We are so excited about this month’s Instagram Photo Challenge! We’ve never done anything like this before, but we’ve been seeing some great photos posted by fellow book lovers and were inspired to join in.
Though the words on the meme seem quite vague, they are simply meant as inspiration! Take them literally or interpret them however you like. We just ask that they be somewhat book/reading related, if possible.
Content must be your own OR when using someone else’s image, please make it apparent in your caption and credit the artist when possible. Because you know, stealing isn’t cool. Plussss, if you tag someone else and their photo, maybe they’ll be inclined to join us in our challenge! What a great way to grow the group and give a shout out to some awesome pictures.
Aretha said it best folks, “R-E-S-P-E-C-T!” Let’s be respectful of one another in what you post and in your comments. We are hosting this challenge to foster camaraderie, not to tear anyone down or make anyone feel bad. This is a judgment-free zone y’all. So let’s be nice, okay! Also, don’t worry if you think your post isn’t as cool or artsy as someone else’s – you rock in your own right and we wanna see what you’ve got!
Join the party! This is meant to expand our fan engagement and share some book love with a community of awesome peeps. Don’t hesitate to like, comment, and post until your little heart’s content! We want this to be a fun experience for all involved. Even if you can’t post every day for the entire month, just post when you can or when you feel inspired. It’s alllllllll good.
Please tag us @inkmonsterbooks and use the hashtag #inkyfebphotos2017. We’ll do our best to respond to all those who post and we really hope to share some of our favorites with you. At the end of the month, we’ll pick some winners at random to send some special prizes too– so post often and post enthusiastically. We’ll be watching!
Instagram is one of my favorite things. I use it to find cute cafes to write at, shop, and scope out recipes. BUT, I’m picky about which accounts I follow.
My unfollow finger is itchy, and I’ve said buh-bye to a lot of accounts over the years for a lot of reasons. Too many posts. Going off brand. Too much promotion. I unfollowed 95% of the accounts that asked to turn on notifications during the last algorithmic timeline scare.
Because I’m contrary like that.
Precious few Instagram accounts have earned my loyalty, but there are a handful I will follow until the inevitable zombie apocalypse. They bring sunshine to my feed and my day.
Travel and food are vital to my life. The posts on this account are consistently awesome and always give me ideas for things to eat and places to go. Basically everything I need to continue functioning.
There are many fine accounts featuring tiny clay foods. I follow more than one… But Petitplat consistently wows me with detail and creativity. Also cute + food = the building blocks of life. How could you not love this stuff???
I’m really down for body positivity, and seeing it in my feed makes me smile. Effyourbeautystandards features a whole lot of everyone feeling good about themselves, which makes me feel good about myself. Everyone wins.
I only keep tabs on a few #bookstagram accounts outside of the book bloggers I’ve gotten to know. Ursula is one of the chosen ones. I love how tranquil and booksy and stylish her photos always are. They make me want to curl up with a mug and one of my favorite paperbacks.
This account is a newer follow, but I can’t see myself unfollowing it EVER. It features tons of videos of street foods in Bangkok… And my list of places to hunt down grows longer and longer and longerrrrrrr. I want to eat all the roti everywhere!
I didn’t think this was ever going to happen, but it’s happening. I am touching a marketing topic–not with a ten-foot pole, but with my grubby little fingers. INSTAGRAM!
There’s a ton of info out there on how to market on Instagram, but most of it isn’t for writers. How can a writer use Instagram??? We’re word people. We write in dimly lit cave dwellings that don’t photograph well. We lead boring lives shackled to our computers.
I have bad news. If you’re self-promoting, no one cares anyway. I love this Delilah Devlin post on the topic of self-promotion. No one cares about your book (or my book) and you can’t use social media to interact with your fans when your only fan is your mother (thanks for reading my blogs, Mom). Everyone has a book. Everyone is writing a book. Many of the writing/reading hashtags on Instagram are filled with people self-promoting. They might follow you, but odds are they’ll unfollow if you don’t follow back because they’re just trying to sell their own books or services. That’s not helpful to anyone.
How do you get Instagram famous? Already be famous. Or be pretty and post a lot of selfies. It can be a really superficial platform if you let it. At least fifty of my followers are ghosts, and most of my likes are from bots. If I wanted to boost my ego, I could go ahead and buy a few thousand followers. Or pay for a bot to follow and unfollow accounts and inflate my numbers that way. But that’s wicked fake.
(Obligatory post soundtrack. Jason Derulo CAN make you famous on Instagram.)
So why bother? You might not want to. I just really like Instagram. I like playing with the filters and sharing pics of my noodle bowls and where I’m traveling. Someday I’d love to use it to repost fan-generated collages and #bookstgram posts, but until then, I like it as it is. It’s fun to see what the bloggers I’ve made friends with are reading and up to. It’s fun to browse through the writing memes. It’s fun to follow Etsy shops and foodies in my city and look at things that have nothing to do with being an author.
