Bookstagram Advice: How to start a bookstagram!

So, you want advice on how to start a bookstagram?

This is the third post in a series of advice posts for bookstagrammers and bloggers! You can find the rest here, or find advice on getting ARCs here, and how to make your rep search entries more successful here!

There will be a follow up post for existing bookstagram accounts, on how to make your posts more successful, very soon!!

Please find the glossary at the bottom of this post.

1. Choosing a username

It’s always hard to chose a name which reflects you and your interests in a couple of snappy words. When choosing a bookstagram name it’s a good idea to feature a bookish element, i.e. cityoffiction- it has the word fiction and is a reference to the Mortal Instrument books. When you first start out other accounts who are also just starting out will be a lot more likely to follow you back if they can tell you are a bookstagram straight away.

Try combining words and references, or things you like.

For instance, Lauren at @fictiontea likes fiction and tea. It’s simple but incredibly memorable!

Make sure you aren’t choosing a name already taken. Even if you are hyphenating a username already in use, for instance @cityoffiction is taken but you use @city_of_fiction instead, that’s not a good move. Firstly, it seems like you are a copycat. Secondly, you won’t be memorable without an original name!

Try not to hyphenate at the start or end of your username as well, as this can make it difficult to remember your username for other users.

So, once you have a catchy bookish name, i.e. cloudydayreads, what next?

2. Start following other bookstagrammers

Though you might be following a few already you want to be following MORE once you are a bookstagram. Plus there are so many amazing bookstagrams out there, why deny yourself?

A good place to start is by looking through who you favorite bookstagrammers follow, and then taking a look at their accounts and seeing if you want to follow them! Follow other new bookstagrammers as well. Go through the recent uses of the #bookstagram hashtag and check out accounts there- these new bookstgrammers are more likely to follow you back.

3. Find an aesthetic

This one is a bit optional, and most people will fall into an aesthetic sooner or later anyway, but you can always do a little research into the kind of photography and feeds that are your favorites. Save pictures you really like for later inspiration, and make mood boards to help you along! Pinterest and using the new save option are both good ways to do this.

Most accounts will be taking pretty plain-ish photos when they first start, it’s also daunting to think you could be confined to one theme, but it does help your photography improve and gives you a visual guide. Other accounts with the same kind of theme may also be more likely to follow you!

4. Set up your photos

Find a good place in your house to take photos. Preferably somewhere with the same-ish background, because consistency looks good in feeds.

Think of a place that looks nice in photos, maybe a bedspread, a table, the outside world! It could be anywhere! Regardless of what people may tell you, phone cameras are great! They let you edit on your phone, and there’s no extra expense. Definitely don’t rush out and buy extra equipment because you feel you need to before you know you’re committed, you don’t want to waste money + lots of successful bookstagrammers don’t use fancy equipment and still produce amazing photos!

I can’t say this one enough- USE NATURAL LIGHT! Please don’t try and take photos with artificial lighting, they nearly always* come out grainy and weird looking. Try and use consistent lighting as well, so if bright sunshine is part of your photos continue to use it so your feed looks cohesive.

*unless you are using editing software or light boxes.

5. Post daily/ or as often as you can!

Bookstagrams grow faster with more regular posts, so the more you can post the better! Aim for at least one post a day if you are looking to grow your following. Posting is one of the only times you can be found by other bookstagrammers, as you will turn up on the hashtags you use, so make sure to make an impression.

6. Use the right hashtags

Using the right hashtags is important, because posting is one of the ways other bookstagrammers will find you.

I always use;

#bookstagram #bookstagrammer #bookstagramfeatures #igreads #instareads #instabook #yalit #yareads #yalove #yafiction #books #bookphotography #bibliophile #reading #bookish 

and then add on other tags when they are relevant-

#rainbowbooks #bookishrainbow or #yafantasy #acowar etc.

You can also tag the author and publisher in the post so other people can find it through their page.

7. Join photography challenges

Photography challenges are a good way to stay motivated and plan out your photos. Here is a bookstagram secret (well, not really, but my sister had no idea) most of us don’t take our photos on the day we post them. I take a months worth of photos over three days every month, and then post them on my practice account to work out the days.

It’s hard when you are taking so many photos to think of ideas for them all, so challenges are a really good idea!

They also encourage you to meet new accounts and become more involved in the bookstagram community. And you can always team up with some other people and make your own challenges!

You can find challenges on accounts solely dedicated to uploading the challenges from that month. Type bookstagram challenges into a profile search and you should find some! Or look out for the challenges your favourite bookstagrammers are participating in, and join them! There are no rules, you can join whenever and quit whenever and you can even do more then one challenge at once!

8. Catching up on the lingo

Around bookstagram we’ve got a couple of sayings that non-bookstagrammers (or muggles, take your pick) might not understand. But worry not, I am here to de-mugglefy you!

