3 Ideas to Inspire Instagram-worthy Book Posts

by Carol Van Den Hende
published in Community

Have you noticed how some book posts can really grab your attention on Instagram or other social media platforms? Let’s dive into three ideas to spark an Instagram-worthy book post! We’ll analyze how bookstagrammers, bookstores, and authors leverage covers to create great visuals.

Remember, these ideas don’t negate the need for solid cover design tenets (or for writing a stellar book to begin with!) Some foundational cover design tips include the importance of consistency and a single-minded brief. To read more on cover design, check out my DIYMFA article on this topic.

Back to Instagram. First, it’s worth remembering that Instagram is a visual platform, with the central highlight being video or still images accompanied by text story (you may have noticed Meta’s increasing push for reels to help it compete with Tiktok videos).

So what are some ideas to create an Instagram-worthy book post?

1. Echo a theme or element from the book cover. 

This works in a real life or in a digital post. Pick an element from your cover to echo in your book post. For example, notice how The Orchid Hour visual mirrors the leaf images on the side of the post, and how the magenta bubbles pick up color and tonal cues from Fiona Davis’ cover for The Spectacular in these digital posts:

In the below flower examples, study how one element can help provide inspiration for decorating an Instagram post. See how photographer Liwayway @jabberwowie decorated my Goodbye, Orchid post using flowers with a similar color family as my cover, how Sandra @palo.santo.and.pages surrounds The Chemistry of Love with heart images and flowers, and how @nurse_bookie mimicked the single flower image on This is How It Started:

Digital tools are increasingly allowing video animations that complement covers. Visit this link to see how @sharada both mirrors the lemon background of Rachel Hawkins’ The Villa and enhances the book post with fluttering butterflies (she achieves this effect with an app called Motion Leap) 

2. Repeat an image to help it “pop”

The above examples show how repeating an element from a book cover can catch your eye. That’s because human brains are wired to seek patterns. Likewise, you can use that idea of repetition by repeating your book covers themselves. 

The below example from @palo.santo.and.pages repeats two covers from author Sarah Ready. Because they both feature figures at the outer edges of the design, they appear to connect when placed side-by-side. In another example, I repeat my Orchid Blooming and Goodbye, Orchid covers to capture attention for a holiday promotion:

As a side note, the Sarah Ready covers point out a trend towards animated covers. In my article on 2023 book cover trends, I share how the rise of digital marketplaces has increased the use of illustrated, cartoon-like characters and bold pops of color. This trend helps books visually stand out in a crowded sea of thumbnail-sized covers. These can do a good job being recognizable at a glance, and catching the viewer’s attention through simple colorful images.

3. If it suits your book, consider a cover whose image can be continued in real life. 

Some of the most clever posts juxtapose real-life with the book cover. See how book influencer, James Trevino, has created book posts like this one where he and his partner use their own faces to continue the partially hidden images on the book cover. 

In my December 2021 book cover roundup article, I share how covers often don’t show the model’s full face, to allow the reader to use their imagination to picture the characters. See how @compulsivereadersblog leveraged this to create a playful and memorable post for Really Good, Actually.  

@bnkahului brought Spare to life by visually connecting Prince Harry’s photo with a person standing behind the book. @secretreadinglife continued the horizon line in Yesterday’s Tides with a background of real-life grass, water, and sky to create an eye-catching image.

As a bonus, here’s one more note on trends. 

You may have noticed that trending themes can arise in bookstagram posts. Over the years, “foot stacks” have displayed books balanced on a shoe, or color-themed book stacks have raised awareness for a particular social cause. 

If you’re timely, you can opportunistically jump on these trends. Some are short-lived, so try not to appear dated by following too slowly. One fairly recent example is the inclusion of arrows to point out different facets of a book. This works well to draw the viewer’s eye to key selling points. @old.enough.for.fairytales uses arrows to point out aspects of the below stack of novels. @kikimojo’s eye-catching post for Merritt and Her Childhood Crush uses arrows to highlight the book’s benefits.

This has been a fun topic! Let me know if you explore any of these ideas to create Instagram-worthy book posts:

  1. Echo a theme or element from the book cover
  2. Repeat an image to help it “pop”
  3. Consider a cover whose image can be continued in real life

One final reminder. Don’t chase postable covers over ones that are true to your book and are consistent with your brand. The basic cover design principles still hold — be clear on your target audience and the single-minded message that your cover needs to deliver, and do so in ways that are consistent with your series and brand.

Now it’s your turn: keep the conversation going by sharing your thoughts and examples in the comments section, and let me know if you’d like more articles like this one!

Carol Van Den Hende is the award-winning author of the Goodbye, Orchid series, a public speaker, and MBA with 20+ years’ experience in marketing, strategy and insights. Plus, she works in chocolate (there’s no ‘sweeter’ job!)

Her novels Orchid Blooming and Goodbye, Orchid are inspired by wounded veterans and have won 30+ literary and design awards, including the American Fiction Award, IAN Outstanding Fiction First Novel Award, and Royal Dragonfly Awards for Cultural Diversity and Disability Awareness. 

Buzzfeed, Parade, and Travel+Leisure named Carol’s books a most anticipated read. Glamour Magazine recommended her “modern, important take on the power of love.” The International Pulpwood Queens selected Goodbye, Orchid as a 2022 Bonus Book-of-the-Month and Orchid Blooming as a 2023 International Book-of-the-Month.

Carol’s mission is unlocking optimism as a writer, speaker, strategist, Board member and Climate Reality Leader. One secret to her good fortune? Her humorous hubby and twins, who prove that love really does conquer all.
You can find her on her website or follow her on Twitter, and Facebook. Please sign up for Carol’s newsletter at https://carolvandenhende.com/contact or linktr.ee/cvdh.

Enjoyed this article?