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The Novelist's Guide to Instagram

FEATUR1

You're here because you want to share your stories with others. You're comfortable with the writing part, but it’s the marketing that poses a challenge.

Where do you go to market your latest book and build a fanbase?

Instagram, of course.

With over a billion monthly users, Instagram is a platform that you can no longer afford to ignore. It's a guarantee that at least some (but probably all) of your audience has an Instagram account. If you want to reach these readers, all you need to do is set up shop on Instagram.

But what about Facebook? Or Twitter? Or even YouTube?

You may think that other social platforms are the way to go for marketing your book on social media. Think again.

Instagram offers much more engagement than Facebook or Twitter. Instagram users are more likely to share, comment, and like posts than users on any other social platform.

After you’ve published your novel, here’s how to use Instagram to build your audience and create a stronger community with your current fanbase.

Start a Business Account

Do not pass go, do not collect $200 until you create a business account for your Instagram profile. While it may be tempting to stick to the personal account (which allows you to keep your profile private), the whole point of being on Instagram is to be accessible. A business account provides several benefits, including:

  • Insight into your posts’ performance, such as which posts are the most and the least popular
  • Insight into your audience, including who’s following you (age, location, gender) and when they’re most likely to be online
  • The ability to boost individual posts to ensure that people who aren’t following you will also see your content

By using a business account (which is free, by the way), you can make an informed decision on what time of day to post. You’ll know who’s interested in your content and then tailor your content to speak directly to that audience.

If you have a personal account, you can switch to a business account using these instructions.

Create a Strong Bio

Now that you have a business account, it’s time to create a profile that will inform users about you and your book(s).

Start by choosing a username that is recognizable and easy to remember. Avoid using your book as your username. You can change your username in your profile by following these instructions.

Next, choose a photo that fits with your brand. Find a clear photo of you (not your book) so that your follower feels an immediate connection with you as a fellow human.

Now, it’s time to write out your bio. This is the hard part because you only have 150 characters to introduce yourself. Instead of attempting to share serious tidbits about your life and outlook as a writer, focus on fun or interesting facts that your followers can connect to. For example, you can share your favorite life quote or summarize yourself in three words. Be sure to use emojis in your bio. It is a visual platform, after all.

Instagram only allows one link in your bio section. But fortunately, there’s a way to get around this. You can create a landing page for all of your important links (i.e. a “Start Here” page) and then use that link for your bio. This is better than directing users to your homepage and hoping that they find their way. What about if they want to buy your book without searching through your website? What if they want to find you on other social media platforms? You can include links to all of these on your landing page.

Alternatively, you can use a tool like Linktree or LinkinBio by Later, which does almost the same thing. However, if you do have the time and resources, it’s better from a branding standpoint to opt for your own landing page. Plus, you get an SEO boost.

Choose Images That Impress

Use Instagram as a Novelist

Now, let’s talk about images. Don’t simply grab screenshots of your book on Amazon. That’s not going to impress anyone. Remember: Instagram is all about pretty images and the goal is to stop people mid-scroll, but don't let that intimidate you. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to find success on this platform. The right lighting and filter cover a multitude of sins. Be willing to take your own photos (which are almost always better and more authentic than stock images). This will require a little creativity and a lot of natural sunlight, which can often elevate amateur photography.

When creating content for your Instagram page, lighting and filters are your best friends.

Also, find a filter that conveys the mood that you’re going for on your Instagram feed. You can use Instagram’s built-in filters, or you can edit your photos with a tool like Canva or Photoshop before uploading to Instagram.

VARY YOUR CONTENT

It’s also important that you vary the type of content you post on Instagram. No one wants to look at post after post of your book cover. Mix it up. Instead of posting images of your novel, consider posting quotes from your book. Use a tool like the aforementioned Canva to turn the quote into a graphic. You can also show images of books that you’ve recently read and enjoyed. Share writing advice, offer insight into how you work, and show your life.

Whatever you post, be sure that it offers value to your followers. The post should be informative, inspirational, or just downright entertaining.

USE #HASHTAGS CORRECTLY

Hashtags are an essential part of Instagram. Hashtags are keywords (preceded by the symbol #) that Instagrammers use to find content.

You can use up to 30 hashtags for each post. Do it. Don’t question it. You may think it’s overkill, but the more hashtags you use, the higher your chances of getting discovered. Don’t limit your post to just one or two hashtags. Instead, attach as many hashtags as you think are relevant.

It’s also important to choose hashtags that are popular (over 1,000 posts). The practice of using popular hashtags will increase the likelihood that people will see your post. Fortunately, Instagram indicates how many posts contain a specific hashtag as part of its search functionality. To determine if a particular hashtag is popular, just type the hashtag into the search box. You’ll see the number of associated posts right away. Use this tool to attach the right hashtags for your posts.

Here are a few popular hashtags in the writing community:

  • #Bookworm
  • #Bibliophile
  • #AmWriting
  • #Authorlife
  • #Novelist
  • #WritersCommunity
  • #YAReads
  • #HistoricalFiction (or any genre)
  • #WhatToRead

POST CONSISTENTLY

Use Instagram as a Novelist

The best thing you can do to promote your novels on Instagram is to post consistently. You can’t build a relationship with your followers if you don’t consistently create content. Your posts simply won’t be visible to your followers. Like Facebook, Instagram shows posts according to the user’s demonstrated interests. The more they like, comment, or in some way interact with your posts, the more of your post they will see. By creating valuable content for your followers to engage with on a regular basis, you’ll improve your visibility on Instagram.

Create a posting schedule to help you know when and what to post.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Instagram is a powerful tool for promoting your books and building your fanbase. If you’re hoping to be a relevant author in this century, you need to include Instagram in your marketing strategy.

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