Book Marketing

Instagram for Authors: Top 7 Tips for Growth

Instagram is a great platform for indie authors to increase readership and engage with the reading community. Just take a look at the #bookstagram hashtag and you’ll find over 30 million photos posted of books, reading spots, cover reveals, book teaser trailers, and more.

With the following Instagram tips for authors, you can boost your presence on Instagram, gain followers who will look forward to your posts, and refine your author brand.

Top 7 Instagram Tips for Authors

1. Think of Your Feed as a Whole

People are endlessly scrolling through Instagram. If they see a photo of yours under a hashtag like #bookstagram or #authorsofinstagram and they pop over to your feed, they’ll want to know what they can expect when following you. If your feed is full of posts that don’t make sense as a cohesive whole, a user might not understand the purpose of your page or what they’ll see when they follow you. Pick three or four things you might want to focus on – or even just two – and post within those themes. This consistency will help solidify your brand.

You should also pay attention to organization. At the top of your Instagram feed, there is a section called Highlights. If you want your Instagram page to be about your writing projects, other books you’ve read, or your favorite writing spaces, create a highlight that reflects each theme. When someone visits your profile, they will be able to easily see what kind of content you offer.

2. Edit your Photos

If you look at popular Instagram accounts that have a lot of engagement and professional-looking content, you can bet that even the most natural-looking photos have been edited. But don’t worry; there’s no need to splurge on Photoshop.

There are free options like Canva where you can edit and polish up your photos. Even if you want to share a photo of your post-book celebratory martini right away, it’s best to spend a little time editing it. The point is to stick with a similar aesthetic for all of your posts to boost your brand. For example, you probably follow an account whose photos you instantly recognize as theirs without even seeing their username first. This is what proper branding can achieve.

3. Run Giveaways and Contests

If you’ve been researching how to use Instagram for authors, you’ve probably noticed that giveaways are frequently mentioned. That’s because they work – really well – when executed effectively.

Giveaways and contests will increase your presence on Instagram while giving you a marketing boost as well. If you have print editions of your books, consider giving away free signed copies. You can also have a limited edition or collector’s version made to create more hype. Or, you can join forces with another author to offer a multi-author bundle. (If you can partner with a higher-profile author, that’s even better!)

To set it up, here’s all you need to do:

  • Have your followers post a comment in the comment section to enter.
  • Require them to tag some of their friends (two or three) in order to enter.
  • Select a random winner by using an Instagram comment picker.

This will potentially bring new readers to your page, reward your fans with something special, and increase overall engagement of your author brand on Instagram.

(NOTE: when running contests and giveaways, there are certain rules and requirements you need to follow. This blog post explains what you need to know.)

4. Write Thoughtful Captions

Ever wonder how one post can get ten likes and another can get sixty? The more a user interacts with your post, the more Instagram will consider the post important and share it with a wider audience, which will (hopefully) generate more likes.

If you’re posting about the romance novel you’re currently working on, write about the novels that inspire you, what you like about the genre, your writing routine, or your plan for a series. Make the caption at least a few sentences long so that people will click the “more” button and keep reading. At the end, ask a question to open up the conversation and prompt people to interact.

5. Really Engage with People

When readers comment on your Instagram posts, don’t leave them hanging! If someone goes out of their way to comment, reach out to them and join the conversation. This has a two-fold effect:

  • It builds trust, makes your followers feel heard and encourages them to continue engaging.
  • It prompts other people to join the conversation. If you don’t regularly engage with your followers and you suddenly decide to run a contest or giveaway, you probably won’t generate a lot of interest. But if your followers feel comfortable with you and have been primed to interact, you’ll get much better results.

And don’t forget to comment on others’ accounts (especially accounts in the #bookstagram community). This will potentially bring new eyes to your page. But remember, keep it genuine. Readers will be able to tell when you’re commenting just for the sake of commenting.

6. Use the Heck Out of Hashtags

Hashtags are what make your posts searchable and discoverable. Think about what someone will search for that will make them land on your post, like #romancereads, #readingspots, or #amreading.

If you’re having trouble coming up with hashtags, study some of the top-selling indie authors in your genre. What hashtags are they using? Which kinds of posts get the most comments and engagement? Emulate their strategy until you find a process that works for you.

7. Don’t Neglect Instagram Stories

Ever notice how your post from yesterday has ten likes on it but fifty people saw your story that you posted around the same time? That’s because stories are at the top of your feed. You should post a story to remind people when you have a new post on your feed so that they’ll see it. Meanwhile, post videos in your stories so that your followers can get to know you. Use looped video clips from free stock footage sites to create fun stories which will entertain readers.

Stories are also great for giving your readers a slice of your writing life without disrupting the aesthetic of your main feed. Quick videos of you working at your favorite cafe or a shot of your favorite writing spot give readers a peek into your life as an author.

Have fun with Instagram — see it as a way to connect with others rather than a marketing tool. Your primary goal should be reaching your readers and other authors, and joining the reading and writing community. Conversions should be a natural after-effect of your genuine engagement and not your only intention.

Another way to leverage social media for book marketing is through PublishDrive’s free marketing feature. If you distribute through PublishDrive, you can submit your news for a chance to be featured on PublishDrive’s social media channels. It’s the perfect way to spread the word about upcoming book launches or other exciting publishing updates. PublishDrive also offers free ebook conversion and ebook distribution to over 400 online retailers.

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