Ask an Expert: Should Authors Join TikTok?

“BookTok” (the reader community on TikTok) is showing up everywhere these days–but is it “worth it” for authors to join TikTok to promote their books? Stephanie Cooke is an award-winning writer, editor and author of the “Oh My Gods!” graphic novel duology and Paranorthern: And the Chaos Bunny A-hop-calypse, and she’s been growing her following on TikTok since last year (and you can follow her at @helloc00kie).

Today on the blog, she’s opening up about how being on TikTok has impacted her author career, what she’s found rewarding and challenging about the app, and her advice to other authors who are thinking of joining TikTok to promote their books.

1). When did you join TikTok?

2021, coinciding with when my first books came out. I felt like I wanted to try to reach younger audiences that aren’t as prevalent on other apps I use like Twitter.

2). Why did you initially join TikTok–what was your motivation? Did you always intend to use the platform to promote your books?

Yes, exactly. I was very wary of using yet another app and the learning curve involved there but I really wanted to try to promote and grow my audience. I also wanted to help people interested in creating comics and graphic novels find out about the process and what’s involved in it.

3). What kind of attitude did you perceive in your offline reading community (friends, agents, publishers, editors, publicists, and/or other authors) towards TikTok when you first joined? Were people excited about the platform? Nonchalant? Dismissive? Unaware of it entirely?

I think a lot of my friends felt wary of it in that they didn’t want to learn a new app and try to build a following from scratch. Also not everyone wants to be on video and that can be hard to find a niche for yourself there when that’s not your thing. I don’t think anyone in my professional circle was actively against it but I definitely didn’t know of a lot of people on it when I decided to try it out.

4). How did your TikTok content change over time? Among the videos you posted, which “type” did you find attracted the most engagement/attention from users, readers, and fans?

I still think that a lot of my videos are a little more niche. I am prone to talking a lot (being succinct is not a strong suit of mine) so you need to want to learn about the industry for some of my videos. I get engagement on my shorter videos and when I kind of do goofier things based around my geekier interests though. I think my content is largely the same, though with the caveat of it’s getting better as I learn more.

5). Has TikTok made an impact in your author career? If so, how?

I’m not sure! It’s definitely connected me with some new fans, authors, and peers which I don’t know that I would’ve come across otherwise. And I’m definitely watching and learning other creators as they grow their followings and get their books in front of people. But it’s still a bit of a learning curve for me and I struggle with putting myself out there sometimes.

6). What do you enjoy most about using TikTok as an author? What do you find the most challenging?

I love connecting with the other creators and authors on there. I’m an avid reader too so seeing what everyone else is doing is always a blast. For me, the most challenging thing is coming up with content to regularly post there. I definitely overthink it and want to plan things out but I know a lot of people just basically throw things against the wall and hope that something sticks…which is an approach I should try more.

7). What advice would you give to other authors seeking to use TikTok to promote their books?

Don’t be closed off to it! While it might not ultimately be for you, it’s a fun tool that can connect you to different audiences and it’s a lot of fun to explore (albeit sometimes a bit of a rabbit hole…)