Instagram for Authors: Reach New Readers in Ten Minutes a Day
by Stephanie Scott
As authors, pre-published or seasoned, we are always on the lookout for how to connect with readers. Did you know lots of readers, particularly young adult readers, hang out on Instagram? The bookstagram community is not only visual, but readers connect with each other through commenting and micro-blogging in photo captions.
Oh, great. Now I have to learn another social media platform?
I hear this a lot from authors. The truth is, you don’t HAVE to do any social media if you don’t like it, but how do you know you don’t like it if you don’t try? (Yes, I’m channeling all of our mothers today! Just try it!)
I started changing the focus of my own much-neglected Instagram account almost a year ago. I had no idea what I was doing, but decided to dive into a 30-day photo prompt challenge started by a popular Instagram book blogger. And … I loved it! I don’t use a fancy camera or a lighting rig—it’s just my camera’s phone and a nearby window for natural light. Since Instagram is meant to be a mobile app, I use free photo editing apps downloaded to my phone. Instagram has built-in editing features as well.
Where to start? Search Instagram’s popular book-related hashtags like #bookish #booknerd or #yalovin (for YA books). Check out the top 9 posts of popular tags to see what bloggers and readers are up to. Search a few of your favorite authors to see what they post. Book bloggers post pictures of books. As authors, we can post books, selfies, favorite writing spots, photos from book events, a pretty sunset. Use your captions to tell a story and invite readers to comment by posing a question. The idea here is personal rather than images of ads to buy your book.
Everyone’s short on time, so here are some tips!
Ten Minutes a Day Instagram
- Post a photo with a short caption (ideally ending with a prompt to encourage a response). Include relevant hashtags. If you skip posting for the day, go to the next step! *pro tip: you can take photos ahead of time and post later when you have time
- Click the heart comment icon (notifications tab along the bottom on your Instagram). Click on each person who liked your posts and like one or more of their posts. For anyone who commented on one of your posts, like and comment on their posts. This is how you engage! The comment can be brief.
- Click on the house icon to get to your home feed. Take 2-3 minutes to Like and/or comment on posts that interest you. You want to regularly engage with the people you follow.
- If your 10 mins isn't up, go to the magnifying glass search icon. The top is videos you might like and Instagram’s stories features. Look below that to suggested posts. Click on any that interest you or that relates to your author brand (books, reading, a related theme) and Like and/or comment. Follow 4 - 5 people from this list who seem like they have similar interests (ideally: readers). You can always unfollow later if their content doesn't interest you.
- Have fun!
For more tips and general brainstorming of how to use Instagram as an author platform, feel free to join the free Facebook group Instagram for Authors. This group is specifically limited to writers who are pursuing publication or who are published.
About the Book:
If anyone saw the prom boards Amelia Blanco makes on her favorite fashion app, they'd think Ethan Laurenti was her boyfriend. They wouldn't know that all the plans she's made for them are just dreams, and that she's the girl who watches him from the kitchen while her parents cook for his famous family.
When Amelia's abuelita enrolls her in a month-long fashion internship in NYC, Amelia can't imagine leaving Miami--and Ethan--for that long. As soon as she gets to New York, however, she finds a bigger world and new possibilities. She meets people her own age who can actually carry on a conversation about stitching and design. Her pin boards become less about prom with Ethan and more about creating her own style. By the time she returns to Miami, Amelia feels like she can accomplish anything, and surprises herself by agreeing to help Ethan's awkward, Steve-Jobs-wannabe brother, Liam, create his own fashion app.
As Liam and Amelia grow closer, Ethan realizes that this newly confident, stylish girl may be the one for him after all . . . even though he has a reality TV star girlfriend he conveniently keeps forgetting about. The "new and improved" Amelia soon finds herself in between two brothers, a whole lot of drama, and choice she never dreamed she'd have to make.
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Stephanie Scott writes Young Adult stories about teens who put their passions first. She enjoys dance fitness and cat memes, and Pinterest is driving her broke. Born and raised in Kalamazoo where there are no zoos, she’s a Midwest girl at heart. She now lives outside of Chicago with her tech-of-all-trades husband. You can find her chatting about all things books on twitter and Instagram at @StephScottYA.