Now we have a very exciting post about #LoveOzYA and Instagram by Margot McGovern! We love her discussion about why Instagram is important, and how to make your bookstagram shine!
Thank you, Margot!
I’m a YA reader and author and also an Instagram tragic (@project_lectito). When I’m not reading or writing, chances are I’m either taking bookish snaps or ogling gorgeous pics from other bookstagrammers. I’m particularly addicted to the #LoveOzYA hashtag. It warms my heart to see so many thousands of images celebrating local stories.
One of the reasons I write YA is because of the Australian YA I read growing up. I read a lot of books from overseas too—Fear Street and Point Horror mostly—but it’s the Aussie stories, stories by John Marsden, Melina Marchetta, Gillian Rubinstein and Robin Klein (to name a few), that have stayed with me. I loved that these stories take place in a recognisable landscape and spoke to my experience as a young Australian. They made me feel that the action was happening here as well as overseas, and that my story mattered just as much as those of teenagers in other countries.
So it’s been a thrill to watch the #LoveOzYA movement grow over the past few years, particularly on Instagram. For me, the hashtag isn’t just a place to discover new authors and celebrate local stories with fellow readers (although those things are a huge part of it), it’s also the place I go when the dreaded writers’ block strikes.
Writing is risky business. If you’re a snail like me, it can take years to get a manuscript up to scratch. And even after all that work, there’s no guarantee that you’ll land a publishing deal. I got lucky on that front, but while I was writing my novel, Neverland (which is out in April ‘18: shameless plug), there were a lot of days when I was tempted to shove the manuscript in a drawer and give up. And even once the manuscript was finished, I was shy about sending it out. I just kept thinking: I’m not John Green or J K Rowling; will anyone want to read this? And one of the big things that kept me going, along with bucket-loads of chocolate and coffee, was seeing the enthusiasm readers were showing for their favourite Aussie books via #LoveOzYA. I’d hit a wall, start scrolling through Instagram and see fellow bookworms sharing their love for Australian stories in really creative ways. It was like: actually, yes, there is this huge, enthusiastic community hungry for stories that speak to their experience.
So, for those readers out there who #LoveOzYA and want to show some the Insta love for their fave stories, I thought I’d share my top three tips for creating fabulous posts that make authors want to keep writing.
1) Tell a story
To be interesting, a photo needs to tell a story, and, ironically, books by themselves don’t make for compelling photographic narratives. Bookish pics should share something more—reflect your experience of reading the book, show how it made you feel. So when you’re framing a shot, it helps to think about the story you’re telling: maybe you’re spending a lazy Sunday morning reading in bed or sneaking a few pages while you wait for the bus. Perhaps your current read has stirred up a particular memory or feeling that you want to share, or there’s something in the book itself—a symbol or theme—that you want to recreate in a picture.
2) Natural light is your best friend
It took me ages to learn this, but for those of us who don’t have access to fancy photographic equipment, natural light is everything. Overhead lighting fills your frame with unwanted shadows and shiny reflections, not to mention a sickly yellow glow that’s tricky to filter out. If you’re taking pics at home, test the light in different rooms at different times of day to see what works best and, if possible, have the light shining behind you to avoid backlighting (which can cast your subject(s) in shadow. I know from experience: the window above my desk where I take most of my pics gives me endless grief. Also, fellow writers/bloggers, if you have your laptop in frame, turn the screen brightness waaay down.
3) Use your words in the caption
When I first started bookstagramming, I basically used the caption to spew a bunch of hashtags. Shockingly, no one wants to see that. Far better to tell a story first and post the hashtags after. The caption is an opportunity to expand on the story you share in the pic and a place to start conversations with fellow readers. You can write a mini review, include a favourite quote, ask a question or tell us about what was going on in your world while you were reading the book or how it made you feel, because your story is as important as the one you’ve been reading.
Margot McGovern is a YA author based in Adelaide, Australia.
Margot is a former associate editor of Ride On cycling magazine. She holds a creative writing Ph.D. from Flinders University, South Australia, and her book reviews have appeared in a number of Australian literary publications.