Blog – Posted on Saturday, Dec 18
How to Get Started on Bookstagram in 2023
If you love to read, love a gorgeous book cover, or just love giving your opinion on what you’ve read, there’s no better place to be on than Bookstagram! This is Instagram’s bibliophile community, which includes hundreds of thousands of readers who are sharing book reviews, hauls, and fantastic bookshelf inspiration with one another.
Sounds like a community you want to be a part of? Great. We’re here to show you how to get started on Bookstagram.
1. Understand that Bookstagram is visual-based
Book lovers have found corners all across the internet to gather and nerd-out together, and everywhere they meet, they do things a little differently. For instance:
- BookTok on TikTok is largely for quick recommendations without a lot of fanfare.
- Classic book review sites like Facebook Groups or Goodreads get a lot of people with similar interests flocking together to create online book clubs. There’s a lot of discussion — but it’s also easy to drown in the chatter.
- With their short and conversationational format, Twitter is a great place to find fandoms for cult-followed books — think Harry Potter or Hunger Games.
You might be wondering now: What about Bookstagram? With Bookstagram, you can do it all, and more! Popular Bookstagram accounts are beautifully curated with artful photos of recent releases, their piles (and piles and piles) of books to be read, and their lovingly organized bookshelves. But on top of the visual feast for your eyes, Bookstagram also offers a tight-knit community. There’s plenty of open-ended content on Instagram — i.e. reviews in the captions, interactions in the comments section, etc. — to encourage followers to comment and start discussions.
So if you have a visual eye, a bookshelf bursting with TBRs, and lots of opinions on books that you'd like to share with an eager community, then you'd probably fit in perfectly to Bookstagram. Let's move onto the next step to get you started.
2. Set up your account to be recognized as a Bookstagrammer
If you have a personal Instagram account, the process of setting up your Bookstagram is going to be pretty straightforward. The biggest difference, however, is that you’ll want your account to show other users you’re all about books from the get-go. Every element on your profile should be geared towards building your Bookstagram brand.
Choose a book-related username
When you choose a username, you’ll want to pick something that instantly gets readers thinking about, well, books. This name will be what other users will know and refer to you as, so it’s a good way to help them recognize you as part of the Bookstagram community.
You can, for instance, try adding one or two of these words to your username so readers know you’ll be talking about books and reading:
For an even catchier Bookstagram name, think about what your account might be themed around. Are you focused on certain genres? Do you want to review new releases? Do you have a favorite book or author?
Users also love account names that are puns on book titles, famous characters, or genres. For instance, if your name was Pete and you were really into horror books, your account could be @petesemetary. Or if you were going for the “cat posing next to YA novels” theme, you could use the username @catnipeverdeen.
Write a concise, informative bio
After adding your name (or your nom de gram), it's time to introduce yourself to the community. Bearing in mind you can only use 150 characters in your Instagram bio, here are a few ideas of things to include for making them count:
- Keywords indicating what you’ll be posting about. If you enjoy reading specific genres, include that!
- The hashtag #bookstagram so you come up in its search results.
- Your goal count for how many books you plan to read (and have read) this year.
- Your current read (hot tip: the Bookstagram lingo is “CR”).
It’s best to separate this information into a few short phrases, line by line. You can use emojis like bullet points to give your profile some color, or simply let them illustrate the energy you want your account to give off! Remember, Instagram is a visual platform — users will appreciate visual elements even in your bio.
Your bio settings
At the bottom of the introduction section, Instagram lets you add a link. This is a great place to redirect users to your book blog, personal website, Goodreads account, or Reedsy Reviewer profile. Instagram only allows one link, but you can use tools like LinkTree to add multiple links to your bio.
How your profile bio will look
If you’re ever not sure about what to say, just check out the #bookstagram tag and see how other Bookstagrammers lay out their bios.
