3 ideas for author Instagrams

May 2018

Instagram is a wonderful platform for authors who want to connect with current and potential readers. Still, for the many authors who are more comfortable with writing than photography, it can seem foreign and unnecessary. Is Instagram worth the time and energy it takes to learn and use regularly? Perhaps not for all authors, but certainly for many. This article will help you decide if Instagram is right for you, based on your audience and the practical requirements of starting and running a profile.

Is Your Audience on Instagram?

You want to be where your audience is. Chances are high that much of your audience is on Instagram. Here are some relevant statistics:

As of September 2017, Instagram has over 800 million users who are active on at least a monthly basis—and 500 million active daily. It’s difficult to find reliable, up-to-date user statistics, since the numbers have grown so quickly, rendering statistics from even 2016 predictive at best. After all, in 2016, Instagram had “only” 500 million users total.

Thankfully, Pew Research Center did conduct a study in January 2018 that sheds light on US usage: 35% of American adults use Instagram, up from 28% in 2016.

The user base skews young, used by

  • 71% of Americans ages 18–24,
  • 54% of Americans ages 25–29,
  • 40% of Americans 30–49,
  • 21% of Americans 50–64, and
  • 10% of Americans over 65 years old.

More American women than American men use Instagram: 39% compared to 30%.

The user demographics in the UK and Australia are similar: slightly more women than men, pulling more heavily from the population between ages 18 and 29 than from other age groups.

If your readership is primarily younger than 49 years old, you should seriously consider this social media platform. If your focus is on young women, especially, Instagram may be right for you. This doesn’t mean that Instagram would be useless if your target audience consists of men approaching retirement, but it’s worth taking these numbers into account as you plan where to direct your time and energy.

Is Instagram Doable for You?

So, a good portion of your audience uses Instagram. You might still find reasons to avoid it: the fact that you can’t make full use of it without the mobile app, your preference for words over photos, or the time it takes to learn and use a new social network. But if you have a smartphone and are willing to learn new things, then you may be surprised at how usable Instagram really is.

By all accounts, it is easy to set up a profile on Instagram—even on a small smartphone screen. You can find instructions here, and learn how to switch to a Business profile here. More specific advice tailored for authors is easily found around the web. 

If you’re more comfortable with words than pictures and don’t know what you’d post, never fear. With practice, and exposure to others’ Instagram accounts, you may find you’re better at communicating with pictures than you think—especially since you can write long captions. Some ideas for Instagram pictures include the following:

  1. Pictures of your book in creative locations. Heading to the beach? Take your novel. Think your book would make excellent fireside reading? Set it somewhere with the fireplace in view. 
  2. Pictures of your writing space—be it your desk, your patio, or the floor. You can be creative by including copies of your book or peeks at the work in progress on your computer screen.
  3. Pictures of anything related to your writing and publishing journey. For example, when you receive your boxes of books, take pictures—of the boxes, of yourself holding the book for the first time, or perhaps of your kids helping you unbox them.
  4. Pictures of things that make you think of your book—or pictures of the buildings, places, and events that inspired your book.
  5. Pictures from your everyday life.

Need more ideas? Check out the author Instagram pages linked to below—and then see if your favorite authors have profiles.

Yes, Instagram can take a bit of time. But it doesn’t need as many posts per day as Twitter does. One post or “story” per day is fine. While consistent posting is ideal, it’s not the end of the world if you skip a day. And if you like, you can schedule posts ahead of time using third-party apps—you can learn more about this on Instagram’s business blog. This can help free up your days. You will need to make sure you’ve switched from a personal profile to a business profile before you start scheduling posts, but again, that is doable.


Need some inspiration? These three Deep River Books authors know their way around Instagram:


Kristen Perino’s book From #Selfie to Selfless is perfect for Instagram, and it shows. Her Instagram account is, in many way, an extension of her book, not just a way to market it. Just like in her book, she encourages others to serve—and to be who they are created to be. As busy as she is with work and ministry, she has found a way to post consistent, honest, encouraging photos and captions.


John T. Prather, author of The Nephilim Virus, is more active on Twitter than Instagram, but he’s still amassed a good following. In addition to writing post-apocalyptic fiction, he is also an actor, fitness model, and father of three. He’s chosen to share all these sides of him on his social media accounts.


Karin Rooney, author of Sink or Swim, consistently posts stories and photos about her book journey, her family, and topics related to the events she covers in Sink or Swim. She balances this with her three young children and work—and she does a pretty great job of it!

Further Resources

DRB—Use Hashtags and Tagging to Make Full Use of Social Media

DRB—3 Ideas for Author Instagrams

Instagram’s Info Center

Instagram for Business

Pew Research Center—Social Media Use in 2018