but also because you can quickly engage fans in various ways, like answering fan questions in a threaded text or answering common questions on a video. Interacting with your followers is a book-selling tactic that works. Stitching a follower comment and replying to it is a very common and effective way for TikTok to share your content. A 15 second video here is all you need.

You can also interact with other booktokers or whatever niche you join by making comments and joining livestreams. This helps spread your name around the book community, and eventually, you will be very recognizable. Though time consuming this will help. These fellow TikTokers will share what is working with you and you’ll do the same. Compounding the quality of your content.

One suggestion is to do a series of short videos to make people feel like they know you. For example, you can show action like a time-lapse of you reading something in the book, expressing emotions over the storyline or showing flashes of relevant images or words set to music. Showing emotions is important, even if just introducing the book. In other words, the inanimate book is infused with life in a short video. Readers get a sense of the book but not enough information to ruin the ending. The marketing idea is to make the viewer want to know more.

TikTok works well as a platform for promoting books because people like watching videos and they like short bites of information. The nice feature of TikTok is that you can deliver both in a brief video and in an interesting or fun way.

Be sure to use a variety of content styles, like the green screen filter or sharing messages via text as opposed to using voice-over.

What Do Authors Post on TikTok?

There is a large variety of video content that authors post. Following are some examples from real-world TikTokers to get your imagination working. Authors:

  • Tell a personal story
  • Acts like a character in the book without giving away the story
  • Do a slideshow with each slide showing something relevant to the book
  • Discuss author’s favorite books or a book that inspired the author’s story
  • Promote a book series
  • Discuss an upcoming book
  • Share the writing experience which many people find interesting, especially if they hope to write a book one day
  • Share writing tips
  • Do vlog-style updates
  • Post snippets of day-to-day life
  • Present book updates, like reaching a bestseller list or the number of books sold
  • Respond to Q&A submissions
  • Describe book launch experiences
  • Do giveaways in which people enter by following the author, liking the video and tagging a friend in comments
  • Show an unboxing of the book
  • Do a book cover reveal
  • Present a book synopsis
  • Do book teasers, i.e. pretending to be a book character
  • Connect work to popular media, like a Netflix series or movie, to attract people most likely to be interested
  • Use a duet feature to share videos that readers have made about the book

Like most social media, there are ways to maximize exposure of yourself as an author and your books. For TikTok, that means creating valuable content and using hashtags.

Choosing The Right Content For TikTok

TikTok videos were originally limited to 15 seconds and were then increased to 60 seconds, then three minutes and now 10 minutes. Making a 10-minute video is quite different from making a short 60-second video. It is important to remember that people will only watch a video that long if it presents information of value. It takes a lot more creativity, time investment and planning,

For authors and booksellers, keeping the video under three minutes max probably makes more sense than doing a 10-minute video. YouTube is better for long form content and you can link to a variety of social media sites, including YouTube. Most people use TikTok because they are looking for short bites of information.

A TikTok video has to be very good to keep a people’s attention. People frequently decide in the first few seconds if they plan on watching the rest of the video and certainly within a minute. It used to be the first second of viewing, but now there are longer videos and viewers know that.

Try to get your video to come up on the For You Page (FYP) of viewers. One issue with TikTok is that no one knows how the algorithm really works. There are plenty of theories and suggestions as to the best way to get your TikTok link on the For You Page, but no one knows for sure. A lot of TikTokers include the hashtags #fyp and #foryoupage in the hope their link will show up on people’s For You Page which is the feed of recommendations that is personalized to each TikTok user based on the videos the user interacted with.

Though there is no proof the hashtags work, they might be and probably are doing so. It certainly does no harm to try using such a hashtag along with others that are more specific to bookselling. Perhaps one day digital experts will figure out TikTok’s engagement metrics, but chances are they are produced through a complex algorithmic process that blends multiple analytics leading to specific recommendations.

Use TikTok analytics to dive into what posts are viewed most often. You can use this information to post videos that are more interesting and likely to get views and followers. Regularly post videos. As a minimum, post daily. Some people post several times a day. This keeps the algorithm showing your content to people that watch it because there is new content to show.

How To Grow Your TikTok Followers

After you post a video on the channel go to the right and click the three dots. There is a “Promote” option there. Once in this section select the “more followers” option. Let the algorithm decide who to show ads to. Buy some coins and kick this thing off. Remember this is an advertising expense and should be a considered a business expense and thus, tax deductible. Talk to your CPA for more clarity here though as we are not tax professionals.

Selling Books on TikTok

TikTok may have started as a social media site for publishing entertaining videos, but it has become an excellent marketing tool. The key is learning the ins and outs of what works best when it comes to creating video content to attract viewers. Though TikTok is not complicated, do not underestimate its marketing ability. It appeals to a modern audience that prefers to gain information quickly and visually and in an entertaining way. You can promote yourself and your books and have fun doing so.

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Jack Thomas
Jack Thomas

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