Pick a profile picture
Your profile picture will show up in a little circle next to every one of your posts. This picture, along with your username, will be what users recognize you by, so it’s a big part of your brand. Ideally, you’d pick something that you wouldn’t want to change for a long time, since this is one of your most identifiable features on Instagram.
You can choose pretty much any picture to represent yourself here, though, of course, it should be related to books.
Change to a creator account
Instagram lets you categorize your account based on what you do or post about. There are three types of accounts: personal, business, and creator.
If you’re planning to be a Bookstagrammer, we recommend using a creator account. Once you exceed 100 followers, this type of account will give you insights on your followers — their gender, where they’re from, what kinds of content they’re interested in. You can also get stats on how many people each post of yours has reached, and how much engagement it’s encouraged.
3. Follow relevant accounts and hashtags to start your home feed
Whether you casually post on Instagram to keep track of your reading goals, or you want to become a Bookstagram influencer, these stats can help you improve your content and grow your account to whatever level you want to reach (more on this in a bit).
With your account all set up, it’s time to get some posts on your home feed! You came here to be part of a community, and following others is how you do it. By interacting with other Bookstagrammers, you introduce yourself and can get them to follow you back.
You might already have some book accounts you want to follow — but the more the merrier! To quickly find some people to follow, search up and scroll through the #bookstagram tag to find profiles you like. Or, you can follow the tag itself to get top posts published with this hashtag on your home feed every day.
Looking up book titles, character names, genres, and authors that you love can also lead you to like-minded Bookstagrammers. Plus, the more interactions you make on Instagram, the more likely the platform is to recommend posts and accounts similar to your preferences. The power of the app’s algorithm can sound a bit too close to a dystopian novel, but hey, at least you’ll have plenty of bibliophiles on your feed with whom you can discuss this!
4. Create your first post as a Bookstagrammer
Now comes the fun part — creating content. There’s lots you can post about on a Bookstagram, from To Be Read (TBR) lists to book reviews to a simple, seasonal photo of yourself reading something. But what should you use for your first post? Let’s look at some ideas.
Feature your favorite recent read
It’s a bit out there but hear us out: how about you kick things off for your Bookstagram account with a book? In all seriousness, there’s hardly a better way to introduce yourself and connect with like-minded readers than to talk about a title you enjoyed.
Pick a book you love, take a nice photo of it — perhaps next to a cup of coffee or a little houseplant — and give it a quick review in the caption. Remember, a quick review doesn’t have to be a bad one. You can use our free book review template to get some guidance, but generally a good Bookstagram review includes a brief summary, your opinion on the book, and your recommendation to fellow readers.
Be honest and thoughtful in your review. The more you give of yourself on your Bookstagram, the more your followers will relate to you, and the better the engagements on your account will be, which is where all the fun is!
Another great first post is one that tells future followers something about you! Let them know what you like reading, if you write as well, where you’re from, and any fun facts about you and books. Maybe you met your favorite author once at a signing and have a great story to tell about it. If you have a specific visual theme — i.e. posting pictures of your books with your cat — this might be the place to explain it or give it some context!
Pick a bookstore to spotlight
Have a favorite bookstore? Show it off and support it by tagging the store in your post! Many booksellers will appreciate the shoutout and will repost photos in which their shop is tagged. (You can also include a geotag of the shop, too, in case other users want to visit it.)
In the caption, let your followers know what you love about that store! Do they have a reading nook and cafe you spend hours in? Or maybe they have a store cat who always leads you to your next read. Asking a question at the end of your caption like, “What’s your local bookstore like?” is another great way to encourage other users to start a conversation with you.
Although Instagram started as a photo-sharing app, it has added quite a few video features over the years.
If you’re looking to go for the gold in follower count, creating videos is the way to do it. As for the actual content of your first video, you can go for the staple recommendation video, or you can introduce yourself if you feel like it! The aim of the first post usually isn’t to go viral, so feel free to take it slow and experiment with the editing tools.
