The Power of Instagram for Picture Book Authors and Illustrators

A lot of new authors ask me if they have to be on social media. The answer is YES. And for most of us, it takes a LONG time to build a following, so the sooner you start, the better.

But which social media platforms are most important for a writer?

For most writers, the answer would be Twitter. The publishing world is very present on Twitter – it’s the social media platform that agents and publishers most often emphasize for new writers.


However, for you picture book authors/illustrators out there, I would (gasp!) disagree with the general Twitter consensus.

For us, Instagram is the way to go.

But why? You ask. Let me count the ways.

First, that’s where your audience is. As a picture book writer/illustrator, your primary audience is parents or teachers of babies and preschoolers, most of whom are people in their late twenties to early forties. According to the article, “Social Media Demographics to Inform a Better Segmentation Strategy,” 59% of 18-29 year olds and 33% of 30-49 year olds use Instagram.  In comparison, only 36% of 18-29 year olds and 23% of 30-49 year olds use Twitter. A higher percentage of your audience is checking their Instagram feeds than scrolling through the latest tweets.

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Second, picture books are very visual, and Instagram is all about images. Give people images of your book, and they will remember it that much more easily!

Finally, one of the best marketing tools for picture book writers/illustrators is the plethora of Instagram moms who love books. There are loads of Instagram accounts dedicated purely to picture books. Bookstagram is a thing. And this is the kind of community you want to be part of. You need all those picture-book-loving moms  (and dads, though they are admittedly fewer and farther between on social media) talking and posting about your book. Find them. Follow them. Make comments on their posts. Then, message them and ask them if they’d like a free copy of your book. If they love it, would they be willing to post about it? Some will say no. But most will say yes! And mailing a free copy of your book from home? That’s about the cheapest marketing out there. And when someone else posts about your book, boom. All of their followers see it, and the word spreads.

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So yes, jump on Twitter and Facebook, but consider turning your focus to Instagram. Even if you aren’t published, you can start growing a community of book-loving people. In fact, it’s actually best to get started before you’re published.

Which leads to the inevitable question: What to post? Looks like you better come back for next month’s blog post!

Number One Tip for Authors about Social Media from a Bookseller

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If there’s any advice I can give writers, it’s make yourself easy to find on social media!  Your handle should be your name. The same name that is on your books. Simple as that. If your name is taken, put author or writer or books or whatever after your name! Not in front of your name!!

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I have worked at Penguin Bookshop as a Storytime leader and bookseller for three years now. I love to post about the books we use during Storytime as well as events and other new books I love in the store.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to tag an author when I post about their book, but I can’t find them. And we all know time is limited. So when I post about a book on Instagram or Twitter, I type in the @ symbol and the author’s name as it appears on their book. If it doesn’t pop up immediately or isn’t clear which social media handle is theirs, I don’t have time to search for them. So they don’t get tagged.

Why does this matter? Because the business of writing is all about relationships. And if you know who is posting about you, you can thank them, chat with them, form a relationship. Not to mention it’s super easy marketing to retweet or repost an unsolicited post about your book from someone else. It not only makes them feel good, but it also helps get the word out about your book.

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So save booksellers the trouble of trying to track you down. Make yourself easy to find. If you already have an account with a confusing handle, it’s easy to change! Remember, booksellers want to help promote the authors they love. So make it as easy as possible to do so!