Instagram, we love it. We love it SO much. (Or maybe that's just me!) It's an excellent way to promote your brand as an author. Beyond writing, people use it for everything from beauty blogging (@looksbylexington) to fashion and beauty personality branding (@Safiyany) to promoting their art (@Artbymoga). It's a fantastic way to promote yourself as an author and reach your readers on a more personal level. Today I will be going over how to craft your own author Instagram profile and some do's and don'ts of the game.
Some of my favorite Instagram personalities above!
TAKING BETTER PICTURES:
I see a lot of fantastic content on Instagram. However, sometimes that content is hidden behind photos that are lacking just a little bit. Putting just a little bit more technique and effort into your Instagram photos can result in higher engagement for you as an author. I have some steps to improving your Bookstagram game below!
Okay, so I'm by far not the best photographer in the whole world. I'm not even a GOOD photographer, but if I can take a good looking Instagram photo so can you. Using just a couple of different techniques can improve your photos dramatically.
Check out these two pictures of me. They were taken seconds apart, I barely moved my body, and I didn't touch my hair at all. The only difference is the position and lighting.
In the left photo, the sun is in front of me, the lighting is bright and natural. You can see my skin tone is even and my freckles are bright. I'm holding my camera far away from my face, exposing more of my shoulders and giving more negative space in the photo.
On the right, you see a very unflattering photo of me. (Quite honestly it's one of my least favorite photos of me.) You see the light shining through my hair, making it look less full. The makeup on my face is darker and my freckles look muddier. I am also holding my camera very close to my face, this doesn't allow for a lot of negative space in the image, making it look much more cluttered.
Changing your photos so a bright, natural, light source is brightening your subject can help improve the quality of them!
Look at this cutie. With this picture, I put my friend Kaya in front of Public Square Coffee House. Even though she is in the shade, the natural and consistent lighting with the photo on the right is more flattering. Her posture is better, she's smiling brighter, and the colors are more evenly balanced.
The background plays an important part in the photo. On the left, the background is a road. While it's not a *bad* background, it's important to scout out a background that might look a little bit more flattering. Choosing the background on the right with Public Square not only gives you something more appealing to look at in a photo, but it gives you something to talk about in the post.
As an author, most of the content you produce will be text and writing based. This can make Instagram a little bit tricky, especially when you're just starting with writing, or only have one book.
One thing a lot of authors choose to do is publish text posts, these are simply screenshots or clips of text featured in their upcoming books. Here is an example of the first 100 words from my newest Thriller, Killing Callie Scott.
While these can be a solid way to boost buzz about your upcoming book, I have a personal vendetta against them. They contain a lot of white space with nothing visually "catching" about them. Really, there is nothing easily engaging about them, nothing that baits the reader to leave a comment. This is why I prefer infographics with only one or two short lines of text.
Remember, you can always include the text you want in the caption portion of the post or as a second slide with the first slide baiting you to continue.
Here are some examples of infographics I have created with quotes from my upcoming Science Fiction Thriller The Tin Man. These have some of the most commonly made mistakes that I see on Instagram.
The font is a normal Serriff font, which is fine, but it's kind of boring compared to the background. The color makes it difficult to read against the background. However, my story does take place in a desert, and while the desert background is a good way to integrate some elements of the story into the graphic, it's a watermarked image, which means I have to pay to use it and did not. (Sorry Canva for not paying but I wanted to use the watermark and also advertise how great you are.)
Take a look at this second one. The font is more stylized, but it still doesn't really pop in the picture. While it's easier to read against the muted background, it's pretty small against the frame of the post. While that text is okay, my name at the bottom is barely legible and it's very small, you want your pen name legible so if anybody reposts your post your readers can research you and your books.
This one is a lot different from the others. Not only is the quote different, but the image itself also relates to both the quote and my story. The colors are bright, the title is easily recognizable, and there is a "call to action" at the bottom baiting the readers to read more of the post. None of the images are watermarked and they are all of high quality.
THE QUOTE ITSELF:
I definitely see a lot of graphics on Instagram that display a single quote from an author's manuscript. This quote, "I'm gonna shatter you like glass" is said by my supporting character during a scene that is held with a lot of tension. It's the tension that makes this quote impactful in the scene and without that tension it doesn't hold the same meaning. Be sure that you're picking a quote that isn't reliant on the rest of the scene to hold weight.
I love Instagram stories. Instagram stories are images that you can share for 24 hours on the platform. You can create photos, videos, polls, questions, and music posts. To use these, open the Instagram app and tap the camera icon on the top left corner.
You can use these to build buzz and familiarity between you and your brand. Using Instagram Stories to show your process as a writer can help build a relationship between your book and your readers before it's even published. Showing your grind, your process, or your efforts can increase your brand awareness and get more people looking at your profile! Plus it's super fun!
Instagram captions are an excellent tool that can be used to build engagement on your account! Instagram favors profiles with higher engagement. Don't fret, if you have anywhere from 3-6% of your followers engaging with your content (Commenting/Liking/Sharing your posts) you have a decent amount of engagement on your profiles. The average Instagram user has about 150 followers, so if you get 4-9 comments on a post then you're in the clear.
Instagram only shows the first couple of characters in a post, so it is very important to have your "Call to Action" (something to intrigue or inspire your followers to engage with your content) at the beginning of the post. For the most part, keep your captions brief, keep them engaging, and keep them with the tone of your author brand. If you write humor, make your captions humorous, if you write erotica, keep it a little saucy.
Try to give your readers something easy to engage with. After the quality photo/graphic and the great caption, this is the money shot. Getting your readers to engage with your content will help boost your exposure on the platform. It can be asking advice from other authors, what your readers are currently reading, or what they think of a certain post. Getting your readers involved with your manuscript before it's published can help get them invested in your project and get excited about your book!
FOR THE LOVE OF GOD PLEASE DO NOT OVERUSE EMOJIS.
I see this technique utilized mostly by people in Multi-Level Marketing as a way to sound more personal. A couple ✌️✌️of emojis 😭sprinkled ✨✨✨into your text 📝is fine! 👍🏻When you start using emojis 💁🏻♀️💁🏻♀️💁🏻♀️in between every couple of words☠️🤮🤧, we start to read 📖📖the emojis as 🤖hiccups 👄in text. Not only is the overuse of emojis ineffective at sounding personal☠️, but it can hurt your engagement.😿
In Instagram, links are not clickable within the posts, nor can you copy the link somebody has included. The most likely reason for this is that the platform doesn't want you to click away from the app. More time on the app = you see more ads = more money for Instagram! There IS an easy way to get past this, however. Simply go to your profile, click "Edit Profile" and under "website" enter the link to whatever you want to go for.
For example, I'm doing a giveaway and if you sign up for my newsletter you are entered in a raffle for a free website design by me! If you look at my Instagram profile, you will see the link for my newsletter signup, if you follow the link from my profile, you will be taken directly to the signup.
The easier something is = The more likely people are to enter.