In my last post, I hinted that to ramp up my marketing strategy for my books, I might get brave and start doing some TikToks. Well, I did. I’ve been at it for two solid months now and have done 35 posts. I wanted to share with you how this experiment is going so far and what I’ve learned.
I avoided using this app for a long time for a couple reasons: it seemed to be mostly for young people, and I knew it would be a big time-suck. My daughter and a friend of mine at work insisted that there was much more to it than teens lip-syncing songs and dancing, so I finally gave it a chance and put the app on my phone. It took a moment, but the algorithm discovered the stuff that entertains me. I was wrong about it just being for young people. I was right about it being a time-suck. It’s really easy to get trapped on that app and not even notice how much time is passing.
As for making my own content, that’s a whole different story. I have a couple friends who are doing tremendously well on TikTok, but they aren’t authors. They’re doing well because of the persona or message they're putting across.
What on earth would anyone want to see this middle-aged indie author doing or saying? Obviously, I’m on there to promote my books, but so are thousands of other writers. No one wants to see outright sales pitches, so I had to find my way of expressing myself. In addition to writing, I’m also an actress/singer with a huge love a musical theater. I decided to combine my passions and create content where I would sing showtunes that either go thematically with a book of mine or that reflect things that happen in an author’s life.
Honestly, I thought this gimmick would be cuter than it is, but it’s only getting a lukewarm response. This is actually my most viewed and liked one where I'm singing. I have one that only has eleven views (sigh) and most have less than ten likes. (Oh, and did I mention my book Songwriter Night won an award? Yay!)
My daughter told me I’d be more successful following the trends on the app, doing some lip-synching, and using trending sounds. That makes sense, and while I’ve done a couple of those, I feel like I’m just one of a million when I do them. It's fun but feels insincere.
I’m also still figuring out how to make these videos. I have a small house that doesn’t have a lot of great places to shoot anything with a good background. I get embarrassed to shoot these when other members of my family are home.
I don’t wear makeup regularly, but I have to put some on for these or I look like death warmed over. So, I try to shoot a couple at a time.
Editing them together is challenging and takes more time than I thought. Most of the effects don’t work unless you record directly onto the app. I’ve edited a couple longer videos on Canva and uploaded them. It’s taking an enormous amount of time to put these things together, and some of them are literally only a few seconds long.
The pro tip is that people should be putting content up at least 4-6 times PER DAY to grow a following. I’m lucky if I can do 4 a week. It’s honestly so much to do even the small amount of content I’ve created. I’m absolutely enjoying the challenge and happy with what I’ve done, but I can’t sustain this pace, not with a full-time job and other commitments. Making TikTok content has stolen away a lot of my writing time and attention to other forms of marketing. A month from now, I start directing a big musical that goes up in June. I will have zero free time on my hands for making silly videos of me singing or lip-synching.
And is it even working? Not yet. I’m still new on there, but in two months I’ve only gained 40 followers. I haven’t topped 250 views on a video. The likes are going up for each video, but the most I’ve gotten is 24. That was for one of the “trending” style ones that has nothing to do with my writing, and I think most of those people liking it were creepers. As far as I can tell, I haven’t sold any books due to these videos.
I’ve shared some as reels on Instagram, and it’s interesting how different the responses are to these videos from one app to the other. I can tell that my Instagram followers are more interested in my singing/personal ones than the TikTok community. Also, it’s very clear that short, punchy videos do so much better than long, talky ones no matter which app I use.
I’m not done with my experiment. I’m still at the start of it, and I’m curious to see where it will go. I’m not convinced, however, that this is ultimately the best way to spend my precious creative time. But hey, I am posting a lot more on there than here on this blog, so please come follow me. I’d love to know what your experiences are on TikTok, either as a consumer or a content creator. Leave a comment below.
D. G. Driver
Author D. G. Driver's
Write and Rewrite Blog
“There are no bad stories, just ones that haven’t found their right words yet.”
A blog mostly about the process of revision with occasional guest posts, book reviews, and posts related to my books.