How Do You Support Underrated Books & Midlist Authors on Bookstagram?

Discussion and Strategies!

POSTED ON March 24, 2019 BY Austine IN Discussion

Supporting the “less popular” books on bookstagram has been something I’ve thought about a LOT in the last year, but I wasn’t inspired to write a blog post until I saw the lovely Krysti over at YA and Wine share in her instagram stories the following message:

“Hey, readers of bookstagram!!! Want to know one super easy way to help midlist authors and authors with quieter books, simply be sure to throw some likes to pics of books you haven’t heard of before! It helps increase the book’s visibility so much!!!”

(shared with Krysti’s permission)


I responded with my total agreement to this message and as we started talking, I found myself sharing some of the ways I try to get my instagram followers to engage with my posts about those amazing titles that sometimes fly under the radar. 

But this isn’t just a conversation meant for private messages. I think it’s important enough to bring to all of you so let’s chat!

The Echo Chamber

I often feel like bookstagram is an echo chamber for the same handful of titles, ones that are usually by popular authors (think Leigh Bardugo, Sarah J. Maas, V.E. Schwab, etc) and/or hyped by the community as a whole. They always appear to dominate. And full disclosure, I love all 3 authors mentioned and their work so this isn’t mean as a criticism of them by any means.

But yes, there are other books out there and there are a lot of people posting about them. . . but those posts aren’t always seen to the same degree. Personally, I blame the algorithm. Krysti also made the point in our conversation that readers are more likely to LIKE a post featuring a book they’ve read or heard about over one they haven’t.

Additionally, when certain books/authors do better than others, it can be easy to just stick to posting about those. Unless you have a massive following, it can be discouraging when a post about a book you love doesn’t do well because it’s just not as popular (trust me, I get it, happens to me every time I share a non-YA book or lesser known author).

And unfortunately, the likes do matter when it comes to visibility. The more people engaging with a photo on instagram, the more potential for that photo to be viewed by someone new.

But how do we break through this?

First, before I go any further: liking a post on instagram does nothing but GOOD. If you’re following someone, I hope there’s a reason for it so why not like their photos in your feed? It can’t do any harm, right?

My general rule of thumb is to be pickier about who I follow (because, really, who can keep up with everyone all the time?) but once I do, any photo I see will get a like. It’s supporting other book lovers and by doing so, I’ve convinced the algorithm that I like ALL the accounts I follow so I’m much more likely to see their posts in my feed rather than buried.

But that’s you as a reader and user of instagram.
What about as a content creator?

I’m not going to lie. The instagram algorithm is frustrating. I’ve been told time and again that I should stop caring about my stats, to just give up and not worry about it. Except those numbers are exactly why I’m coming to all of you today.

Here’s how I think of it:

More followers = more readers who to discover a new book

The more people who see your post, the more exposure those books get. So do you need to care about your stats (your likes, your comments, your reach and engagement)? Absolutely not. But caring to build those up so you can push more books out to your fellow readers isn’t such a bad thing either.

So how do you get readers to see your midlist book posts?

When I noticed the trend of more popular authors having an increased engagement compared to lesser known books, I started paying attention. 

  • What TYPES/LAYOUTS of photos do better than others?
  • WHICH books bring in more readers?
  • What CAPTIONS increase the chance of comments?

Now all of those questions may be answered differently depending on your account. We all have our own style so my top posts will likely not be the same style as yours. Since I can only speak for my account, I’ve personally noticed that book stacks and/or popular authors and books receive the highest amount of engagement (likes/comments).

Okay, great, but what does that have to do with midlist authors and books?

Understanding your stats can help you promote those titles! Some of the strategies I’ve found fairly effective so far include:

➤ Share photos of popular books/authors periodically. This is one I use often. I will post about some of my favorite books that are already hyped, but the next few posts will be lesser known books and authors. That first post will bring in more readers to my account and often receives likes and comments over several days rather than dropping off. Those same readers then find my account and start engaging with the midlist book posts.

