The Secret Life of Bookstagrammers

There’s a hidden world out there, full of perfectly draped scarves, shelves organized by color, and cabinets filled with candles that would put Bath and Body Works to shame. Welcome to Instagram, where readers love to share their favorite new and old reads in a fun, visual way.

Since we work at Bethany House Publishers, we have #AllTheBooks, so that’s not a problem—but let’s face it, it’s the extras added to the photos that catch your eye. When we decided to get into this social media outlet, we decided there were two different strategies for doing well in the bookstagram world.

Option One: Keep a massive collection of random pretty things to put in pictures, including, but certainly not limited to:

  • Old-fashioned props like a quill pen, vintage postcards, typewriter keys, an entire Gutenberg printing press, etc.
  • Letter boards. Also infinite patience for how long it takes to write anything using letterboards.
  • Surfaces of every conceivable material (marble, tile, actual redwood tree planks, anything that looks like Joanna Gaines might have touched it).
  • Charming book-themed items: Alice in Wonderland tea, Jane Austen action figure, Edgar Allan Poe-ka dot socks, Hobbit-themed candles…none of these are made up.
  • Blankets. So many blankets.

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Or you could try Option Two: Be creative.

This is what we went with. At Bethany House, we mostly use what we have on hand for our photos. Some props are ones ordinary readers might not have access to (Regency costumes, galleys, our amazing rolling bookshelf ladder like the one in Beauty and the Beast), but other times you’ll see everyday items you probably have around (a cup of tea, playing cards, shattered glass from a broken lamp, potted plants).

It is also entirely possible that we have gone into a home decor store to take pictures there, giving ourselves access to dozens of new props and background surfaces. But if you ask us about it directly, we will deny everything.

Some bookstagrammers will keep a standard background like their bookshelf or wood background and just change out a few props. That will give your feed a consistent look and won’t require an art degree to arrange a new layout every time. Of course, if fancy is your thing, go for it!

That’s all well and good for a publisher, you might be thinking, but why should I bookstagram?

  • You can get great book recommendations. We know, we know, your TBR pile is long enough. But when you see a particularly eye-catching picture and compelling review caption, it can lead to your next favorite author. Plus, the community reads so broadly that you’ll probably hear about genres you might not have discovered otherwise.
  • It’s a fantastic way to support authors. A simple share or comment can be a great way to keep the cover and title in your book-buying friends’ minds, and a pretty picture that gets a huge amount of interaction might bring in lots of new readers.
  • “It’s for Instagram” is the perfect one-size-fits all excuse for all kinds of strange behaviors, from wandering around the woods with a sword to hunkering underneath a tablecloth in the mailroom with all the lights off to climbing on top of unsteady surfaces to capture a photo. Not that we’re speaking from personal experience. Of course not.

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If we’ve convinced you and you’re interested in using Instagram to share about your favorite reads, here are a few tips:

  • Set up your account as “public” if you’re wanting to promote books—you use a private account for sharing what you’re reading with friends and family, but it will be hard to interact with the bookstagram community.
  • Post photos of your current reads, your TBR stacks, and the fun environments where you’re reading your book! (For photo ideas, check out publishers’ and authors’ tagged photos to see what their readers are doing.)
  • Make sure you are posting clear photos using natural light or other good lighting.
  • Use hashtags like #Bookstagram, #BookLove, #BooksOfInstagram, and others to connect with other readers.
  • Check to see if the author and/or publisher has an Instagram account. If so, follow them and tag away!
  • Once you get started, try participating in a #BookstagramChallenge. It will ask you to post pictures on set days to a particular prompt along with other readers and is a great way to make connections.

Also, be sure to follow us at @bethanyhousefiction to keep an eye on our new releases, enter book giveaways, participate in bookstagram challenges, and get a behind the scenes look at our world.

How about you, readers? Anything you like to put on Instagram to show off your favorite books?

7 thoughts on “The Secret Life of Bookstagrammers

  1. I see bookstagrammers and wonder how they can afford all of the props they use in their photos! I’d go broke. I love your ideas and have actually considered taking books to craft stores to take pictures there. lol

  2. I am definitely one of the plainer background people when I post books on Instagram. It does get overwhelming seeing all the many props and creative images. I do admire their creativity, though.

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