Bookstagram is an online community of passionate readers who click aesthetically pleasing pictures on Instagram. You might remember that time when food blogging was the only form of social media done on IG. Long gone are those days. With fashion and beauty blogging rising in trend, Bookstagram is equally gaining the attention it deserves.
Needless to say, posting a book review on IG is easier and faster as compared to traditional forms of blogging (WordPress, medium, Blogspot etc). Not only do you get to play with your creativity, but it also helps you gain traction if you’re a budding photographer or writer.
I stumbled across Bookstagram one fine day and was blown away by this corner of the internet. Before this, I used to (and still do) blog on WordPress but coming to terms with BG was like opening a Pandora’s box. It’s been more than 2 years since I joined this lovely and accepting community, and I couldn’t have been happier.
Here’s a shot of my account.
If you’ve been playing around with the idea of starting a bookstagram, you’re in the right place. Here’s how you can create one and be consistent:
- Picking a username: Once you have created an account, the journey begins. Choosing a name for your account is harder than picking baby names, not that I have any experience in this arena, but I’m giving you a heads up. Just a suggestion, go for a name that would be pleasing to the eye and easy to remember.
- Bio: It’s crucial for you to introduce yourself. People want to know your name, where you’re from, and whether or not you’re a potential serial killer. If you visit other profiles, you’ll see a lot of bloggers have put up the number of books they’ve read or their current read. You can do whatever floats your boat but remember to make it interesting.
- Device: Let’s make things clear once and for all. You DO NOT need a high functioning camera or need to be a photography wizard to start a bookstagram. Any smartphone with a camera is all you need. I started off BG with a normal phone camera, and after a few tries understood what works best for me. However, if photography is your niche, then please go ahead and invest in a DSLR. But your creativity and review is the only thing that’s going to help you create an impact.
- Props: Here’s where the fun starts. Creating an aesthetic for your picture is the best way to unleash your inner artist. Take a white bed sheet or a white chart paper, place a few books, and maybe a cup of tea, and there you go. You have a picture. You can also use your bookshelf or nice graffiti wall or your sofa as the background. The idea here is to play around with whatever is around you. We don’t do anything too extravagant and fancy, because we believe in making magic out of simple things. Leaves, candles, dead flowers, and even borrowed human arm can make for an excellent prop. Don’t expect to get it right at the first go. If I show you the pictures I clicked when I started out, you’d want to throw up. But heyyy, that’s how you learn, don’t you?
- Lighting: Pictures come out the best when taken under natural lighting. When the sun’s shining like the brightest star, you should turn into a ninja and go on a picture clicking spree. Keep a stock of pictures that would last you a week so that you can stay consistent and ahead of the game.
- Participate in readathons and reading challenges: Readathons and challenges help you explore your reading taste, and find people who like the same books as you. Not only do you get to read more, but you also push yourself out of your comfort zone. It helps you increase your engagement on your posts, and get more brownie points.
- Hashtags: Do I even need to explain this? We live in an era of hashtags and it’s not surprising that one needs to be at the top of the hashtag game to get the most out of a post. Your hashtags should be relevant to what you have posted. If you’ve posted a book review the hashtags could be #bookreview #reviewing. Hashtags are essential in gaining more traction. You can use several other hashtags that are related to your niche, in this case, books. A few examples are: #bibliophile #bookshelf #currentread #bookdragon. IG allows us to use up to 30 hashtags, so put your thinking caps on and be as creative as you can.
- Tags: It’s always polite to tag the publisher whose book you’re reading. It adds context and helps you get exposure in case the publisher decides to repost your picture on their feed. You can also tag feature accounts to garner likes and engagement.
- Originality: Taking inspiration from a particular account you admire is one thing but blatantly copying their style is plagiarism. Nothing good comes out of shamelessly calling someone else’s work your own. Challenge yourself to come up with innovative ideas. A little dedication goes a long way and in no time you’ll create pictures you didn’t expect you could.
- Consistency: If you’re ready to commit a considerable amount of your time into clicking pictures, writing reviews and posting on a regular basis alongside working or studying, then welcome aboard. You will see slow but longlasting results only if you’re consistent. Schedule your posts on the weekends so that you have ample stock to use during the weekday.
- Interaction: Start following people whose pictures you really like or are inspired by. It’s super-important to engage with your followers and TALK to them about books. Leave a thoughtful comment on their posts, and spread the love for your favorite books. Advice: Don’t be creepy. No one likes creepy.
A few add-ons:
- It’s NOT important to have a theme. The whole idea is to explore your creativity and expand your horizon. If you can work around a theme, excellent. If you’re finding it hard to maintain a theme, then abandon it. Life’s too short to waste time on things you don’t enjoy.
- IG stories are a great way to maintain interaction with your followers. Even if you’re not posting regularly on the feed, you can always just put up a few stories talking about your recent purchase to that lovely coffee shop to a general life-update.
