promote books

How to Promote Books on Instagram like a Pro


If you feel you’re an author who doesn’t need to be on Instagram to promote and market your book, you’re wrong. Now, I personally know a lot of authors out there who feel Instagram is all about selfies, travel photos, and images of lip-smacking food and that the app is totally not worth it to market a book. On the contrary, according to the statistics on Instagram published in the year 2015, the application has over 300 million users, over 30 billion photos in its database, and around 70 million photos are shared each day. If that’s not a huge market to promote our books, what is? In the earlier posts, we saw how, as authors, we can tap into some of the offbeat websites and social media platforms like Quora and GoodReads. And in this post we will see how authors are killing their book marketing on Instagram and how you can too.

Lets Insta!

Before we proceed, I would like to add a disclaimer here. Promoting books on Instagram is going to be fun and addictive. Chances are that you will get carried away and begin to solely focus on Instagram to market your book, deserting other strategies. Do not do this. Instagram marketing is only a part of a bigger plan of book marketing and to run a balanced campaign, you should ensure you’re on all the platforms out there. Yes, let’s Insta!

It all starts with an Awesome Profile Bio

Like  they do with every social media profile, one of the first things visitors to your profile will notice is your bio. On Instagram, the profile section appears right below your profile picture and the follower-following statistics. Since you are a writer, you should come up with a captivating profile bio that will wittily give the readers information about you, your caliber as a writer and your book. Also, Instagram allows you to add a URL on the profile bio section. Here, share the URL of the landing page of your book or the link to your book’s website. This will allow visitors and users to check your book out and purchase them when they find it interesting.

Quotes as Images

One of the most effective ways to captivate users on Instagram and turn them into potential readers is by painting images through words. Now, if you’ve seen Instagram pages like Recovery Sayings (, Deep Life Quotes, and the likes, they all have images as quotes over stunning images, minimalistic backgrounds, or concept art. Now, you should make an effort to access websites like Canva, where you can create stunning images for social media either by using templates or creating a custom background; handpick some of the best quotes, phrases, or dialogues from your book, use them on the image with the right typography and color schemes and post them on Instagram. When posting, you should remember to cite the page number and the name of your book below the quote for readers to know it’s from your book. When they find the quote interesting, they will automatically go to the link to you have provided on your profile bio page.

If you’ve written a non-fiction or a How-to book, compile the most important facts, statistics, and how-tos and make an image out of each of them. Add the page number and the title of your book and post them with the right hashtags (more on this below).

Terribly Tiny Tales:

This is something that went viral online on Facebook, on Twitter, and amongst blogging communities. Writers from all corners of the world poured out their imagination to tell stories within 30 words. As you know, weaving a story is easy but what’s tough is packing the essence of a story and the punch using minimal words is tedious. So, to captivate your followers and show them what you’re made of as an author, you need to consistently post tiny tales in the text-over-image format. Post one every two or three days or pick up a theme for a week and post a tale daily. Change your theme every weekend and set the cycle spinning again. As days pass, followers will be eager to see what tale you have to tell today and this will nail your online presence, increase your visibility as a writer, and establish credibility. For a dose of inspiration, check out the mythologist Devdutt Patnaik retelling the Mahabharata in just 36 tweets. Think creatively and kick start an amazing campaign. Check out this link to get an idea –

Post your Books Cover

If your book is yet to be published, you can make use of the remaining days to build curiosity around your book. Just a week or two before your books launch, unveil the cover image of your book to your followers and create a buzz about your book. Book covers tend to arouse curiosity about books and its one of the first things that catch the eye of a reader. So, launch your book cover on Instagram and have your followers talking about it online. If you want to do something more interesting, post two versions of your book’s cover and run a poll on Instagram, asking your followers to like one out of the two. Announce that the cover to get more likes will be the one to make it as your book’s cover. You will be amazed to see the response. After a couple of days of your covers launch on Instagram, reveal the blurb in the format mentioned on the above points as well. This will build on the buzz your cover creates for your book.


