Throughout volume one of Rivercourse, we gathered tips for a lot of platforms. We’ve shared marketing ideas for  Amazon, Twitter and Facebook, and time-savers for all of these. So this month we wanted to analyze a platform that may not be the first choice of many authors: Instagram. We’ve looked through posts from leading social media experts to gather our top 3 ideas for author Instagrams.

1. Think “Photo Journal”3 ideas for author instagrams

A number of the ideas we ran across all had to do with the same key principle: document your publishing journey as if you would keeping a visual diary.

In fact, publishing executive Kelly Schuknecht has a few ideas that all run in this vein. They include having someone take pictures as you open your first box of newly printed books, posting a shot of you holding your new book, visually documenting events such as book signings, awards ceremonies and readings and simply sharing a picture of your writing environment.

You know those fun “behind-the-scenes featurettes” on DVDs or Bluerays? Writer and designer Adrienne Erin encourages authors to try thinking about their Instagram photo journal like that: a way to give your fans a glimpse behind the curtain.

You don’t have to reveal all the skeletons in your closet, but a few pictures of your most recent vacation, your adorable pets, a weekend trip to the harbor and a ride on a boat will get you noticed — people love this kind of stuff. –Adrienne Erin

As another part of this, consider posting a quote of the day (or week) that is inspiring to you. It could be from your daily devotional, or from another author that speaks to your style. If people are “getting” something from your account, they’ll be more likely to engage when you end up making a more “sales-y” post later on.

2. Topical Photos

(No, not tropical. Although, if your book is set in the Caribbean, you’re on the right track!) Since Instagram is a visual medium, think about how you might visually represent scenes or ideas from your book.

If your book is fiction, think about where it takes place. Is it a romantic fiction in small town Iowa or a murder mystery in Denver?  Either way, take photos of scenes similar to what you describe in the book and share them over time. –Kelly Schuknecht

Or perhaps you’ve published a fantasy novel that takes place on the tundra. That works too! Considering putting a quote from your book describing the setting over the photo for an added punch.

On the nonfiction side of things, you may need to be more topical. If you’ve written a book on gardening or cooking, your Instagram feed should be full of your creations or the work of others who inspire you. If you have written a theological study, you may need to be more abstract. But with some ingenuity, it is possible to find a picture that speaks to your material.

3. Engage!

Turn the above principles around on your fan-base. Once you have built up a solid following, you should start asking your fans to post pictures as well. Consider doing a giveaway, and making the “entry requirement” that the fans post a picture of themselves reading your book. Or have a little competition to see who can find a picture that most perfectly represents your setting. Just be sure they all use the same hashtag, so that you can easily pick the winner.

You might also consider starting a project with your fans, as Erin suggests. If part of your book has to do with encouraging others, challenge your readers to post a picture per day for five days that documents how they’ve done this. Or, if you wrote a cookbook, ask fans to share their pictures of your recipes.

A lot of this will depend on your readers, so be sure to really think about what they would be most likely to resonate with.

So, there you have it. Our top 3 ideas for author Instagrams. Read the articles by Kelly Schuknecht and Adrienne Erin for even more ideas, and then start posting away!