Marketing your book using this clever Instagram sub-community.
A writer’s greatest dread — even more than the blank page — is marketing. Self-promotion strikes terror in the heart of many an author. Once you bring your story to life, edit it a hundred times to get the final copy, send it off to your editors, you’re still not done. Unless you’re already a celebrity author, publishers are not likely to spend thousands of dollars to promote your work. They’re not going to put up billboards with your book cover on them, or advertise on New York Times. The fate of your book rests in your hands.
So, how do you find readers? How do you make sure your book doesn’t become just another one of millions, slowly fading into obscurity?
Luckily, there are several remarkably easy ways to market your book without going through the ordeal of finding advertising companies. Many obvious first choices include Twitter, Facebook and email lists. But have you tried marketing your stories via Bookstagram?
What exactly is Bookstagram?
Bookstagram is not a separate app or platform. It is simply a sub-community of people on Instagram, mostly consisting of passionate YA readers who spend a lot of money — and time — on books. How do you find this community? Just follow the hashtag #bookstagram.
What sets #bookstagram posts apart from the traditional book review blogs is the fact that bookstagrammers also like to talk about the books they read. In fact, if they loved your book, they’ll talk their followers’ ears off, until nearly everybody has read your book.
I follow a bunch of popular bookstagrammers who not only read hundreds of books a year, but also write their own novels. Each Bookstagram account is unique, with different colour palettes and aesthetics, their entire feed a collection of stunning pictures of all their books. Even if their follower count is limited, the engagement they have with fellow readers is remarkable. They hold quizzes and competitions and writing contests, often giving away selected books as prizes.
How can you promote your book via Bookstagram?
Even though promoting your book through Bookstagram is free and easy, it doesn’t mean you can simply shove your book on readers and expect them to read it. Readers, like any other consumers of products, have their own tastes and choices, and will only read your book if you approach them in the right way — and if they know why they should read your book.
Find the bookstagrammers who will enjoy your genre
If you’re a writer of Young Adult fantasy, DM’ing a bookstagrammer who blogs about self-help books isn’t going to get you anywhere. You need to find readers of your genre, go through their Instagram feed and read their reviews to see if they would enjoy your book.
While we all want our work read, we must remember to consider why other people would want to read it before we start sending out recommendations. Even if you did manage to send a copy of your book to a reader who was not into your genre, they might end up forgetting to read it.
Send out ARCs and book boxes
Instagram is not (mostly) a commercial platform — it’s a social platform. Your primary goal when you enter the world of Bookstagram is not to force your book on readers like an advertisement. Your primary goal must be to encourage readers to read your book.
The best way to do this is by giving away ARCs — Advanced Reader Copies — to several bookstagrammers with a substantial following. Contact Book Subscription Boxes (like OwlCrate or FairyLoot) to have your book included in book boxes, because most bookstagrammers rely on these boxes to supply them with new books.
Make your own Bookstagram
The easiest way to market your book is to make your own Bookstagram. But make sure your Bookstagram isn’t for your book, but for your genre. Nobody likes to follow an author whose entire feed is of their own book — so dedicate your account to other books like yours. Join the Bookstagram community, share other writers’ works, connect with fellow readers, and build trust and camaraderie. And, from time to time, talk about your own book. Host giveaways. Have occasional discounts and sales.
Bookstagram could be your haven — if you learn how to use it.
Sharika Hafeez is a nerd, and she’s proud of it. Growing up, she fell in love with books and writing, and is currently following her undergraduate degree (for some mysterious reasons) in Physics. She likes procrastinating by watching the stars with a steaming cup of tea, composing poetry in her head.