Instagram as a beginning/mid-career writer is all about making connections. That’s it. That’s the secret.
When most people talk about marketing books on Instagram, they go straight to photography. Take better photos. Learn composition. Use editing software. That’s great if you’re a photographer and/or interested in photography, but I’m not. I don’t want you to like my pictures. I want you to like my books and the more time I spend learning to take photos, the less time I have to write and improve myself as a writer.
Here’s the best news in this post. If you’re an author, the quality of your photos makes close to zero difference. Look at John Green’s Instagram. He’s already a big name, but I don’t see him posting from a photo shoot. It’s selfies, movie stars, vacations–a slice of his life.
A photo posted by Colleen Hoover (@colleenhoover) on
For these big names (and all us writers) followers are readers–not photography fans.
If you want to play in #bookstagram, that’s a whole different ballgame. You’re gonna need some white bookshelves, twinkle lights, a crate of Funko vinyls, and a studio-quality lighting setup. The pictures on there are fun and beautiful, but incredibly staged. It’s mostly where the readers party. If staging photos plays to your strengths and you enjoy doing it, then go to town! It’s definitely one way to build a following and I will for sure like your pics.
Unfortunately, a following doesn’t sell books. Neither do double-taps. The equation is much more complicated than that.
When we talk about writers who are killing it on Instagram, the examples people give are always their favorite writers. Is Colleen Hoover killing it on Instagram? Absolutely, and she gets a ton of credit for putting so much of her personality into her photos. She’s also a break-away success and at this point in her career, she has a bajillion loyal fans who’d probably make her successful on most other platforms, too.
Which writers are specifically good at Instagram?
Adriana Locke is a perfect example. I have never met or interacted with her so there is zero bias when I say that she has got this Instagram thing Locked down (no pun intended?). I found her account through bloggers–in one of her book acknowledgments, she thanked her loyal Insta-followers by their handles and the bloggers were freaking out with appreciation and love. Isn’t that beautiful? Isn’t that perfect? Sure it was also a marketing move, but it felt totally authentic because Adriana’s account is REAL. It’s her life. It’s pictures of her kids, book quotes, memes, fan reposts. Nothing about it feels staged. She’s just interacting with fans and living her life, and that’s exactly what I want from an author on Instagram.
A photo posted by Adriana Locke (@authoradrianalocke) on
Another case study is Nicole Peeler. And this one is definitely biased because Nicole was my MFA mentor, but still, I love her posts. They’re all booze, humor, and her adventures (and foodventures) through Pittsburgh–and that matches perfectly with the content of her books. It’s marketing in one way and yet it feels totally natural. You like looking at this stuff? You’re going to love my stories. Boom.
A photo posted by Nicole Peeler (@nicolepeeler) on
Or Simone Pond. I have no connection to her, but I love her feed. It’s like, this is my dog, this is my desk, this my exasperated face when some dude is talking at the cafe. Plus reposts of other people’s pretty #bookstagram posts. It’s real. It’s doesn’t feel like anyone is forcing her to Instagram for marketing purposes, but it’s also not trying to image craft some glamorous picture of writing life that I don’t believe. It’s just the writer trying to do this whole writing thing, and I respect that. I will follow that.
Readers (especially book bloggers) are tired of having books shoved in their faces. If you use millions of hashtags you look like a spammer. If you’re all BUY MY BOOK, FOLLOW ME, GIVE ME ATTENTION, people will block you. Even being good at Instagram doesn’t sell books–but being a PERSON–showing that you’re not a marketing bot–makes you a lot more likable, approachable, and interesting as a writer among so many other aspiring and working writers. In this over-saturated ebook world, that’s the best you can do.
It’s a paradox. Social media can be a great tool for putting yourself out there… And yet it can also be a huge, useless time suck. So here are my tips for using Instagram as a writer:
Interact. Don’t be a snob who doesn’t follow anyone. Also don’t be obnoxiously posting follow for follow requests (I will block you so hard), but if you’re going to use the Instagram, use it as a platform to make connections. Until you already have a legion of fans, that means geeking out over books that aren’t yours and showing your other interests. Yes, share news if you have a book on sale or a special blog post you want to pimp, but that shouldn’t be the focus of your feed.
Be authentic (not Socality Barbie authentic). I don’t want to follow staged. I want your version of authentic whether that’s a blurry photo of your fourth cup of coffee on deadline or a perfect pastel shot of your workspace. Although fair warning, we’re all going to know if you don’t really have a perfect pastel workspace ; ) (See Jenny Han or R.S. Grey for examples of photo-savvy authors who are believably authentic). The reasons people will like you are probably the reasons they’ll like your books, so show yourself and your style, whether you’re perky or macabre or a sarcastic mess.
Have reasonable expectations. You will not get 10k followers overnight (unless you pay for them). You will get followers one at a time, and if you’re doing it right, you probably have to get to know them first. Have a little romance, y’know? Don’t elevator pitch on a first date. Even if you do get five million followers and ten million hearts, you’re not going to sell fifteen million books, so take a step back. Don’t obsess over followers and likes that mean nothing. Wouldn’t your time be better spent writing??
