Wondering if you should start a #bookstagram or what a bookstagram account even is? This post will walk you through how to start a bookstagram and kick the platform’s butt. I’ll share tips for hashtags, photo editing apps, props to use, and why I decided to incorporate bookstagram techniques into my business model.
The Uncorked Librarian On Social Media & Why Start A Bookstagram?
Let me first say that I am a more rare breed of bookstagrammer as I recently started mixing travel and books together, which I am growing to love. Branding and consistency is important for serious bloggers and IGers.
As a book and travel blogger, I always find myself torn across all platforms. My Instagram started out solely as traveling pictures filled with captions and tips. I soon added my beverage of choice, usually wine or beer, and my current read in every caption. The caption captured the perfect representation of The Uncorked Librarian but exhausted me. As you know, only a few people truly read IG content. However, I sparked some interest in great reads while posing as another girl in a pretty dress—which we know I am not. Right? RIGHT?!
Similar to IG, with Twitter, I hang out more with one community. This is, of course, the greatest community of all: the book dragons. I chat with librarians, publishers, authors, book bloggers, book lovers, you name it. While I am also passport stamping my way into the tweeting travelers, when you are not traveling at that very moment, this is a little harder to go full force with.
My Pinterest account is a hodgepodge of books, travel, and anything that I can relate to my boozy name, like wine cork crafts. Man, we DO have a lot of wine corks (holy sh*t I just added another bookstagram prop to my repertoire). Sorry, I got distracted…Pinterest is the easiest platform to gain followers and shares. Everyone is looking to accumulate and catalog good content and the fewer following restrictions make the follow/unfollow game obsolete. Well, at least that is what I tell myself to sleep at night. To me, Pinterest is where you can let all of your interests flow freely and let loose—like The Uncorked Librarian at an endless mimosa brunch.To me, Pinterest is where you can let all of your interests flow freely and let loose—like The Uncorked Librarian at an endless mimosa brunch. Click To Tweet
Facebook is definitely where I am lacking followers, but my business page has not been my priority yet. I use Facebook to share everything: personal life fun, business achievements, books, travels, and blogging tips.
My blog is always lopsided with travel stories and books, although I am trying to even that out a bit more. No matter what, though, I always want all of my social media accounts to represent me and the goals and values of my website. This image must include books, travel, and of course blogging.
So Lets Get On With It…
When I looked at which of my accounts left out a part of me, I decided to tackle Instagram to showcase my book reviews not just with a caption but also a picture.
Below find the basics for how to start a bookstagram and why you might enjoy adding books to your instagram account too.
What is a Bookstagram?Bookstagram is an instagram account with pictures dedicated to showcasing everything books. Just picture Instagram hitting it off with books and getting it on, really. Guys, #bookstagram is BOOK PORN. Click To Tweet
If you are already asking what a bookstagram account is, well, we might be in trouble. Just kidding! Bookstagram is an instagram account with pictures dedicated to showcasing everything books. Just picture Instagram hitting it off with books and getting it on, really. Guys, #bookstagram is BOOK PORN. Book lovers use a series of hashtags, participate in special bookish events and themes, and usually post pictures that involve bookshelves, book spaces, and of course, a book or books. There are book reviews and book giveaways. Some of the best stick with a theme, use unique props and settings, and have a trademark like rainbow bookshelves. Basically, librarian heaven right here.
One bookstagrammer that I love is @jenniaahava. Check out her beautiful account:
There is an entire world of bookstagramers and many of them work with reps to sell fun bookmarks, Funko figurines, stationary, and mugs.
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How To Start A Bookstagram
When I first decided to add bookstagram pictures to my travel account, anxiety shook my typing fingers. Would my current IG followers leave me? Could I take a picture of a flat lay? WTF was a flat lay? Did I need a fancy camera? Do I know how to use a fancy camera? [F’ no!] Was I creative enough? Ahhhhh!!! But once I picked up a few basic supplies and snapped a few pictures, I loved my new bookish fetish and so did my sincere Instagram followers.
