Written by A Guest Author March 2nd, 2023

Using TikTok to Promote Your Writing        

by Ellen Levitt     

Authors are constantly reminded to use social media in order to promote their books, articles, essays and other writing. There are many options and various platforms available to us. Should TikTok be one of them?

TikTok has a mixed reputation. On the one hand, it is wildly popular with various age groups, especially younger people, and offers a variety of ways to post. On the other, there are questions about it being used by the Chinese government to spy on some journalists. TikTok videos run the range from harmless fun (pet videos, dance challenges, restaurant reviews) to rancorous socio-political debates.

But there is a definite place for an author to promote books and other writing. You can promote your book signings, or post videos of the actual signings, as well as screenshots and videos of articles, poems, and anything else you write. You can even hold a live event on TikTok and viewers can comment.

Similar to Twitter, you need to use hashtags (#) and at marks (@) wisely, so as to gather popularity and views for your videos. You can also reach out to everyone you know and ask them to “follow” you (as in Twitter and Instagram), similar to friending someone on Facebook. Look over the many types of hashtags you can use for your work: #books #booksoftiktok and other writing, publishing and book hashtags as well as particular subject areas, based upon your topic. On a search engine type in “popular hashtags on TIkTok ” to get more ideas.

Many of my TikToks have been straight-forward videos, with minor embellishments. (I tend not to get too gimmicky.) But you might want to use the effects, filters, templates and other items for use. You can also make a video out of still photos. Plan in advance about what you want to show; perhaps write and edit a script to streamline your material. Especially for your first few videos, create a storyboard of shots and dialogue, as if you were creating a commercial production.

Watch TikTok videos of various types and subjects and decide what you like and dislike. Emulate what you like for your presentation, avoid doing what you think won’t work.

Some of my TikToks have featured my books and an anthology that included one of my essays. I have made these out of videos or still photos and targeted them for holiday sales and other events. A few times I made still-photo videos of articles I wrote. For all of these I have included links to either purchase the books or read the articles online.

Many of the TikToks I’ve posted are related to material found in my books, and I included my Facebook page and Instagram account so they can also be visited by those who are interested. I have publicized my trilogy of books on lost synagogues by taking videos of the actual buildings I’ve documented in the books. One of these videos has already garnered over 13,200 views! Others have had hundreds and thousands of views. By posting about my topic and linking to my books, I hope to publicize these and generate more sales.

Remember that TikToks are not private matters, so think carefully about what you want to “put out there” in the world of social media. You want to take pride in these videos, not be embarrassed or worry about legal issues. This is a big problem with many younger (and some older) users of TikTok.

Some users of TikTok can be downright vicious and may mock or critique your material. You will need tough skin. I have only encountered that a tiny bit; most of the comments I’ve had were simple questions such as “Where did you photograph this?” and “What is the name of that building?”

Other users have asked “Where can I buy this?” (respond to them with information). You can also encourage them to ask their libraries (local, school, work) to purchase your books. Let users know if there are ebook versions of your books.

Although TikTok may seem to have a spontaneous air to it, many of the TikToks are planned in advance, and if you are promoting your writing, this is how you should approach this. Think about how you want to portray your book or article, how you hope to market it, and put some polish and thought into the TikTok “package.” Experiment, but experiment wisely.

Try TikTok for your books and see what happens. The app is free. Along with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms, it can help generate interest in your work and perhaps even sales. Good luck!

Bio: Ellen Levitt is a writer and teacher, and a lifelong resident of Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of The Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn, The Lost Synagogues of the Bronx and Queens, and The Lost Synagogues of Manhattan (www.avotaynu.com) and Walking Manhattan (www.wildernesspress.com) . She has also written many freelance articles and essays for online and in-print publications.


We Send You Publishers Seeking Submissions.

Sign up for our free e-magazine and we will send you reviews of publishers seeking short stories, poetry, essays, and books.

Subscribe now and we'll send you a free copy of our book Submit, Publish, Repeat