- Your captions should be crisp. They should not be a thesis essay. Ensure that they are interesting or funny. The idea is to make people stop and listen to what you have to say.
- Breaks are important. I recently took a 15-day break because we’re millennials and burnout is inevitable. Clicking pictures or reading felt like a chore, and I didn’t want to hate the very thing I’m passionate about. So, I went on a hiatus and came back fresh as a daisy. Don’t feel guilty for not reading or posting as much. Remember, blogging isn’t a game and one shoe doesn’t fit all. Find what works for you and stick to it.
- Remember to enjoy the process. It’s not about followers or likes but about sharing the love of reading with everyone. If your sole purpose is to be Instagram famous then you’ll get bored of it very soon.
I spoke to some of my favorite bookstagrammers who have been inspirational to me in ways more than one, and I am always in awe of how dedicated and kind they are. Here’s what they had to say:
- Aritri Chatterjee (@liquidsunset):
BG has always been a very welcoming community and that is one of the things that pushed me to continue despite being a newcomer here.
The key to starting a BG account is to be excited about discussing books. Beautiful pictures and funny captions definitely count but if your love for books doesn’t come from within then promoting those books will be a difficult deal.
When you are new, try to interact with people on their stories and posts because people here wouldn’t already know you and communicating with them will help them know what kind of a person you are. Also, try and be consistent in your posts and interaction so that the people who follow your account have something to look forward to. Most importantly enjoy the process and if you ever feel like it is becoming a burden then take a step back and allow yourself to be ready again for BG.
You can follow Aritri here: theliquidsunset
- Aayushi (@_penandpapers):
When I joined BG, I saw many people with 20k+ accounts having gorgeous flat lays and I tried to be like them, which never happened. So, I came up with my own unique style of my feed. You don’t have to play the theme game if you think you’re not good at it, post random pictures. There are many BG accounts that I love who don’t do themes. Just don’t be a sheep. You need to understand that there will be times when your posts won’t get expected engagement (but you are sure that your post is great), don’t panic and don’t delete that post. Start working on the next one. Stop worrying about getting followers. You’re here to talk about books and not increasing followers. One day they’ll eventually increase. As I say, Grow a bookshelf or a garden instead! Always click pictures in good lighting and write catchy captions.
Every day I get this same DM: How to receive free books? First, they’re not free. If a publisher sends us a book, we have to review it. It’s barter system here. Secondly, don’t worry about that. You’ll get ARCs and proofs when a publisher notices you or you can just drop them a formal DM or email. Lastly, never stop reading and binge buying books!
You can follow Aayushi here: _penandpapers
- Padmaja (@thebookishtales):
When I was starting out, I had no idea of asking for review copies, how to click good pictures and writing reviews. You have to create your own niche and make your account unique. Interaction is the key. People on BG are very supportive and friendly. The more you interact, the more people will notice you and your account. Click pictures with good lighting. I would advise clicking pictures in natural light. You can use more or fewer props, but lighting is important. Work hard on your blog. Think of creative blog posts and write posts which start discussions. Focus on quality instead of quantity.
You can follow Padmaja here: thebookishtales
- Ruqaiya (@ruqkish):
Every bookstagrammers account is a labor of insane hard work and passion. It’s not easy but I’ll say that it’s worth it. Well, to grow your account you do need props, and you do need a lot of books but you don’t need that to start. I started when I had 20 books on my shelf and literally, the only props I had was a white chart paper and a cup of coffee. I won’t lie, I hated my pictures for a long time but I didn’t give up. I kept posting and reading and reviewing until I found my own style and got comfortable with it. One thing I’ve learned with my experience is that you have to be yourself unapologetically, it’s your page, you are entitled to post anything you like. Don’t try and please people with your reviews or pictures, it gets suffocating after a while. And as far as getting review copies are concerned, don’t go around asking every publisher especially if you’ve just started out. The best way to get noticed is to read a lot, review a lot, post great pictures and never forget to tag the author and publisher. Well, that’s how I started. It worked for me, so I am certain it’ll work for you too.
You can follow Ruqaiya here: ruqkish
- Nupur Lakhe (@nupur_flipaleaf):
Although I am not much older in this Bookstagram community, I did figure it out and made my way through it.
Because we are talking about tips to start Bookstagram, I would like to mention first and foremost that Bookstagram requires time. Not only is it just about clicking pictures and posting content but it is also about interaction. The things that I learned in my stint of last one year were : do not write anything that you don’t believe in, be it a review or talking about a book casually, pictures and content go hand in hand; pretty pictures will not let you compensate for a dab content and lastly, it’s your feed, your gram! Do it just like you want to. The important thing is to stay humble and grounded.
You can follow Nupur here: nupur_flipaleaf
Now that we’ve let all our secrets out, it’s time for you to step up and join in. May 2019 be the year you jump onto the Bookstagram bandwagon because we’re eagerly waiting for you! 🙂
If you have any more questions or a topic you’d like me to talk about, feel free to comment down below. I’d be waiting!