Social Media Marketing for Self-Publishers    Chapter 7 of 12

Chapter 7

Instagram for Authors

Instagram is an image-driven social media platform that lets users share and comment on photos via a mobile photo app. Thought to usually be about the photo and, therefore, have short writing content of only a line or two, some users are beginning to write more and more, so really anything goes in terms of content length on this platform, however, it’s best to limit posts to one per day.


Instagram is used by virtually all types of people but is an especially popular platform for Millennial female readers with #bookstagram accounts serving as enormous influencers right now, and teens, making it a good place to connect for YA authors. This platform plays well for highly-visual books, such as cookbooks, photography books, and books with illustrations and infographics. Getting your book to the correct genre readers who have accounts on this platform can be a great way to create some visibility for your author brand.

Instagram Tips

It’s easy to tell a story with words—but how about pictures? If you want to use Instagram as a way of connecting with your readers, here are a few tips:

1. Learn Photography
You don’t need to be a famous photographer to use Instagram, but as far as the photography goes, you should at least know how to use your mobile camera and the different filters; there are literally thousands of short YouTube videos on photography for mobile devices. Find a tutorial for your phone and find another about Instagram. Spending even an hour watching a few how-to’s will greatly improve the quality of the photos you take and better help you sell your platform and your book.

2. Be Consistent
When you write, you have a voice that’s consistent through your books; that should be the case with Instagram as well. Your social media marketing should be an extension of your author brand. Use the same filters and style of photography. A fan should be able to look through your feed and see photos that feel familiar. When they’re scrolling through their Instagram feed they should ideally not even need to see your user handle—they’ll know it’s you just by how the photos look.

3. Post Regularly
There are no guidelines for how often you should post, but at the very least one photo every other day—more often if you can. Don’t bombard your fans with photos, however. Unlike Twitter, where you might post dozens of Tweets in a day, Instagram should be no more than two photos a day.

4. Let Your Fans In
More than any other social network, Instagram can be a place to really give your fans a glimpse of your life. Don’t be afraid to capture what it’s like to be you—what does your office look like? Do you have animals? Do you take walks in the morning? What does your favorite coffee mug look like? Capturing the mundane is fine, but capture it in a way that’s creative and helps promote your book and you as an author—your coffee framed in a way, for example, that reveals a tiny glimpse of your laptop screen, which has the opening lines of your next book!

5. Promote Your Book
Posting the cover of your next book is a great way to build interest and buzz, but an even better way is to get your fans involved—post three variants of a book cover and ask your readers which they like best. Just like any other social media platform, you want to engage your fans in conversation and letting fans feel included in your book's publication process has the potential to help sell your book.

6. Inspire Your Readers
Just because Instagram is all about photos doesn’t mean you can’t caption it—in fact you should caption all of your photos. Use this space to inspire your readers. You can also turn book quotes into Instagram posts as a way to tease your fans with quotes from your latest book—or your favorite quotes from past books.

7. Tag It!
Like Twitter, hashtagging on Instagram is important. You don’t need to (nor should you) hashtag every post, but do so when it’s appropriate. Hashtagging is a big way for readers to find new people to connect with and follow based on common interests, so be sure to pick hashtags that are relevant and specific to help you find the right followers. Running a giveaway from your account and hashtagging appropriately can be an easy way to connect right away with readers in your genre.

Also remember to use geolocation when you are at a public place; never post a photo of you at an event and not check into the library or bookstore you happen to be at!

As with all social media marketing, remember to have fun!

This chapter was compiled from the following posts on the IngramSpark blog:

What Social Media Should Authors Use by Sara Wigal, Senior Manager at JKS Communications

Social Media: Choose It and Use It, Self-Publishers! by Carla King, Founder of Author Friendly

Instagram for Authors by Scott La Counte, CEO of BuzzTrace