Instagram is more than pretty photos—it's one of the best marketing tools at your disposal. All you have to do is invest your time. Here are 5 reasons why you need Instagram as an author:
1. Connect with generous book bloggers/reviewers
Want to know what the Big Five publishers are doing to market books? Are you ready for this? Book bloggers. They will even pay these bookstagrammers (book bloggers on Instagram) to read and review their authors’ books and post beautiful photos of them.
However, I've been pitching to book bloggers for the last year and a half now for clients, and haven't paid once. They're just so generous! (But don't be discouraged if some require moolah. They deserve it. And one photo on their account could be big on ROI for you.)
That’s why I push pitching to book bloggers so hard when I coach my authors on marketing. What would happen if just one Instagram book blogger told her 100,000 fans about your book? What if only 5% saw that post? Then 10% who saw it bought it on launch day? Wow. Authors, start talking to book bloggers.
If this confuses you and you don’t know how to find them, post a comment. I will answer your questions!
Below is an example of an email I usually send out for my author Nesly Clerge when pitching to book bloggers I find on Instagram:
2. Establish brand recognition
If I had to pick one author who did the best job of showing off her books on Instagram, I’d choose fantasy author Angela J. Ford. She takes interesting photos of the Four World Series, always choosing to be generous with her photos.
How so? She shows off the candles made by Book Scents; she shows off the work of her designers; she shows off other books she's reading. Angela knows that if she wants to build brand recognition, she needs to balance this goal with other things.
When she hit 44 reviews for The Five Warriors on Amazon (only 99¢ at the time of this blog, by the way), she took a photo of the book with cute decorative hearts and heart-shaped chocolates to send her readers some love. She is grateful for her loyal readers while getting new ones through brand recognition.
3. Express yourself through creative means
Before you roll your eyes and say, “I have no idea how to take gorgeous photos, so this doesn’t apply to me,” you need to understand that it isn’t about having a Canon or Nikon waiting for the sunset while you hold your book out in front of you to get that perfect shot. As an author, you’re creative. You just are. You can show that in so many different ways.
Author Marisa Porter has taken this to a gorgeous new level. She likes to make colorful paint strokes, write quotes or musings on them, and then take a photo. She expresses herself as an author and certainly isn’t doing so by spending thousands of dollars on a camera. I also think she has one of the best aesthetics for an IG account.
How can you express yourself as an author? Here are some ideas:
· Creative journaling — I recently started doing this. Learn more about creative journaling on Positive Writer.
· Close-ups of your own handwriting
4. Increase email subscribers
Between 28–31% of my referrals for the Pre-Publishing Checklist are from Instagram. You only have one link on your bio—that is important real estate. I know the most important thing for the new IG followers to do is to sign up for my email list and get that freebie. If they see your photos and take the time to follow you, chances are, they would like more from you (um, like your book) and would like to sign up for your emails.
For some authors, they’d rather use this prime real estate to take new followers straight to Amazon to purchase their book. That’s fine too; just make sure your book has an email sign-up in the front and back.
5. Network with new authors and book industry professionals
Is there anything better than networking while pantsless? I mean, think about it. You get to connect with intelligent, creative people in the comfort of your own home.
But can’t I just do the same on Facebook?
Sure. But I’ve found a different audience on Instagram than I’ve found on Facebook. Different medium, different audience.
Thanks to hashtags, if you need a graphic designer, you can find one on Instagram and see his portfolio up close. You get a bird’s-eye view of his artwork the second you go to his account. Oh, did you think hashtags were only for Twitter? I say to you nay. In fact, studies have shown (thanks, Buffer!) that hashtags are more important on Instagram.
And then there’s micro-blogging. You can learn so much from industry professionals who give you a valuable (yet succinct) tip of the day in the description of their photos.
My favorite tips and tricks:
· Use natural lighting when taking photos.
· Do hashtag research for your audience, gather up to 30 hashtags, and save them in Notes on your phone so you can copy/paste as a comment.
· Add a link to your bio. Remember: prime real estate.
· Talk. To. People. No, a little emoji or “great photo” doesn’t count. Engage with them.
· Tag a location for better visibility.
· While liking and commenting on photos under relevant hashtags is smart, do not forget to interact with those in your main feed.
Here are my favorite people to follow on Instagram:
An expert editor, seasoned writer, and author-centric marketer, Shayla Raquel works one-on-one with authors and business owners every day. Her blog posts have been featured on popular websites like The Book Designer and Positive Writer. She is the author of the Pre-Publishing Checklist and her novel-in-progress, The Suicide Tree. She lives in Oklahoma with her two dogs, Chanel and Wednesday.