The Possibility of a TikTok Ban is real…

Most of you know I fell in love with TikTok a few years ago, and abandoned almost every other social media platform in its favor. I have so much FUN on the clock app. I get more engagement there than on any other platform. A Facebook page is of no use to me if only a fraction of my followers see my posts. I’ve met so many wonderful indie authors and discovered so many amazing books. TikTok allowed me to tap into a long-dormant flare for the dramatic that brought joy back into creating posts.

@mckennadeanfiction #booktok #cozymystery #cozymysteryseries #ginnyreesemysteries #mkdean #cozymysterybooktok ♬ original sound – Josh Patton

Come on! It’s funny! And I love the versatility of the filters to allow me to change my look on a dime, become different characters for silly little skits, and so on. Did I sell many books? Hard to say, though I’ll share one stat with you:

Last year, I did a stacked free promotion of An Embarrassment of Itches (Ginny Reese Mysteries Book 1). A few days before the Big Promotion, word of the free status of the book got out on a Facebook group. I got about 200 downloads. Everyone advised me to push through with announcing the special discount since the cat was already out of the bag. So I sent the word out through my newsletter: another couple hundred downloads. I posted to Facebook, Instagram, and what used to be Twitter: another couple of hundred downloads. I posted to TikTok: THREE THOUSAND DOWNLOADS IN 24 HOURS. The day of the promotion, I got another 4 K downloads. I’d given away free books before, and had not seen nearly the same success. The only difference is sharing about the promo on TikTok. And yes, that was a freebie, but I garnered more than 300 reviews from that free promotion, and many readers went on to get the next books in the series as well.

The proposal to ban TikTok has come up before, and like most users, I tuned into the hearings. Frankly, I was appalled at the lack of courtesy, respect, and basic understanding of the app shown by the members of Congress toward the CEO of TikTok’s parent company. I also felt like the objections Congress had against TikTok applied to ALL social media apps, including Facebook (and yet no one seems to wish to challenge FB on that…). TikTok denies data sharing with the Chinese government. Nothing seemed to come of it, and the furor died down.

I’ll be perfectly honest, when Live Journal moved all its operations to Russia, I refused to sign the new TOS for over a year, and then only agreed to the terms so I could delete my account. I firmly believe our personal thoughts, opinions, and passions have been combed by the Russian government to use against their opponents in widespread disinformation campaigns. I also believe Facebook’s love of the almighty dollar has done irreparable damage to the US political system by allowing the spread of misinformation go unchecked. So I can understand the concerns. Especially when China is one of the largest holders of the US debt, with something like 868 billion out of a 7 trillion debt.

But now the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in a rare bi-partisan action, voted unanimously to bring a bill to the House floor that would require ByteDance to sell off TikTok or face a nationwide US ban. This suggests to me there is a perceived (and serious) security risk by both parties.

But is it really? Or is that many of the creators on the app raise uncomfortable questions about Gaza, women’s rights, or any of a dozen or more causes I can name? Twitter used to be such a platform, and what happened? It was bought by Elon Musk and became largely a conservative echo chamber, and another pay-to-play platform, thus silencing voices with the most to lose and the least ability to pay to be heard. 

Maybe I’m just upset because one of the few spaces I enjoy being online has become threatened with extinction, along with my ability as a no-name indie author to get word about my stories out there without spending money I don’t have. Maybe I’m just exhausted by the thought of trying to resurrect engagement on platforms that weren’t servicing me well in the past. Maybe the notion of getting on such platforms during an election year and seeing nothing but negative news and false information makes me want to pull my hair out. Or perhaps I’m sad at the thought of losing touch with the friends I’ve made. It’s no good saying I can do the same in other platforms: I can’t. The tools and engagement simply aren’t there. Not for someone like me, who isn’t young, beautiful, and thin.

So maybe I am defending my favorite platform out of a misguided assessment of any security risks it may pose. Those risks don’t seem any greater than any other SM platform that DOES sell our data and relentlessly pushes tailored ads in our direction. Or maybe I’m horribly wrong, and for the sake of national security, the app really should be banned.

I don’t know.

But I have to say, it’s starting to feel like the time for small creators of all kinds is over. Next up, AI replaces us all.

The Chaotic Hype Awards: Good Clean Fun… Mostly.

If you didn’t already know, I’m spending most of my social media time on TikTok these days. There’s something about the platform that appeals to the actor in me, and I have more fun on that platform than any other.

Right now, I’ve been nominated for the Chaotic Hype Awards! This is a crazy annual awards event hosted by BookTokker @chaosandbooktalk. I’m in two categories: Best Mystery Author (as McKenna Dean) and Most Likely to have an Alphabet Agency Watching Them (as MK Dean). The competition is FIERCE and needs to be thinned out. Help a mystery writer out? You can vote in the awards here (and not just mystery: romance, voice actors, reviewers and more)! 

Here’s a little sample of the fun we’ve been having…


@mk_dean_author The Chaotic Hype Book Awards will be announced a week from today: February 10th at 7 pm EST with @Chaos and Booktalk 📚 You can only vote once so choose wisely! Lynx to the voting can be found in the clicky place in my personal biography! #mysterywriter #mysterytok #ginnyreesemysteries #chaotichypeawards2024 #chaotichypeawards #dundundun #bookbesties #hypegirlsquad ♬ original sound – MK Dean Cozy Mystery Author

Am I TikTok Famous Yet?

