How To Start A Bookstagram and Kick Butt

How To Start A Bookstagram and Kick Butt

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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.

 

Are you wondering how to start a bookstagram account on IG? Learn what to buy, how to take pictures, free editing apps, and the best hash tags to use.

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 are important for serious bloggers and IGers.

I pair my bookstagram with my website, The Uncorked Librarian.  I post reviews on my book blog and then share bookstagram pictures on Instagram to drive traffic to my blog.  If you interested in book blogging and how to start a book blog, you may also want to start a book review website.

You should also have your handle snatched up on IG and these other social media platforms in order to share book reviews:

Instagram

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.  Occasionally, I would post a bookstagram.  Usually, though, I just talked about books in the caption.  See the problem?

Today, I publish literary and boozy travel plus wanderlust-inspiring reads.  Travel still performs best for me, but my #bookstagrams are gaining fast popularity.  I need those shots for my book lists and book reviews.

Bookstagram lives and thrives on IG.  Basically, IG is bookstagram’s momma.

Twitter

The book community rocks on Twitter. I chat with librarians, publishers, authors, book bloggers, book lovers, you name it.  Book bloggers post their book review links with bookstagram pictures here.

Pinterest

My Pinterest account is where books, booze, and travel merge.  Bookstagram pictures circulate well on Pinterest for single book reviews.

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

I also took this amazing Pinterest Course, which helped me achieve 1.2 million monthly Pinterest views in just a few months.  That traffic translates to thousands of blog page views.

Facebook

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 related to books and booze, business achievements, travels, and blogging tips.  I utilize bookstagram pictures to invoke conversations on FB.

So Let’s Get On With Creating A Beautiful Bookstagram…

Basically, if you are a book reviewer, you need a BOOKSTAGRAM!!!!!!!!!!

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:

Screenshot of jenniaahava booksgram account

There is an entire world of bookstagramers and many of them work with reps to sell fun bookmarks, Funko figurines, stationery, and mugs.

Ultimate Bookstagram Guide

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.

 

Flay lay of ereader with Meant To Be Broken book cover, and pink and white flowers

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 profit 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 For A Beautiful Bookstagram:

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.

The question of the day: did we leave with one?

 

Male in green shirt holding empty over-sized wine glass at craft store

My husband took one for the team and came with me to buy #bookstagram supplies. It just so happens that Michaels also sells model airplanes.

For under $50, I decided to buy my initial Bookstagram supplies:

+Scrapbooking paper for my backgrounds

+Plastic flowers

+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

 

Owl and fox props sitting on a brown kitchen counter

How could anyone resist these guys?  I couldn’t just leave them behind… You have a heart, don’t you?

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…

Plus:

+Mugs and cups

+Christmas tree ornaments

+Candles

+Bookmarks

+Art supplies

+Your pets

+More books than just the one you are showcasing

+Bookshelves

+Comfy nooks

+Fun bookends

+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 Book Blogging Advice Check Out TUL’s:

10 Reasons For Starting A Book Blog


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 cameras 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.  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:

  • Aviary
  • VSCO
  • Snapsneed

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.

Lastly, I recently purchased the infamous Aggie Lal’s presets (Travel In Her Shoes IG goddess).  Aggie’s presets are a great starting point to show you how you can play with grain, focus, colors, shadows, and highlights.  Aggie’s world-traveling pictures are gorgeous, and I love tweaking her settings to work for me.  You can check out Travel In Her Shoe’s presets packages here.

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.

 

Bookstagram Flay lay of paperback book A Long Goodbye with gray and pink flowers and a running shoe

Tips for Ebooks

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!

Read my Photoshop Tutorial For Book Blogging to see this trick in action.

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 true 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.

 

Screenshot of how bookstagram captions work with word bookhaul

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 winter 2019, I personally advise hashtagging in the caption as IG algorithms have been player hating.

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 hashtags, 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 initial blog post.


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Bookstagram Hashtags To Consider By Usage:

Some 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 start your own bookstagram?  Think you can create a beautiful bookstagram?

Was This Bookstagram For Beginners Article Helpful? 

Then there Is One Last Thing…Be Prepared For Disaster

Picture of black and white cat blocking a bookstagram shot

…Or cuteness overload

I’d love to hear your funny #bookstagram stories and tips in the comments below.

Did you find some of this information on how to start a bookstagram helpful? Share the book fetish:  Pin It! 

How To Start A Beautiful Bookstagram Pin Cover with 4 bookstagram examples

 

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24 Comments

  1. July 20, 2018 / 9:53 am

    What a hot tip re: ebook covers!!! I always wondered how other bookstagrammers managed it, I figured they had some kind of magical camera with crazy voodoo to make it look normal 😂 Thank you for explaining it!!

    • Christine
      Author
      July 20, 2018 / 10:10 am

      I know! I had a feeling that there was something special going on with ereaders on book covers and finally looked it up. There are a lot of YouTube videos out there that explain the process, depending on what editing program you are using. The Meant To Be Broken picture in this post is an example of superimposing. I haven’t refined the skill yet, but I will take it—such an improvement over the original. Thank you for reading and friending me on Goodreads. Glad this post helped, too!

