The Ultimate Guide To Bookstagram For Beginners
October 18, 2019
Social media has opened up a whole new world for reader communities and allowed like-minded bibliophiles to share not only their love of books but also book recommendations with each other. One of the latest trends for book-lovers is Bookstagram- Instagram accounts that capture images of books with visually pleasing backgrounds and props, and use the combination of photos, captions and hashtags to create an aesthetically pleasing Instagram feed. Over the past few years, a number of bookstagram accounts have popped up and gained popularity. This trend has become so popular that lots of enthusiastic readers want to create bookstagram accounts. However, many have no idea how to do so or get intimidated by accounts that have a huge following.
Fret not, if you’ve been wondering how to get started with your bookstagram account, here is an easy-to-follow guide that will help you create your own bookstagram account without getting overwhelmed. Let’s get started!
What Is Your Account About?
Look at other accounts for inspiration and you’ll find readers stretching their imagination and their creativity to create beautiful feeds. Some feeds focus on a particular genre while others use the same prop in all their photos. For example, @_penandpapers mostly concentrates on classics, and often uses a cup of tea in many of her posts. Similarly, @sant.reads focusses on Indian Literature and has even started a hashtag (#LitWithIndianLit) promoting it. Bookstagram accounts that create content based on a single theme or colour scheme often look better on feeds, but we suggest you don’t stick to one theme at the start. Instead, experiment with themes, props or colours to see what looks more ethereal on your feed, and most importantly, what you find sustainable.
Ask yourself if you like a more colourful theme, or do you want to stick to a limited number of colours? Do you want to use more props or less? Do you want a plain colour as your background or do you want to use natural elements around you?. Do not narrow your creativity, and try to experiment as much as possible for the best results.
Whatever you choose, the most important thing is that your theme should reflect who you are, as that is what will make your work more honest and unique. And remember that it is not important to stick to a theme initially, and that it can be changed anytime you like.
The Instagram Profile
Ideally, your Instagram username or handle should reflect the content that will go into your account. Quirky or straightforward names always make a good impression, and people will be more drawn to your account. @theguywiththebook’s name suggests that he is a guy who reads and reviews, something that was unique when the bookstagram trend started. Similarly @asolitaryreader features pictures where the bookstagrammer is seen reading alone and her Instagram handle clearly reflects that. If you are mixing your travel escapades, love of tea or coffee along with books, make sure your Instagram handle represents that.
Prepare a number of options because you might not get your first preference. You can also get creative with spellings and underscores to get at least a semblance of your preferred username.
The next thing to remember is your profile picture. You can choose to design a simple logo using an app like Canva, or you can also use your own image as the profile picture. @booxoul has their own logo, which sets them apart from other users. If you choose to use an image, a picture of you reading or holding a book is more effective. Pick a favourite book and simply click a selfie or ask a friend to take a photo of you. It doesn’t need to be professional and you can always change it later.
Your Instagram bio should reflect who you are, and what you will be posting about. Your reading goals, your blogs or websites can also be added to drive traffic to them through Instagram. @sant.reads’ bio clearly reflects that the user is a book blogger and creator of the popular hashtag #LitWithIndianLit. Remember, first impressions matter, so make sure to come up with something easy to understand and memorable.
The next and most important step is to set your account visibility to public, so that your photos show up in search more often, and your account is discoverable by others.
Your Smartphone Is Good Enough
First of all, get it out of your mind that you need a fancy DSLR camera to take beautiful, Instagram-worthy pictures. It’s 2019, and your smartphone works just as well. First, natural light is a must, because no amount of filters will fix your image if the light is gloomy. Find a spot where natural light is in abundance- like a balcony or a garden or even a room with ample natural light.
Next, go through the filters already on your phone and select the one you like. Use the filter and voila! Your image is ready to post. But, if you want to experiment a bit, go for the HDR feature, which helps you get a crisper image, and gets rid of the dull light in your photo.
If in-built filters are not good enough, you can edit your photos using paid and free apps available in the app store. Adobe Lightroom CC takes time to get used to, but with the help of free online tutorials, you can become a pro in no time. Other apps such as Aviary, VSCO, Snapseed and Phonto are also useful for beginners, with inbuilt features and filters to make our lives easier.
The best way to get good photographs is to take them from above. But don’t let that limit you, and experiment with angles and straight shots to see what works best for you. You could use a tripod, but it is not a necessity at this point.