Be practical. If you don’t like Instagram, don’t use it. You don’t have to be on every social media platform and Instagram is no exception. If you take terrible photos and you think it’s a stupid platform, then stop wasting your time because anything you post is going to smack of I’m just doing this to market myself because everyone says I have to do this to market myself. Experiment with something else if you must. Try vlogging, Vine, Bubbly, Periscope, or the million other platforms that are so new and cool that I haven’t heard of them yet. Find what helps you showcase your talents, but doesn’t feel like a chore.
Be a writer. You are not a photographer. You are a writer. I repeat. You are a writer. You are not using Instagram to connect with photographers or food bloggers or to become a celebrity. You are using Instagram to connect with readers. Readers will follow you because they like you and/or because they like your books. Not because they like pictures of your books. Not because you have a slick brand.
Have fun. Post your dinner. Post selfies. Post your bookshelves. What is much less important than how. Tell me a story in the captions. Share excerpts in your handwriting. Share videos. If you’re a great photographer, then use those skills. If not, do something else that only you can do. Because if it’s not fun and it’s not selling books, then why are you bothering?
And now it’s your turn. Who are your favorite authors on Instagram? Who do you think we should all follow for Instagram knowledge? Please share in the comments!
So I generally post my blogs on Friday, but I’m posting on Monday this week because I’m in Thailand and every so often a girl in Thailand has to get off the Internet and make like Dora. Since I’ve been doing so much go go going, I got distracted and the weekend got away from me. But now I repent!
This past week, my friend from Taiwan (@themisspw) arrived and we’ve been kicking around Chiang Mai eating and adventuring and generally doing indulgent things. She’s the girl who got me started on Instagram, and when we get together there’s a whole lot of discussion related to hashtagging and filter choice and ghost followers. In the spirit of Instagram sisterhood (and in the hopes that I can get @aelatcham to revive her account), I’m sharing a few Insta-highlights from the past week. If you’re as Instagram addicted as I am (Insta = life) then come follow me and my awkward adventures at @loladodge.
1. Fah Lanna Spa
Of course Thailand means spa + massage. Unfortunately, I’m a huge massage baby, but I went in wanting a facial and came out three hours later after a foot reflexology treatment and a neck/shoulder/back massage. OMG. I’m still ridiculously sore. Mind you, it relieved a ton of the tension caused by my bad writer posture, but my masseuse said: “Your back muscles very bad, very tight for very long time. That’s why very pain.” She really tried to work out my knots, but it was impossible in one session, so I may end up going back for more torture. Although I sort of think her knees digging into my ribs caused the very pain.
2. Temple Crawl
We went on a huge temple crawl, walking a few miles around the old city part of Chiang Mai (it has a moat!) in the 100-degree heat. I’m not going to guess how many temples there are in Chiang Mai, but even meandering all day, we didn’t scratch the surface. They are super pretty and you never know what you’ll find inside.
3. Kasalong Dessert Buffet @ Dhara Dhevi
The first thing you need to know about the Dhara Dhevi Hotel is that its cheapest room costs US$500 a night. It also has huge, sprawling grounds (that us peasants were not allowed to tread upon) and looks more like a palace than a place to stay. The Dhara Dhevi also has a cake shop, which cooks up the best desserts in Chiang Mai. And most importantly, the Dhara Dhevi cake shop has a dessert buffet on weekends. Imagine having access to as many macarons as you can eat without having to pay a dollar or whatever for each one…
Needless to say, I will be needing some larger pants. And notice that sneaky creme brulee in the top left corner of the pic? Yeah. I’m not sure how many of those I ate. But really, who’s counting???
Here’s me and the macarons. That is not at all a genuine smile, because the pic was taken before the buffet when I was hungry and frothing to get at the actual macarons.
4. Tom Yum Thai Cooking School
I finally made it to a Thai cooking class and it was #amazing (hashtag totally needed). We had a tiny group of three people and the class was held in a converted house, so it was all intimate with plenty of attention paid to our food. After a morning trip to the market, we started cooking and didn’t stop. The best part was that we each made different dishes from the school’s menu so we got to see and taste exponentially more Thai food. My menu was pad Thai, hot and sour soup with tofu, papaya salad, panang curry, and mango sticky rice. I still can’t believe how delicious everything turned out…and also, if you’ve never had it before, you need to get mango sticky rice in your life right now. It’s a little salty and sweet and savory…perfection!
5. Tha Pae Gate Market
We went to a fun market in the course of our wanderings and these SOAP FLOWERS are gorgeous. They’re obviously too pretty to ever use, but the colors and shapes are amazing, making this one of my personal fav Instagrams ever.
6. Actually Working
To be fair, I did do a little bit of work this past week. I’ve got books to write and pages to read… but I’m not even going to pretend that I put in my usual hours. I basically fooled around and it was pretty awesome ; )