Marketing a Book on TikTok: A Guide for Authors

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The amount of work that goes into marketing a book usually takes emerging and self-published authors by surprise, especially when they realize they have to do most of it themselves. Even authors backed by big publishing houses end up doing a lot of their marketing these days, proving how much the industry has changed with technology and the ever-growing indie market. 

While traditionally published writers have at least some backing from their publishers, indie authors are entirely on their own, which means their marketing efforts will play a major role in the success of their books.  Since self-publishing makes releasing a book more accessible, the market is flooded with titles, meaning that now, more than ever, authors need to stand out if they want their work to be commercially successful. 

Enter social media.

If you’re a budding author, be it self-published or traditionally published, the internet will be your most important marketing tool. Blogs, podcasts, interviews, and book trailers are all great ways to gain exposure and promote your book, but it’s hard to beat an app like TikTok, which has over a billion users worldwide. When used right, its filters, music, and editing capabilities, paired with a comprehensive marketing strategy, can result in viral fame and millions of potential new readers. However, just like the book market, the app is bursting at the seams with content, so you generally need to know what you’re doing to achieve virality.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the thought of promoting yourself on social media and would rather work with a marketing expert, check out our book marketing packages. Our experienced team will put together a package of marketing materials—including an optimized book description, an author biography, social media posts, and more—to help you sell your book. You’ll still have to do the actual posting, but our experts will help you coordinate an effective strategy and create the material and copy to attract readers.

Ready to take on the TikTok book marketing challenge? Let’s explore some of the best strategies for success on this wildly popular app. 

1. Identify your target audience

Identifying your target audience is the first rule of marketing, regardless of what you’re promoting or where, and that includes marketing your book on TikTok. As much as you might wish for everyone to read your book, that won’t happen even with the greatest literary masterpieces of all time, so determine who will be most interested in your book and zero in on them. 

The goal of a successful promotional strategy is to connect with people who would want to buy your book based on their interest in the genre or subject matter and make it available to them. First, however, you need to identify your most likely type of reader and figure out how to reach them since your marketing strategy will differ depending on your target demographic. 

You probably tried to pinpoint your audience while writing your book, so questions like how old your average reader is, how they identify, where they live, and what their interests are shouldn’t be too hard to answer. Once you have a clear profile of the people you want to reach, you need to focus on what will get them hooked on your story. 

Not all demographics will be easy to connect with on social media apps, especially one such as TikTok, which started out as a Gen Z-centered platform for choreographed dances and short video clips. However, with over a billion users from around the world, TikTok now caters to all types of people and niches, and that includes book lovers. It’s still worth noting, though, that if your target audience is older readers, you’re likely better off pursuing other avenues of book promotion.

2. Get on BookTok, TikTok’s community of book lovers

TikTok probably isn’t the first social media app that comes to mind when mapping out a book marketing strategy, but its book lovers sub-community, #BookTok, gets millions of daily views from people participating in reading challenges, watching live readings and scene reenactments, or simply looking for recommendations. Identifying your target audience is the first step because you have to determine whether your readers are likely to frequent TikTok, but if they’re in the right demographic, you may very well find them on BookTok.

Just as different demographics prefer certain social media platforms, different social media platforms prefer certain types of book-related content. YouTube, for example, focuses on more in-depth content (such as reviews, trailers, and author interviews), while Instagram highlights the aesthetics of books, particularly how they look on a shelf. 

Depending on your target demographic and marketing strategy, these can also be excellent platforms to promote your new book. However, TikTok focuses more on trends, new releases, and genre-specific recommendations, and because of its algorithm, which is driven by niche-specific content, it’s easier than ever for users to find exactly what they like. This facilitates marketing for authors looking to create a community and expand their readership.

The hashtag network of readers, writers, and content creators on TikTok has grown exponentially, promoting a love of literature and offline reading. Hashtags make it easy for readers to seek out books they’ll love, thus serving as an invaluable marketing tool that authors can use to get their work in front of the right crowd. Due to the nature of the app, books that go viral on TikTok see their online popularity reflected in sales, which is why major bookstores and publishers are migrating their marketing strategies to the platform. 

3. Post your own content on BookTok

If you’re new to #BookTok or TikTok in general, you should browse the app before you start posting. Get a better understanding of the trends, the kind of content people like most, the posts that tend to go viral, and the way to package your content (hashtags, format, duration, etc.) so you can reach your target audience. Find other authors in your genre or books comparable to yours and study how they manage their branding and promotion. Keep notes to streamline your research and mark what might work well for your marketing strategy and what might not.

Following the trends on TikTok—using popular songs, sounds, and hashtags—can boost your posts, but that alone can’t guarantee you virality. Actually, there’s no way at all to guarantee that you’ll go viral; all you can do is increase the odds, but social media marketing can dramatically boost your sales even if you’re not “viral.” 

However, if the trends don’t align at all with your content, your posts will seem disingenuous, which you definitely want to avoid. In fact, a lot of independent authors have found that the best strategy is growing their personal accounts by participating in viral book-related challenges and trends on the app without outright promotion of their own material, allowing instead readers to discover their work and share it of their own accord. 

Don’t forget the hashtags! Adding publishing industry hashtags to your posts will bring more users to your page, where they can discover your work. If that strategy feels too passive for you, you can always reach out to influencers and offer them a free copy of your book in exchange for a review. Since people trust the recommendations of their favorite influencers, reviews can be one of the best ways to draw attention to your new book.

Social media platforms in general are a great way to promote not only your work but also your personal brand as an author and to create a community with your readers and fans. If you can have fun with it and post authentic content that represents you and your style, you’re much more likely to achieve success and effectively grow your readership. Remember: People respond well to authenticity.

If you’re still not sure how to approach social media marketing on your own, reach out to our book marketing team, who will put together a comprehensive package to help you implement your promotion strategy with confidence.

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