As I’ve been ramping up publicity and marketing for Community Klepto in advance of its release into the world in less than three months (eep!), every industry expert has been saying that I need to be on TikTok. There is a whole #BookTok subculture there that someone like me who is (barely) under 40 can tap into, especially since the protagonist in my book is 25.
I’ve resisted TikTok the same way I resisted Instagram because I felt like I was too old for it and I didn’t get it, plus I didn’t need yet another time-waster that keeps me from writing new stuff, reading other books, or building my audience… it’s also why I’m the last person on the planet to do Wordle. But I begrudgingly signed up and started seeing what was out there on BookTok and where I might fit in.
The answer for me is a new way for me to review books. I used to always write book reviews on Goodreads and Amazon after every book I finished, and after a while it became tedious and unenjoyable for me, so I stopped, only taking time to review those books that would truly benefit from the review. I feel like static text reviews, while important for a book’s visibility and growth, don’t vary much from person to person. You’ll have a few people that really liked it, a few that really hated it, and a bunch of people in the middle. And over time, every book normalizes to an average rating of 3 and change no matter how many reviews it has.
Being a good literary citizen means sharing love for books I read, especially ones by authors who don’t have a large following. But as I always say – books are, and should be – subjective. Even a super glowing review of a book rarely factors into a purchase decision for me. I know what I like, and if something appeals to me, a review is probably going to do much to sway me. Similarly, if someone I know really cares about my individual opinion about a book, they’ll ask me, and I’d much rather talk about it in person anyway. So, enter TikTok.
In our house, we have a large record collection that my husband spent the first part of the year logging and inventorying, so I’m taking advantage of that and pairing every book I read with a record in my vinyl collection, and then pairing (or is it tripling?) that with a booze drink that represents the book. So for each book I review on TikTok, it will have a companion album and a companion drink. (Did I mention I like booze?) I’m still new at it, so I’ve got a lot to learn about TikTok and building a following there, but I get to do something different and really play up the comedic timing in video that doesn’t play the same in text. And I probably spend more time sitting in front of my keyboard trying to think about what to write up in a review anyway. Might as well fix my hair and show off my rainbow bookshelf in the process.
I’ve just posted my first TikTok as @kellyhitchcockpairings, and I’ll keep doing it as long as I keep enjoying it, and I can find pockets of uninterrupted time in my own house.