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  • Pete Mesling

A Writer's Case for TikTok



TikTok didn’t seem very promising to me at first. I’m guessing a lot of writers don’t bother to move beyond a similar initial impulse. But I saw that people were talking about TikTok on other social media platforms as being new enough to where the algorithm is more generous than it’s likely to be in the future, and how writers would do well to adopt the video-centric platform. I got curious. Luckily, my teenager was able to help guide me through the initial phase of jiggling butts and hackneyed showmanship. As I went about curating my feed, I found my way to more interesting content, and before you know it I was contributing my own. And yes, I was a little hooked.


What I like about TikTok is that the barriers between creativity and an audience are largely absent. You can make dull TikToks, of course, but the impulse to do more than that is strong. I’m not saying that I’m any good at it yet, but I try to enjoy myself while still promoting my writing. And not every one of my TikToks has to do with my fiction. I see writers who post about nothing but their books, and it gets old very quickly. It feels like a missed opportunity. On Twitter and Facebook, writers have to lure people in with sales promotions, cover reveals, and publication news. On TikTok, you’re really putting yourself out there. If you have a good reading voice, give us a sample of your work. If you can sing a little, or play an instrument, Bob’s your uncle. And holy shit, if you’re fortunate enough to be able to dance, TikTok is your ticket to artistic expression. Writers can still do the necessary amount of self-promotion, but our in-between posts have the potential to give followers a deeper sense of who we are. Less shallow, anyway. And TikTok has plenty of special effects to choose from if you want to enhance your game.


Does it do a better job of selling books than the other platforms? I don’t know yet. I have my doubts, honestly. But then, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram haven’t done much for me in that regard, either. Part of the problem is always going to be the writer, I suppose. My life has a lot of demands just now, not the least of which is a stressful and demanding day job. At my age, I can only do so much, and I want to reserve the largest slice of my available time and energy for the actual process of writing. Maybe TikTok lends itself to that. I don’t feel that I need to be posting to it every day, or even every week. And you want to know the best part? It has yet to depress me the way Twitter sometimes does. It’s easy to feel like the chewing gum on the bottom of Twitter’s shoe. On TikTok it feels more like everyone’s having fun, and honestly, there’s a hell of a lot of talent on display there.


You don’t have to read any of this as advice, by the way. It’s a partial explanation of my relationship to social media, not a prescription for how others should feel. Having said that, I do hope you’ll look me up on TikTok, if you’re willing to take the plunge, as well as the other platforms. I’m not a frequent contributor on any of them, but I’m (too) often watching from the shadows. Feel free to e-mail me as well at [info at petemesling dot com]. E-mails are like diamonds in the sand these days.


And that, reader, is all I have for now. Until next time …

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