Thursday, August 23, 2018

Interview: Marie Landry, Bookstagrammer, Talks Creativity, Hashtags and Connecting with the Bookstagram Community as an Author

Who loves #bookstagram? *Raises hand.* I stalk a lot of bookstagrammers over on Instagram. Like, a lot. The bookish love. The bookish photos. The bookish community. It all makes my book-loving heart ridiculously happy. One of my favorites is Marie Landry, who's a romance author and a bookstagrammer, and if you're a romance lover and you're NOT following her, you absolutely should be.

Marie was kind enough to sit down and talk with Across the Board this week and talk all things #bookstagram, including hashtags and how authors can connect with this vibrant, book-loving community.

First of all - the photos! The set up is amazing. Do you actually have all of the things you use in your photos or do you use stock photos? What kind of equipment do you use to take your photos?

Everything you see in my pictures is mine; I collect props - regular household items, bookish merch like candles and bookmarks, flowers, FunkoPops, etc., and of course the books, both physical and ebooks - and arrange the setup myself. They’re all taken in my bedroom/office either on my bed or on a table. I do a variety of flatlays and ones that show my bookshelves in the background. Some bookstagrammers have fancy cameras and lighting (I’m envious!) but I just use the camera on my 3-year-old Samsung phone and make sure to take pictures when the natural light is good.

Has your process changed now that you've been bookstagramming for a few years? If so, how?

I’ve learned a lot through trial and error, and from other bookstagrammers. Last year, I discovered the mobile app version of Lightroom and started using it to edit all my photos. It was a complete game changer, especially in the winter when the natural light was terrible. Lightroom can take a poorly-lit or dull picture and turn it into something bright and vibrant. I’ve also started taking as many photos ahead as I can; I try to spend one morning a week taking a bunch of pictures so I have a stock for the week and don’t have to haul out all my books and props every day.

The bookstagram community seems really creative, but how do you keep coming up with new ideas?

I’m constantly inspired by my fellow bookstagrammers. I love to look at other people’s pictures and I save my favourites to refer to for inspiration. I also participate in monthly challenges (and even co-host one) that give you daily prompts. They’re great for helping you think outside the box and keep things varied.

Your posts always have a fox in them. Is that your signature?

It is! A friend made it for me last Christmas because I love foxes. I used him in a few photos, then realized he’d make a great signature prop and now he’s in all my photos. A lot of people have told me how much they love Foxy, especially when he’s peeking out from somewhere. Oddly enough, having him in all my photos has helped me get even more creative.

I always pay attention to bookish hashtags. Which ones are your favorites?

First, for those who don’t know, you can use up to 30 hashtags per post, and I always use the full 30 for maximum exposure. (If you don’t like how it looks, post the hashtags in your comments with 5 lines of dots first so the comment collapses and hides itself.) You want hashtags with under a million photos, otherwise yours gets lost quickly, and with more than a few thousand so people actually see them.

A few of my favourites are #booknerdigan #booktography #bookcommunity #coverlove and #bookgeek. I also use hashtags for genres and categories, like #contemporaryromance and #yalovin, plus sometimes the name of the author whose book I’m posting. I have a list that I copy and paste, and I try to mix in at least a few different ones each time because apparently Instagram can flag you for spam if you always use the exact same hashtags. Also, be sure you’re not using banned hashtags because they won’t show up in searches - oddly enough #books is banned, so don’t use that one!

To authors who are hoping to connect with the bookstagram community, what advice would you give?

Bookstagram is a great place for authors to connect to readers AS readers. Talk about other people’s books at least as much as your own. Nobody likes people who are all about self-promo and that applies to bookstagram as well. I talk about my own books sparingly; I find Instagram stories and highlights are a great place to share information about my writing and my books so it doesn’t feel like I’m filling my feed with self-promo. To me, bookstagram is about building connections, and that takes time, especially if you’re an indie, newbie, or unknown author. Build a rapport with people, like and comment on their pictures, ask questions in your captions that will engage people.

Unless you’re attempting an actual bookstagram account (which should be all books all the time; I learned this the hard way a couple years ago when I tried to add in non-bookish pictures and had a lot of unfollowers, so I started a separate account), be sure to post some personal things too. People want to feel connected and they want to know the person behind the keyboard/phone. Give them little snippets of your real life - hobbies, travel, fashion, writing updates, whatever - and they’ll come to care about you and be invested in your personal story, which will hopefully lead them to being invested in the stories you write as well.

I love all of this advice. Also, time to stop using #books in my IG posts. Are you part of the bookstagram community? Any tips to add or questions for Marie? Post them in the comments!


Kimberly G. Giarratano said...

I love Bookstagram. I keep hoping to see my own books on there, all stylistically posed. It's art.

Brenda St John Brown said...

It is! Bookstagram makes my book-loving heart so happy.

Carrie Beckort said...

Great interview! 1. Download Lightroom (done) 2. Go find more Bookstagram pages to follow. Thanks for stopping by, Marie!

Cheryl Oreglia said...

I wasn’t familiar with this media! What a great interview, I’m hooked!

Brenda St John Brown said...

I need to download Lightroom, too! It's always so damn dark here!

Brenda St John Brown said...

Thank you! I love Instagram, but bookstagram is whole different level up!

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