First, you need to brave Instagram:
Before I start, know that you will need to sign up for Instagram, if you do not already have an account or if you want to start fresh. If you are thinking about turning your instagram into a little profitable and sponsored hell…I mean sheer fun…business, I recommend using a public IG business account. Don’t forget to create a catchy user name and write a bio with some hashtags. Of course, my instagram is @theuncorkedlibrarian, and I change my bio as much as I change my red or white wine preferences: every month.
Second, it’s all in the props:
What To Buy:
The Dollar Store is your best friend but I won’t lie: I went to Michaels because, well obviously, I love Michaels. You can probably find materials much cheaper at Target, Walmart, and any dollar-like store, but an excuse for a mid-day rendezvous with a craft store? I am IN. Plus, Michaels sells giant wine glasses.
Question of the day: did we leave with one?
For under $50, I decided to buy my initial supplies:
+Scrapbooking paper for my backgrounds
+White foam board to lay everything out on top of
+Cute little props that I could not resist. Everyone needs more foxes and owls in their lives
What To Dig Up Around The House:
+Anything and everything. Just keep consistent with your brand and who you want to be. Heck, I used my running shoes the other day. Think about maps, confetti, strings of lights, old greeting cars, scrapbooking materials, ticket stubs, pictures, crafts, wine bottles…
+Mugs and cups
+More books than just the one you are showcasing
+Book art—as a former librarian, we page folded junky donated books into owls, turkeys, you name it; this is not book blasphemy or shit out of Fahrenheit 451, I promise.
+I always peruse Amazon for cheap crafting supplies too.
For More Social Media and Blogging Advice Check Out TUL’s:
Third, channel the inner photographer deep inside of you:
Use A Solid Camera
I am book blogger and travel writer, not a photographer. You can bet that my business goal in the next year or two is to learn photography basics. For now, I pretend I am an artist and pray to the lighting and picture gods that one out of the 100 pictures I take will be workable. I know some ambitious instagrammers who follow photographers that post professional camera settings in their IG captions. They try to mimic pictures with those settings. This imitation is a brilliant idea, but right now, ain’t no roque librarian got time for that.
What I do have is a Canon EOS Rebel T5 and an iPhone 8. The Canon and I could be besties but I am much more comfortable on my iPhone, which takes fabulous bookish pictures. Unlike blog posts, remember that Instagram shows much smaller pictures anyway. You can also peruse camera and equipment options here.
Think About Lighting
A lot of people have little extra lighting gadgets that they buy and love…and become affiliate marketers for. Smart. I am not there yet, but I do take my Instagram pictures outside in a shaded area. Natural light has always been the best for me. My indoor pictures, even with editing, are darker and grainy. Plus, my cats insist on helping. If you take indoor pictures, locate the nearest window.
Utilize Lightroom and Editing apps
If you are in the business of posting pictures, Adobe Lightroom CC has been one of the greatest investments that I have made. I only know the basics of Lightroom to survive—but this is another one of those business goals that I am hoping to attack with vigor. There are a ton of YouTube tutorials out there. Lightroom helps makes my pictures brighter, clearer, and I can edit the colors to better brand my content…or so I try. And fail. I bought an Adobe package of goodies for about $9.99 a month and have access to Photoshop, which I use to resize images and to fix e-reader book covers (more to come on that skill). There is a cloud to store pictures, and I love Adobe Spark for IG story covers. here.
There are a ton of free editing apps out there. For my iPhone I also have:
P.S. Unum is a great app to layout pictures in advance to see how they look together. This little app also gives you some free engagement tips like your most popular hashtags. There is a paid version too.
Ummm, Photography Terms Coming At You (I think?!)
What Is A Flat Lay?
All of these editing tools and props are great but what about the actual picture? I am much better at taking flat lays, which is basically a picture from above looking straight down. Others use angles and even straight on shots. I’ve seen edgy pictures with shadows, people reading, and books hanging from trees. Just do you.