Do not get intimidated by the number of props other people have in their pictures for you can create the best content using basic and cheap props, some of which might already be lying around your house. Your favourite mug, embroidered scarves or bed sheets, bright cushions, and even your pet (assuming they keep still, of course!) all make for excellent props.
Candles, bookmarks, stickers, art and stationery supplies can be used as a prop with your books. Fairy lights also create a beautiful effect in dim images, and are a great addition. @frenchflaps_and_deckleedges’s account makes use of simple cups of tea, notes and flowers to create extravagant images, using simple things from her surroundings. @muffytales has a dog in most of their photos along with books.
When you cannot think of anything to add to the image, a simple trick to follow is to use other books as props- those that are from the same series or genre, or those of similar colours. If you have a bookshelf, that itself is a great prop to use in the background. And if all else fails, think of what goes with the theme of the book – it might be a simple wand (Harry Potter), or a ring (LOTR), which gets your point across with little work.
You can also look for inspiration on Pinterest, where you can discover new photos and creative ideas, simple hacks and tricks to make your account more attractive, or even instructions for simple DIY props.
Captions, Hashtags And Managing Your Feed
While photos are what attract people to your feed, captions also play a huge part in keeping them interested. Your caption can be a book review, or a question of the day, or a quirky trivia about the book you have posted.
To make your caption more interesting, write what you thought of the book, give star ratings, add emojis and don’t forget to engage the audience with relevant questions. Give a short description of the story, mention other books from the same genre, and ask for book recommendations. Remember, other bookstagrammers may already be doing most of these things, so be original in what you write, and make people feel included. Never forget to tag the authors, the publishing houses and other bookstagram accounts so that they can also glimpse your photos.
Instagram works on hashtags, and using relevant ones will help people find images more quickly. Some examples are –
#booklover #bookstagrammer #bookaholic #bookworm #bookphotography #igreads #bookadditc #bookblogger #ilovebooks #instabook #bookish #bibliophile #bookshelf #booknerd #currentlyreading #ilovereading #bookgeek #bookgram #readersofinstagram #bookreview #book #bookworm #bookishfeatures #booklover #bookstagram
If you want, you can also use your Instagram handle as a hashtag (called a branded hashtag), so it is easier for people to find your pictures and easy to follow your hashtag.
Next is managing your account to make it more efficient. Being active is very important when you are just starting out, so you should post at least twice a day. Now, many of us are so busy during the week that sometimes it’s tiring to take a new picture every day and think of captions. Take out 15-30 minutes every day to create your images, write captions, and add in appropriate hashtags. Remember, with practice, this time can be halved. At the same time, don’t get frustrated if it takes you longer than you expected to get it just right.
If taking photographs is taking too much of your time, you can always use free templates for quotes, or trivia for filler images. As a last resort, instead of not posting altogether, find a photo you really like, and repost it.
If you prefer to create all your content in one go, you can use apps like Plann, Planoly and Buffer to schedule posts. These apps allow you to upload all your content beforehand and will send you a reminder when it is time to post.
Growing Your Bookstagram
Next comes the most difficult and the most important part – growing your account. As a newbie, how do you attract followers? Of course, your friends and family can probably be convinced to follow you but they are not your core audience. So, begin by searching for and following other bookstagrammers.A lot of people unfollow accounts who don’t follow them back but we discourage this practice.
Have meaningful interactions with other bookstagrammers by posting thoughtful and relevant comments as often as possible. When people see that you are enthusiastically participating in the conversation and commenting on their posts, your credibility will automatically grow, and they are more likely to check out your feed and follow you. Avoid posting comments like “nice pic” or “wow!” as it shows that you are not really engaging but commenting for the sake of it. And whatever you do, do not troll!
Always remember to reply to all those who have responded, and always be kind while replying. Don’t harass people to follow you, and don’t bully others.
Don’t fret, bookstagram newbie, for everyone who starts out has gone through the same process. The important thing is to take your time, understand your audience, and practice until you get it right. Be patient, for these things take time. Enjoy what you do, and not get dazzled by the insane following the other accounts have and try to imitate them. You are unique, and your uniqueness will definitely help your account grow.
Prasanna is a human (probably) who makes stuff up for a living. When she’s not sleeping or eating, you’ll find her in the quietest corner of the library, devouring yet another hardbound book. She vastly prefers the imaginary world to the real one, but grudgingly emerges from her writing cave on occasion. If you do see her, it’s best not to approach her before she’s had her coffee.
She writes at The Curious Reader. You can read her articles here.