It can be difficult for authors to get their work seen by publishers or agent. In a competitive industry such as writing, getting yourself heard above the noise is a struggle.
But with a strong social presence, it’s possible to grow your following online and carve out a path and get yourself seen. While Facebook and Twitter deserve your time and attention, so does Instagram and Pinterest.
With more than a billion monthly active users, the Instagram platform offers a huge cross-section of demographics, and that includes your readers. Keep reading to find out what you need to know about creating an author Instagram profile that gets your work read.
Create Beautiful Content That Appeals to Readers
The type of content you share on your Instagram author account is important, but it’s harder to pin down. Fitness coaches can share progress updates and exercise videos, and beauty bloggers know that makeup tutorials and lookbooks are perfect content. But what can authors share?
At first glance, a visual-heavy platform such as Instagram might not immediately seem suitable for authors. But there are lots of ideas you can share that will work with your target readership.
The most popular of these is book porn: beautiful, high-quality images of books, bookshelves, libraries, reading nooks, and so on. Look at any passionate reader’s Instagram account, and you’ll find at least one artfully-arranged photo of an open book next to a steaming cup of coffee.
This content is popular with Instagram’s reading community and is perfect for your own author Instagram profile as well. Besides this, you could also share quotes from your favorite authors, photos of your writing room, even gifs and memes. These all make for a great Instagram author account that readers (and your target customers) will love.
Takeaway tip: Flatlays are a popular Instagram content format that work well for literature-based visual content. Choose a selection of your favorite books and arrange them on a nice surface, such as a pretty comforter or rustic wooden tabletop. Add some props around it (flowers, cups of hot cocoa, etc.) and take a top-down photo of your books in all their glory. Flatlays are also known as bookstagrams.
Embrace Hashtags to Make Yourself Part of the Conversation
Just as words tie a story together, so do hashtags tie everything on Instagram together. Hashtags are how people start and join conversations online. They are used to help users find topics, accounts, and content they’re interested in.
Your target readers are no exception. Literature fans use hashtags to share their favorite reads, what they’re currently reading, book quotes that inspire them—if you can conceive of it, there’s a hashtag for it.
As an author, these hashtags help you get your work seen. By using relevant hashtags in your Instagram posts, you direct prospective readers to your account and grow your following. Check out How to Find Popular Hashtags and Connect with New Followers.
Instagram allows a maximum of 30 hashtags per post, so make the most of them. There are hundreds of literature-based hashtags for you to choose from, tailored to specific genres, readers, and types of post. For example, the #WomensFiction hashtag is perfect for authors with a female target readership, and #KidLitChat works for children’s authors.
#EBooks is ideal for spreading the word about your book by offering a freebie for prospective readers to discover you. Turn your book into a downloadable ebook, or create a teaser chapter that people can read for free. This is a great way to hook potential readers with an insight into your work—remember to include a link so they can purchase your complete book afterwards.
Takeaway tip: The key to successful hashtags is using those that most pertain to your target audience. Who is your target reader? What are their interests and how do they tie into your work? Use genre-specific hashtags such as #RomanticSuspense or #MemoirChat to reach specific readers on Instagram.
The #MSWL hashtag is a particularly useful one you can follow. Standing for manuscript wish list, it is used by agents looking for specific manuscripts they want to see.
Share Your Work Through High-Quality Visuals
As an author, you can—and should—also share your work itself on Instagram. Obviously it is tricky posting entire chapters on Instagram, but it is possible to share quotes or extracts from your work reasonably well.
That’s not to say you should eschew high-quality visuals to cram as much of your work as possible into a post. You should simply deliver your extract in a visually-appealing way.
As the examples above show, it’s possible to share text in a visually-striking way. This is the ideal way to share your work on Instagram, giving potential readers an insight into your writing style and literary worlds.
A screenshot of your work with a filter overlay will suffice (who doesn’t love the rustic nostalgia of a typewriter?). But text overlays are a popular and easy method that are Insta-worthy. There are lots of free online photo editors that are intuitive and easy to use, so it’s simple to get started with this.
Takeaway tip: Choose a quote or paragraph that you feel particularly exemplifies your work and style. Next, use a free online photo editor to create a graphic displaying it. Find a nice photo that serves as its background, and use a text overlay to add your quote or passage.
At first glance, Instagram might not seem like a good choice for writers. But as the points above show, it’s the perfect platform to build your reader community and show off your writing. Follow the tips above, and you’ll create an Instagram strategy that will draw in new readers in droves.