Tips for Ebooks
I once read an article about taking pictures of ebooks. I wish I could dig it up again because it saved me from almost never bookstagramming an ebook again. When taking a picture of an ereader, sometimes the cover or glow gets obscured. Just think about how hard it is to take a picture of your computer screen. The trick is to use an image of the book cover (one that you have permission for) and use an editing tool, like Photoshop, to superimpose the book cover over the ereader in the original shot. It’s unicorn magic!
Fourth, tell me more and caption like a boss
What To Include With Your Picture:
Once you take the picture, you might be wondering what to include in the caption. I recommend a feisty summary, book information such as the author and date published, and of course, what you thought. Tell us why we should care. One day if you become a rep, you would also include information with your rep codes for discounts. Personally, I love a good story about where you were reading the book or a life connection. Anyone can summarize or swipe one from amazon. Don’t be lame or infringe on copyright.
Hashtags Are My B*tch…but really it is the other way around:
Hashtags are key to finding relevant content on Instagram. I gain new followers from hashtags and find some inspiring accounts. Hashtags are even more important for bookstagram because unlike the IG traveling world, geo tagging (basically showing locations) does not make as much sense.
The Perfect Mix of Hashtags
You can use up to 30 hashtags. Try your best to use them correctly–people go crazy. There is also all of this debate about putting hashtags in the caption vs the first comment. As of summer 2018, I personally advise hashtagging in the caption as IG algorithms have been player hating this year.
As any IGer, you have to do your hashtag research. Librarian glasses on: You always want to aim for hashtags that have a usage of 25,000-200,000 and mix it up. Five to 10 of your hashtags can be in the 7,000-20,000 range and another set of 5 can be in the crazy millions. If you use the big hastags, your account will drown in picture overload within .000008 seconds. Get ready to laugh: this murder by books includes actually using #bookstagram, which has 21.8 million posts at the time of this blog.
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Bookstagram Hashtags To Consider By Usage:
Some other large and popular hashtags to use very sparingly with posts already in the millions: #booklover, #bookstagrammer, #bookaholic, #bookworm, #bookphotography, #igreads, #bookadditct, #bookblogger, #ilovebooks, #instabook, #bookish, #bibliophile, #bookshelf, #booknerd, #currentlyreading
Over 500,000: #bookgeek, #ilovereading, #bookgram, #readersofinstagram, #bookreview
100,000-499,000: #currentread, #bookaddiction, #boonerdigan, #bookhaul, #readersofig, #bookishlove, #bookishfeature, #bookdragon, #bookreader, #booklife, #readmorebooks, #readmore, #bookrecommendation, #booktime, #bookblogger
The best mix for smaller accounts is the 30,000-90,000 range: #booksofinsta, #bibliophiles, #bookishescape, #bookishgirl, #bookishcandle, #timetoread, #readingbook, #bookreviewer, #bookreviews, #bookbloggers
10,000 to 30,000: #bookishphotography, #instabooklovers, #readerslife
Tiny Ones Under 10,000: #booksbooksbooks, #readersofinsta, #bookdragons, #bookreviewblog, #bookreviewers
I also usually hashtag with my brand, #theuncorkedlibrarian (feel free to use anytime; wink, wink), as well as hashtags with the book title, author, publisher, and sometimes sources like #netgalley. Look at including genres too (#yafiction, #YAromance).
Big people glasses on: Are you ready to try your own bookstagram?
Was This Post Helpful? Are You Ready To Be A Bad Ass Bookstagrammer?
These Is One Last Thing…Be Prepared For Disaster
My First Time #Bookstagram Troubles
Extra help: Meet Noah. I’m pretty sure he chanted: I want to eat the pic. I want to be in the pic. Heck, I am the pic.
I need lighting but it’s 100+ degrees out because I live in FLORIDA
My running shoe props look…well run in
Wait, what does this button do on the Cannon?
Hmmm, I have 20 of the almost same exact pic. Which one should I use?
I’d love to hear your funny #bookstagram stories and tips in the comments below.
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