Want to dip your toes into the social media world of Instagram? Have a love of books and photography you just have to share with the world? Awesome! Let’s jump in.
Hello. I’m Christopher Sergi. I’m a novelist and a blogger currently living in the leafy suburbs of Surrey, England. I love to read, write and help out my fellow authors. Here on my website you’ll find a sweet collection of blog posts on how to better your craft. And if you fancy a story, you can read some of my written works too. Want to know more about me? Click here to read my bio, or follow me on Instagram to join me on my adventures.
Create an Instagram Account and Define your Identity
So you want to be an Bookstagrammer? Okay cool! Here you’ll find some useful tips on how to get started with the social media platform of Instagram and how you can use it to connect with like-minded readers and writers, whilst simultaneously honing your craft if you’re in the writing game. So first you need to create an account.
This won’t be a post on how to do this, but if you’re unsure, the process is pretty straight forward, but one thing to know first off is to define your niche and give yourself a standout name that’s memorable to your audience and unique to you. For example, mine is @author.chris, since it’s quick and easy to remember, and it defines who I am and what I do.
Use a Good Camera and Editing Software
Chances are you already have a good enough camera in your smartphone. I’m guessing you have one since Instagram technically to most people can only be used on a device like an iPhone or an Android anyway, so you should have a camera that can really shine and work for you.
If you’re happy to splash out a little, a descent DSLR camera can really work wonders for you. My preference is a Canon EOS Mark 650D which I pinched off my co-writer and brother Alex Sergi. I use this along with a nifty 50mm lens. Once I have all my photos ready, I import them into Adobe Lightroom to edit them up, but there are many free options on your phone in the App store if you decide to do it that way. Don’t get too hung up on these options though. I was lucky to have a family member who was happy to give me his old equipment to use, but you can really take some fabulous shots with a smart phone if you just practice.
Use Some Props to Spice up Your Photos
For me this was the most fun part of setting up the photos. By getting yourself a collection of props to place in your photos to really centre your subject, in this case the book or books your taking a photo of, you can start to define your style and recognisability to all your followers. This might take a bit of time to do, but it’s worth it. The first thing you can try is to just look at everything you own and see if there are any trinkets or odds and sods you pull together for your props collection.
For me, I enjoy going to old markets around London where I live, or if like me you live near a park or have a garden, you can take a basket with you and pick out a few leaves, sticks, stones etc for a more natural feel for your bookstagram. It all depends on the story you’re trying to tell in your photo. A good way to determine what sort of props you’ll need can depend on what the book is about, what sorts of features appear in the story and how you want to be seen and have your style shown to your followers.
Keep Your Posts and Style Consistent
Most bookstagrammers, myself included, can sometimes fall into the trap of not keeping their feed consistent, both in how often they post and how their images look when they’re next to one another.
I know first hand that uploading at least once a day can really benefit your interaction levels and follower counts, so it might be a good idea to have a collection of photos on standby to have as back ups in case you have a quiet period and aren’t sure what to upload. A good way to keep on track is by using an App like Preview to organise your Instagram feed and schedule your posts. By doing this you can see if your photos look good next to each other before you upload them, and its also a good way to take some time to do the leg work of adding in any captions and hashtags, which I’ll get to in a moment. It might be worth also taking some practice shots of your books to really hone your style, but don’t get too carried away with this. The more often you take photos of your books and the more often you get into the habit, you’ll start to see a consistency that’s both great to look at and is very recognisable to your followers.
Captions and Hashtags
So we’ve all heard of hashtags and many of us have heard of captions, but what exactly are they and why are they so important. A hashtag “#” is a word that proceeds the hashtag or the octothorp symbol as it was once called. For example: #bookoftheyear being an example of a hashtag. They are words always added to a post to help your followers find you on the platform. Think of them as a means to improve your SEO or your Search Engine Optimisation.
For Bookstagramming, you can use hashtags at the end of your captions like: #selfpublished #writersofinstagram #selfpublishedauthor #bookstagramer #bookishfeature #readerlife #bookboyfriend #bookworms #amwriting #writerslife #writeabook #bookauthor #bookcomingsoon #writtingcommunity #goodreads
As for captions, I, as a writer, prefer to have them for each of my photos. Captions are a great piece of copy that go with the picture. Think of them like the little description next to an art piece in a museum, detailing what the image is about and leaving the admirer with something to think about. That’s what your captions should be. Talk about your image. Ask your followers an engaging question. Talk about yourself so people know who you really are.
They don’t call it social media for nothing. Instagram is a very social platform, and as such, it will work in your favour to be proactive in order to get yourself recognised in the bookstagramming community. Spend some time to research the hashtags you’ve used, see what people are posting, like their posts, comment on them too!
Do bare in mind that this is not an opportunity for you to go crazy and like everything you see. You’ll just be wasting yours and everyone’s time if you do that. So it’s best to be thoughtful about what you like and comment on. Read the captions of other people’s posts so they can see you’re genuine. Follow them but don’t expect a follow back right away. These things can take time and commitment but if you’re up for making new online friends and being part of a community, then it’s best practice to be sociable.
A good rule of thumb I found is to upload your own posts at least once per day, and to comment on at least 10 – 15 photos a day too. When you get more comfortable doing this you can up the ante and go for twice as much. Just make sure your interactions are genuine, valuable and fit your agenda.
Know it Can be Tough and Will Take Time
Instagram can be a very fun platform to hang out on and make new friends all whilst indulging in your book-loving dreams. But know that it can be tough to grow your presence, get that recognition and keep up to speed with consistent posts, a consistent theme and aesthetic, like and comment on your fellow Bookstagramers and still have a normal life.
Remember to have fun with it though. I have given you a glimpse of some of the photos I’ve taken of my own Bookstagram @Author.Chris but know that you don’t have to follow my flatlay photo style. Instagram is a place for you to have free reign on how you present yourself.
It will be a slow burn to begin with, but if you’re committed and have a flare of originality, personality and creativity, you’ll see growth. Just remember to be consistent and sociable, and to most importantly enjoy yourself! 🙂
I really hope this has helped you understand how Instagram works in the Bookstagramming world. I know it can be tough at first and I know it was for me when I first started out on Instagram. But if you stay consistent and have fun within this unique niche of ours, you’ll see a great return on your investment. But if you’re still unsure about a few things, hit me up by messaging me if you need some more advice, or comment below to start a discussion, or better yet, sign up to my monthly newsletter to hear the latest news.