What is a #bookstagram?
It’s an Instagram hashtag used to denote a book related picture. It can be an image of someone reading the book, the book itself, or objects that evoke something (plot, characters, themes) from the book. Images can be of the reader’s favorite reading spot at home, a shot of taking the book on an adventure or vacation, or a favorite local coffee shop or bookstore. #Bookstagram aesthetics can range from a simple, clean shot of the book alone on a table all the way to complex arrangements that look like they took a day and a studio to set up. #Bookstagram is for all book lovers and anyone with a smart phone can join the fun, however, writer EJ Mellow and I got together to find out how different bookstagrammers in the book industry utilize it in their specific fields. We also asked them to share their idea of the perfect #bookstagram post, as well as some of their favorite accounts to follow.
For Book Bloggers and Bookstagrammers: Natasha, also known as @bookbaristas is a New York based book blogger, and bookstagrammer who works in publishing.
“As a blogger, I initially used bookstagram as a way to drive traffic to my website whenever I had posted new reviews. But after some time, bookstagram became its own platform for reviewing and recommending books by combining the visual aspect of reading and giving readers a space to create a conversation about what they were reading.
“The perfect bookstagram for me is a natural and realistic shot of your current reading situation. I am all about aesthetically pleasing shots and will never tire of seeing a cup of coffee and an open book. I adore @crimebythebook bookstagram account because she’s got such a fantastic eye for photos and her recommendations are always a thrill to read.”
You can follow @bookbaristas here:
Giselle, also known as @hopelessbooklover_, is a book blogger, publishing intern and bookstagrammer.
“Instagram is by far my favorite social media platform and that’s because I have always loved photography. Bookstagram is basically the perfect place to combine my passion for both books and photography. The book community on Instagram is so welcoming and I love being able to log onto my instagram to talk about books with people from all over the world.
“I wouldn’t say my perfect bookstagram has a certain look, but my idea of a perfect bookstagram is one that has a passionate and authentic reader behind it. Someone who loves reading and talking about the books they love with the community and isn’t afraid to be themselves! Having photos that appeal to the eye is always a plus, but I feel like that is all very subjective.
I LOVE to follow bookstagrammers that have eye-catching photographs and try to make meaningful connections with their followers. Currently I’m loving on the clean, simplistic vibe of @thebiblotheque and careful attention to detail @pollyandbooks gives to her photos. They are both so sweet too!”
You can follow @hopelessbooklover_ here:
For Literary Agents: Carly Watters, is a senior literary agent and VP and Director of Literary Branding at P.S. Literary Agency.
“Like many people that enjoy taking photographs I love the digital storytelling aspect of the platform. I was an early adopter but it took time to see how it was going to influence my career. I use it to promote upcoming client books, announce book deals, share what I'm reading so that potential clients can see if their interests align with mine, and share a piece of my life (aka my cute dog #levithecockapoo and the baby boy that I'm expecting in January). It keeps clients, editors and other industry members up to date about what I'm working on, but also has that bit of personality that is key to establishing an account that connects with people authentically.
“One great example that I want to share is the book deal that essentially was made through Instagram. I posted a picture to spread the news that I was representing a talented cookbook author named Desiree Nielsen. My goal was to get her more followers via word of mouth, but another great thing happened. An editor at Penguin Canada called me saying that she had been following Desiree online and was thrilled to hear I was representing her and a new project was underway. A week later I sent Andrea Magyar, publishing director at Penguin Canada, theproposal and a few weeks later she made an offer on the project. EAT MORE PLANTS is coming to bookstores in August 2019. A perfect bookstagram post for me is passionate, pretty, and cozy. The person and account that got me passionate about the community is @bookbaristas. She was an early advocate for many of my fiction projects (Taylor Jenkins Reid's novels, Andrea Dunlop's LOSING THE LIGHT etc) and her commitment to spreading the word about their great books was not only essential to future marketing plans once we saw the power her opinion holds but also so vibrant, honest and authentic. Her photos are great (she takes them on her iPhone, not a fancy camera which proves you don't need to have it all) and her tone is so upbeat and lovely. She's also a great person IRL!”
You can follow @carlywatters here:
For Marketing: Fallon, also known as @iamqueenfal is a New York Comic Con Brand Marketing Manager for ReedPOP.
“For too long we tried to make each social media platform fit our marketing, but I realized you have to cater your marketing to the platform instead. Instagram isn't the place for a photoshopped image of an author's headshot on a generic background. On Facebook or Twitter, that'll work fine as a guest announcement for our events. But that image isn't going to perform on Instagram as well as an actual photo of that author's latest novel or a creator's comic book next to a mug of coffee or mixed into a TBR pile or staged on a bookshelf. And as we try to reach the casual reader and fan, in most cases they'll recognize a book cover before the author's headshot—especially if it's an up and coming author.