      • July 20, 2018 / 3:02 pm

        Thank you!! This changes a LOT. I also collect the weekly free templates from Creative Market. They have PSD mockups so you can just insert a cover and it looks like a hardcover book. Of course, these are more Pinterest images than Instagram, but still a useful way to get around ebooks.

        • Christine
          Author
          July 20, 2018 / 3:10 pm

          Oh cool!! I still haven’t checked out Creative Market yet—and definitely need to. Thanks for the tip too. That’s so good to know. Instagram is where I get the most paid opportunities (so far) so I’ve studied hard; it’s a finicky platform.

    • Christine
      Author
      July 20, 2018 / 1:41 pm

      Thank you for reading! Man, I gotta get reading for my next book review. Those long 400-pagers set me back even though I’m a fast reader. I don’t know how these daily reviewers do it! In awe!

  2. July 20, 2018 / 6:54 pm

    I love the idea of a bookstagram, but I know I don’t read enough to make one. How many books have you read?

    • Christine
      Author
      July 20, 2018 / 9:04 pm

      According to Goodreads 1,050 books—but that’s only been in the past ten years or so. I guess a lot?

  3. July 23, 2018 / 8:58 pm

    Love all these tips. Definitely saving this article for later. We are slowly switching our blog’s focus to books, and so we have been debating adding more book flatlays to our Instagram. Thanks for all the tips. We would never have thought to use scrapbook paper.

    • Christine
      Author
      July 23, 2018 / 9:03 pm

      Hey! I noticed that you were going more bookish on your blog. I like to pin your lists (your summer reading and historical fic). Love it! Glad the tips helped 💕📚 I definitely like my flat flays but also want to incorporate fun travel-ish reading ones too. Good luck! Can’t wait to see them.

  4. July 24, 2018 / 3:43 am

    Okay, I should be asleep so I can wake up early and go to work later, but obviously, I was swept away reading your blog post. Love your writing, humor and all the tips. I’m not planning to start a Bookstragram:, however, there are a ton of great soocial media tips here. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I learn something new everyday!

    Btw, of course, you are a beautiful girl in a pretty dress. 😊

    Off to sleep I go. I hope. 😆

    • Christine
      Author
      July 24, 2018 / 10:50 am

      Haha, sleep is wonderful, and I find myself staying up way too late to finish posts and social media too. Thank you so much for the compliments! I definitely hoped that some of the tips would help any IGer–it’s a trickier platform and it’s in a constant state of flux. Hope you get/got some sleep!

    • Christine
      Author
      August 4, 2018 / 3:20 pm

      Hey! Thank you so much! I really appreciate the nomination and the support.

  5. August 15, 2018 / 3:33 am

    I had no idea about bookstagramers or that I could feed my book obsession on Instagram! I am in so much trouble now!

    • Christine
      Author
      August 15, 2018 / 6:49 pm

      Haha!! It is fun!! I love accounts that are solely dedicated to books. I mix it up and am still trying to convert my travel followers to book nerds too.

  6. August 25, 2018 / 9:21 pm

    Thank you!! These tips were really helpful. I’ve been using the hashtag bookstagram for a bit now when I post book reviews with artsy photos of the book cover, but I actually had no idea what the following meant, lol. It was great to learn a bit about the audience I’m trying to capture.

    My cat also likes to “help” when I’m taking photos. Some (okay, most) of the come out darn cute. 🙂 I’ve posted one or two because they are just so adorbs, and I’ve found my best IG posts have a cat in them, lol. Of course. 🙂

    • Christine
      Author
      August 26, 2018 / 12:26 am

      Thank you for reading! I am glad that you found some new tips and tricks. When I first started, I used the #bookstagram hashtag and all of the major ones. Then I realized how over saturated they were. My posts lasted less than a second in the feed. Once you find some smaller hashtags, it’s great to just recycle them here and there. I am also a travel IGer, and while hashtags are helpful, adding a location is even more important. Instagram in general is a rough platform lately for followers and engagement.

      My cat is eating my planner as we speak. I am glad that you have a furry helper too! It keeps life cute and interesting. We have four of them, too, which is crazy sometimes.

  7. October 15, 2018 / 10:09 pm

    Can I just say how much I appreciate this post?! I am terrible about IG, and can never seem to take good pics. I will be using your tips literally tomorrow. Thanks so much!

    • Christine
      Author
      October 20, 2018 / 3:41 pm

      Thank you, Amy. I study IG soooo much because it is by far my hardest platform to keep going. I hope these tips help! Thank you for reading.

  8. October 31, 2018 / 3:54 pm

    So you’re saying there’s a way incorporate my travel reading into my travel instagram account…. Yeah, I’m in.

    • Christine
      Author
      November 1, 2018 / 8:10 am

      Always!!! I alternate. Since my followers are more travel-oriented, I post a Bookstagram every 6 pics or so. The rest are solely travel. It’s been working ok so far. There are some huge accounts who successfully integrate both on a daily basis.

  9. November 3, 2018 / 9:34 pm

    So many helpful tips!! I’m getting ready to start my first book review posts and this is just what I needed 🙂

    • Christine
      Author
      November 4, 2018 / 11:27 am

      I’m so glad that this post was helpful! Can’t wait to see your first book reviews.

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