By Kim Vermaak
I have to admit that as an author, when I first dipped my toe into the social media waters; I felt overwhelmed. There is so much talk about how it can suck the life out of you. Mental Health Gurus have written about being addicted to social media. As an author, you can spend hours liking and commenting on posts only to find that you have not written a single word for your next book in over a week.
If you have an Instagram account or other social media accounts that have not translated into any book sales, you may be tempted to give up.
Before you throw in the towel, let’s look at some ways that you can improve your Instagram account because when you get it right Instagram for authors is one of the best ways to build an audience and sell your books on social media as an author.
Begin with the end in mind
Before we start, let’s identify some core principles that should drive your approach to Instagram.
Instagram is a business tool for your author book business and should be managed as a business tool.
Your goal as an author is to sell more books. With that in mind, you should use Instagram to target readers, book reviewers and book bloggers. Remain focussed on this goal and don’t get distracted.
You are not a spam artist; you are an author looking for a way to connect with readers, so get the balance right between interesting content, great pictures and your books.
If readers don’t know how to find your books. You are simply wasting your time, so set yourself up for success by creating your profile with all the information that readers need to find your books.
Your Instagram account must be seen as an integrated way of connecting with readers. So if you have a reader management or sales on, make sure this same message is on all your platforms and cross post your links.
Know the Power of the Platform
Instagram experienced a huge amount of growth in 2020, which makes it a powerful platform for authors to connect with potential readers.
According to an article on.hootsuite.com, over 1 billion people use Instagram every month.
81% of users use Instagram to research products and services.
50% of people who visited a website they found on Instagram made a purchase after seeing a product or service.
200 million Instagram users visit at least one business profile daily
Here’s how to use Instagram for Authors:
Download the Instagram app
Instagram is recommended for mobile devices. So, if you are a first time user of Instagram, download the app.
Create an account
To sign up, use your email address or your phone number. Then provide the username you want to use on the account. You can also create it through your Facebook account. Login to your Facebook and then link your account. If you’ve used an author email to sign up for Facebook, this should be the option you choose.
If you have already created an account, you just need to sign in and then proceed to the profile page.
Connect Your Facebook Account
Click the profile icon at the bottom right of the screen to access your profile.
Then, tap on the three parallel lines in the top right corner of the screen.
Click the settings icon at the bottom left of the menu.
Tap on ‘Account.’
Look for ‘Switch to Professional Account.’
Click the prompt to connect to Facebook.
Select “Choose a page,”
Set the page to “public.”
Instagram asks for permission to manage your Facebook pages.
Look through the list of Facebook business pages you’ve already created.
Select the correct page and click “Next.”
Complete your Author Profile Set Up
To finish your profile, you must give an email, phone number, and address for your business. Fill in at least one of these contact fields to proceed. As you have linked your account to Facebook, some of the fields will automatically be filled in.
Click “Done,” and go to your profile. A new graph icon should appear at the top of the Instagram app. This is your Insights page where you can find extra tracking and business metrics.
Finish editing your profile
Go to your profile and click “Edit your profile.” Here you can add a photo, bio, and website link.
Consider author Sarah J Maas @therealsjmaas
She has a clear profile picture
She states that is a #The New York Times best-selling author
She has a link to her Tumblr account
If you need some inspiration for your profile picture, see our article on how to prepare for an author PR photoshoot.
Create strong aesthetics
Get a theme going for your Instagram account that has a good flow of colours and clear, legible and consistent lettering.
Have a look at this book blogger @bookedspaced
She has a consistent theme with fur and a gold plate throughout her posts.
Using hashtags can boost your author profile’s growth quickly. I like to call them road signs for your content. They point to Instagram using two places where they can find content that they are looking for. I write mediaeval fantasy and so when I use the #medievalfantasty, my posts get grouped with other authors so that fans of this genre can easily find the posts.
If you’re unfamiliar with how hashtags work, they’re basically tags that make your posts easier for readers to find.
For example, if you tag your post with #bookwork, people all over the world who search for that tag can find your posts.
Use Instagram Stories
Stories are videos and images that are featured at the top of your Instagram profile for 24 hours. Instagram stories also have high engagement rates.
According to https://blog.hootsuite.com/ 58% of people say they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories.
Use high-quality photos on Instagram
This is Instagram as a magazine. Most users respond to good images. Don’t just grab any photos you can find on the internet. If there are copyright violations, you could end up with a lawsuit on your hands. Rather, use royalty free images. If you have a tiny start-up budget of no budget at all, then use a website https://www.pexels.com for a range of royalty free photos that you can safely use.
Be genuinely you
If you are generally a humorous person, then post that “funnies’ ‘ that you find. People tend to hang out with people who are similar to them. But if you are a serious person, then post serious content. Some writers have built an entire fan base of readers who are animal lovers.
@the_books_and_cats is a fantasy and Sci-Fi fan who loves cats and many of her posts feature a cat with a book.
Engage with your audience
While it is tempting, just hit the LOVE sign and scroll down, take some time to stop. Look at a post and see if the book blogger, fellow author or book reviewer has asked a question and answer them. You may have a day job and a family to take care of, but make a rule of engaging with between 5 to 10 targeted accounts in each session.
When your fans comment on your posts, spend a few minutes acknowledging them.
Mental Health-TIP: Give yourself a time deadline. For example, limit your daily interactions to 30 minutes in the day. This will allow you to be focussed and make sure social media does not take over your life.
Repost relevant content
If you find an author who has great content, repost it. The author community is typically very supportive, and I have had good sales on days that another author with a big following has reposted my posts.
What should authors post on Instagram?
This entirely depends on your theme, but don’t fall into the trap of only posting about your book. If you are a non-fiction author, you can post helpful information or motivational quotes onto your page. Include a few posts about your life, your process and your books.
Create a schedule
If you are tearing your hair out trying to think of what to post, take some time out to come up with four pillars of commutation. That is four ideas of what kinds of things you will post.
For example, I found that according to google analytics, a typical visitor to my author website likes travel, food, books and dragons. So I post medieval castles of the world, my books, pictures of myself with a sword and some images of dragons.
I know exactly what type of content I will post each day of the week. That takes a lot of the guesswork out of my posting and minimises my stress levels.
Find something that works for your author brand.
Hello, I am Kim Vermaak
I spent most of my adult life helping other companies build their dream and their brands.
After I turned 40, I wondered if there was more to life than taking care of children and slaving away to earn a living.
I wanted to create a legacy for my children and the next generation. I found that through my books I could celebrate who I am as well as teach others to earn a living through their writing.
Being an author is not a hobby. It is a business, and it is my passion to teach authors how to thrive in that business. I look forward to seeing your book business grow.
Your Book Whisperer