The blog is back!
I took February off to finish up a novel and to help Lara get the next issue of Conclave out. In case you’re wondering–Ben Kincaid is back! Justice Returns will soon be available. The Balkan Press has two new titles, Fetish and Other Stories, a lovely collection of short fiction, and Whimsical Warrior, a poetry book out in a few weeks. Lara’s novel, The Wantland Files, is doing phenomenally and was recently nominated for the Oklahoma Book Award. The summer writing retreat schedule is posted and we’ll soon be providing details about the fall writing conference.
Enough update. Back to blogging. I want to continue the prior discussion about marketing, this time focusing on Instagram. Whether we like it or not, social media marketing has become essential to book promotion. Most of you are probably already using Facebook and perhaps Twitter. But you may be overlooking Instagram, currently the fastest growing social media outlet, either because you think it’s just for kids or because you think it’s more about pictures than words. The latter part is true–but that doesn’t mean you can’t use it to attract readers.
Instagram has about 500 million readers, and 300 million of those post or visit every day. Who are the people? According to the Pew Research Center:
- 32% of all internet users (and 28% of all US adults) use Instagram. Would you like to reach 28% of all US adults?
- Instagram use is highest among young adults, but 33% of 30-to 49-year-olds also use Instagram.
- Females are somewhat more likely to use Instagram than men, 38% to 26%, respectively.
So Instagram may be best for those targeting readers between 18 and 49, but almost anyone could benefit. Creating a profile is easy. All you need is a username and a short bio, though I would also add a photo. And start posting. Don’t expect overnight success. Like everything else in the world of writing, it takes time to build an audience.
How are authors using it? Tyler Knott Gregson has used it to become the bestselling poet writing today, with book sales far greater than the more traditional or academically approved poets. He typically handwrites or types out his short poems and posts photos. Agent Gordon Warnock’s Instagram feed is named for his dog Archer–it’s called archersnack. He posts a lot of dog pictures, which people love. Other authors have posted book covers, photos from signings and events, or gorgeous photos of the settings of their books or the places where they live or write.
Lara and I were at Eureka Springs’ Books in Bloom festival and I started playing the piano because, you know, no one could stop me. Moments later, Tess Gerritsen had snapped a photo and posted it, which drew her many readers to my page (though they were more interested in what I was playing than what I was writing).
The site has added Instagram Stories, which allows you to string together photos or videos to tell a story. And there is Boomerang, which allows you to post a series of 20 or so photo frames which Instagram will speed up to create a looping video.
Here are some suggestions for finding a following on Instagram:
- Choose a regular posting frequency and stick to it.
- Cross-promote from other channels. Don’t hesitate to ask your Facebook friends to join you on Instagram.
- Create a consistent photo theme. For instance, I may mention other books on Facebook and Twitter, but on Instagram I’m strictly a poet.
- Use hashtags. On Instagram, you can use lots. #instapoet, for one.
- Create quote images or “memes,” always popular and frequently reposted.
- Share your followers’ posts. Khloe Kardashian reposted a Lang Liev poem, and the next day her following (and book sales) skyrocketed.
- Include faces in your images occasionally. Including yours. People are drawn to faces.
- Share Instagram posts to Facebook. You’ve already created it. Might as well.
I hope that’s helpful. I’m also attaching a link to my summer writing retreats. Two have already filled, so if you’re thinking about attending, don’t wait till the last minute.
Summer Writing Retreats: http://www.williambernhardt.com/red_sneaker_wc/writing_retreats.php