Getting Featured on the Instagram Weekend Hashtag Project (#WHP)

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Last week, the unimaginable and hugely exciting happened – my photo of a book tree was featured on Instagram after I entered the #whp🌲 challenge.  Since then, nearly 600K people have seen my hallway (and Martha) which is mind-boggling!  My personal account has also received a boost. I’ve gained over 2000 followers since the photo was posted and have had lovely comments from all over the world. I am so grateful for each and every one especially after taking such a creative leap this year.

But the real reason I’ve written this post is to shed some light on the challenge itself so that others can join in and have a chance of being featured too.

The Weekend Hashtag Project (#WHP) is announced by Instagram on Fridays (late GMT) so first of all, you need to follow their main account.  Each week, they set a new prompt with an accompanying photo or video as an example of what they’re looking for.  The rules do change for time to time so keep checking, but here are the guidelines from last week:

PROJECT RULES: Please add the #WHPoddlysatisfying hashtag only to photos and videos shared over this weekend and only submit your own visuals to the project. If you include music in your video submissions, please only use music to which you own the rights. Any tagged photo or video shared over the weekend is eligible to be featured next week.

You then have the weekend to post material which matches the theme.  After this time, Instagram then selects up to 6 entries to be featured. If you’re new to the WHP, I recommend looking back over past features to get a feel for the successful content. Creative shots often get picked, but so do other styles – and captions count too.  Account size doesn’t make a difference – I had just over 2500 followers when I was chosen so tiny by Instagram standards.

I think my biggest piece of advice for the WHP is to have fun with it. Use it to view the world in a fresh way. Anything goes so be playful and free – find your voice. This was my 9th attempt so it’s worth persisting.

As always, if you have any questions about the challenge, get in contact with me via the comments or the contact page.

 

 

 

 

Ten Things I’ve Learned in a Year of Instagram

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To say that Instagram has changed my life isn’t an overstatement.  Joining the community has given me courage to leave my traditional job and try to live in a way that’s a lot more satisfying. When I started posting @thebookfamilyrogerson back in April 2017, I had no idea what to expect and what came out of that initial leap was a lot more exciting and meaningful than I ever anticipated. Here are the top ten things that I’ve learned in a year of being an instagrammer:

  1. Instagram is the most positive social media application on the web. I also hang out at Twitter and Facebook and both have their merits, but neither can match Insta when it comes to supportiveness , creativity and fun.  I count my Instagram followers as real friends.
  2. Bookstagram means you can be part of an international book group and read the same book at the same time with friends all over the world! I know that this sounds obvious, but it blew my mind when I was comparing notes with pals in the US, New Zealand, the Philippines and the UK simultaneously.
  3. If you want to take the pressure off producing for the main gallery then post in the stories instead.  The content is only temporary so it doesn’t need to be perfect – plus you can play with GIFs and stickers.
  4. You get out what you put in. Very rarely can you simply post photographs and expect everyone to react.  Treat people as you would in real life, appreciate it when they reach out to you and reciprocate with goodwill.
  5. Snapseed is a great free tool for editing photographs. If you’re up to paying, then check out other apps like VSCO where you can store presets.
  6. Feel the fear and post it anyway.  Instagram is a great place to stretch your creativity. If you don’t like what you’ve produced, you can always archive it.
  7. Don’t compare yourself to others. This one is really hard sometimes, but everyone will have their own doubts. Better to focus on your own vision, values and aesthetic.
  8. Likewise, try to ignore the algorithm. I’ve had all sorts of mad theories about how to beat it since I’ve been posting but none of them work! One thing I would mention is that quality will get noticed in the long run though.  Share your best and the likes will come eventually.
  9. If you want to develop your account, there’s lots of free quality advice out there. I recommend following Me and Orla, Bookish Bronte, Allthatisshe and Herinternest for valuable tips.
  10. Don’t let Instagram rule your life.  It’s addictive so keep it contained. If you want a break , take as long as you need.  The people who enjoy your company will be still be there when you return.

What are your thoughts about Instagram? Do you love it, hate it or somewhere in between?

How I Choose My Holiday Reads

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I’ve been thinking about this question a lot recently as we’re due to go on holiday to the Isles of Scilly soon and I want to make sure that my travel reads are as satisfying as possible.

It would be significantly easier if I was happy to rely solely on e-books , but the truth is I prefer physical copies – the turn of the page, the weight in the hand. In a perfect world, I’d be able to take a little library of my own – just like the photograph above that I made for my Instagram account, but as that’s not possible, here are some of the factors I’ve considered so far.

Number of Books

First and foremost, I’ve tried to realistically work out how much time I’ll have for reading, but I usually overestimate.  I’m not the kind of person who can lie on a beach for hours – I like exploring so if I’m honest, 3-4 books is probably the maximum that I’ll manage in a week and if I need more I can swap with family or find a local bookshop.

Book Length

Sometimes going away can be the ideal opportunity to finish a huge tome and if so, I’d aim to take one book only (unlikely in practice though!). I like to return home having finished mine so I’ve decided to go for a mixture of medium (300pp max) and short titles. Luggage weight is an obvious factor but I’m more likely to take out clothes than books.

