How To Maximise Instagram For Authors...

If there's one thing that almost all #authors will agree on it is that we all hate #marketing. It takes #time away from #writing, something that is just plain wrong. And as if that's not enough, everything is always #changing. #Social #Media is always moving forward with brand new ideas and we have to stay ahead of the crowd, to keep our #content fresh and exciting, otherwise we risk losing #engagement.

It is a nightmare...

But it really doesn't have to be.

First before we begin, I need to tell you that even before pushing yourself towards social media you need to know your #audience. Different people are on different social networks and so you most likely won't find the same readers on Instagram as you do on Twitter and again on Facebook.

That said, if you're up for the challenge, you can use a variety of different social medias and see which ones work best for you. As an author, I use most platforms but it's important to not spread yourself too thin. It's better to do one thing well than five things poorly. You can always start with one and add other's later.

Nearly everyone uses social media at least once a day so if you're not using social to #promote your #author #brand you are making a big mistake. The top three Social Media Platforms being used each week (in America at least) last year were Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. (Check out the survey)

Today we're going to focus mostly on #Instagram because let's be realistic, all anyone ever does is talk about Facebook... and if you use Instagram well, you can make it work for Facebook too. If you're not aware, Facebook owns Instagram so you can easily link your Author Page on Facebook to your Instagram account and share your feed posts, stories and IGTV videos across both platforms. It's a total win win.

Your Profile Avatar

Name & Description

Let's start at the very beginning. You've just set up your account and your buzzing with excitement. First things first, you need to make sure that your profile reflects your #niche. It needs to be OBVIOUS that you are an author and what genre (and sub-genres) you write.

I'd recommend setting your profile up as a #creator profile because then you can literally pick the "author" #category, presumably increasing your #visibility in "author" #searches. As well as that, you'll want to maximise on the 30 characters you're entitled to in the Name section and add #Author there too. If you have a particularly short name you might even be able to add your #genre info... Example: Occult Author Tom Ben or Romance Author Ali Wick.

It's all about key words to put it simply. You want to be using the right words in your bio/ description. I personally use hashtags for this, to highlight them. So all my genres are hashtagged in my bio. I also created my own hashtag #HBBooks hoping that in time my #readers would use it when talking about my books on social.

Website Link

Next you're going to want to add a link. Hands down the worst thing about IG is that you are only allowed one #link and no #links in posts but actually I sort of think it adds something. You might get less #link #clicks but you know that the person has had to actively choose to go to your #profile to get the link. You can already tell they're invested.

But if you're only allowed one link it's almost impossible to do everything we want to do, right? Wrong.

With you can set up a page of links so you could list your website, newsletter sign up form, a giveaway, your amazon profile and any other store links you might want to share easily. There's no limit to the number of links but I'd keep it low personally. You don't want to overwhelm people. You want it to be as simple and direct as possible.

Story Highlights

Third thing you're going to want to set up is your #story #highlights. There are a lot of different things you can do with this #feature. You might have a #highlight for your #giveaways or a #highlight for reader shout outs. The options are endless but what I choose to do is #highlight my #books. I have a #highlight for each of my #book #series and a #story for each #book in chronological order. These #stories probably get seen more than any other so for me it made sense to highlight the reason I'm on IG - my books. I'm not asking people to buy them, just making them aware that they exist.

You can change the cover of the highlight so personally I went with my Author Signature so that they are all the same. Plus it gives it that #brand feel.

Your Goals & Expectations

At this early point in your social media journey it's important to ask yourself what you want to achieve using it. It's important to make sure that your goals fit with the social platform. So let's say your goal is literally just to sell books, that's fine but you need to understand that if you just post book promos, you will fail. Not only will no one engage in your posts but you won't sell books through the platform. It's about realising that not everything has a direct result. You don't always achieve your goal immediately.

Building Your Newsletter Following

The best goal I can recommend is using social media to encourage readers to join your #newsletter. Then once their on your newsletter list, you'll find that's where you should see your #sales happening predominantly. That doesn't mean that people won't see your promo from time to time and rush onto #Amazon to pick it up. Of course, they will but it isn't a #sustainable #marketing plan if you're relying on that and you are going to burn out trying to keep posting promos that aren't #visible and aren't being #engaged with. #Spam doesn't #sell.

There are a variety of ways you can do this using #INSTA and we'll get into them a little later, but I'd strongly suggest that your main focus should always be your #newsletter. Joining your newsletter, should be a frequently used Call To Action.

