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June 16, 2017

Rock Your #Bookstagram Posts With These Easy Steps

by Donna Huber

My new favorite social media channel is Instagram. It is filled with happy pictures from friends, family, and strangers. I have noticed little in the way of drama that, at times, plagues the other social media channels. Now I'm on a quest to take the perfect #bookstagram (books on Instagram) photo. If you too want to rock your Instagram, then read on for the steps I have learned for the best #bookstagram pic.

Prep your photo shoot

If you have bought or sold a house recently or work in real estate then you have come across the term "staging". Staging is an important component of capturing a great photo because even the most lovely of book covers can benefit from a bit of proper placement. A few things you will need for your photo shoot:

  1. Props - is there an object that is prominently featured in the book? Or even an object that is casually mentioned but you have on hand? If not, then flowers, feathers, jewels, candles, or stones can be used liven up your photo. This time of year sunglasses, flip flops, and other summer paraphernalia are perfect partners for your summer books.
  2. Backdrop - what is behind your book is just as important as what is beside your book. In some cases, your backdrop can double as your prop. I often take pictures at my local bookstore, especially if they have a nice display featuring a book that is reviewed on the site. In that case, the other books around it are the props and backdrop. But there are other times you will want a plain backdrop. You can use anything that you have that is a solid color - throw blanket, pillowcase, sheet, towel, curtain, etc. 
  3. Lighting - this is probably the most important consideration of getting an awesome picture. The brighter the better, but watch out for shadows! Outside shots during the day can be the ideal photo shoot. Natural light is best, plus you have the added bonus of a pretty backdrop and props. If you are taking pictures in low light, consider using the flash. Also in low light, you need a really steady hand as the most subtle of tremor will lead to a blurred photo. If lighting isn't ideal, try some of Instagram's filters and edit tools to make your photo pop.

Take pictures

Snap pictures of everything, all the time. The more photos you take, the better you will get. Need some ideas of what to take pictures of? There are a ton of #Bookstagram photo challenges to help get those creative juices flowing. Where do you find these challenges? At the Bookstagram Challenges account of course!

Pretty much anywhere you are reading a book, or browsing for books, or talking about books are all great places for taking a picture. And the great thing about digital is that if you can't make the image look better with the filters and editing tools, then trash it and take another! Don't be afraid of taking a bad photo (I've taken a ton of those).

Post your #bookstagram photos

You've set up a great photo shoot or came across the perfect set-up for an awesome picture. Now it is time to rock your bookstagram account by posting it. 
  1. Use filters and editing tools - you can crop and rotate, change the lighting, shadowing, brightness, contrast and more. Play around with these, but I usually find the less messing with the photo the better. 
  2. Timing - while any time can be a good time for posting a picture to Instagram, I have found that I get more interaction when I post in the evening, particularly around 7 or 8 pm ET. When getting started though, post at various times throughout the day to find when your followers are browsing the site. Also, preliminary research (not my own, but I heard it in a social media class) has shown that interaction does not decrease with increased frequency of posting.
  3. Ask a question. I have found that if I ask a question in my caption I'm more likely to get more comments. 
  4. Remember the hashtags! Apparently, the Instagram algorithm (the mathematical code Instagram uses to determine how many people should have your photo in their feed) loves hashtags. Unlike with Twitter and Facebook, there doesn't seem to be a limit to the number of hashtags that is ideal. Actually, it seems the more the better! The big hashtag for the bookstagrammer is of course #Bookstagram. But #BookAddict and #Shelfie are also quite popular as well as all the general book-related terms.

Bonus tips

If you find that the ideal time for posting to Instagram does not lend itself perfectly to your schedule or isn't the ideal time to take a photo (e.g. at night when it is dark), then you can schedule your Instagram postings. With the paid account, you can manage Instagram through Hootesuite. While I love Hootesuite, I'm frugal and do not have a paid account. Instead, I use Buffer

You have the added benefit of uploading photos that are on your computer and not limited just to the ones on your phone. If you want to do more editing with your photos using Photoshop, Picmonkey, Pixlr, or any other photo editor. As I read more and more books on my Nook and have fewer and fewer physical copies, I have started playing around with creating images using the digital book cover.

Did you know you can embed your Instagram photos in your blog posts? It's easy!
  1. Just go to your Instagram account on your computer. 
  2. Click on the photo you want to embed.
  3. Click on the ... (three dots) in the bottom right-hand corner
  4. Click on Embed
  5. Copy the code
  6. Paste it into your blog post
And viola! Instagram photos in your blog posts that your readers can like and comment on directly in your blog post! (I'm a little excited about this feature. Can you tell?)

A post shared by Donna (@girl_who_reads) on

Rock it!

Follow these easy steps and you will rock your #bookstagram account. Be sure to follow your fellow bookstagrammers. I'm at Feel free to leave your Instagram link/name in the comments.

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  1. Awesome tips!! I LOVE that photo with the sunflowers and lemonade.

  2. Thank you for the them. Love your photos too.

    I saw your bookshelf on the Blooms page, didn't I?

    And the tip I like the best is the one about putting the Instagram posts on my blog. THANKS...AWESOME.

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