We’ve all been there, right? Someone on bookstagram does or says something that makes you roll your eyes to the back of your head and say “How did they not know that doing this was a faux pas?! So rude! Ugh!” If I had a dollar for every single time I got that overwhelming feeling, I would have many dollars.
In the grand scheme of things, there are worse things going on in the world than people doing or saying relatively harmless things on bookstagram. Truly, it’s just an app that features “fake” realities. However, because I spend so much time on bookstagram, as a lot of us do, I feel like we owe it to one another to be honest about the things we are saying behind closed doors about things within the community that just aren’t working and that drive us BONKERS (and in some cases, drive us to quit the app all together).
With that in mind, I wanted to put together a list of a few Do’s and Don’ts that I personally adhere to and I would hope that others would adhere to as well so that we can all live in bookish harmony and happiness. As a disclaimer, doing or not doing any of these things doesn’t make you a bad person, these are all just topics we can use to start a discussion about how we interact with one another on the bookstagram platform.
Let’s start with the Do’s!
- Treat people on the platform how you would treat a stranger standing in front of you. Would you ask intrusive, overly personal questions to someone you just happened to run into on the sidewalk? Hopefully not. Even though we internet folks share a lot of our lives with you, that doesn’t mean that you have unlimited access to poke and prod at us like science experiments. Basically, don’t make this weird by asking really personal questions to people you don’t know and who do not know you!
- Make time to support other creators. It’s hard to look away from your own content sometimes to take a step back, scroll through your feed/stories, and interact with others. But supporting other people by commenting, liking, and replying to stories in a genuine way is what makes an online community a COMMUNITY. Sure, you answer comments on your own posts and reply to DM’s, but that isn’t the same as giving other people “snaps” for the hard work they are putting into their content.
- Read what brings you joy. It can be easy to fall into the hurricane of wanting to read what everyone else is reading and posting about. But for me, personally, I find more joy in reading whatever I want based on my own personal moods and interests. It also shows in my content when I feel passionate about a book/genre and when I don’t. People can tell when you’re not being genuine about a book and that usually hurts you more than not reading the hottest and latest titles. Trust me!
- Follow people whose feeds and lives don’t look like yours. There is more strength in the community you build if it is dedicated to being a diverse platform of incredible people who can learn from and support one another versus a totally monotone grouping of people.
- Tag authors and publishers in reviews of books you loved! It seems like an easy and no-brainer thing to do, but I can’t tell you how many times an author has thanked me for a positive review on my feed. It means more to them than you know!
- Feel free to reach out to people, regardless of following size, and tell them you appreciate their work/love their feed, want to talk about a book they read that you also loved, or to share something with them that made you think of them. A lot of people feel intimidated by people with large followings, but they are just people who love talking about books, just like you. Starting conversations can be awkward, but the friendships you form because of the awkwardness are so worth it!
And now, for a list of the Don’ts… buckle up people, it’s a long one!
- Message someone asking them something you are physically capable of finding the answer for on Google/Goodreads/etc. I know that it’s super easy just to ask someone for an answer to something. It’s less work for you to do so, I assume. But there is so much information out there already available to you for free. If you’re already great friends with the person you’re asking OR if you are truly incapable of Googling it yourself, I totally understand. However, for those of us privileged enough to be able to do our own research, stretch those Google muscles and do it up!
- A few examples of these types of questions (which I have received multiples times each) are:
- “Hey, is that book a part of a series?”
- Message someone with spoilers for a book they haven’t even started yet OR tell them “oh my gosh I hated that book/it was so bad/it’s garbage.” People get really excited about the books they want to read and/or just bought and it can be really disheartening to have someone barge in and say negative things about it before you even have the chance to form your own opinion. Once they have read it, sure, feel free to discuss if the person you are messaging is willing. But don’t be mean and make someone feel disappointed about something they were excited for.
- Ask for shout outs. Oh my goodness, just please don’t do it. It’s never going to go over well and you will look greedy and like a follower leech. Just. Don’t. Do it.
- Ask someone to send you free books (even if you offer to pay for shipping). Again, treat people on the internet like strangers. Would you ask a stranger on a bus to give you something of theirs they had in their hands for free? Probably (hopefully) not! Again, if you have a good relationship with that person, they may be more open to it and probably won’t take it poorly, but be respectful of the fact that people may not be willing to give their book away (and that is okay).
- Steal other people’s photos or photo ideas without their consent. It’s hard to take TRULY original photos of books (I mean, how many books and coffee mug pictures are out there?! I have at least 57 on my own feed lol). But, it’s not okay to totally ripoff someone’s work without prior permission OR without recreating it to be totally your own and tagging them to let them know they inspired you. Just be kind and respectful!
- Get discouraged on bad engagement days. They’re tough. They make you question yourself and your platform’s worth like no other. But those days will come and go in a cyclical fashion and no matter what, you can’t always win. There’s no way to guarantee that every post you make is going to absolutely kill it. We are not Beyonce, we are going to have bad days on instagram and they will pass. And then they will come back… and then they will pass… and then they will come back… and then they…
All of these Do’s and Don’ts are, of course, my opinions, but I think that I speak for a lot of us on most of these. This platform is “what we make it, so let’s make it rock!” – Hannah Montana.
What are some of your Do’s and Don’ts? Do you have any you agree with or disagree with me about? Let me know!
In the meantime, feel free to follow me on instagram @worldswithinpages… but make sure you ACT RIGHT, OKAY??? NO NONSENSE!!!!! 😉