Instagram for Indie Authors

Instagram, and particularly Bookstagram, can be an invaluable tool for indie authors, but Instagram can often seem like a daunting platform. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a huge fan of social media and love how I am able to connect with readers.

As an Indie Author, one of my biggest tasks (aside from writing books) is figuring out who my readers are and how to reach them. This is the one business side of self-publishing that I actually enjoy … I’m sure it also helps that my day job is in marketing.

A few years ago, I stumbled on the Bookstagram community (#bookstagram) on Instagram and knew I’d found my people. Without a single hint of hesitation, I decided to dive head-first into the community. I’d be lying if I didn’t join in-part because I wanted to sell books, but my primary goal was to connect with people like me. I love to read almost as much as I love to write.

At first, I was intimidated by the gorgeous photos and massive followings I saw on the “big” accounts. It took a few months for me to find my footing and balance. I learned what worked for me and my books.

Here in it’s most basic form is what I’ve learned about how to use Instagram as an Indie Author:

Instagram for Indie Authors:
Know who your ideal reader is (general demographics and a bit deeper. I.E. women, aged 25-45 who enjoy books by Elin Hilderbrand, drink coffee, and have families)
Follow Hashtags & Accounts that align with your ideal reader
Be Yourself – this is one I cannot stress enough. Your readers want YOU. Yes, pretty, overly staged photos are nice, but what matters most if the authenticity behind them. They don’t want another influencer selling them BS. Use your bio to share you & link to your website (if you can, create your own Instagram link page and avoid Link Tree).
– Be Consistent find a posting cadence that works for you and stick to it
– Utilize Stories post in your stories consistently, reply to stories, use the tools IG gives you (polls, quizzes, questions, etc.). Keep highlights of the best stories on your grid.
Engage. Engage. Engage. Like, comment, follow, post content that drives conversations. Don’t post and ghost.
Don’t Dive Into an Ask please, please, please. Do not blindly message someone you have never engaged with and ask them to buy or read your book. No one likes being sold to or feeling used.
Don’t Play Follow/Unfollow Games they don’t work. It’s an old trick and no one likes it.

Most importantly: Be you. Be real. Be the type of person you’d want to follow.

While this may seem simple, it does take work. You probably won’t hit a million followers or sell a million books, but you will find an engaged, supportive, and real audience that could become your biggest advocates.

Remember, social media is a great marketing tool BUT it’s a community first and foremost. Treat it as such.

If you’re interested in a more in-depth look at your social media or Instagram, check out the Author Services section of my website.

Where to Start

So, you want to write a book. Maybe you have an idea or maybe you have a character in mind. Either way, you’re itching to get those words down on paper.

What now? Now, you grab your coffee and writing, right? Maybe. Maybe not.

Let me start by saying this, the process is different for every single writer and that’s okay. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa, but every great book starts with a few basic questions.

These are the questions I sit down to ask before I plot or outline any book:

Who is/are your character(s)?
What do they want?
How are they going to get what they want and what stands in their way?
What do they stand to lose if they don’t get what they want?

Simple enough, right? On the surface, yes, these are simple questions. The difficulty lies in answering them in a unique way that drives your story forward and ultimately engages your readers. The most important question to ask is this:

What makes this story unique/different?

The hard truth of publishing is that the marketplace is saturated and finding that one hook that will make your book stand out is the single most daunting task facing a writer.

So, what makes your book or idea different or special?

New Author Services

Y’all … I’ve been sitting on some pretty big ideas the past few months, and I’ve finally decided to take the plunge.

One of my biggest passions and favorite things to do is to help my fellow authors and writers develop their craft and promote their books and brand. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit of a marketing and social media junkie.

I’ve also spent the past few years really diving into publishing and learning the pros and cons of both traditional and self-publishing.

Now, I want to use what I’ve learned to help other writers realize their dreams.

Ready to learn more? Click here or on the Author Services link at the top of the site.

Comparison, the Thief of Everything

What’s your dream? Are you actively chasing it or working towards your goals? If not, what holds you back?

For me, my biggest obstacle is comparison. I see the success of others and wonder why not me. What am I doing wrong?

On my bad days, the list is a mile long—not enough of this, too much of that—and it’s easy to drown in the comparisons.

The good days are the days I can remind myself that no two journeys are the same, just as no two people are the same. My path forward diverting away from the “normal” isn’t failure. Me being different isn’t bad.

When they say comparison is the thief of everything the truth in that is overwhelming. It’s so easy to sit back and blame yourself for all the ways you think you don’t measure up, but it’s neither productive nor healthy.

When I see other authors getting stellar reviews and selling thousands of books (or hundreds), it’s so easy to let my jealousy shout louder than my joy and pride for them. It’s completely possibly to celebrate the success of others without feeling like you’re lagging behind.

Celebrating success, whether your own or someone else’s, is a choice. We can either choose to find the joy or we can let the darkness win.

I refuse to let the darkness win.I want to be your cheerleader and biggest fan. I want to see your success as a win for everyone.

But I still want to grow and succeed on my own.

