At the end of last month, I reached 1000 followers on my Bookstagram so I thought what better time to take you all through my bookstagramming process than to celebrate hitting this milestone? I’m in no way, shape or form an expert, I started my account less than a year because I love taking *aesthetic* pictures of books. And since I’m still relatively new, I might as well walk you through everything from one newbie to another, whether you have an account or are thinking of making one.
I post pictures on my account @wordwoonders and this is what my current theme looks like:
Before we get started, let’s talk about something that can seem trivial but that’s important! YOUR HANDLE:
- If Instagram is your first/only platform, pick something that’s easy to remember but also not generic, something that people can associate with you. It can include your name, mix books and another hobby of yours, etc… It’s up to you.
- If you already have other platforms and social media, keep!!! the same!!! name!!! It will make you a lot easier to remember/find and you’ll also be building your brand as a content creator.
First myth I want to bust, YOU DO NOT FANCY EQUIPEMENTS AND PROPS TO CREATE AN ACCOUNT!!!! Yes, I do concede that most big accounts have cameras and/or a bazillion props but you can go down the minimalist road, and take simple clean picture that are still super cute. You can also use anything from around your house: plants, mugs, cute plates, old candles, little trinkets you have lying around that you don’t pay much attention to.
What I personally use:
- My phone camera: I have a Samsung S8 so the quality is pretty decent. When I remember to clean the lense, lol.
- I have literally three decorations that I’ve had in my room for years that make the occasional appearance.
- My bed, my room wall, my bookshelf, torn book pages from an old book I hated, a sheet, the outdoors, etc…
Second myth to bust: YOU DO NOT NEED A BAZILLION BOOKS, whoever tells you the opposite can fight me. I have less than 100 books, when I started my account, I had less than fifty. You can have a bookstagram account with a few physical books as well as using your phone as a prop on which you’ll display the cover of an ebook. The key is creativity. I teach you how to do that further down the posts and will also provide a couple example of pictures I’ve taken this way.
Third and last (?) myth to bust: YOU DO NOT NEED A THEME! Do I love themes? Yes. Do I see myself posting pictures without a theme in the future? No. But that’s just for my own feed, I like the easy cohesiveness of themes and the fact that I don’t have to think about my picture layout for long because I already have a theme I follow. But that being said, cohesiveness can also be achieved without a theme, and if you don’t want a theme? Don’t make one. Do whatever feels best to you. Quite few of my favorite accounts don’t have a set theme.
If you want a theme though, and aren’t sure how to go about it, try different corners of your house, try outside, etc, take trial shots with a few different locations/layouts until you find one you’re satisfied with.
The actual picture taking
First tip I have is to take your pictures in bulk. I take around a month worth of pictures whenever I start running out and have a couple hours free, which takes some of the stress off the posting process. You can also try to take then around the same time, that way all your pictures can have the same type of lighting. That being said, this is something I don’t fuss over too much, because I have a pretty tight schedule, so I squeeze picture taking whenever I can.
Like I said, for myself, I LOVE having a theme. I’m an aesthetic ho and having a theme is the easiest way to be aesthetic with minimal effort because you know exactly where and how to take pictures, how to edit them, etc... Here are the themes I’ve had so far in the order in which I had them:
As you can see all three are very different but all were VERY easy to achieve:
- I used a white sheet that I propped against the end of my bed on the floor, then over the floor tiles, I put book pages and VOILA you have a theme.
- I am fortunate to live in an appartement complex with a garden, so I literally just had to go outside with my books and snap the shots I need with different *natural* props and angles.
- That’s my bed. And that’s it. I have a simple beige comforter and a wooden headboard.
The takeaway is you can find a theme literally anywhere around you, in the simplest things, just don’t let it intimidate you and don’t be afraid to play around. Trial and error, friends, that’s how you figure out what you like.
Let’s focus on my current theme now.
I generally put in the same picture books that have something in common: Same genre, same color, same author, same publisher, similar themes, representation, or covers, gotten at the same time, etc… There are so many combinations you can get following this logic and that can also inspire your caption, but I digress, we’ll talk about the caption later. I also love to take solo book pictures, to spotlight certain books.
I try to alternate between flat-lays and …not flat-lays (?) as well as multiple books pictures and solo book pictures. That keeps my theme interesting and varied without having to change *too much*. I also sometimes take pictures of my face in front of my bookshelf, or get my sister to take pictures of me on my bed. But those are more occasional since I’m usually too lazy to look presentable when taking pictures haha.
For the same book(s), I take pictures from different angles and different distances to have more options to choose from when it comes down to choosing which ones to post. Don’t be afraid to go for angles you’ve never tried before or that look weird and arbitrary, they might surprise you and work out better than you thought they would.
What I use:
- Adobe Lightroom -on my phone- which is my main editing app.
- Pixlr –on my phone– to add effects.
- Pixlr –on my laptop- for when I want to include an e-book.
How I used them:
This is what a picture looks like when I first take it, completely unedited:
Then I go on Lightroom and tweak the different settings. Modifying different parameters will give you different results. Like I said, trial and error. I like Lightroom for the flexibility and options it offers me when editing, and for free. What I change is usually:
- Exposure: I up it ever so slightly because my room is a little dark. But not too much since my theme isn’t bright.
