So many authors and writers study the craft of writing itself, but struggle when it comes to marketing that craft.
Many are lost when it comes to understanding social media, like YouTube & Instagram, tools that help to build their brand and ultimately sell more books but which can seem ultimately mystifying to those just starting out. With so much noise on the subject, but very few sharing their true experience, it’s hard to know where to start. Or even what the results can really be!
Though there are plenty of successful authors who have harnessed the power of social media in their book promotion, many more are stuck, frustrated, and feeling lost. In this new series entitled “Social Media Tips for Authors, From Authors” my hope is that with an open dialogue we can get more authors comfortable with the business side of making a book release successful.
Our inaugural guest here to share her tips, advice, and experience is Young Adult author Nadine Brandes. Nadine is an the author of five YA books. Her newest, Romanov, is a hybrid of historical fiction and fantasy telling a re-imagined version of the Romanov family fate and how Anastasia may have survived long after 1918 (releasing from Thomas Nelson May 7, 2019). It is through Instagram that I first met Nadine, another incredible indicator of the power of social media. Without Instagram I likely never would have met Nadine. It’s also unlikely I would have ever had the chance to hear about her books, let alone read them!
Nadine has cultivated a dedicated community of over 17,200 followers (perhaps after reading this article you too will become one of them) and sports over thousands of likes on her Instagram posts where she showcases not only her own work, but also that of her fellow authors. So, how did she find such success on this social media platform? Let’s dive in to her Q&A below.
1. What made you decide to start an author bookstagram?
It actually mainly started just as a love for books—I didn’t start a bookstagram with anything author-related in mind. I started it waaaaay back before my first book released. My bookstagram didn’t “take off” until a couple years ago when I was already three published books in. I joined Instagram because taking photos of books is one way I recharge. It’s a “reward” for me after a day of writing or work. And I think that joy of bookstagram is what really helped it to grow—I didn’t enter in to it solely as a marketing strategy. I entered into it because I loved it!
2. What impact do you think Instagram has had on the success of your books?
A huge impact! Honestly, I don’t know that my books would have done half as well without Instagram. It’s helped my books to get in front of readers who may not have known about them. It’s opened the door to relationships with influential book-lovers. Instagram is basically the visual ripple effect for a book. It’s the virtual version of putting a book on the front table, face out, at a bookstore. I am so thankful for bookstagram and the many ways it’s helped spread the word about my books.
Books only get picked up if readers know about them. There are so many fantastic books out there that readers just haven’t seen or heard of yet. Instagram has bridged that gap for authors.
3. Why have you made working with Instagram Influencers (or #Bookstagrammers) a part of your book marketing strategy?
1) Because they are incredible people. Their passion for books is something that can’t be bought.
2) On a more logistical level, they can get my books in front of my target audience. There’s a YA book culture on Instagram and any author writing YA would be hard pressed not to see the powerful influence that Instagram has to spread the word about their books.
3) There’s an authenticity to Instagram that isn’t on other social media platforms. And that makes a bookstagrammer’s words about a book even more influential because they’ll usually be honest about whether or not they think readers should pick it up.
4. Do you have any advice on how to create relationships with book bloggers?
It really starts by being genuine and interested in their blogs! Create relationship and then let that work for you through a mutual acquaintance/friendship. When I reach out to bloggers or bookstagrammers, I look at their blogs or their feeds. I read about them and get to know them. I approach them as a person first and then a blogger (who might help spread the word about my book) second.
5. How do you balance being both a bookstagrammer and an author?
I make sure I’m intentional with my timing with both. I set aside a couple hours a week to take my bookstagram photos and then plan intentional writing time. Of course, I leave the freedom to be inspired whenever the inspiration hits for a new photo or new writing scene. But for the day-to-day, I limit myself to one hour a day doing bookstagram things and then spend the rest of the day tackling the author life demands.
Read Next: How Authors Use Instagram for Social Media Marketing
6. What have been your favorite aspects of using Instagram (or social media in general!) as an author who wants their book to be enjoyed by as many readers as possible?
That’s easy—connecting with readers and fellow booklovers! That may sound like a pat answer, but I greatly value relationship and I can’t imagine writing books without being able to grow relationship with my readers. There are many pros and cons to social media but I, for one, am incredibly thankful that I am an author during the social media age so that I can show readers that I am accessible, I’m a regular person, and I’m interested in ever single reader’s life.
7. Would you encourage another author to use Instagram or YouTube to spread the word about their books?
Definitely! Both are great platforms. But I would also caution authors not to just join them for the sake of promotion. Join them for the community, then let the promotion come naturally. 🙂
8. What practical tips could you give to an author just starting out on social media marketing?
1) Be real. Be human. When we enter into marketing it can be easy to be a bit robotic or the pass every post through the “how do I pitch my book” lens. For authors, it’s often intimidating to think about asking people to support their books. So hopefully it comes as a relief when I say that you don’t have to do that. Readers want to get to know authors. They want to see the life side of things. Share your process, post about things you love, mountains you climb. Open the door to your life, as much as you’re comfortable. Yes, it’s important to promote your book and let your followers know you have a book, but always start with the personal.
2) Try to post regularly. Start with a couple times a week, then as you grow you can move to once a day or every other day. As you ease in, you’ll learn more about your own style. You’ll grow more comfortable on the platform and that will show. Be careful not to jump in guns blazing and then totally burn yourself out.
3) Get to know others on the social media platform you’re entering into. Follow other accounts. Comment. Engage. Relationship goes two ways. 🙂
Also: understand going in to social media marketing that growth is slow. It’s that way with every social media platform. Don’t rest your worth—or your books’ worth—on numbers.
If you feel inspired by Nadine’s experience and would like some help understanding how to set your Author Instagram up for success, then head over to the Author Resources section of my website for handy tips and tricks OR sign up for a guided walk-through in my FREE Course: Instagram for Authors.
Have questions you want answered? Leave a comment below!
ABOUT NADINE BRANDES
NADINE BRANDES once spent four days as a sea cook in the name of book research. She is the author of FAWKES, ROMANOV, and the award-winning Out of Time Series. Her inner fangirl perks up at the mention of soul-talk, Quidditch, bookstagram, and Oreos. When she’s not busy writing novels about bold living, she’s adventuring through Middle Earth or taste-testing a new chai. Nadine, her Auror husband, and their Halfling son are building a Tiny House on wheels. Current mission: paint the world in shalom.
Books by Nadine Brandes:
Romanov releases May 7, 2019 from Thomas Nelson/Harper Collins! Click here to pre-order.
The history books say I died.
They don’t know the half of it.
Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before.
Nastya’s only chances of saving herself and her family are either to release the spell and deal with the consequences, or to enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya has only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction to Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her.
That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.
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Thanks for reading!
Til next time,
Bex Skoog (formerly Bex Gorsuch) is a professional book blogger and Instagram coach who, when she’s not connecting readers with their next great read, helps authors learn the ins and outs of their social media platforms, online book marketing strategies, and branding. She has been seen on publications like the Self Publishing Formula Podcast, BookSparks, the Literary Edit, and Inverse. Author Influence is her flagship course which teaches authors everything they need to know about successful book marketing on Instagram. For a limited time, she has made a free introductory course available. You can sign up for the free 3-day email course here.