Bookstagram is rapidly becoming my favourite thing.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you’re probably sitting there eating toast crumbs and rolling your eyes like, “Yes, CG, we kIND OF NOTICED FROM THE CONSTANT BARRAGE OF PHOTOS.” Ok, ok. I only half apologise for my posts being image-heavy because I love pretty covers.
Love !!!! them !!!
Before I go on, I will say: the algorithm gives me frikkin nightmares. I hate it and I have not figured out the secrets. Sometimes I’ll get like 5% reach despite having 50,000 followers and fshofrsffss I want to bite someone. So no algorithm hacks from me, but I do have hacks for…
taking photos if you’re on a really low budget
I don’t believe it’s true that “only rich people” can do well on bookstagram. Obviously the book photos that go viral ARE the ones where people have swords and crowns and whole rooms of books. I don’t begrudge people those opportunities! (My dreams too haha.) But you can run a successful account without spending a lot of money. My own bookstagram budget is quite small. I’ve had a lot of luck and opportunities that aren’t accessible to all, that has to be acknowledged, but let me see if I can share some tips that might work for you too?
…more bookstagram hacks you might like…
1. acquiring books cheaply
Now I (obviously) have a lot of books lmao. I have been insanely lucky and blessed by Australian publishers over the last 5 years of book blogging with them. No truly: most of my books are from publishers + library sales. I never bought books as a teen (couldn’t afford it) but as a working adult, I get to allocate some money towards books. I’m happy! I also landed a really nice freelance gig for a bookstore, where I blogged for them = got paid in book vouchers. It ended, but if you’re able to google around and look out for opportunities like that, they’re amazing!
You still don’t need ALL the books to have a successful account. My aesthetic is lots of books and overcrowded colours and being intense. But I have so so many favourite accounts that are minimalist. Like @br.enda @thefictionfaery and @everlasting.charm! And @annreads is incredible and takes photos of a lot of the same books.
Also I actually feature a lot of the same books over and over too.
Other Ways To Get Books Cheaper
➸ library sales if your library has them!
➸ apply for ARCs and review copies from publishers
➸ 2nd hand stores and thrift stores
➸ you can also take photos of library books and ebooks
➸ if you land rep work with a book box company, you can get books through them
➸ if people are gifting you things (birthdays! christmas!) you might ask for books
I want to acknowledge that OF COURSE this isn’t all “simple as simple” for a lot of people. Especially for international bookstagrammers. But I have more suggests coming up…
2. using photo manipulation for books you don’t own
Ok I’m excited about this because I discovered this site called DIY Book Design and they have a generator to make 3D book covers! My second book, The Boy Who Steals Houses, isn’t out for another month so I don’t have finished copies yet but I waaaaant so bad to photograph it. So look at this:
Obviously they are not perfect lmao…and I still have a lot of books in the background. But I was really excited to find this to help me promo my book. So maybe it could be useful for those of us who don’t always have physical copies of the latest releases?
3. photo editing for free
I don’t use Lightroom or anything paid. I used to use picmonkey but when that hoofed us out in favour of making us pay (DUDE…) I moved over to Ribbet.com and using a free Mac app on my laptop called PhotoscapeX. I also just downloaded the free VSCO app and most of the presets cost, but there are a few nice freebies. (I haven’t paid for it because I don’t yet use any filters myself.)
I also use Unfold (free app) for making nice looking Stories. Or Canva.com! I actually use canva for all my blog graphics too. CANVA IS LOVE.
The trick with editing is to make sure your photos are clear and bright. And filters help keep things consistent. You don’t HAVE to have a consistent feed, but my account was a cold potato until I did so. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
4. props? we gotcha props
I only use books and flowers. A LOT OF FLOWERS. I’ve taken a long time to build my collection and, again I’m so so lucky…but I got a ton of these for free from garage sales! I also use eBay and 2nd hand stores. I drew my background for my photos myself to keep with my rainbow theme. But I once had a fake-wood piece of material that I got for like $7 on ebay. So that’s worth looking into.
Hey but props can be anything. Mugs, pencils, laptop, tea, blankets, your bed, notebooks, candles…YOURSELF.
And also you can focus on JUST the books. (This is me tbh.)
5. and lastly…the camera
So this is hard, because you obviously need one and cheap cameras mean less quality. I don’t have an iPhone (iPod here, sir) so I started off using my parents’ DSLR and eventually I could afford my own Nikon on a sale. I still take everything on automatic though.
You can rely probably on editing to get you through. Especially if you use a nice filter.
But whatever camera you’ve got, remember: LIGHTING IS KEY! No flash. Take a ton of photos because, if you’re like me, about 7 out of 8 will be blurry lmao. Even if your images are simple — make sure they’re focused and there isn’t anything weird in the background. (Like, your kitchen or dog’s toy or whatever.)
I hope something here might help those of us who can’t spend a lot of money on bookstagram right now.
And I don’t want to diminish anyone who can’t utilise these tips because they’re still out of your price range. I’ve had a lot of luck with free flowers and free books. (Although I do work for the books!) Also time and practise have helped my photos improve. But hey, hey, I know it’s super easy to be jealous of other bookstagrammers. I go there. But we are still all doing our best to promote love for art and books. I can’t even express how epic it is, from a very small time author’s standpoint, to know people are taking photos of your book and helping you promote it out of love?! Eeep! This is also so amazing for minority authors and diverse books.
So shout out to all the bookstagrammers, big and small, who have got authors’ backs and just share their love for books through this art medium. You are marvels.
➸ And just before we go? I’ve seen people say you “have” to have an instagram to get ahead in blogging. But you don’t! Definitely not. If anyone wants a post on how to make nice graphics (for free) for your posts, shout out!
And hopefully it goes without saying but: BE INSPIRED by others = don’t copy or steal. 😘
do you have any tips to share?? any of these sound helpful to you? if you’re a bookstagrammer, tell us what you use for props or what your favourite style of photos are!