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!)