Using Instagram to Grow Your Author Business

by Stephanie BwaBwa
published in Community

If I told you Instagram can become a relentless, reader magnet machine for your author business, would you be interested?

Because author, that’s exactly what it can be if that’s what you choose. 

In 2021, a few things are certain. You don’t need to be on everyone’s mamas internet to reach your readers, build community, and grow your author business.

You can choose two to three platforms to focus on. Facebook and Twitter, for instance. Or, like me, you can choose one platform. And my platform of choice is Instagram.

Long gone are the days where you have to have a Facebook page, Facebook group, Twitter chat, Snapchat, and every other platform screaming in the wind to draw your attention and monopolize your time.

In this era of social media, you get to choose where you’ll build your fort. 

Please note: this is not a replacement for having an author website, and email list. Without question, you must have your own website, and be actively building your email list.

However, you don’t need everyone’s social platform to attract readers. You can choose one. All this to say, Instagram is a powerhouse tool. For years you’ve given your time on the platform and worked for it…for free. Well, it’s high time we make the social media giant work for you.

Sound good? Let’s dive in.

No Matter Your Genre, Your Readers Are on Instagram

If I told you an eighth of the world’s population was on Instagram…would you believe me? Guess what author…an eighth of the world’s population is. on. Instagram.

As a matter of fact, let’s look at some make-your-eyes-stretch-till-they-might-pop stats about the platform, shall we?

As of June 2021, approximately 1.074 billion people on Planet Earth are actively logging into Instagram every month. But get this—around five hundred million people are logging onto the platform every single day. Uhm, earth to fellow authors? That is a ton of people. Every 24 hours, if you desire, your juicy, sure to make you obsess, novel could be plastered before the eyes of five hundred million people. 

Am I saying that’s exactly what will happen? No. What I am saying is, there’s a huge pie of eyeballs looking at the ‘Gram everyday, and you have every opportunity to grab your slice with each rise of the sun.

Oh, and get this: There are about two hundred million businesses on Instagram. Why not yours? If these businesses are on the ‘Gram, it’s because they’re making shmoneyyy (to be intentionally conflated with money). Businesses go where the money is flowing. If Target, Barnes & Noble, and Etsy shop owners can make money on the ‘Gram, you, dear author, can also grow a healthy and profitable business on the social media platform.

I encourage you to flush the fear that your readers are not on Instagram. I encourage you to ignore any gripe against the algorithm. I encourage you to see what a goldmine the platform is, and how much you have to gain by strategically positioning yourself on Instagram. It’s a social media platform with the power to benefit you with so much more if you play your digital cards right.

Know this: whether you write mystery, fantasy, romance, paranormal, thriller, or fairytale: your readers are on Instagram. The real question then becomes what are you going to do to get your books in front of them?

Leveraging Instagram Changes to Skyrocket Your Author Business

At the time of writing this article, Instagram’s CEO, Adam Mosseri, made a public announcement: Instagram is no longer a photo sharing application. It is a content creation, and video focused application. 

Depending on where you stand in the content creation pool, you’re either elated about this news, or more pissed off than an agitated rhinoceros. Either way, regardless of your feelings, the verdict is in. It’s now up to you, my fellow author, to decide what you will do with this information. 

There will be those who fume and refuse to acclimate. You can either join them, or leave them behind and skyrocket your author business. 

The point of Mosseri’s statement is simple: if you post videos, the platform will throw ample engagement your way which will skyrocket your page to success. If you want to stay stuck in your ways and post photos only (cough-bookstagrammers-cough), then your engagement will be joining the dregs of swine.

I choose to lean on the side of positivity and see this as a win. Even though my natural inclination is to not want to do video. At the end of the day, the one thing that’s constant in business is: change.

I’m sure we all learned this lesson the hard way during the height of the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020. Yes or yes?

Understanding this, it means: you’ve got to go with the IG flow.

This means leaning into Reels, IGTV videos, Lives, and sharing 30-60 second video clips to your feed, instead of stills and overlays. (Total bummer for all of you who just adore your static mockup fotos)

Leverage the changes happening on the platform and your author business will soar. 

These changes are nothing but a healthy challenge for you to face and get in front of your readers. The platform is changing because the consumers are changing. Meaning, readers, artists, creators, shoppers, hundreds of millions of people, have made it very clear to Instagram what kind of content they want. And Instagram can either stay stuck in their ways, or they can acclimate and keep their users by giving them what they want.

It’s kind of like authors who write what they want versus writing a story their readers will actually want to read…makes sense, yeah?

Start getting comfortable and creative with video content. Watch reels and IGTV videos. Get ideas. Start small. Try, fail, and try again. Keep going. I promise you, it’ll put your author business way ahead of your competitors.

Unique Ways to Connect With Readers and Build Community

You know that your readers are on the ‘Gram. You also know that you need to use video as the catapult to blowing up your author business on the platform in the best way. Here’s some other ways to get creative and set yourself apart:

Use your DMs: Direct Messaging. 

So many readers love to chat through comments, but there’s a special connection that happens when you DM them. Or, they DM you and—shocker!—you DM them back! You’d be tickled at how many are surprised you’d respond.

And here’s another pro-tip: When you have the time, respond to your DMs with a voice note. Even better? A quick little video. It’s all possible with the features of DMs. Not only does it show you care, it shows how much you care. That you, the busy author that you are, would be willing to take a moment and record a little message or video to respond.

This will resonate with your readers for a mighty long time. And I’m sure you’re aware, when just one reader falls in love with you as an author, they easily become evangelists for your books without asking.

This is a wonderful way to build community and really grow your readership once your books and Instagram account start getting in front of readers through your content.

Also, get interactive with your Instagram Stories.

Yes! Post polls. Ask questions. Share a “This or That.” Add clips with music. Use emojis and GIFs. Play around with fun filters. Get creative.

It doesn’t take much to slap on something fun and engaging that grabs attention and builds connection. After all, Instagram is still a social media platform. They’re just challenging you to get creative with how you do so.

Some Easy-to-Implement Next Steps

Okay author, it’s time for you to make Instagram work for you by getting creative and leveraging the platform strategically to connect with readers so you can grow your author business. 

I encourage you to get familiar with the features that are being focused on: Reels, IGTV (Instagram TV), and Stories. As well as any and all forms of video content. It may seem obnoxious at first, especially if video content doesn’t make you comfortable. But it’s all about the frame of mind dear author.

If you tell yourself you’ll have a blast? You will. If you tell yourself you’re going to do great? You will. 

Research. Study what others are doing, and go with the simple ones. Then, execute.

Your Instagram account has the power to turn into a reader magnet machine. Are you willing to do what it takes to make it happen?

Stephanie BwaBwa is a Jesus-centered, young adult and new adult fantasy author, writing in the world of Elledelle about black angels, magic, and mayhem. She’s also the CEO of: Parables & Fantasy. She loves writing stories centered around fiesty angels with complicated pasts, unexpected futures, learning to take up causes bigger than themselves, who may or may not fall in love along the way. Jesus is her Lord, Disney+ is her safe place, she dreams of being a monkey mama and she’s always penning a new story in Elledelle. You can usually catch her going for a walk through a park, or simply binging Disney+ with too many snacks. Get in contact with Stephanie directly at:

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