➤ Book stack posts doing well? Use that to your advantage! If book stack photos do well on your account, share a stack of underrated titles! You can even mix a few more well known names in there too if you want. This is why it’s important to know what kinds of posts work for your account.

➤ “If you liked [Popular Book], try [Underrated Book].” Use all your favorite books to your advantage! Comparison titles are great for this and you can include both books in your photo! For example, if you like the Throne of Glass series, I’d recommend checking out the Falling Kingdoms series! AND it gives you a fun caption topic too!

It does require a bit more effort to think about what kinds of posts you’re sharing. And these strategies are only based on one account because I can’t speak for any others! Again, coming back to understanding YOUR photos and YOUR account. But, with that, I hope we can open a discussion on how to combat the instagram algorithm and give smaller accounts a fair chance to share the books they love without their accounts suffering for it!


In Short

➤ Show your support for midlist authors and books by liking posts for books you’re unfamiliar with.
➤ If you’re a bookstagrammer, think about the books you’re sharing and how you could help underhyped titles.
➤ Spread the book love and support each other!

How do you promote midlist books and authors on instagram?
Have any strategies to share? Let me know in the comments!


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12 responses to “How Do You Support Underrated Books & Midlist Authors on Bookstagram?

    • I’m glad you found it helpful!! I hope they work out for you! Like I said, it’s about knowing your feed too so it can take a bit of trial and error 😊

  1. THIS! I struggled a lot with promoting indie or lesser known reads on IG. Having a community to support you and one you support back is the best way to beat the algorithm. Thank you for the thoughtful advice!

    • It’s tough! And we’re lucky to have such a great community coming together to help even when instagram makes it difficult!

  2. Wow, I think this is definitely a brilliant post! I do think the book stack post and also ‘if you like THIS book, then you should try THIS book’ post work so well! Thank you for the ideas and next time if I have an underrated book to recommend, I’ll sure these ideas!

    • Glad you found this helpful! It always feels weird talking about instagram as though it’s a system you have to trick to be seen and get your faves seen too, but sometimes it’s worth it for a new reader to find a new book!

  3. I’m kind of like you! I only follow bookstagram accounts, but almost every picture I look at gets a like!!

    I like the idea of pairing lesser known books with well known popular books so they get seen by association!

    Another thing I do is that I follow the hastag of the name of my favorite lesser known books (for example I follow #thefiresstone and #heroinecomplex) and I check them out every once in a while, that way I can go through and like all the new photos of that book to help them out!

  4. This is really insightful. I feel like I’d spend more time on Instagram if I were reaching more people. But… I’d probably be reaching more people if I did actually spend more time there…. ha ha ha. Okay, my other issue is that this is my feed right now:
    Book quote
    Book image (super professional)
    Book image (of a book on a Kindle)
    Flower, Mountain, Table, AD.

    I see three things, then an ad. And sometimes the book images look like ads, so I scroll past trying to avert my eyes from the ads, but maybe I’m then missing non ads that I think are ads because it’s 25% ads???

    :/ I really want to like Instagram more. And I’d LOVE for it to become a more useful tool for me.

    • Yeah, the ads are frustrating. I’ve found that once I see the pattern, I can go through and like the rest of the posts and skip those (and I look for the “Sponsored” word above the image as I scroll too to avoid them)!

      If it helps, if you use the instagram site on your computer, you can scroll through and like/comment and posts and there aren’t any ads! They don’t show up online so everything you see is either from someone you follow or a hashtag you follow.

  5. Gayathri Lakshminarayanan

    I totally agree with you. I keep seeing the same, few, popular books repeatedly and there are so many other books that deserve attention. I rarely read the hyped books majorly due to the fact that they won’t available at my location (being an international blogger) and it definitely affects the popularity of my social media as well.

    • It’s so difficult to shift the focus to a wider variety of books but every little bit helps. Instagram’s one of those platforms where you have to play their game a bit in terms of creating content to get anywhere which can be tough when all you see is a certain book or photo style.