I started bookstagram over two years ago and I feel like I’ve learnt enough to be able to help other newbies just starting out. Before you read my advice just remember there is no magical formula to growing your account. I do believe that who you are, what you read and what you offer your audience ultimately decides how your account grows and not necessarily your pictures themselves. That said hopefully this rather comprehensive guide will help you a little bit particularly in avoiding common mistakes that I myself made when I was just beginning.
Avoid spammy shoutout for shoutouts.
Controversial I know and I am very guilty of doing this myself in my early days on bookstagram. I’ve both followed new accounts I’ve seen in shout outs and unfollowed people for spamming there story on a regular basis. So my advice is to avoid shoutout for shoutout sessions/posts altogether and keep how many accounts your shouting out to a minimum. Honestly there’s nothing more annoying than loading and clicking through 40 shoutouts just to see that account finish with “I’ll catch up with the rest of the shoutouts tomorrow”.
Don’t get locked into a theme
I see people so many times saying they are bored of there theme and want to try someone new but are worried about losing followers? Unless you basically stop being a bookstagram changing your theme will not cause 100s of accounts to unfollow you. Experimentation is good and helps you grow. Your pictures will only get better. I’ve changed my theme a bunch of times and I’ve never noticed a mass exodus. If anything I think followers like seeing something new and also while I’m talking about themes…
Please don’t use theme dividers
Pointless pictures that fill up my feed is what theme dividers look like to me. Why people even feel the need for dividers in the first place is beyond me. Just change your theme.
Try not to interact with people just to get them to follow you
This includes following, liking all their pictures, commenting etc. If you are just doing it for follows you are going to be disappointed. I’ve totally done this myself when all I wanted was my account to grow and in the beginning it’s hard. Definitely engage with and follow accounts you like, like however many photos you want but don’t do it with the expectation you will get something in return.
I’m quite a ranty person and I’m not afraid to share my opinion. My bookstagram is entirely me and not a version of myself that people might find more acceptable. I’m sure there’s people who find me negative or opinionated etc. But in being myself I’ve found other people on bookstagram who are like me who I now consider friends. Don’t change yourself or your opinions (just to be clear I’m not saying being racist, homophobic or anything is okay cos duh that’s not). Didn’t like a book? Love an unpopular series? Share it.
Invest your time
I see people post once every few weeks and then complain that they don’t have a big account. Well you won’t because there’s thousands of bookstagram accounts and you need to be consistent. Unfortunately if you’re looking to grow your account going part time just won’t work. There’s very few accounts I have seen do this and they are hugely popular booktubers with 100k followers. Most of time you need to be posting at least once a day. You need to be liking posts, commenting and replying. Starting conversations and asking questions. Sharing things on your story. It’s a huge commitment and you need to spend your time everyday to grow your account.
Give people something to respond to
I will like every photo but I only comment when the caption gives me something that I can easily respond to. Ask questions, play games, do a vote. Try to be original and creative.
Find your unique selling point
Pretty pictures are fine but you need something that helps you stand out. Do you have lots of beautiful rare books? Do you love to give recommendations based on popular books? Do you get sent a lot of arcs? Do you have a pet hedgehog or a cute cat? Do you make book merch? Do you go to a lot of book events? Do you have a book buying problem or buy a lot of merch? Do you primarily read romance or fantasy or horror? Play to your strengths. Being known for anything on bookstagram will hugely when it comes to being recognised and growing your account.
Your pictures aren’t original.
Okay maybe they are but mostly they’ve been done before in some form or another. We are all taking thousands of pictures of books everyday. There’s going to be some crossover. I’m guilty of this and I’ve seen this a few times but getting mad at people for taking a picture similar as yours is never going to end well. If they are genuinely copying your every photo just block and move on. There’s nothing you can do at the end of the day and it won’t impact your account.
Use your stories
Honestly I love peoples stories most of the time. Particularly unboxing of book boxes I didn’t buy. I went on holiday recently and I was asked by someone to put my holiday snaps into a highlight. Stories let us see the person behind the account (if you don’t take photos with yourself in them) and I get a much better feel for your personality.
Don’t tag authors in negative reviews
I’ve done this, people still do it, and authors don’t like it. I was once in the awkward situation of being asked to review an authors e-book. I did and I gave it 3 stars and explained why I didn’t like it that much. I tagged her in the review like she requested and she went off to read what I had said. I didn’t hear what she thought but I wasn’t exactly nice in my review. I wouldn’t say this was strictly my fault but I’ve since learned in that situation the best thing to do is not review at all and definitely don’t tag.
Im going to stop this guide here before it gets too long but look out for Part 2 in the fire. I hope reading about my own experiences on bookstagram will help you with your own account.