Bookstagram: Why do I do it?
This week I started asking myself why I participate in bookstagram. And I started asking that question because I couldn’t help but feel disappointed in the decrease in engagement. I may never know if it’s the algorithm, a new saturation point of users, or what- but the cause isn’t the problem for me, it’s how the change in engagement makes me feel.
Thanks to years of the dopamine-high of receiving likes on social media, on Instagram in particular, it’s been hard sometimes to separate my personal self worth from a feeling of worth that comes from the positive responses to my content. But as I’m tired of feeling my energy and happiness ebb and wane with the rise and fall (especially the fall) of likes and comments, I knew I needed to ask myself why I’m doing this is the first place in order to figure out where to go from here.
When I first started participating in bookstagram it was because of the incredible sense of community I found in my fellow readers. I’ve always been a reader, and I had grown up in a time where most people seemed to react to books like the villagers in Beauty and the Beast, so I kept my bookworm discussions limited to a few people in my life who were equally devoted to the printed word. But then I found this whole community of people who proudly declared themselves to be booknerds in a way that celebrated the word. And I was exposed to more books and genres than ever before, which allowed me to have more fun with what I was reading. And it was a creative outlet for creating interesting images.
But soon I had a kind of literary FOMO from all the great books I was seeing.
While it has been a pleasure to help promote books in general, and to help new authors build their audiences, I’ve grown to feel a kind of shame when it feels like those posts aren’t landing with an audience. And I miss the kind of authentic engagement that came so naturally when I was first bookstagramming- because back then, I only shared pics of books that I had read and could discuss. Back then my TBR pile was also maybe two or three books high at any given time.
To recapture the joy of bookstagram, here are my personal rules for the foreseeable future:
-I will only post pictures of books that I am currently reading or have read. This means no longer taking on as many books for promotion. If I can’t read it by the time a pic needs to be shared, then I’ll have to pass. I want to be able to answer questions that come up about the books in my pictures. This doesn’t include library pics where I show my TBR bookcase. Sometimes I just love sharing a pic of my library, and I’m always happy to point out the one bookcase dedicated to unread books.
-I will spend more time focused on enjoying said unread books before getting more. I’m trying a 2 to 1 ratio this year, where I read 2 books from my TBR before a purchase a new one. Books gifted to me don’t count. I actually got this idea from a Book Riot post.
-I will stop feeling like posting a pic of the same book more than once in one month is a visual taboo- if it’s worth sparking a conversation around the book, especially from the time I start it to how I feel after I finish it, then it’s worth sharing again.
-While I love supporting small businesses and book centric businesses in particular, I’m going to be more mindful about my purchases. I loved the visual of book sleeves- how they looked in pictures, and now I own five. As someone who doesn’t actually use book sleeves, this doesn’t make a lot of sense for me personally. I don’t want to keep buying things solely because I like the visual.
-I will not feel guilty for no longer creating book-blog content, especially if it’s in a format that I didn’t actually feel any investment in. There have been book lists that I enjoyed putting together, but for the most part, it felt like creating content for content’s sake. I’d rather only create content that matters to me, even if it means less readers/followers.
-I’m going to stop worrying about numbers. The number of likes, comments, or followers. Instead, I’m going to shift my focus to real conversations about the books I’m reading, and the life I’m living.
I hope this new approach will help me enjoy IG more, and to reconnect with some of my favorite readers, writers, and creators.
And if you’re feeling frustrated about your bookstagram experience, or anything in your life really, maybe it’s time ask why you’re doing it and what you hope to get out of it.