“The best marketing feels authentic to your audience. I don't just want to market to our audience; I want to engage with them and I want our brand to be part of their culture. Our audience is bookstagramming, so why wouldn't we?
“I'm also a fan just like our audience. I love reading and I geek out over my favorite authors, books, creators, and comics just like them. I have a TBR pile I can't cut down, I stay up late for just one more chapter, and I follow more bookstagram accounts than I can count. The bookstagram community means so much to me because it's my community. I'm incredibly lucky that I also just happen to work in an industry that allows me to engage with my community during work hours.
“I'm not a fan of bookstagrams that look too staged with tons of props. I love accounts that show books in lifestyle shots and travel settings with photos that are bright with natural lighting. That's why @bookbaristas is my favorite bookstagrammer. Natasha nails this with every post. Give her a book in any setting and she'll take a stunning photo. She's extremely talented at what she does. Shout out to @theslowtraveler and @inkandfable who do this incredibly well, too.”
You can follow @iamqueenfal here:
For Authors: RS Grey, also known as @authorrsgrey is the USA Today best-selling author of The Fortunate Ones.
“Instagram allows me to make connections with my readers that otherwise wouldn’t be possible. On my feed, I share snapshots of my life: my daughter, dogs, house, etc. Although it’s become the norm to scroll past perfectly curated lives on social media, I try to present an honest version of myself through IG stories—vulnerabilities and all. I hope my readers appreciate knowing that my life isn’t all about foamy lattes and perfectly-posed books.
“For me, bookstagrams are all about the background. We’re reading the same books all around the world, so finding details that are specific to a region (i.e. Parisian architecture, Midwest landscapes, or NYC skylines) make for a unique photo. @Booksugar is a favorite bookstagrammer of mine because her feed is bright and colorful. Her creativity never ceases to amaze me.”
You can follow @authorrsgrey here:
EJ Mellow, also know as @ejmellow is the award-winning author of The Dreamland Series.
“Even though I’m a writer I’ve always been drawn to images as a way of quick storytelling and Instagram, I feel, is the perfect social platform to share news and updates whether they be personal or book related. It’s also a great community for connecting with other authors, readers and bloggers. Surprisingly (or maybe not so surprisingly) a lot of my current friendships have been because of people I’ve met through Instagram.
“Being genuine is something that always draws me to a person’s IG. They can be really stylized or more “natural” shots, so long as I feel I can gleam a bit of the person posting. But of course, having pretty pictures doesn’t hurt!
“Honestly, everyone in this article are some of my favorite bookstagrammers for the exact reasons I mentioned above. Not only are their feeds beautiful, but they really let their personalities come through and I love following their life’s adventures.”
You can follow @ejmellow here:
For Readers: Sarah, also known as @dragonflyreads is an avid reader and romance reviewer for Inked in Chapters.
“I started this bookstagram account to separate my personal friends/family from my book family. Not everyone wanted to see posts about my love of romance novels. Creating the public account of Dragonflyreads has allowed me to gain friends I'd never expected. I started this when I moved to Florida. With no friends or family close by, this book community was a great therapy for me.
“It's hard to say what the perfect bookstagram would be. Mine are nowhere near perfect. I love a good aesthetic. Common themes and filters are always pleasing to the eye. I love when people stage photos or post teasers, so a good mix of that is great for me. With that being said, my page has no rhyme or reason, just like my life and I love it that way. My favorite images to post for my page are just my hand holding a book, it shows so much art with the book, the cover image and my Wizard of Oz tattoo that I love so much.
“I've followed @bookbaristas and @lifeandliterature for a long time now. Their images are simplistic and bright, and always fun to look at. One teaser account I love is @tiffany.the.bibliophile, we read similar books and how she brings them to life with her images is just gorgeous.”
You can follow @dragonflyreads here:
Whether you simply love books, or you read, write, or promote them for a living, #bookstagram is a great way to stay connected to the book community. So grab a book, maybe some props, or just head to your favorite spot, and snap a photo of the latest read that has you captivated. Hashtag it #bookstagram and share your book love with other book minded people.
Mara White is a contemporary romance and erotica writer who laces forbidden love stories with hard issues, such as race, gender, and inequality. She holds an Ivy League degree but has also worked in more strip clubs than even she can remember. She is not a former Mexican telenovela star contrary to what the tabloids might say, but she is a former ballerina and will always remain one in her heart. She lives in NYC with her husband and two children and yes, when she’s not writing you can find her on the playground.