5. Plan a consistent posting schedule
People follow you on Bookstagram to hear about your reading journey, so don’t leave them hanging! You’ll want to show up on followers’ home feeds consistently so they don’t forget about you (and unfollow you). And of course, more posts and more hashtags can only mean greater visibility for your account.
Posting 2-3 times a week should be fine, and it gives you time to read and make new posts. (Note: publishing too frequently can put you at risk of being shadowbanned — meaning your posts can still be seen by your followers but they won’t show up in the hashtags’ feeds.) You can rotate between book hauls, TBR lists, book reviews, and miscellaneous posts to keep the content varied.
Meanwhile, in between the posts, keep interaction going with Instagram Stories — i.e. posts that's only available to view for 24 hours. There you can leave polls, ask questions, and invite fellow bibliophiles to DM you!
Plan your aesthetic
Because Instagram is a visual-based platform, and your personal profile comes with a grid of all your posts side by side, a lot of users like to plan out their content so that everything will look cohesive together. This is completely up to you and how you want to run your Bookstagram.
If you’re striving to become a Bookstagram influencer, having an aesthetic vision for your account is crucial. Luckily there are apps to help you out, like VSCO to edit photos cohesively and Planoly to lay out your account’s grid before you publish your posts.
If you’re just posting for fun and to connect with other readers, don’t worry so much about photo editing. It’s not necessary in order to have fun on Bookstagram.
The way your caption looks can be important too. Remember, people are scrolling through their feeds pretty quickly, only stopping at what really catches their attention. Try using emojis and line breaks to separate your written thoughts. Cut down on your word count as much as you can. It’s okay to post long captions, but be intentional about what you include in them. Think microblog rather than blog.
6. Get your first 100 bibliophile followers
As mentioned previously, following others and having followers is a big part of being in the Bookstagram community. Even if you’re not aiming to become a book influencer, gaining followers means that more people see your posts, so the chances for interesting book discussions will be greater! With that in mind, here are three solid tips to help you start your following.
Engage using comments and DMs
It’s called social media for a reason: you’re supposed to be social on it! Other than replying to comments left on your own posts, leave likes and comments on other people’s posts as well. Show your enthusiasm, be a friendly face, and people will be sure to respond in kind.
When you comment on someone else’s post, you can also interact with their followers, which are probably the same people who would be interested in following your account. Start a conversation in the comments of videos and posts you like.
Another great way to engage with people is through DMs, or direct messages. DMing other people means you’ll get a one-on-one, private conversation with them. A casual way to slide into the DMs of somebody you’d like to chat with is to reply to their story. Instagram lets you send a wave of emojis in reaction to a story in a quick tap, or you can type out a message to the fellow Bookstagrammer. This is a quick and easy, low-pressure way to interact with someone’s content. All creators love to see their followers interacting with their posts, so don’t be shy!
Use bookstagram hashtags
The best way to get your posts found on Instagram is to use hashtags.
You’ll want to do a bit of research into which tags to use before you post. Start looking at the broader ones like #bookstagram, #books, #bookreview, and see what related tags Instagram recommends you afterwards.
Pay attention to the number of posts in each tag, which can be found at the very top of the screen. This number is important, because you’ll want to find tags that your posts have a chance at being seen in. A tag with 69 million posts like #bookstagram is a really big ocean — so big that your post would easily be drowned in it. Instead, you want to drop your posts in a lake (i.e. 600,000 posts, for instance), or even a puddle (i.e. 20,000 posts).
You can use up to 30 tags on one post, so select a good range of high- and low-volume ones. You’ll want to change up the combination of hashtags from post to post to make sure they’re relevant to each piece of content. Using the same 30 hashtags every post, or using irrelevant tags, can lead to getting shadowbanned.
It sounds like a lot of work but don’t worry, just a couple of weeks into your posting schedule and you’ll get a good grasp of the right hashtags for your content!
And on that note, it’s time to get reading and Bookstagramming! If you're ever in need of more ways to connect with other readers, check out these amazing online book clubs.