On Instagram @starbright_books

I’m now on Instagram, @starbright_books, with an account focused on books and writing, including ebooks of course. I’m being helped to get to grips with the intricacies of the platform by the talented photographer and book lover behind @venetian_blood.

As even I know, Instagram is a massive social media platform, but what I didn’t know until recently is that it is full of book lovers. A lot of them operate using the hashtag #bookstagram, creating a strong platform for authors to attract new readers, engage with existing fans, and promote books. In fact, Instagram has become the most writer-friendly space on social media. An amazing example is Rupi Kaur, who has over four million followers. She’s a best-selling poet, writer, illustrator, and performer of two poetry collections, Milk and Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers, but four million is an amazing number.

The followers are obviously out there but different Instagram authors have different strategies. YA author Angie Thomas, the New York Times bestselling author of the novel The Hate U Give, is super active on Instagram, with all sorts of fun glimpses into her life. K.M. Weiland, on the other hand, is a writer of speculative and historical fiction who uses her Instagram account as a way to help emerging writers and readers with insight into the tricks of the trade. It’s filled with advice for writers and tons of how-to tips.

Obviously, posting the right type of content on your feed is what makes your profile attractive and engaging to followers, but what is my strategy going to be? A lot of authors post pictures showing what life as an author is like but I’m not sure that’s the right strategy for me. I think the authors who will have the most success with that will be at the younger and hotter end of the scale. Though people do often include themselves or another person in a post without including any faces, which might be an option.

Be that as it may, the strategy I intend to follow will revolve around pictures of books rather than pictures of me and my luxury lifestyle. My guess is that readers want to know what I’m reading and what inspires me but I absolutely intend to showcase my own book as well. I’ve read that self-promotion should be kept to twenty percent of what you do, or less, which seems like good advice. Speaking of self-promotion:

A Message from the Author

I write sci-fi novels that belong to a series called Dark Galaxy, which starts with Galaxy Dog:

What starts as an ordinary invasion of an alien planet brings to light an ancient archeological site of huge importance. A young man called Knave makes a life-changing discovery there and rises from a lowly position as an infantry trooper to become a player among the powers of the galaxy.

The entire series is available to buy from Amazon.

Even though I think I already have the basic outline of what I intend to do do in mind, I am still looking around to see what other people do that I think might work for me. Some authors post quotes from their books. I wonder if snippets of sci-fi action, of the type found in my books, are really good material for Instagram posts. Maybe...

Another tip that I read on the internet is that I should feature book stacks. Apparently, people love a good book stack. When photographing book stacks, adding a literary coffee cup is a tip that seems worth remembering. Also using good hashtags on images is among the most important methods bookstagrammers and authors suggest for gaining followers.

Another idea for a simple but effective post is to open a book in a pretty place, like a beach, park, or some other atmospheric background. The words of the book aren’t legible and the cover isn’t visible, but it’s still a nice post. I live in Venice, one of the most beautiful cities in the world, so finding the background shouldn’t be a problem. @theguywiththebook in particular often posts images of a book against a background of a place he’s traveling to.

Along with the photo there is a caption, and I was wondering if captions should be short or long. In theory they are the place where you showcase your personality, your stories, and make contact with the world. But some people prefer short captions and start to swiftly scroll down past a lengthy one. I guess the trick is to try to catch the attention of the reader with the first few words, and hope they will stick around for the rest of the caption. With the photo and caption decided on, there is still more to do.

A piece of advice I have read over and over again is to use hashtags. These are what get you the exposure to people searching for images. To find relevant hashtags, the advice is to find a bookstagram account that you like and look at the hashtags at the end of their captions or in their comments, then use them yourself. Useful hashtags I intend to include with my posts are: #amreading, #currentread, and #scifinovel.

Advice I’ going to be ignoring includes such recommendations as sticking to a color scheme for an aesthetically strong feed. Using similar colors and the same filter on all of my photos might create cohesion, but it is an extra thing to think about that I just don’t need.

Just like blogging, it is important to post frequently, which I think I can handle, but also just like blogging it is important to interact with your followers, which might be more challenging for me. I have no doubt that I should be able to post some book related content every day, but even on accounts I love, I think it will be hard to leave the sort of thoughtful, personal, and specific comments on posts that a lot of commentators say are a good idea. Also responding to comments on your own posts and in your direct messages is essential, too. Instagram rewards this by more visibly featuring your posts on their feed. I’ll just have to force myself to be more gregarious and outgoing... gulp.

So here is the link to my Instagram page @starbright_books, check it out. To end, just a reminder that the best way to support this blog is to buy one of my books. Simply go over to Amazon, or Kobo and get one.