Making Connections & Building Relationships

Social Media is at it's best when it's used to get to know people. It's an #online space where you can introduce yourself, connect with like-minded people - your #audience, and really #engage with them. This should definitely be a goal. It's not about having x number of #followers but rather having x number of people #engaging with you and your #brand through likes, comments, views, DMs, profile visits and link clicks.

Let's take two scenarios, you have 100K followers but only 100 of those #followers ever like your posts or watch your stories. Half of that comment on your posts and you're lucky if you get a DM a week. Alternatively, you only have 1K followers but half of those like your posts and watch your stories. A couple of hundred occasionally comment on your posts and when you ask for DMs your inbox is always full.

Which would you prefer? And what's the different?

Personally, I'd prefer the 1K because they have a real connection. I'm not saying that you shouldn't have a lot of followers, of course, you want followers but it's about ensuring the right people are finding you and then when they do find you, they #engage with your #content and your #brand.

Your Audience

That brings us on quite nicely to our next important thing to consider... You've heard it before that you need to know your #audience and if you're anything like me that sentence is beginning to get a little bit tedious. But it couldn't be any less true.

Key Details

You might feel compelled to write out a profile of exactly who your #readers are but lets be realistic, it's time consuming. Instead, list three things your intended audience have in common... Are they obsessed with books? They read Fantasy books? They're female/ male? Find three key details about them and consider them when you're trying to interact with them.

Who Are They Following?

Check out the competition. It might seem cheeky but it's really not. It's important to learn from each other. Find out what those authors are doing right and how you can take what they do and make it work for you. A great example of this is the link. I found out about it through spying on other authors and it's one of the best things I've ever learnt.

What hashtags are they using and following?

When you go to a person's profile, you can also see which hashtags they are following. Pop into their "following" list and check out those hashtags. Follow them. Interact with them. Use them in your posts. Simples.

Ask Yourself What You Are Offering?

What is it that your books will give your audience that other books won't? What is it that makes you and your books unique and precious? With what intention do you write? To make your reader smile? Cry? To destroy their soul? Do you want to inspire people with your words? Put your intention into words, a sort of tagline and try and incorporate that thinking into your posts. If you're goal is to bring a little bit of sunshine to every reader's world, then post pictures of sunshine from time to time. Show people what you offer them!


It's fair to say you need a #content #strategy. You don't just want to post any old random stuff. You want to post specific #content with a specific #objective in mind.

Content To Grow

This content is all about building “Traction” and bring people to your profile. It's introducing people to your #brand for the very first time, showing the wider IG world who you are and what makes you relatable to them and how following you will add #value to their social media experience and perhaps more importantly, their lives.

To build traction, you need to be posting #consistently. Be reliable, give your followers (and potential followers) the security of knowing that if they #follow you they will see awesome #content #frequently, not just from time to time. It’s about building #expectancy and #excitement about future posts and about creating that crazy desire to scroll through your feed, liking EVERYTHING when they first find you.

It’s being “visible” using all the #features that IG gives us especially the newer ones. The #algorithm definitely seems to works to the advantage of #stories and #IGTV so make sure you’re using them. #Share your #IGTV #videos to your #story and #feed to maximise #visibility and #share your #feed #posts to your #story.

It’s important to use #engagement to gain #followers. We need to become “Conversation Starters”, ask questions and build posts that have a “CALL TO ACTION” that is impossible to resist. You want to be giving them exactly what they want when they want it. Sounds hard? But it's not. As #authors we know exactly what #readers want. They want #books! So long as you know what sort of books readers are currently looking for, you can't go wrong.

So from what I've seen this year there are Romance trends in Mail Order Bride, Small Town, Royalty, Pretend Engagement, Friend to Lovers, Enemies to Lovers, Medical and more. Everyone is loving Dual Perspectives right now too. So either #write to #market or #promote your back #catalogue according to #current #trends.

It’s important to remember that you need to add “Value”. If they follow you what do they gain? This falls into what you decided your intention was. It could be that your feed is encouraging, upbeat, supportive… etc. It might be that you’re always interacting personally with your followers, you send them a welcome message when they first follow you, just to say hi. It could be the book quotes and memes that you share that never fail to make them smile. It’s about being #attractive and #compelling people to #comment and #share your #post.

Share on your feed why you write, why you love books, why you write your genre. It’s about creating a conversation around who you are.

Content To Sell

Remember how I told you not to go crazy trying to sell books. While that was 100% true, it's definitely important to #promote your #books. After all, people are #following you because you #write #books.

