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J. Arthur Squiers
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Archived Author Help > Using Instagram for your Author Platform

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message 1: by J. (new)

J. Squiers (jarthurbooks) | 25 comments I based my author platform around Instagram, so I thought I would share my experience so far. As I mentioned in the introduction area, I managed to gain over 5K followers and 31 Amazon reviews in 3 months.

First off, I tried Facebook and Twitter, in addition to Instagram. Early on, I decided not to put too much effort into Facebook. As much as some people like to have a "Facebook Page," I found Facebook to be too focused on family and friends--people that are already either going to buy your book or not.

Twitter, on the other hand, felt too much like a sea of oblivion. Getting people to engage with you (unless you are already famous) felt impossible; you are invisible.

So, it came to Instagram, where it seemed like people cared. I did work hard on that account, setting aside time every day to comment and interact. The hard part about Instagram is coming up with content on a daily basis that looks professional. I saw a few authors who obviously grabbed a package of stock photos of books, off the internet, and posted one daily, but I couldn't bring myself to do that--it just seemed misleading and impersonal. I created my own brand and gained a decent following. While building a following certainly does not equal big sales (it didn't for me) it does seem like a good long term investment.

As for reviews, one thing I did was select about 40 of my Instagram followers and direct message them, asking if they would like to review a PDF copy of my book. While I did get a lot of great reviews this way, I'm not sure if I would do this again. For one thing, many of them mentioned in the review that I sent them a free PDF. Yes, I was too cheap to send them a hard copy, and yes, I know many indie authors send PDFs for review--it just seemed to give the Amazon review a bit of a chintzy, amateurish feel.

Also, I feel that I requested reviews from a few people that weren't in the target audience. My book moves at page burning pace, and there were a couple reviewers that were disappointed the characters didn't have time to stop and shoot the breeze more (there will be more of that in the sequel).

All of this said, I think I'm building something worthwhile by focusing on Instagram, but the payoff for the effort hasn't come yet. I probably average about 1 sale every three days. While almost everyone that reads it has raved about it to me, and talked about it on their own Instagram account--widespread exposure is just hard. There have been several times where someone with a lot of followers posted a great blurb (even saying I was their new favorite author), and I thought, "oh, I think this is it," but nothing came of it.

So, I press on.


message 2: by Ken (new)

Ken (kendoyle) | 364 comments J. wrote: "For one thing, many of them mentioned in the review that I sent them a free PDF..."

This is a requirement in the US under FTC regulations, as well as Amazon's terms of service.

Thanks for sharing your experience. I've never considered Instagram as I don't even have time to keep up with the social media accounts that I do have!


message 3: by J. (new)

J. Squiers (jarthurbooks) | 25 comments Ken wrote: "J. wrote: "For one thing, many of them mentioned in the review that I sent them a free PDF..."

This is a requirement in the US under FTC regulations, as well as Amazon's terms of service.

Thanks..."


Thanks for pointing that out. I always thought that it just had to be specified they received a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

The "PDF" part is what feels really . . . . indie, to me.


message 4: by J. (new)

J. Squiers (jarthurbooks) | 25 comments . . . . I've never considered Instagram as I don't even have time to keep up with the social media accounts that I do have!



That's why I chose to focus on one platform. Any more than that just seems like spreading yourself too thin, unless you are The Rock or someone else famous enough to hire a person to manage your accounts.


message 5: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Everson (authorthomaseverson) | 424 comments Thanks for your insight J. I found the same things you did with Facebook and Twitter and I've all but given up on the accounts, posting every once in a while when the mood strikes.

I'm going to look into a different platform.


message 6: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) J. wrote: "I based my author platform around Instagram, so I thought I would share my experience so far. As I mentioned in the introduction area, I managed to gain over 5K followers and 31 Amazon reviews in 3..."

thx for sharing!


message 7: by Jonathan (last edited Jun 15, 2016 11:09AM) (new)

Jonathan Face (jonathanface) | 2 comments Did you promote your instagram somewhere, or do followers just sorta happen? If people (who don't know me) followed my instagram it would be a confusing series of pictures of my cats and me drunk on vacation.


message 8: by J. (new)

J. Squiers (jarthurbooks) | 25 comments Jonathan wrote: "Did you promote your instagram somewhere, or do followers just sorta happen? If people (who don't know me) followed my instagram it would be a confusing series of pictures of my cats and me drunk o..."

I didn't promote it somewhere else; I just kept liking, commenting and following others every day. I did clean up the account first, to make it look somewhat professional, but still about me, about writing, and most importantly, about books.


message 9: by Grace (new)

Grace Crandall | 79 comments I started an art account on Instagram before I even wrote my first book, and I've gotten a lot of followers on it, but it's not great for promoting writing (my followers want pictures, not a link to buy my book), so I recently started a bookstagram as well, to connect with other readers and writers. Starting a new account from scratch made me realize just how much I love Instagram. As long as your pictures are pretty and you post often, gaining followers is just so easy--and it's great for building relationships too, since most people on there seem to really care about connecting :)


message 10: by J. (new)

J. Squiers (jarthurbooks) | 25 comments Grace wrote: "I started an art account on Instagram before I even wrote my first book, and I've gotten a lot of followers on it, but it's not great for promoting writing (my followers want pictures, not a link t..."

I agree that a "bookstagram" theme is a great way to go for followers who are readers, and also to make connections. Granted, a follower and even connection is one thing, but finding people who will buy a book from an author that isn't widely known--that's a bigger challenge.


message 11: by Eldon, Lost on the road to Mordor (new)

Eldon Farrell | 305 comments Mod
J. wrote: "Jonathan wrote: "Did you promote your instagram somewhere, or do followers just sorta happen? If people (who don't know me) followed my instagram it would be a confusing series of pictures of my ca..."

Hi J., I'm very new to social media but was wondering from your experience with Instagram if following lots of others worked out for you? Isn't it better to have them follow you? Again, new and a little confused by it all.


message 12: by J. (new)

J. Squiers (jarthurbooks) | 25 comments Eldon wrote: "J. wrote: "Jonathan wrote: "Did you promote your instagram somewhere, or do followers just sorta happen? If people (who don't know me) followed my instagram it would be a confusing series of pictur..."


There are a lot of people who won't follow you unless you follow them first. Your home feed becomes pretty cluttered, however. It's a choice to make, whether you want to go that route.


message 13: by Eldon, Lost on the road to Mordor (new)

Eldon Farrell | 305 comments Mod
J. wrote: "Eldon wrote: "J. wrote: "Jonathan wrote: "Did you promote your instagram somewhere, or do followers just sorta happen? If people (who don't know me) followed my instagram it would be a confusing se..."

I guess that makes sense but yeah...if you follow enough people the home feed will be indecipherable


message 14: by Ken (new)

Ken Doggett (kendoggett) I opened an Instagram account, but after I set up my profile I couldn't see anything I could do with it. Their suggested "follows" were pretty lame, just pop-culture stuff that I had no interest in, and I couldn't post anything, apparently, without downloading an app that I was never able to find.


message 15: by Erica (new)

Erica Stinson (goodreadscomerica_r_stinson) | 139 comments I use instagram for both my books and my custom cake business. I have not found that I gained much sales from this(even though I follow back)so I still post pictures there, but not as often as I used to. I mostly use Instagram to announce events anyway, hashtagging everything to gain views.


message 16: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 779 comments I've never used Instagram. Some of my friends tell me to use it but if I used it I'd do so as an author and none of them are interested in that aspect of my life as it is lol. I use Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr, I think I'll pass on Instagram for now.


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