Books are amazing, and thanks to the creation of ebooks and the subject of self-publishing, more and more author voices are heard each day. Imagine how many authors in the past never reached the light of day because they couldn’t be published, even if they were good. Think of American Idol. Sure, all of the poor performances are vetted out, but think of how many talented singers don’t make it through.
The publishing industry, like many, often works through word-of-mouth and requires having the right connections. I discussed probability before, and it’s not enough to rely on luck. Self-publishing and vanity publishing has enabled every voice to speak, but that alone presents a new challenge. Like with independent music and film, independent books saturate the book market and attach a stigma.
My previous posts talked about the use of social media sites like Goodreads, giving out freebies, and seeking ARCs for book promotion. I’ve learned about permission marketing and decided that I despise spamming, and a lot of indie authors out there just aren’t businesspeople. They also are seldom editors or graphic artists, so readers have been subject to bombardment by sometimes low-quality indie books, and that just hurts everyone. Social media sites like Goodreads are great for meeting readers (but not for spamming).
Freebies through NetGalley or giveaways are a great way to entice readers to pick up your book (but don’t just spam it everywhere), and finding bloggers who do advance reviews is an awesome way to support a book launch (but don’t copy & paste and spam your message to everyone).
Today we’re talking about Instagram, and how a visual content-based platform enables friendly syndication of book promotions. Like Twitter, Instagram allows users to follow people with content they respect or stay up-to-date on public posts that follow a specific hashtag. This has led to a breakthrough of Bookstagram accounts: Instagram accounts with content that focuses solely on stylized book posts. They’re not even specifically book promotions. There are some amazing photos that just center around books. Example account.
The emergence of Bookstagram has encouraged creators to stylize their accounts focused on specific color schemes, show off their favorite books, and more. A number of these accounts obviously work with authors and publishers to promote certain books, but after launching my own Bookstagram, and connecting it to my Facebook business page for my books, I get access to analytics. At the time of this post, 76% of my followership falls into one demographic: that tells me my target audience. How? Well, 76% of people who clicked to follow me and essentially subscribed to my content are in the same category. So, if I decide to launch a paid ad, I know more specifically who to reach out to and engage with.
On top of that, by having my own Bookstagram to spread awareness of my books, other Bookstagrammers can see my content, and some have contacted me for review copies. I previously discussed taking caution with how to solicit reviewers, but as an author, how do you feel when a reviewer solicits you? By chance, I’ve even encountered posts with other Bookstagrammers using my books within their books. I mean to say, a reader I’d never spoken to or interacted with bought my book, took pictures with it, and uploaded that. Talk about flattery–I immediately connected with them, shared their post, and later found a positive review of my book from them online.
I’ve seen Bookstagrammers profit from promoting merchandise in their photos; they’ll often tag tea/coffee companies with a mug in their hand, authors/publishers with a book, subscription box merch with whatever gift arrived, or even socks (#SockSunday as above), and those companies use their social media accounts to partner with Bookstagrammers for a whole back-and-forth. It’s truly an interesting form of network marketing brought forth by Instagram, and just a week into my launch, I’ve already made several connections.
The beauty is, it’s all permission-based. People can choose to follow me; I follow them back. In my description, I invite them to message me if they’re a reviewer, and have a link to my book’s landing page. I post my own content, and get readers commenting on almost everyone one of my photographs. I don’t even have a need to spam or solicit people, and that’s the power of social media. I can connect with readers in a non-intrusive way. Plus, it’s fun. I’m working with friends and models in my network to create even better content. It’s something I get to treat both as a business and as a hobby, and that’s something I can’t argue against.