As far as Instagram is concerned, its all about hashtags. When you use the right hashtag, you invite and reach the right audience. I remember posting an image of me paragliding over the Himalayas using relevant hashtags and within seconds, I see likes coming in from trekking and travel agents, adventure groups, paragliding equipment suppliers, trainers, and everyone else associated with traveling and adventure. Apart from being happy about  the response and number of likes my picture got, what immediately struck me was that marketers were preying on me. They are always on the lookout for profiles on the platform where they can potentially promote their products and services to them directly. As authors, you should do it too. And for this, the perfect tools are hashtags. Earlier, we had come up with a comprehensive article on hashtags for writers and the article will tell you about which hashtag to use, when to use, and how to use it. This is a very useful article, which will give the right exposure to your posts and book on this amazing platform. Check out the article here:

What’s Instagram without Selfies?

A campaign on Instagram will be incomplete if there are no selfies. However, for our book marketing campaign, we will do something different. When your book is out in the market, all you have to do is ask your followers to take a picture, or a selfie to be precise, and post it on their profiles tagging you. To start off, post a selfie of yourself with your book and trigger the campaign. When announcing the campaign, give them a hashtag they can use while they post their selfies, as it becomes easy to track the reach of your book. Again, to make things more alluring, announce this campaign as a competition and tell them that the best selfie will receive incentives such as gift vouchers, signed copies of books, a rendezvous with you at a coffee shop, or anything that you will feel will reward your followers for their efforts.

What’s more, you can also compile the reviews you get for your book on ecommerce websites and release each review as an image, quoting the user who reviewed and the platform on which the review was posted. On the comment, thank the reviewer as it will help add credibility to you and your book and also entice readers to pick your book up. To add a cherry to the top, ask them to record and upload a ten-second video of them unwrapping your book after their delivery and catch their first reaction. Short videos on Instagram are really captivating and increase viewership and visibility of your book.

Follow other Authors and join the Game

Apart from running your own campaign, you should also participate in the campaigns of other authors by engaging with them. Follow other popular authors, including the ones who write on the niche or genre similar to yours, and build a rapport with them. Instagram is a great platform to build a friendly relationship and by interacting with other authors, you get to understand the strategies they use to promote their books. Besides, you will also get to know the market better and get ideas on how you can further go about promoting your book on Instagram.

Run Competitions

Competitions are an excellent way to build publicity for your book and for yourself. They pave way for more interactions with you and among your followers and keep your book marketing campaign alive. So for active engagement, conduct competitions such as giving your followers a quote or a phrase from your book and asking them to send a photograph they clicked that best matches with the emotion, mood, and the feel of your quote. Also, you can come up with competitions, where you ask your followers to submit concept art for your book such as scenes from your book, a book cover they visualize in their minds for your book, or an image of their favorite part of the book. It’s all up to you and your creativity to come up with varied and interesting competitions to promote your book. Here, you need to understand that competitions of any sorts have to be rewarded with incentives to keep users engaged.  You will not only see an increase in the number of followers you build as an author, but also notice increase in the visibility and the sales of your book.


Be prepared with gift vouchers or book merchandise or anything that would make your users happy and make them look forward to participating in your competitions.

As we said, Instagram is a really interesting social medium to run book marketing campaigns and we can bring in some variety in our campaigns, unlike other social media. Instagram users are always on the lookout for some creative and fun stuff on the pages they follow and if you deliver them that, they will ensure your purpose is met as well. So, we now know how to promote our books on GoodReads, Quora, on Facebook and Twitter, and now on Instagram, too. Any platform left? Well head there as well. #authorsrule #writerforlife #letsdoit

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Aravind S

Aravind, works as a publishing mentor at Notion Press. His articles help aspiring writers realize their dream of becoming a published author. He has several years of experience in the publishing industry and has researched on digital media and the future of print-publishing. He is an active mentor for a community of writers to educate and guide them toward writing a book that sells.

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