These are not mutually exclusive. Celebrate both. Celebrate your wins and your failures. Celebrate that you tried. Celebrate that you finished. Celebrate that you put yourself out there.

Don’t ever let fear of rejection or comparison steal your dreams.

After Everything Cover Reveal

I am so excited to FINALLY reveal my new book, After Everything. This book is my heart and soul on paper. Keep reading to learn more! And, if you’re interested in joining the blog tour and receiving an advance copy, please check out the link below!

After Everything Blog Tour Application

All Abby Rhodes wants is a chance to pursue her songwriting dreams. When she leaves her husband on Christmas Eve and puts their Missouri hometown in her rearview mirror, she heads straight to Nashville and onto the doorstep of her estranged father.

But in typical Abby fashion, nothing goes as planned.

Unemployed and alone, Abby lands a job waiting tables at her neighborhood dive bar. There she meets a local singer-songwriter with steel-grey eyes and a reputation that threatens to unlock Abby’s small-town innocence.

Just as Nashville starts to feel like home, her past comes crashing back in the form of her soon-to-be ex-husband, forcing her to confront the truth behind her midnight escape.

If Abby can’t reconcile her history with her future, she might lose out on her dreams and her second chance at finding love.

STAY TUNED FOR PRE-ORDER INFORMATION!

Releasing Your Words into the Wild

On Sunday, I sent the first ARCs of After Everything out into the world.

I had the emails and attachments ready. Then, I started at the screen with my mouse hovering over the send button. I stayed frozen in that position for a very long time … longer than I’d like to admit.

When I finally hit send, I held my breath and tried to steady my heartbeat. I failed and it felt as though it would race right out of my chest.

It’s scary sending a piece of you out into the world knowing it will be judged and reviewed and not loved by all. Some people will hate it. They won’t like Abby or my writing voice.

It will sting when I see those reviews, but that’s okay. Not every book is for every reader. Writers don’t write to please everyone, at least I don’t. I write because I want at least one person to read the story and see a piece of themselves inside one of the characters.

I see some of me in Abby, but there is also parts of a someone who once meant a lot to me; someone I don’t see or speak to much anymore—someone I miss dearly. In a way, After Everything brought this friend back to me in the form of Abby.

This is what I hope to bring to readers through the characters they meet and the stories I tell. Connection. Belonging. A feeling of being seen.

It’s Okay to Let Go

Just write. Pick up the pen and let ‘er rip.

I stare at the blank page and then close my eyes as if I’m willing the words to appear. Of course, they don’t.

While there is a bit of magic in finding the right words, the right story, and the right characters, it also requires work.

I know I’ve discussed this in past posts, but I’m a plotter. I like to sit with my characters and listen for their voice and stories. My outlines are usually rough sketches written with the intent of being changed as I write and discover the quirks of my characters.

Sometimes, though, I write the perfect outline with characters and stories that I fall in love with. But somewhere along the way, I lose inspiration and stop writing.

Those moments hurt. I tell myself that I can come back to them when the time is right, but I rarely do. In some small way, I mourn the loss and move on. Occasionally, the characters come back to me and I find their new/true story. Most of the time, I don’t. I let them go and move on.

I’m slowly learning to be okay with this, and to accept that while it feels like a failure, it’s not. As a writer, it’s important to know when to walk away and when o push through. The hard stories need to be told, too.

Some day, I’ll find the words and inspiration to return to those characters I’ve left behind. If I don’t, though, that’s okay too.

What Comes Next

As I dive head-first back into my self-publishing journey, I keep looking back at the books and characters that started it all.

When I started my writing journey, I wrote poems and song lyrics. Music was and is a huge part of my life. I could spend hours getting lost in an album dissecting lyrics and searching for a line that spoke to me.

The shift to writing novels was gradual and intimidating. I didn’t know how I could write 80,000 words about anything. Did I even know that many words.

Turns out I did, and once I started, I couldn’t stop.

My latest book, After Everything (keep reading for the blurb), pulls my love of music and songwriting into my love for storytelling. In it, a young woman leaves behind her life to start over and chase her dreams.

While I’ve loved all of my books, this is the one I’m most excited for. It is the most “me” too be allowed my writing to be.

Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing a little bit more about Abby & After Everything, and I hope you fall as in love with her as I did.

AFTER EVERYTHING
All Abby Rhodes wants is a chance to pursue her songwriting dreams. When she leaves her husband on Christmas Eve and puts their Missouri hometown in her rearview mirror, she heads straight to Nashville and onto the doorstep of her estranged father.

But in typical Abby fashion, nothing goes as planned.

Unemployed and alone, Abby lands a job waiting tables at her neighborhood dive bar. There she meets a local singer-songwriter with steel-grey eyes and a reputation that threatens to unlock Abby’s small-town innocence.

Just as Nashville starts to feel like home, her past comes crashing back in the form of her soon-to-be ex-husband, forcing her to confront the truth behind her midnight escape.

If Abby can’t reconcile her history with her future, she might lose out on her dreams and her second chance at finding love.