First things first! Is your Instagram profile set up well? Do a quick check by reading this article. Now that you’ve set up your profile, you want to attract an audience. These tips will help you create a fanbase, whether or not you have a new book coming out.
1. Post regularly
You want to be at the front of your readers’ minds, and you can’t do that if you post once a month. I get that a lot of writers are introverts but whether or not you are, you have to make it work for you! Create opportunities by having items themed around your books! What’s also important is when you’re posting, both the day of the week and the time of the day. The algorithm notices when you post on consistent days and times, and starts bringing your post to the forefront of your followers’ feeds. Stick to those certain days and times so the algorithm can predict you.
Pro tip: if you’re going through creators’ block, check out ongoing challenges and trends you can participate in. Check out Marie Lu posting a black-and-white of herself for a women empowerment challenge below.
2. Have consistent topics – what are they tuning into you for?
Figure out your vibe! Besides being an author, what else are you passionate about that you can share? How do you want to present yourself that would be consistently relatable? What’s your brand, are you going for a fun, bubbly persona or a more serious, mature look? What do you like or dislike? Your Instagram should showcase your personality so that people can relate to you, and posting about your own passions means being able to share them with your audience and getting content inspiration without going too out of the way for it. Ask yourself what your Instagram would look/be like if it was its own person. A good example is Karin Slaughter, who’s filled her Instagram with fun memes and cute cat pics, overall really entertaining to scroll through.
3. Generate a theme
One way to create a cohesive theme on your feed is by considering aesthetics. When talking about an aesthetic theme, you generally want to keep the same color scheme or filter to derive an appealing look to the content that you post. When people look at pictures or a collection of pictures that all have the same visual effect on the eye it evokes emotion within the viewer and it is overall pleasing to look at. This scheme has a lot to do with what message you want to deliver to your audience. Sam Payne’s Instagram for example is super inspirational and very consistent with posting visual art, while also having posts differ enough to not be boring or repetitive.
4. Take clean pictures
It’s hard to take good pictures, you’re always eager to move on or you don’t have friends around you who could click good pictures for you. We’ve all been there. But taking good pics is key, keep them clean and focused, do not post blurry shots no matter how good you look or how perfect the background is. It may be outside your comfort zone and if so, you should totally ask for help because it’s super important! If your pics lack proper framing, people are going to tune out (see pic below). Don’t have a cluttered background, if you’re in public try and find an empty spot. If you’re taking a picture of an item, keep the area around it mess-free. Be the Mary-Sue you would hate to read about. Try using borders (again, consistency is key!). Look at the pics below for a visual example.
Both these pictures are centered on the author, clean, and well lit.
Unlike these, which are blurry, and taken from afar. You can’t even see the author well enough to recognize them.
5. Play with words in your captions, and use hashtags strategically
You’re an author, use your talents! A fun insta caption can make or break your post. You could do an easily recognizable meme if it fits with your post, and I know we all cringe at puns but good ones are never a bad idea. Check out popular and trending hashtags and use whatever is relevant to reach a wider audience. The Instagram algorithm takes the length of your captions and the hashtags you use into account and the longer the better. Make that AI work for you! Captions also get fed into the algorithm so what you say gets you audience. The longer and fuller the caption (when appropriate), the deeper the audience can connect to your post.
Pro tip: To make your captions look cleaner, hide the hashtags in the first comment.
6. Post what speaks to your target audience
Are you an author for children’s books? Do you write more about self-help or are you more of a YA person? This can help you figure out what your readership would be into. Someone who’s into self-help books would find posts about health and wellness resonating with them, while a younger audience more into fiction would be up to date on meme culture or the new Netflix series. Alexandra Bracken, for one, knows her audience. Her Instagram feed has a consistent aesthetic quality that’s super appealing to her readers, interspersed with book promotion events and even a cute puppy pic or two.
Pro tip: Your Instagram insights show you what demographics your followers tend to be in, so you can tailor your posts to suit. Study your audience so you know what works.
7. Engage with your audience!
Reply to comments, comment on other authors’ posts, answer questions, and start conversations. Post questions or polls in your story that incite emotions or opinions in people. This can also be a great way to figure out what your followers are actually interested in as well as make your feed lively and communicative. You can do giveaways of everyday gear themed around your books, or do live readings and answer questions from your audience. Pump up other authors as well! Here’s author Erin Bowman doing a read-along discussion of her book Contagion.
8. Post more stories
Your posts don’t always have to be in your feed, using stories is a great option as well. While a feed post allows you to tag people, use the captions to your advantage, and engage with the comments, a story post is also very versatile. You can have polls, or ask questions, or even see what your audience is reading at the moment. Ask questions that people want to answer, and you can look forward to some funny replies! You can also share your writing process or what happens behind the scenes. Check out author Marie Lu giving her fans a shoutout on her story below.
9. Plan ahead
We all have lazy days where all we want to do is cuddle with a blanket and a hot cup of tea, and it’s important to give yourself that time to rest and relax. The best way to do that is to plan ahead. Once you know what sort of posting schedule you can work with, you can plan ahead on what you want to post and have the pics ready ahead of time. Also, having a bank of content is great for when you can’t think of anything to post but want to stay consistent and so you aren’t in danger of running out. Check out Angie Thomas’ Instagram below, she’s got posts of screenshots of her Twitter feed (brilliant way of two-birds-one-stone-ing your socials if you don’t overdo it), puppies, and black brilliance.
10. Take advantage of the link in bio
It’s super easy to use and a great way to get people onto your site or options to buy your book. You can use the link in bio to connect to tools like linktree so you have more options, however, don’t forget to update the links. If your linktree isn’t constantly updated, people will stop relying on it so any further updates won’t be seen by the majority of your audience. You can also use these tools to highlight organizations or causes you care about. Neil Gaiman has used his linkinbio to connect to his page on the UN Refugee Agency.
Happy posting! For tips on setting up your Instagram profile in a way that allows you to put your best foot forward, check out this article.