Starting a bookstagram—or a book-related Instagram account—can be a fantastic way to grow your literary citizenship. The bookstagram community is a strong one, and there is always room for new participants. But sometimes the task can seem daunting.
I talked to four successful bookstagramers, Star, of @littlemissstar55, Kat, of @kat.readsfantasy, Tessa, of @tjswackhammer, and Elaina of @snowwhite_says to walk me through how they got started and what they enjoy about running a bookstagram.
“I decided to make an account because I loved books and reading, but I didn’t have anyone to share that love with,” Elaina said. "I wanted to have people to talk to about books that loved them the way that I did! I also started it because of a love for photography, and I realized I could combine that with my love of books on bookstagram!”
To start a bookstagram, it’s quite simple. Make an Instagram account, read a book, write what you think, and post it!
All four bookstagrammers first started out by just reviewing books they like.. Overtime, they all found a niche, and discovered freedom exploring less popular, personal areas of interest instead of whatever was on the New York Times Best Seller List.
“I took a lot of cues from the people I respect and admire in the book industry as well as anyone in the arts field,” said Tessa. “Over time, it’s changed to include less popular titles and books from marginalized voices as I found those areas lacking and wanted to bring a new spotlight into these spots.”
Having a specialized area of interest, or catering to a certain demographic, can be a great way to build a specific following or community while providing representation to smaller authors.
Growth through Community
The great thing about the bookstagram community is that it’s exactly that: a community. Everyone is looking to help everyone out, and growth is easy with a little bit of time and effort. In many areas of the internet, networking can feel like a pretentious chore, or that growth must come from continual engagement and hashtags. In the bookstagram world though, it’s the genuine relationships that build your following. All four found great growth and support through their online friends.
“I just follow people that I wanted to follow and most of the time they followed me back,” said Kat. I’ve been lucky to meet some really cool awesome friends who share my page sometimes and make people interested in wanting to follow me."
Tessa works in a bookstore, so the connections from that also offered her some opportunities.
“Hav[ing] connections with people both in the publishing industry as well as just enthusiastic readers (has helped), and it all comes down to friendships with one another and finding people with similar interests,” she said.
Star also said that participating in shoutouts for shoutouts gave them a good boost, and Elaina agrees that one shoutout can be a gamechanger. Elaina also has worked with the way the Instagram algorithm boosts accounts that post regularly. Even with that though, she takes breaks whenever she needs them, and doesn’t let the pressure of maintaining her account overrun her mental health.
“It’s all about having fun with photography and reading for me,” she said.
Unlike the way influencers are often taught to run their accounts, not having any set goals for the account has worked out well for all four of the bookstagrammers.
“I enjoy having a tangible reading diary that others can interact with in a positive way and share recommendations,” said Tessa. As long as I am meeting new people and hearing from others, I’m happy!”
As you probably know if you are considering running a bookstagram, Instagram is all about the aesthetics. Bios should be well organized and concise, telling a little bit about yourself, if you concentrate on a certain type of literature, and any sort of self-promotion if you have something you’d like to link.
A common staple of a good bookstagram is a beautiful grid. To construct such a consistent world can seem intimidating, but just like the rest of the account, it’s all about finding what you like. A consistent color pallet is a great way to have a variety of posts look consistent at a glance.
Tessa’s feed leans towards soft neutral tones, and works off of the rules of photography and product marketing. Meanwhile, Kat has dark and natural colors, often accompanied by candles and flowers to build a whimsical feel around the fantasy books she reads. Star’s feed is bright and colorful, between both the books she reads and their hair. Despite these beautiful spreads, little investment is needed
“My aesthetic is plain and simple because I don't have a lot of money, and I can't afford all of these extravagant set ups,” she said. “I also don't have bookshelves to display like so many people do, so simple is me. And I love it. Because I can then choose to focus on whatever I want rather than distracting myself with lots of other things.”
The most simple things can enhance your feed. Kat found her style by just taking pictures of the beautiful things she saw around her. Not every post has to be of your latest read either, if you aren’t someone that can be finishing novels every week. Tessa often makes beauty out of the daily, such as her coffee of the day or her adorable cats.
However, you do not have to pick one aesthetic and be stuck with it. Elaina enjoys the freedom and creativity of having an ever evolving aesthetic.
“I try to go with the flow and whatever makes me happy in the moment,” she said. “While my account shares my love of books with others, it is MY account, so my aesthetic is whatever I like at the time! It took a lot of experimenting to find my current style, and I’ve definitely changed so much from when I first started bookstagram, but I love what I’m posting! And that’s what matters.”
The bookstagram can be an incredibly rewarding venture. For Star, the friendships that have come out of the experiences have been very impactful. Kat feels that the pressure of regular posting can be a lot, but it’s always worth it in the end.
“When life gets busy it’s hard to read, and being a book account you start to get discouraged a little from not reading as much as other people,” she said. “But it’s now a part of my life. I’ve met some amazing friends up here and I love talking to them, and when I take breaks or am busy I miss them, so I try to stay on Instagram as much as possible."
Kat’s growth has even lead to a feature in a Buzzfeed article.
Elaina, on the other hand, enjoys the little solitude and escape from daily life that her account offers.
Tessa also has been able to develop herself as an author through becoming a more critical reader, expanding her repertoire in the name of literary merit, and growing her vocabulary and understanding of the world, but its still the community that she comes back to.
“My favourite experiences so far have to be the times where I get to have conversations with my favourite authors on a more peer to peer basis and learn exciting “behind the scenes” stuff about books I already love,” she said. “And, of course, the advanced reading copies are also fabulous.”
So what are you waiting for? Go ahead and try out running an account for yourself, and see where it takes you!