Irish indie author and social media trainer Lorna Sixsmith shares her top tips on how to use the photo-sharing site Instagram to promote self-published books.
Writers use words. Instagram is about the visual. Is Instagram an effective social media tool for writers? It is not a ‘silver bullet’, but I’m enjoying growing it organically and seeing the success blossom.
- Photos of Book
The obvious photograph to share is that of the front cover of your book and it is fun to get feedback from followers at the design stage if you share various drafts. As an indie author, I’ve found I get more comments when followers see photographs of my books on bookshop shelves. Followers, knowing I’m self-published, seem to enjoy sharing in the excitement of seeing it in bookshops.
- Photos of Related Subjects
As my books are about farming, it’s fairly easy to work out the subject matter for my photographs. Photographs from our farm are easy to include and get a good response. I admit I’m not the best at taking stunning photographs but using apps such as snapseed can add dramatic effects to a scene.
Consider taking photographs of the spaces that inspire you or your writing space. Almost every interview with an author includes a question on their writing schedule or where they write. Photos of writing desks are quite popular on Instagram and allow readers a window into your private world too.
Instagram users use hashtags to find material they want to see and to increase the views of their own photographs. Find out what hashtags your target market is using so you can find them but also so they will find your material too. If you search within Instagram (or websta.me is handy too) for a hashtag, it will present you with more related tags and indicate the usage of each one.
You can use up to thirty hashtags but most people use 5-10 with each photograph. What seems to work well is use a mixture of very popular tags, medium use tags and one or two personalised tags for your books.
I use #farmerswife to discover potential purchasers for my books and also so they can find me. I also use a personalised hashtag #PerfectFarmWife so that I can find readers of the book who use it (I have the hashtag under the blurb on the back cover), for some fun and to promote the book title. As yet, it isn’t being used to a large extent, but I get a buzz every time I see someone use it. I recently found a lady from France who had purchased my book when on holidays in Dublin – all because she noticed the hashtag on the back cover and used it in her caption when sharing a photograph of my book.
Don’t forget to join in the writing hashtags on Instagram too – these include #writingdesk, #amwriting, #writingprompt, #writingtips, #bookshop, #indieauthor.
- Put Your Social Media Details on Bookmarks
I enclose a bookmark with each book purchased from my website and from some shops I supply. One side features both book covers and some illustrations. The other side has space to write a message and it includes the references for my social media platforms and the personalised hashtags.
This means readers can follow me and provide me with some feedback on the books. I was delighted this morning to find a reader had made a biscuit cake from my recipe in the book and posted a picture of her bakes with my book, including my username within the caption so I was alerted to it.
- Press Coverage
Emphasise the quality of your book by sharing photographs of reviews or features in magazines and of yourself with the interviewer for radio or TV appearances. Sometimes I use a collage app such as Layout or Instant Picframes to feature the front cover and the feature within one photograph. If you are on television, get a friend to take a photo of you on the screen and share. You can regram it later and it emphasises that you were on the small screen.
- Share Excerpts
Share sneak peeks of your writing before publication by taking a photograph and posting it. Photographs of extracts from your book, particularly if there are illustrations, will be of interest. I shared a picture of the brown bread recipe from my book and was delighted when a reader commented that she had bought the book just that week.
Links within Instagram captions or comments don’t work. You are allowed one link on your Instagram account and that’s within your bio. I recommend creating customised bitly.com links that are easy to remember. Potential purchasers will be able to remember the name of the link and type it into their phone or desktop and you will be able to see how many people click the link.
OVER TO YOU Do you have any more top tips to share about using Instagram to promote your self-published books? We’d love to hear them!7 Top #Instagram Tips for Indie #Authors by @Lorna Sixsmith Click To Tweet
OTHER USEFUL POSTS ABOUT SOCIAL MEDIA