My Favorite Authors to Follow on Instagram in 2017

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writer desk top with keyboard coffee and toys

One of the warnings against self-publishing is that all the marketing for your book will be on your shoulders. I agree, but only kind of. If you’re a successful self publisher, you’ll be doing a lot of marketing. But if you publish the traditional way, you’ll … also be doing a lot of marketing. Honestly, if you want to be successful in any field in 2017 — even if you work with numbers or with lawn care or with plumbing — there’s a decent chance you’ll be doing your own marketing.

A lot of that marketing, especially after the press releases are already out and your signings and appearances are booked, happens on social media. Creating posts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter definitely has its pros and cons — and stealing time from your real work is often a con, whether or not you’re a writer.

But the pros are also plentiful, especially for authors. You get to connect directly with your audience, and that provides you with (sometimes) quality feedback and new inspiration for new projects. You can push the projects that you really care about. And posting photos of your success tends to breed even more success as those posts reach new audiences.

But it’s not enough to set up an account on Instagram or Twitter — you have to come up with things to say and pictures to post. If you’re, say, a fashion model or a rock star, it’s probably easy to find great stuff to Instagram all the time. But when you have a less visually compelling life — say, as an author — it’s more challenging. “Day One: Messy desk and cup of coffee. Day Two: Messy desk and cup of tea. Day Three: Messy desk and …” you get it. Even most professional writers who have PR companies behind them tend to have super boring Instagrams. So what’s a self-published author to do?

I’ve solved the what-should-I-Instagram conundrum by sharing copious pictures of cappuccinos and good food punctuated with lots of selfies. The selfie is my go-to photo when I don’t know what to post. That’s partly because they tend to get a lot of likes and interaction and partly because a selfie is simply always available — my face goes where I do. Or I guess it’s possible that I selfie because of a deep-seeded psychological need to find my place in the world. Who knows? Whatever the reason, I take a lot of photos of myself; so many that I did an entire podcast episode about it this week. If you’re interested in hearing my tips for taking the better selfies, check out my episode “The Art of the Selfie.” (Listen by clicking that link or searching “Everybody Hates Self-Publishing” on iTunes or Stitcher.)

But maybe the selfie isn’t for you, and maybe you don’t drink cappuccinos. The good news is, there are plenty of ways to grow an author-y Instagram that can work for your life. One good way to get ideas is to follow authors who are already doing a great job on Instagram and use their feeds for inspiration.

There’s one problem, though: Following great author Instagrams is easier said than done. Authors tend to be better at words than pictures, and the typical writer’s Instagram is sparse, boring, overly self-promotional and full of badly lit photos. Many of the same writers who paint beautiful pictures in our minds can’t get the hang of using their iPhone cameras — and that’s totally okay, because I’d rather have great books than another pretty social media feed. But I do follow some authors who do both well, and I love their stories on the page AND on my phone. Here are a few of my favorites, as well as what you can expect from their feeds:

Jeff Zentner: @jeffzentner

Expect this: Selfies, funny observations
Read the work: The Serpent King (please go read this now)
Follow Jeff Zentner on Instagram

Taylor Brown: @taylorbrown82

Expect this: Southern culture, motorcycles
Read the work: The River of Kings (his newest)
Follow Taylor Brown on Instagram

Leigh Bardugo: @lbardugo

Expect this: Selfies, good Insta stories, book world insight
Read the work: Shadow and Bone (the first book in the Grisha trilogy)
Follow Leigh Bardugo on Instagram

Erin Morgenstern: @erinmorgenstern

Expect this: On-brand, slightly spooky posts
Read the work: Night Circus
Follow Erin Morgenstern on Instagram

Bret Easton Ellis: @breteastonellis

Expect this: Hollywood, what he’s reading, celebrity sightings
Read the work: American Psycho
Follow Bret Easton Ellis on Instagram

Cheryl Strayed: @cherylstrayed

Expect this: Portland, family, politics
Read the work: Wild
Follow Cheryl Strayed on Instagram

Sabaa Tahir: @sabaatahir

Expect this: Selfies, bookstagram layouts, life shots, illustrations
Read the work: An Ember in the Ashes
Follow Sabaa Tahir on Instagram

Marie Lu: @marieluthewriter

Expect this: Life behind the scenes
Read the work: Legend (part of a series)
Follow Marie Lu on Instagram

Veronica Roth: @vrothbooks

Expect this: Chicago, dogs, process photos
Read the work: Divergent (first in the series)
Follow Veronica Roth on Instagram

Ransom Riggs: @ransomriggs

Expect this: Beautiful pictures, family shots
Read the work: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Follow Ransom Riggs on Instagram

B.J. Novak: @picturesoftext

Expect this: Pictures of text, funny word jokes
Read the work: One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories
Follow B.J. Novak on Instagram

Markus Zusak: @markuszusak

Expect this: Family, dogs, book stuff
Read the work: The Book Thief
Follow Markus Zusak on Instagram

Carrie Rollwagen: @crollwagen

Ha! It just occurred to me I should probably post my feed as well.
Expect this: Selfies, local coffee shops
Read the work: The Localist
Follow Carrie Rollwagen on Instagram

Carrie Rollwagen is a book reviewer for Southern Living and BookPage. She hopes you’ll read as many books as you can, and that you’ll get them all from your local bookshop or library. You can find Carrie on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter @crollwagen.

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