Bookstagram, and Instagram in general, is so funny. It’s meant to be fun, a hobby, and a business for some but it’s so easy to get frustrated. I now have over 20k followers, which is mind blowing and exciting to me. I am really grateful that people visit my page and want to interact with me. But I try not to take too much stock in how many people there are and instead focus on the things that keep me motivated- connections with readers from around the world (!!) and taking about books. I’ve been thinking about why I’ve been able to stay consistent with it for so long (just hit 3 years in April!) and I wanted to share some things that have worked for me.
Here are eighteen things to let go of right now if you want to stay happy on Bookstagram.
ARC Jealousy. Lots of bookstagrammers get books sent to them. It really is the coolest. But in general, we work for it. There’s effort that goes into taking photos and consistently posting and interacting and it’s really nice to have access to books early so I can read and possibly recommend come publication day. It also doesn't happen overnight (for most of us.) I think I posted for a full year before having anything sent to me.
Theme judgment-The discussion about theme or no theme has become an argument I see pretty often. If you want to stay happy- my recommendation is do what you like. If you like themes- great! Make it happen. If you don’t like themes or think they’re boring… then it’s probably best to just keep it moving. Personally- I think themes are cool. I wouldn’t be able to keep up with one myself, but if that’s your aesthetic then go hard! It's also my opinion that you don't NEED to have a theme to grow- there's plenty of accounts that have a lot of followers that go themeless.
Not disclosing. When someone posts something that got sent to them for free, there are guidelines about disclosing. (You’ll see something like #freebook or #partner with the publisher tagged.) Some Instagrammers choose not to disclose when books are sent to them for whatever reason. It makes me nuts. I think a part of it is that the #Partner tags can destroy the “look” and flow of captions and might discourage some engagement. It’s my opinion that collectively-we need to get over it. It's the FTC rules. If you get something that’s sent to you, you gotta disclose. I do think bookstagrammers get oddly held to this rule way more than other Instagrammers, but I learned a long time ago to do it and move on.
Fretting about that damn algorithm. I dont know how it works. No one knows how it works. I'm guilty of over thinking about it too- my engagement is sometimes super low compared to my follower count. But that's ok! We're all just guessing here and I feel better when I'm able to focus on the people that do see my post.
Following then unfollowing. Why.
Feeling compelled to read the BUZZY books. I’m guilty as hell of this. I do LOVE a highly anticipated new release. I pay attention to what’s coming out and it’s fun to read books that everyone else is reading to see how I like it. But if you find a book isn't calling to you- it's totally okay to pass on it, no matter the hype.
Along these same lines… lets let go of judging books too harshly for being too popular. I get why this happens- high expectations can ruin the experience in many ways. But I feel like some people love to be overly critical of books that have a lot of positive reception. Maybe there is a good reason people are losing their shit over a book?
Feeling like you have to get to X number of followers to do what you want. I was guilty of this too. For the first year or so, I didnt request any books because I thought I was too small. Let the publisher be the judge of that! There's nothing wrong with asking. You might be surprised at what you get.
Tagging authors in negative reviews- it's mean and weird. They're obviously not able to do anything about whatever you didn't like about the book, I think it's best not to directly alert them.
Taking a “perfect” photo- don’t let perfection be the enemy of the good.
Only posting “good” reviews. I think this is personal preference for sure, but I’m happy to post my authentic thoughts about a book even if I didn't like it. I try to be respectful and very clear about what worked and what didn't. Reading is SUCH a subjective experience, so what didn't work for you might work for someone else. My reviews are for my readers, not necessarily for the authors. But again- NO tagging. Not a lot of good will come from it.
Feeling bad about blocking people. There are some folks I’ve run into on the platform that did things I didnt agree with. Whether it was following and unfollowing (damn near daily), writing an ignorant comment, or bullying other people, I have little tolerance. Not naming names- but it’s my feed and I want to try and keep it positive. I can take constructive criticism, but ignorance, I cannot.
Bookstagram itself if it’s no longer making you happy. At the end of the day, this is a hobby. You don’t owe anything to anyone but yourself. If posting isn't serving you anymore, it's ok to scale back or let it go altogether.
Overposting. I post once per day, but it works for me. I've got a streak of about 2 years going and I’m not ready to break it. But, the minute it feels stressful or otherwise unhealthy, I’ll cut back.
Feeling like you need to buy ALL OF THE BOOKS/props/etc to be successful. I probably spent too much money on stuff that I’ll never use again when I first started taking pictures of my books. I'm a huge fan of library books- and still take photos of them on my feed, despite my big collection.
Book shaming people. In general. If someone wants to write in their books, cool. If someone likes to keep their books totally pristine, that’s cool too! Not your book, not your business.
Your comfort zone! Try new things. It might really hit and you might find out that you love it! Or it might not work, and that's okay too.
Trying to make everyone happy. There are SO MANY people on Instagram who like to talk reading. If you like some super obscure book, great! Post about it! You might find some people who were just waiting to see it. Don’t worry about “trying to get likes”. If you post something that makes YOU happy, then you're good.
Please keep in mind- these are all easier said than done. Just yesterday, I posted a giveaway that only got a few entries and I wasted way too much time checking to see if the photo finally picked up. But I know that when I am able to focus on the good that comes with Bookstagram and stay in the right frame of mind, I’m happier overall.
What would you add to this list?