Editor’s note: This is a Q&A with editorial professional Nikki Auberkett.
In the spring of 2022, Editorial Arts Academy conducted a survey about how freelance book editors get clients. Our Survey of Best Marketing Strategies for Freelance Book Editors gave us valuable data about, for example, how many editors have websites, the number one way editors get new work, and which social media platforms are the most effective for connecting with authors. (You can download the free survey report to see all the results.)
One data point from our survey is that editors were not using TikTok to sign clients. However, since the survey, I’ve met a few freelance book editors who are forming substantive – and lucrative – relationships with authors on TikTok.
Nikki Auberkett is one such editor. I asked Nikki to answer a few questions about her use of the video platform and to make a video tutorial about how other editors can do the same, and she graciously agreed to both.
Scroll down for Nikki’s video and her Q&A!
Nikki Auberkett’s TikTok Tutorial for Freelance Book Editors
When did you start using TikTok?I started using TikTok as a viewer in 2020, but started using it as a business owner/editor in late February/early March 2022.
Why did you start using TikTok?I’d been talking with another editor about her success on the platform, and noticed that it was way easier to record a few short videos and post them than it was to curate a whole feed on Instagram.
How long is your typical video?
My goal is always to keep videos under sixty seconds! But oftentimes the meatier subjects, like developmental editing insights, take up the full three minutes. It’s rare to have fifteen-second videos; those are usually quick humor or book promos. TikTok does allow ten-minute uploads, but I’ve never seen anyone utilize them and I only tried it once (very few views).
How many clients and how much income have you gotten from TikTok?
This is the FASCINATING part: I went from no clients (stagnant winter) to three new clients within the first month! And these are high-ticket editorial packages that average $10,000/contract, which means we went from barely scraping by to signing on $30,000 in contracts within the first month of utilizing TikTok! To date, we’ve taken on over $60,000 in contracts from authors who discovered us on TikTok.
We went from barely scraping by to signing on $30,000 in contracts within the first month of utilizing TikTok.
In your experience, how does TikTok compare to other social media platforms?I use Instagram and Facebook as well; TikTok is by far the superior option in my experience! Facebook tends to be full of bitterness and bad advice from people who hide behind the anonymity it provides—for every one great editor there are at least ten self-published authors insisting that self-editing replaces professional work, don’t invest in your business, etc. Instagram is extremely difficult to build an audience/following with unless you have stunning graphics and a professionally curated feed, which can take entire days to schedule, design, caption, hashtag, etc. It’s great to showcase portfolios and promo books, but that’s about it. TikTok, however, is face-first, transparent, and super quick and easy to curate. Suddenly have an idea of a topic to share? Pop the app open, say your piece, and publish! It also tends to be populated by authors who take their career very seriously and market their work heavily, opening doors to free promotions via BookTokkers and creating relationships with publishing professionals across the board. People are HUNGRY for education and information, and they’ll gravitate toward any editor providing it!
Do you have any tips for editors who want to try it?
Give an honest blend between talking about who you are as a person and what you do as a professional. People want to work with people, not businesses! No one wants to be sold to; they want to work with whoever they feel “vibes” well with their own personalities. If you’re a humorous personality, be humorous! If you have something non-editing related on your mind, share it! Definitely make sure you use (and edit) closed captioning for the hearing impaired; you’ll win bonus points for doing so. Don’t worry about having it all together at first—every world-famous TikTokker started with “hot messes” and simply adapted to what worked best for them.
My favorite example (and inspiration) is a woman who made a fifteen- to twenty-second video during quarantine about how she went to Target and came back with a tiny cactus. Only a few months later, she was a Verified Account and quit her job because she’d successfully surpassed her income by making more random TikTok videos! People come for the info and stay for the personality, and they throw money at whoever they love just to support them because at the end of the day, it’s a community.
Give an honest blend between talking about who you are as a person and what you do as a professional.
What’s your TikTok handle?@thetalaeditorial
Nikki Auberkett is a cultural anthropologist, developmental editor, and overall passionate storyteller. With nearly fifteen years of research and exploration into global folklore and mythology, biblical archaeology, and all things weird and unusual, she weaves her research and social science expertise into her personal love for fantasy fiction. When she’s not finding ways to vent about human rights via mythological retellings, Nikki can be spotted periodically throughout the city of Chicago testing her limits of coffee intake (she has yet to find one). Connect with Nikki on TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter and on her website, where she offers courses for freelance editors.