ARCs/ARC- ARC (mostly pronounced arc, like the boat) stands for Advanced Reader Copy and is a book sent out to reviewers/bookstagrammers before the books general release to promote the book on social media. Read my post about how to apply for ARCs here!

Bookstagram- a hashtag on instagram dedicated to the posting of book photos. Bookstagram has become the collective term for the bookish community on instagram, much like booktube on youtube and Booklr on tumblr!

Bookstagrammer- someone who posts on bookstagram. Do you post pictures of books? Then you sir are a bookstagrammer!

Candles- forget everything you know about candles. On bookstagram candles are gods.

Giveaways- giveaways are people giving away stuff! You’ll have to find the original post to find what the person is giving away and how to enter, but once you’ve followed the rules you’ll be in with a chance of winning!

Rep searches- you might see a lot of people posting rep search entries and wonder what is going on. Rep searches are when companies are looking for new representatives in the bookstagram community. They want people to take pictures of their stuff, and promote it to their audience, and in return the bookstagrammers get stuff sent to them! You can read my whole article about how to enter rep searches more successfully here!

Subscription boxes- sub boxes in bookstagram tend to be book boxes, which get sent out on a monthly (sometimes quarterly) basis. Boxes, for example Fairyloot and Owlcrate, send subscribers a box full of book related goodies and a chosen book each month, and everything is a complete surprise until it turns up! You’ll see them around, and you might witness a lot of unboxings as well.

Unboxings- when people get mail they like to show people whats inside! This could be anything- books, bookmarks, subscription boxes, candles, the list goes on! You can also post unboxings on your story- make sure to tag the shop so they can see!

Questions you still may have;

Why is everyone on bookstagram obsessed with candles? 

They smell good and look pretty.

What do the random assortment of capital letters and numbers on people’s bios mean?

They are rep codes! You can use them to get a discount at a shop.

How many times a day should I post?

Up to you, but try and be consistent with whatever you choose.

Do I have to buy all this stuff, books and candles and funkos, to be a popular account?

NO. Never think you have to buy into the commercial side of bookstagram to be a part of this community.

I want to make friends but I don’t know how?

Message them and let them know! Ask them their favourite book! Keep in mind bigger accounts may not have the time to respond to you, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t get one- instead try a smaller account!

What editing apps should I use?

I literally just use instagram, but I know VSCO is very popular.

Was this helpful? Let me know!

You can find me on bookstagram, I’m @cityoffiction!

The Bookstagram/Blogger Bible- Advice posts to help you start up and thrive!

I’m writing a series of posts about starting bookstagramming/book blogging and how to make the most of the experience!

I will be updating links as posts are uploaded, so you can check back for more (or follow me to see them when I post!)



  • How to start a book blog! (coming soon!)


ARC advice: How to get ARCS/or How to make your requests more successful!(with UK publisher contact list!)


Want to know how to get ARCS? Want to know how to make your requests more successful? Want to know what ARC means?! You’ve come to the right place!

This post is the second in a series of advice posts for bloggers/bookstagrammers!

There are already some ARC advice blog posts which are extremely helpful but they all focus around how to contact US publishers, not UK ones, so this is going to be a little different. I’ll share my general advice and then share some UK specific advice as well.

ARC stands for Advanced Reader Copy, and they are proof copies of books sent out by publishers to reviewers. These can also be called ‘Unfinished proofs’. For the purposes of this post I am referring to physical ARCs, but I will briefly talk about e-ARCs and netgalley (and there will be a whole post dedicated to this soon, so keep an eye open for it!)

Publisher’s send these a couple of months before the books general release to get an early pool of reviews, and to hype up publicity.

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Rep Search Advice: How to Make Your Rep Search Entries More Successful!

Before we start, a disclaimer: I’ve been made a rep three times for three different companies, but this in no way makes me an expert. These are not hard set rules, more advice from me to you on how to become a rep/be a good rep. You may even know things I don’t know, in which case leave a comment!

It’s also EXTREMELY important to remember that rep searches aren’t giveaways- you are being employed to do a job for someone. Please don’t enter rep searches if you just want the ‘stuff’, only enter if you are passionate about promoting that stuff to your followers.

1. Before the rep search is posted

Really the first steps to being chosen a rep starts BEFORE the rep search is even posted. If you have a favorite company then check out when their last rep search was held, and for how long a rep period the new reps will be kept on for. Expect a new rep search just before or just after these reps are retired.

Once you know around when the rep search will be held you should make yourself known to the shop owner (not in a creepy way!) but leave comments on their posts, make conversation. If you can, buy something from their shop and post pictures and unboxings. This will really make the shop owner remember you and they’ll know in advance that you’d be a dedicated rep.

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Reader Vocab: The Spoiler Zone


It occurred to me today, 140 pages in to Daughter of Smoke and Bone, that right front and centre on the cover is a glaring spoiler. I hadn’t noticed it before because it hadn’t meant anything to me, to pre-reading DoSaB-Katie it was just a tagline and would quickly be discussed in book. 140 pages (1/4 ish) of the way in and it hasn’t yet shown any sign of being mentioned or explained, and now I am spoiled. Sigh.

