Any of us who’ve ever read about best-selling author Colleen Hoover know that TikTok has a vibrant book culture. I’ve been tempted to sign on, but found the prospect of launching my old self into that party unnerving. However, the demographics of TikTok are changing. More mature people are joining in, so I thought I’d give it a shot. And I had a lot of fun. This is what I did.
- I downloaded the TikTok app on my phone. All that did was give me access to the site, I couldn’t post just yet. But that’s okay. I didn’t want to post just yet. (Important to note, you can simply watch the videos without signing up for anything.)
- Then I began looking at other authors who were posting on TikTok. I thought that #booktok was a whole separate thing you had to sign up for, but not so. All you have to do is search for #booktok, or put that on your post, and the stream shows up. Suddenly there are lots of people in front of you talking about books. Very passionately and sincerely.
- Then I set up my profile. (You can find the profile button on the bottom right of the screen.) I changed my username from susan62145 to SusanBreenAuthor. You’re only allowed 80 characters to define yourself, which is not a lot! I went with: I teach people how to write novels. And I write novels! susanjbreen.com
- Then I was ready for the leap. To film my first TikTok (which is what you call a video on TikTok.) You have a choice of 15 second, 60 second or 10 minute TikToks. I figured I could handle 60 seconds. It’s a lot like doing Facetime. You just prop the phone in front of you and talk. It took me 5 tries to get what I wanted. (You can delete all the tries you don’t like.)
- When you’re done filming the TikTok, you can edit it. Add filters, add text, add music. Add hashtags. This is key. If you want anyone to watch your video, you need to put on a hashtag. Otherwise you’ll just float into space. I used the hashtags #booktok, #books and #bookworm.
- Then press publish! And voila! Here it is: SusanBreenAuthor
Amazingly, more than 800 people looked at my first TikTok. I have to do some more practicing to get this right, but I can see how it would be worthwhile. How about you? Have you tried it yet? What’s your TikTok name? We can follow each other.
Susan Breen is the author of the Maggie Dove mystery series. Her stories have been published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine and Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. The MWA anthology, Crime Hits Home, in which she has a story, just won an Anthony Award. She teaches novel-writing at Gotham Writers and is on the staff of the New York Write to Pitch Conference. www.susanjbreen.com