Book Subject

I always try to take one book that’s connected to the area I’m visiting. After that it’s all about mood. Do I want a light, easy experience, or do I want to use the time to drill deep? Sometimes I like a mixture of the two – it totally depends. This year, I’m feeling upbeat so I want to sustain those positive emotions.

E-Readers and Audio Books

Most of the time I’ll take my Kindle as back-up, but I often don’t use it. As a family, we’re starting to get into audio books so will trial listening to one on the drive down the UK.  I’ll aim to share our feedback in future posts.

Final Selection

So taking all the above into account, my first choice is The Life of a Scilly Sergeant by Colin Taylor.  I hardly ever read humorous non-fiction, but I’m up for a laugh and will give me an insight into island living.  Next is Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson because I fancy channelling my inner pirate. For my third, its The Cabaret of Plants by Richard Mabey as this will connect in nicely with a visit to Tresco Abbey Gardens and my current manuscript.  For my final choice, I’m taking Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert for creative inspiration.

The round-up is fairly ambitious, but I’m feeling excited about it. I’ll let you know how I got on when I return.  In the meantime, I’d love to know which books you’re taking on your Easter holidays.

 

 

 

 

 

Five Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Cull Your Books

2018-03-17 07.43.49 1.jpgIf you’re a long-time bibliophile, chances are that you have had to cull your book collection at least once.  We hit this point on a yearly basis – usually when we’ve reached the point where piles of books have begin to breed and take over the floor space, as well as countertops, drawers and chairs. For much of this time, we’re in denial – hoping that we can somehow re-arrange our bookshelves to stop the flood of printed pages, but eventually it becomes obvious that we’ll have to force ourselves to do that most dreaded of deeds and part with a few of our precious titles.  At first, it seems impossible, but on closer inspection, maybe there is a little scope for whittling down.  These are some of the questions that we ask ourselves and hopefully they’ll help you too:

Would I reread this book?

I think this is a pretty good indication of whether you should keep a book or not. If it’s an absolute no, don’t let it take up your shelf space.

Have I read this book at all?

The to-be-read (TBR) pile is a constant in our lives, but sometimes we have books that gather dust for years.  If you still haven’t got around to picking a title up, then give yourself a deadline of say – three months to finish it.  If it still doesn’t hit the mark, then maybe it’s time to pass it on.

Do I have multiple editions?

Guilty as charged! And I’ve only just realised this while writing this blog post. The answer is obvious – unless collecting editions is your thing.

Am I only holding onto this for sentimental reasons?

Ugh! Another one which gets me every time. I keep books because they’ve been written by people who I vaguely know, or because I’ve received them as a gift – even if they didn’t completely rock my world. I know I should be more ruthless but when heart enters the equation, it’s a much more difficult decision. Do you find the same?

Would someone else I know enjoy this more?

Gifting books is a pleasure and if you haven’t read The Gifts of Reading by Robert Macfarlane, go buy or borrow it now! You may be uncertain about a title but someone else may love it so why not give it to them? That way, the book gets a good home and you make someone’s day. Win-win!

Of course, the ideal is not to get rid of any books at all, which means more bookcases or wiser purchases – both of which I hope to cover in future posts.  If you have any other tips for streamlining your collection then please share in the comments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 Ways to Build a Book Collection on a Budget

When we first met, Al and I both decided that we wanted to create a library.  It’s taken decades to reach that point, but a few years ago, we finally achieved our aim of having a room that is entirely dedicated to books.

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I estimate that we have over 2000 titles now and we’re still collecting.  We like to mix our purchases up, regularly paying full price (someone has to fund the publishing industry and bookshops!) but very often finding bargains – particularly as I’m taking a short career break to retrain at the moment. If you’re prepared to put a bit of work and time in, then you should be able to find great books without shelling out.  Here’s our top tips:

Charity shops (or thrift stores)

I’m always surprised at the amount of premium titles available.  It’s possible to pick up newly-published works for a fraction of the cost if you can spare the time to forage.  Occasionally you might even discover a first edition, although these tend to be snapped up by the retailers themselves.

Second-hand booksellers

Not always the cheapest, but good for sourcing classics at a lower price and of course, essential for building a vintage collection. We try to support indie bookshops wherever we can.

Competitions and giveaways

The bigger publishers and booksellers such as Penguin and Waterstones run competitions constantly, but you’re likely to have more success with smaller giveaways on social media. The bookstagramming community is really generous so if you haven’t joined and you love books, then I would highly recommend it (be careful not to only enter giveaways though as this makes your account look spammy!).

Reviewing

This involves a bit more work, but it’s very rewarding. I reviewed books for a website few years ago and built up a good chunk of my YA section. Look out for openings on social media, follow a couple of bookbloggers or if you’re super confident about your writing skills, apply to magazines such as Kirkus. If you want to go down this route, it’s best to start your own blog or have some samples at the ready so that you can share your work.

Gifts

For those mega-expensive treats, why not compile a gift list for family and friends? We collect Folio Society editions but tend to save these buys for birthdays and Christmas. Patience required but it’s worth the wait!

Do you have any tips that you can share in the comments below?