Today we come to the paper-pushing portion of this series: how to use the attractive, friendly Instagram account you’ve set up to actually sell books. There are several ways you can do this:
- The most direct method is to create a flatlay, an Instagram post that features your book cover with an attractive background and post it. You can include a quote from the book, either as text on the graphic or as comment, but remember that Instagram is primarily a visual, rather than a verbal, medium.
Here’s one for Eight Lady Jilly’s debut novel, The Seeds of Power, that I created back at Christmas:
How, you ask, do you make a pretty picture like this if you don’t have a nice background available?
There are several easy-to-use software applications that can help: Bookbrush, Canva and The Image Apothecary.
I use Bookbrush because it’s so easy even a graphically inept grandma like myself can do it. They have thousands of backgrounds you can use if you don’t have your own photos. Or you can do what I do and use their technology to superimpose your book on a photograph from your own collection.
Here’s another flatlay I put together for my first book. I took this on my front porch.
After you post the picture, you’ll want to caption it with “Link in Bio” to tell people how to access the book for purchase.
You’ll also want to add hashtags like #books, #bookstagram, #booklover, etc. to attract the attention of other Instagrammers who don’t (yet) follow you. If your flatlay catches their eye, they’ll hop over to your profile, which will be all lovely and inviting, and they’ll decide they a) want to follow you and b) are interested in finding out more about your book.
Instagram will encourage you to promote these posts in order for more people to see them. (FB owns IG, so no surprise there.) Experiment and see if you get enough clicks/sales to warrant spending the money.
2. A second way to sell books on Instagram is to post pictures of interesting, attractive locations that feature in your books. Here’s a post from Alana Albertson, the instructor of the Instagram class I took in January (from whom I go most of the info I’ve been sharing).
Caption: “There was no feeling in the world like skimming the cables on the top of the Golden Gate Bridge with your five best friends.” Sawyer, Blue Moon. Read about my beloved city by the bay told through the eyes of a playboy Blue Angel and an innocent influencer. (And then a series of emojis showing a plane and a pilot and a blue heart, etc.)
Here’s one I posted to depict Sedona, AZ, the setting for my second book, The Demon’s in the Details:
It’s a great example of the energy of Sedona and the mythology around the energy vortexes there. I failed to really capitalize on this, though, because I couldn’t find a good quote to connect it to my story. (This is something I plan to think about for future books–including lines that I can use to market the book.)
3. The third way you can use Instagram is subtle, but Ms. Albertson believes it’s a big part of her success. Your Instagram posts and the elements of your profile tell potential readers who you are. Your interactions with others on this platform say you’re an interesting person who is interested in other people. That may not be enough to sell a book for you, but it’s certainly a good foundation for a relationship that opens others to hearing a story you have to tell.
So, knowing what you know now, is Instagram a platform you can see yourself using?
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