Jeanne: Selling Books with Instagram

Instagram logoInstagram is, hands down, my favorite social media application. I love how visual it is. I love how it doesn’t lend itself to angry discussions. I have less love for the selfies you find there, but in every pot of honey there are bound to be a few bee parts.

Anyway, for the past couple of years I’ve been using my Instagram account to post pictures of wildflowers that I take while hiking. I am not really a visual person, but I hike with an artist who has been wonderful about helping me understand lighting and composition, at least in this very narrow context. As a result, my IG page is loaded with reasonably attractive pictures of flowers.

I’ve heard a lot of discussions about how great IG is for selling books, but I’m not clear on how to do that. (Unless you run ads. If you’re willing/able to spend beaucoup bucks, I’m sure it works very well.) Unless your post is an ad, Instagram doesn’t allow you to include a working link there, only in your profile. Given people’s dislike of extra clicks, that suggests IG is not a good platform for sales.

So what’s the deal?

Last Sunday I took an Instagram class, taught by Kat Coroy. She explained that Instagram is more of a relationship-building tool. If people come to associate your posts with things they enjoy seeing and a consistent theme, it will predispose them to buying a book from you when the time is right.

That works for me. I dislike being on the receiving end of the hard sell so I’d never want to be on the giving end.

Without poaching material Kat has created and uses to make her living, I invite you to go look at her page and compare it with mine.

While mine won’t make you want to poke your eyes out with a tuning fork, it’s definitely several steps down from Kat’s. And, realistically, it’s never going to look anywhere that gorgeous. But it’s also clear that with a little bit of work and planning, I can spruce it up and have a very nice page that just might make people think, “I’d like to read a book of hers.”

My plans for next year include:

  1. Identifying colors and fonts to brand my page.
  2. Selecting short quotations from my published books and works-in-process.
  3. Alternating flower pictures with quotes to make my page look more like Kat’s.
  4. Interspersing pictures of my book covers (and maybe even an ad or two!).

I’m also taking a class on Instagram for Authors that is being offered by my RWA chapter in January, so I’m hoping to learn even more. I’ll post an update when I’ve made some progress.

What about you? Are there any social media apps you’ve found useful in selling or promoting books?


2 thoughts on “Jeanne: Selling Books with Instagram

  1. Your photos are getting more and more gorgeous! And there’s a certain unity of theme that keeps them together.

    I like Iman (the supermodel)’s Instagram page a lot. She’s got a great sense of color and style (even though fashion isn’t really my thing). I think she does a great job of mixing the personal with marketing her cosmetics and her late husband’s memorabilia (he was David Bowie). She posts romantic pictures on special anniversaries (and since she’s selling cosmetics, this is VERY onbrand), pictures of her dog and her daughters, gives a boost to friends, and also posts flashbacks of her own career. Oh, and she’s got inspirational quotes in bold colors.

    To tell you the truth, I like your page very much, too. But there’s nothing in there that says Demon. Have you thought about adding more shots at sunset or sunrise, when it’s a little darker? And perhaps trying a few photo shoots with silhouettes of lovers? I’d drop in a few text-based inspirational things, and then when you drop in a cover with a link to the shopping, it won’t be such a surprise to see text.

    Your brand can be your books, or your brand can be YOU.

    How many Instagram accounts can you have, anyway? It might be nice to keep one for fun, and one for branding and marketing.

    I have a Twitter set up for my computer, and that’s my official Duskova brand, but I tend to visit only once a week when I have a post up.

    In 2019, I gave in and got the Twitter app for my phone, and set up a different account “for fun”, but it turns out that I interact on that one A LOT. I get a lot of good ideas for the blog there, and learn a lot about trends and techniques. It’s turning out to be a lot more professionally useful than my “real” professional account.

    Oh, also, I’ve been reading a few books that are supposed to help me if I decide to go into freelance copywriting. One is by Robert Cialdini called Pre-Suasion, and it has a lot of information about how to make people receptive to your message by priming them first. For example, a furniture store got better response when they put fluffy clouds in the background of their webpage. It led to a preference for comfortable furniture (which the furniture store was quite happy to sell).

    Escape, justice, redemption, romance. New chances.

  2. All great suggestions–thanks!

    Ms. Coroy took us through an exercise to help us identify the Brand Soul Essence (pretty sure this is her trademark) of our brand. We selected 5 emotions we want our IG account to engender. I chose:

    o Delight
    o Wonder
    o Inspiration
    o Hope
    o Numinosity

    Then she had us make a list of images we associate with each of those emotions/mindsets. From that list, we chose the image that best expresses the emotion we want to evoke.

    Now I just need to figure out how to tie that list/intention to the books that I write, which come to those same emotions, but through a side door.

    I’ve heard about Pre-Suasion.M I’ll have to check it out.

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