10 Reasons Why Bookstagrammers are Awesome

Photo by Emily Rudolph

Two weeks ago I had a chance to catch up with Jeremy Robert Johnson over the phone. Besides being one of my favorite humans, Jeremy is also a mentor whose words I pay attention to. At one point our conversation turned to things we had recently learned, and we ended up talking about how amazing bookstagrammers are and how crucial they can be for a writer's career. I thought about that for days after our conversation and even mentioned it to my MFA students. Then I decided bookstagrammers matter so much they deserved a piece saying so. Yeah, so here we are. You ready? Here, in no particular order, are ten reasons why bookstagrammers deserve your attention. 

1. They are incredibly passionate

You know who pays bookstagrammers? No one. They do what they do because they love it. As a book reviewer who started writing book reviews for free and now writes for NPR (and still does book reviews for free for certain venues), I feel them on this. Reading is great and free books are awesome, but putting in the hours even when that won't help you pay the bills requires something more, some extra level of passion and dedication. They hustle day in and day out simply because they want to share the books they love. How can you not love them for that? 

2. They are a positive force

Listen, I'm sure every bookstagrammer has read a few books they hated, but it's incredibly rare to find one of them talking about that type of book. Instead, they focus on the positive, on bringing attention to the books they enjoyed. Every time I see a post by a bookstagrammer, I get  the sense they are excited about whatever they're talking about. That positive energy is contagious. It's also something great to have in a digital world where haters, negative people, and assholes are everywhere trying to ruin someone's day. 

3. Their photography is amazing

Bookstagrammers are like a bull horn for your book. If they love it, they will make others love it with their energy and kind words.

I worked as a photojournalist for a few years, my photography was represented by an agency in Austin at one point, and my work won an award from the Puerto Rican Institute of Culture years ago. I know photography, so this isn't just me saying something nice, it's me recognizing many bookstagrammers have a nice grasp of color schemes, the use of props, lighting, and composition. Some of the photos bookstagrammers have taken of my latest book, Coyote Songs, are so good I've asked permission to use them on social media and as part of my marketing. They're that damn great. Also, and I'm fully aware of how sexist this sounds, but many bookstagrammers are women and they seem to have a special vision in terms of textures, flowers, backgrounds, colors, and even the use of fabrics in their photos. They think of things I never would've thought of and place books in visual contexts that accentuate the covers. Just take a look at some of the accounts I recommend at the end of this piece and you'll see what I'm talking about.  

4. They don't care about names or numbers

I've found myself in photos with a bunch of great contemporary writers whom I know from the crime or horror scenes. However, I've also found myself in stacks with Cormac McCarthy, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Zadie Smith, and Umberto Eco. Grammers don't discriminate. They don't see a difference between books struggling to sell a thousand copies and books that have sold millions. That is always an ego boost and pushes me to hustle harder. 

5. They are honest 

If your book made a bookstagrammer cry, they're going to tell the world. If they found it touching or gory or violent or emotional, they will tell everyone. Not many book reviewers will go into the feelings they experience when reading a book, but bookstagrammers will. That honesty gets readers interested and gives writers a different version of what their work is accomplishing out there in the world. 

6. They're amazing at using hashtags 

In the world of Instagram, your posts are as good as your hashtags, and bookstagrammers understand this and work hard at making sure they nail it. Sometimes I'll find myself clicking on hashtags out of curiosity. That almost always leads to other books, and that's awesome. 

7. They are great at building community 

Every time I want to find some new bookstagrammers, all I have to do is ask the ones I already know. They will shoot names your way faster than you can write them down. They also tend to group writers by genre in book stack photos, and that sometimes leads to making new connections. 

mage via holo.reader

8. They are a great way to discover new books 

For me, Twitter is still the top social media platform for discovering new books. However, I'm aware I'm more plugged into a variety of literary scenes as a reader, writer, and reviewer than most regular readers. That said, I've discovered books that would have otherwise stayed under my radar via bookstagrammers. That alone is worth the prize of following them all. 

9. They affect sales

Listen, publishing is a business and selling copies matters. Good and bad aside, every writer wants to get his or her words in front of as many readers as possible. Bookstagrammers are a huge help when it comes to that. As a writer you can scream all you want about your work, but that gets old and your reach is limited (and by that I mean that reach grows, but it's a slow growth). Bookstagrammers are like a bull horn for your book. If they love it, they will make others love it with their energy and kind words. 

10. They keep the buzz going 

Books tend to get attention when they're new, but it's hard to maintain for more than a few months. Bookstagrammers have changed that all by themselves. They don't care if the book came out a day ago or six months ago; if they like it/discover it, they will talk about it. They will also revisit the book from time to time if it fits a theme or color scheme or game or stack or whatever. In other words, you never know how or why they will share a book again, and that's fantastic because it helps keep the momentum going, especially for indie writers who can't afford ads.

There are so many reasons to support bookstagrammers. They do a lot for readers and writers, and your support is the best way of thanking them. To get you started, here are some accounts you can find on Instagram. Connecting with them will open up a whole new world, and it's an awesome world because it's full of books. Now go show these folks some love and feel free to share other great accounts in the comments.

tracy_reads79   mother.horror   crimebythebook    mphicks79   horrordaniel    readwithbex    BookHappy bookish_mommy   KamisKorner    gowsy33    finding_montauk    wraithsandroses   ctrlaltcassie   BarksBooks    Lady_Gagnon    ScifiandScary    constantvoice  Kateyreads    joannaevanswriter    anovelfamily    kdbwrites    whatmeganreads    jsg402    lupita_reads    spinesvines    book.happy    saraflower    howlinglibraries    rebelwomenlit    kenyanbibliophile    ifthisisparadise    writerwoman1    kimberlyyerina6466    PulpBuzz    readbydusk    

Gabino Iglesias

Column by Gabino Iglesias

Gabino Iglesias is a writer, journalist, and book reviewer living in Austin, TX. He’s the author of ZERO SAINTS, HUNGRY DARKNESS, and GUTMOUTH. His reviews have appeared in Electric Literature, The Rumpus, 3AM Magazine, Marginalia, The Collagist, Heavy Feather Review, Crimespree, Out of the Gutter, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, HorrorTalk, Verbicide, and many other print and online venues. 

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