Like I've said before most IG businesses are trying to provide a solution to a problem, it's tea to make you skinny and hacks to improve your social media engagement, lol. As authors, we're not really trying to solve our readers #problems but we can still use the system to our advantage.

What sort of problems do our followers have? They are looking for books - no duh. They are looking for "cheap" books - like everyone's out for a #freebie. They are looking for books about certain things, i.e. current trends or possibly the opposite.

So, our solutions... are our books! Lol.

Post teasers, promo videos, 3D book graphics (with those IG favourite backgrounds - seriously it's all flowers and shit, right?).

Share Your Wins! Posting your best #reader #reviews to your #feed, sharing when you hit best-seller, sharing when you #release your 10th, 20th, 25th, 30th (and so on) book. It's posting your #Amazon #Rankings when they hit a peek.

It feels arrogant and weird - like you're bragging, right? - but actually it should be natural to share your #successes with your Social #Family, the same way we do with our real family. When you get a promotion at work, you rush home to share it with your family, right? So how is this different?

It's important to prove yourself to be an authority on a subject. But how can you prove yourself to be an authority on books? It seems too abstract, right? #Review and #Recommend other author's books but make sound recommendations. Make sure that when you recommend a book, it's something that your followers really will love.

Use other #authors and #bloggers #authority to your advantage. Let their #promotion of your work, their authority become your authority. Let's say you're a reader and your favourite author is recommending a book from an author you don't know, do you buy it? Of course you do because you trust that your favourite author knows what sort of books you like and therefore they're not just an authority on books and their genre, but on their readers!

Be an authority on your readers... Who they are, what they like, what they read... etc.

Content To Build Your Brand

Your author brand consists of two things; you - the person and your books. Your brand isn't just that one book you've already written but the mind that book came from, and all the other books that will follow after it.

In 2019 people are more focused than ever on building real connections with people. They want to know you #personally. Weirdly, they want to see your holiday pictures. They want to see your #writing #process. They want to know what you love and what you hate. Being yourself is more important than anything else.

Ask yourself... Who you are? Not just you the author but personally… What makes you “YOU”? Find some #key details that you can plug away at. Things that make you unique, things that will make people think of you.

Let me use myself as an example… I’m British. I was born in Edinburgh. I was obsessed with Harry Potter growing up. I’m almost thirty and scared… I come from a big family with four sisters and one brother. I want to move to Asia.

These are just a few of the many things that make me Hanleigh. Actually, these are the things that make me Hannah if we’re being real, and Hanleigh is an extension of Hannah’s identity.

It's about finding things that will stick in people's minds so that when they see it they'll think of you and want to share it with you. It could be that you love looking at clouds, you have dogs, or something. The main thing is that it needs to be somewhat unique because they need to think of YOU and not you and ten other people. If they think of eleven people, you might not get engagement as a result of the thought. If they just think of you, you’ll get a DM or a tag. Win. It's in this way, this very personal form of marketing that you will be able to build those real #authentic #relationships.

As for your Author Brand, you’ll want to use your branding in your posts; logos, author signatures, taglines, etc. You want your posts to be recognisable instantly. The key here is to “tell a story”, or to be more exact, “tell your story,” what you’ve gone through and what you’re going through. Share your experiences: good and bad. It’s about being #authentic and #real. The goal is to build #trust.

Share the stories behind your books, what you were going through when you wrote them, your #inspiration and #motivation. Share your experiences as a reader, after all, all authors are readers first, right? Share book memes and quotes that really reflect how you feel.

Your Grid

It's important when thinking about your #content #strategy to remember to consider how it's going to look on your grid. It's important to spread different types of content out. Don't just post promos one day and then memes the next. Plan it out...


Post #1 - Behind The Scenes - Me Writing

Post #2 - A Reader's Review

Post #3 - A Book Promo

Post #4 - Meme or Quote

Post #5 - General Life

Post #6 - A Book Promo

It's about variety. Don't let it get stale.

Top Tips To Sell Books

Giveaways & Reader Magnets - People love freebies but don't over do it. You want to develop a following of people who don't just take a freebie but buy the next book. In my opinion, you want to have a giveaway in your list tree running at all times, plugging people into your mailing list.

Share Your Successes - Post about your reviews, your amazon rank and when you hit best seller.

Share Teasers and Book Promos.

You can post to IGTV videos of you reading your books.

Request shares from other authors and blogs.

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