I would define spoiler as

Spoiler- a piece of information which gives away important plotline information about a form or media, i.e. a book or movie. This can be overheard physically, or read online.

E.g. Person 1: Did you hear that Jesus comes back to life after three days?

Person 2: What?! I’m not at that point yet! God, give a spoiler warning before saying things like that!

And a Spoiler Zone, a phrase I am making up myself to fill what is obviously a glaring void in our vocabulary, as-

Spoiler Zone- the period of time after you start consuming a form of media (i.e. a book or TV show) but haven’t yet finished it.

This is the period of time you are most likely to be spoiled. Before this point, before you even started watching friends, for example, you didn’t care that Ross and Rachel broke up because you didn’t know who Ross and Rachel are.

But you can bet after you start reading that book spoilers you’ve never even seen before will start flying out at you from all over, so the best way to combat it is to FINISH THAT BOOK before the spoiling can take place.

(But seriously, what kind of person puts an ACTUAL SPOILER on the front of a book? In my reviews I consider anything in the synopsis and up to 20% in fair game, but I am like 25% through now and there has BEEN NO MENTION OF THIS!)

This post is such a mess, but there you go! There’s a lot of phrases I use to explain my reading, and I’ve never written about them before, so I figured I should start explaining them. Also I’m annoyed about that spoiler!



Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli!

This is a spoiler free review! Thank you to Penguin teen for sending me a copy! This has in no way effected my review.

In the Upside of Unrequited we follow Molly, the slightly nerdier and slightly heavier twin to her sister Cassie. Also straighter: Cassie is gay. And on the look out for a girlfriend. This is how the story begins, with Molly in a club bathroom talking to a cool Asian girl with an even cooler t-shirt and introducing her to Cassie, which unwittingly starts a series of events that Molly could never have predicted.

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Everything Everything: an in-depth analysis into the ableism problem

Later this year the Everything Everything movie will come out, and people and opinions (I’m sure) will be divided all over again. If you haven’t read Everything Everything, or even if you have read it as someone who doesn’t delve into book twitter/tumblr or read goodreads reviews, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. To you Everything Everything (which I’m henceforth shortening to EE) is just a book with an extremely pretty cover and a movie trailer with some serious Beyoncé vocal magic going on.

What EE actually is is complicated (to say the least) and has been debated many times by many readers coming from a lot of different backgrounds. In many ways I have nothing meaningful to add to this conversation, but I would consider it an achievement if I make more readers think about the use of disabled characters/disabilities to further a plotline. I do suffer from a chronic illness which I do consider to be a disability (I’ll go into more detail later). I doubt I’ll actually come to a conclusion about how I feel about EE by the end of this mess of a post, because it’s been well over a year since I first picked it up and I’ve been conflicted ever since, but I do want to map out my thoughts on paper (well, screen) and see if that helps me at all.

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My 2017 Most Anticipated Read (and book buying ban).

Foreword: This blog post was written almost entirely in January, ten days into January to be precise. Like most things I left it in my drafts, and now I’ve come along and finally finished it. Yay! I don’t see much point in rearranging my original text to make it seem like I wrote all this in March (when this was so obviously supposed to be a start of year post) so expect some differences on time zones throughout. Enjoy!

I start this year with 35 books sitting on my shelves yet to read- and I am excited about all of them. Because of this, and believe me I wish I didn’t have to do this, I am going on a book buying ban. For a year. Starting now.

Actually, we are now 10 days into this ban, and I can confirm I have not *technically* brought any books yet. Technically, because I built in a few rules that will help me get through this long long year.

First of all, I am allowed to buy my most anticipated releases. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a list of all the books I am dying to read in 2017, and I then preordered them all, so I don’t have to worry about missing out. I also am allowed to buy a few sequels, because 99% of the unread books I own are firsts in a series, and I know never getting further then the first book in some of these will kill me.

So, without further ado, here comes my most anticipated books of 2017 up to May (aka. the ones I have allowed myself to preorder)(I will be planning my rest of year anticipated releases in late May, so I don’t miss any out).

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Favourite Books of 2016!

2016 was an alright reading year for me, I successfully finished my goodreads challenge of 50 books (which is a low bar to set for me, but I had a pretty busy year). It probably wasn’t helped by the fact I watched a lot of Netflix as well (damn you Stranger Things!) So let’s look at my overall favourites of the year.

I’ve tried my very best to order these in a countdown style, but with the last couple of books it became very difficult…

Let’s start with

The Wrath and the Dawn (not pictured)


My copy is out on loan atm, when you read a great book you just have to share it with friends.

The plot, the characters and the richness of the world made this a favourite this year. It took me a very long time to get into, I had problems with remembering all the new words for places and people, but once I had learned it all I was transfixed.

I’m hoping to read the Rose and the Dagger very soon!

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