Photo by cottonbro from Pexels

I first heard about TikTok in 2020. It seemed to be a place where people made short videos (not in my skill set) where they danced (so not me!) or make-up tutorials (interesting but how many can you watch?). I had ZERO interest to start an account or even watch more than one or two cute animal videos that friends sent to me.

I had a lot of concerns about the format:

  1. Did I REALLY need to be on yet another social media platform?? Especially one that seemed to rely heavily on putting your face out there? Sure there are accounts where people managed to make entertaining content while not showing their face, but did they get the same following? Probably not.
  2. Did you see the part about “entertaining content”? I’m a writer, not an actress, producer, or sound editor. There’s a reason I live mostly behind a keyboard.
  3. The format seemed to be similar to tumblr, which I hated. A constant flow of bite sized posts with little way of tracking the ones you liked (or so I thought). 
  4. I have a LOT of reasons for not wanting my face on social media. I’ve had a stalker. I’m concerned my place of employment would take exception to the fact I’ve written a few racy romances (even though most of mine are fairly tame).
  5. I kept hearing concerns about the security of your information, given that TT is a subsidiary of a Chinese-based company.
  6. I was pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to come up with more than 1-2 videos before running out of ideas.
  7. Almost everyone I saw on TikTok was gorgeous, and I’m not. I’m old, frumpy, and at least 40 pounds overweight. I grew up hearing how homely I was, and that the worst thing a woman could do was show her age and gain weight, so naturally, I did both. I absolutely loathe looking in the mirror. I’m not kidding. 

So I resisted the urge to join. I kept hearing what a great place BookTok was, however, and the FOMO was strong. Then too, I kept seeing these hysterically funny videos by Alisha Rai showing up on my Twitter and Instagram feeds, where she depicts little conversations between Satan and one of his minions. They are utterly brilliant. Still, I held out. TikTok wasn’t for me.

But then authors kept saying what an AMAZING place TikTok was for discoverability, especially for smaller authors or your backlist. And I was mightily tempted. Maybe I could make some vids without showing my face? Mark Dawson did a five day challenge in his Self-Publishing Formula group, and I decided to create an account and make a few videos. Shabby efforts at first. I had no idea what I was doing.

But then I got snowed in for a 3-day weekend, and I watched a LOT of TikTok. I tried out recipes, started Tai Chi, laughed over cute animal vids, considered side hustles that would let me quit the day job, began watching makeup tutorials aimed at my age group (so frustrating that makeup tends to look TERRIBLE on me now), and got really, really frustrated with the poor quality of my videos. It reminded me of when I first joined livejournal and I didn’t know how to code or embed images and I wanted to play SO BADLY that I taught myself.

So I began watching a crap-ton of TT tutorials. And then I discovered that Canva had a mobile app that allowed you to upload your creations directly to TT! I learned out to change the font, color, and size of my text, and how to make it appear at exactly the right time in the video.

And then, God help me. I discovered the filters. I began playing with filters, wigs, makeup, and transitions  I saved sound clips to use, got ideas from watching others, and became the queen of lip-syncing. I learned how to do the clever transitions, and have had a blast making short vids. Me, who rarely took videos and hadn’t the foggiest idea how to edit ANYTHING before TT. I was doing something I haven’t done in a very long time–probably not since the beginning of the pandemic–I was having fun. Okay, so not TikTok famous, and haven’t make a single sale as far as I can tell. And my friends were quick to point out that the filters and wigs weren’t disguising me–anyone who knew me would recognize me. I discovered then that I’d truly run out of f*cks to give. I didn’t care. Might my coworkers run across my videos? Yeah. Could I get fired? Maybe. But the thought of that doesn’t terrify me as much as it used to. I used to believe I was trapped, that I didn’t have the skill set to do much of anything else if I lost my job and jobs in this area are few and far between. A few weeks on TikTok, and suddenly I’m not afraid of that anymore.



I haven’t written more than 100 words in the last two weeks. I’ve drafted over 30 TikTok videos, however. Sounds good, right? Only that’s about 10 days worth of content, according to the algorithms for getting notice on TT. I had the day off yesterday, and instead of writing, I made TT videos all morning long. I wasn’t sleeping well before I joined TT, but I was at least attempting to go to bed at a reasonable time. Now I’m often up past 1 am when I have work the next day. I’m hearing 15 second sound clips in my head all the time. My ability to focus, a little shaky already, has gone in the GUTTER. I also find myself picking up my phone and checking TT every couple of minutes. It feels like an addiction, peeps.

I suspect it’s like anything else when I first discover it–I dive in headfirst and become completely absorbed until I master the skills I want to use, and then my obsession will settle down. Moving forward, I’ll have to practice a little self-control. I’m doing a lot of things wrong, too. My posts don’t have any call to action, and I’m not staying in my niche/lane. I probably have more writers following me than readers. I’ve gained over 700 followers in 2 weeks, but at least half (if not more) of those are bots or men looking for a good time (seriously, you think TT is a dating app??). And sadly, I am not TikTok famous. Yet.

But that’s okay because, for now, I’m having fun.