- Contrast: Also just slightly. right now I have it set at +10.
- Blacks: I lower them a LOT, to get the dark wintery effect and a sharper image, it’s at -60 now.
- Saturation: I lower that sucker as well for the wintery effect, it’s at -30.
- Clarity: I up it a little to have a cleaner image.
On my previous, brighter, themes, I also upped highlights and whites and lowered the shadows for the bright effect. Depending on the picture and what I want to bring attention to, I sometimes change the settings on a particular color. Other than that, all other settings remain untouched (and believe me, there are a lot).
After doing all those things, this is what I find myself with, which is pretty but not quite there yet:
Protip: If you go down the theme road, save your settings as a preset. Which you can do once you’re happy with the setting you choose by going to the upper right corner in Lightroom and choosing “Create preset”. That way you won’t have to go through this who le process for every picture, you can just choose the preset, and your picture is edited is 2 seconds.
Afterwards, I go on Pixlr, the phone app > overlay > and choose the effect I want, once that’s done, I change the placement of the stars until I find one that fits the picture and TADA! Here’s my finished product:
Tip for e-book lovers:
You know how when you take pictures of screens, there’s ALWAYS a glare on them and they never look quite the way you want them too, maybe a little dull, or blurry, etc… Well, I have a solution for you: Take a picture of your blank screen and then edit the cover onto your picture. Here’s how:
- I export the picture onto my laptop and go on pixlr.com > Pixlr editor
- I open the picture onto the editor.
- Layers > Open image as layer > Select the book cover you want to add to your picture.
- Edit > Free Distort > Adjust the picture on the screen of whatever device you used on the picture.
AND VOILA! You have a very realistic looking e-book picture that’s clear and glare-free. Here are a few examples of me doing that for my pictures:
And that’s pretty much what I do with my pictures. It sounds like a lot but since I take my pictures in bulk, have a preset AND edit them in bulk, it only takes a long time once every few weeks.
You can post however many times a day/week you want, there’s no rule to follow, but keep in mind that the more you post the more your posts start showing up to your followers (nasty algorithm!!!) and the more engagement you get. I generally post everyday, but I keep it flexible and don’t force myself to post on days I’m too tired, sick, don’t feel inspired, etc… and most of the time, don’t post on Sundays. Bookstagram is something I do purely for fun.
You can use apps like LATER, where you can write your captions in bulk as well and schedule your posts beforehand, that way, the only thing you have to do on the day of is press post and your post goes up. That being said, and from personal experience, those kinds of captions tend to be more generic which doesn’t prompt people to comment and engage with your picture. If you can come up with engaging captions for multiple pictures at the same time, PROPS TO YOU, my brain goes into fart mode after a couple. Oops.
Another reason I don’t like writing captions beforehand is because I like to keep them a little personal and feel like a conversation with a friends, and since I post at night (for me) I tend to include little things about my day, how I’m feeling or any notable thing on my mind at the time. After than I either talk about the book(s) on the picture, something related to it/them or do a tag. I also almost always have a fun question of the day in my caption, which never fails to get conversations started in the comments. This is one way out of a multitude to make your posts more engaging and attractive to your followers.
Then I add relevant hashtags IN THE CAPTION, not in comments (because then they don’t count), proof read my caption and post.
Pro tip: Instagram doesn’t let you write multiple paragraphs, but to go around that, don’t press space after the last character on your first paragraph, then press enter. On the second line, add whatever separator you want (I use a dot) then don’t press space again, press enter and write your next paragraph. This way your exact formatting is saved and Instagram doesn’t mess it up for some magical reason.
- I share my post on my Insta stories the minute it goes live, because Instagram might hide it from people’s feeds but there’s no way to hide it from their stories.
- ENGAGE WITH THE COMMUNITY!! If you want people to know about your account, like their posts, comment on them, etc… The more you put yourself out there, the more people are going to see you, visit your page, etc…
- Don’t try to copy anyone’s style, you can get inspired, but DON’T COPY. Do your own thing, figure out your style and what *you* like and people will like it too.
- Switch your account to Business mode to have more promotion options and be able to check a wide variety of stats for your individual posts and account as a whole.
The Instagram algorithm makes everything harder and discouraging a lot of the time. Stats *do* matter if you want them to but focus on the fun part of it because if you focus on stats, the app will absolutely crush your soul. The community can also feel quite exclusive at times, hard to crack, with a lot of bigger accounts with all the best books, best props, best shelves, best equipment. And then there’s the rest of us. Without all those things. It’s intimidating and lowkey terrifying. (This is a discussion for another day…)
But if you carve your little part of the community, which is absolutely doable if you talk to like-minded folks, put yourself out there and are real and genuine it’s an amazing and uplifting experience. My growth isn’t as fast as that of many, but I’m happy with it because I’m posting about things I genuinely care about so it attracts the right people *for me*.
That’s it until next time.
Do you have any bookstagram tips that make your life easier?
Link me to some of your favorite bookstagrammers
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.