I absolutely love scrolling through Instagram. My feed is full of Bookstagramer's gorgeous flat-lays and bookshelf eye-candy. Some of my favorite reading buddies have come from the connections I've made through talking about books on Social Media.
If you've never created a flat-lay, I double-dog-dare you to try today! You might find that you like it. Personally, I LOVE spending time with books I adore, making them into my own little pieces of art. Besides, it's a good skill to have. Whether you're announcing a new book, hosting a giveaway, geeking out about your latest read, or connecting with other readers, book flat-lays can make a big statement.
Here are a few pointers to help you get started. Don't forget to click on the links to see examples of well done posts from some of my favorite Bookstagram accounts.
Every Flatlay needs to start out with a gorgeous background. The purpose of a background is to add a little bit of texture, but mainly be a supporting element to highlight your product. You have to look for something modern, clean, and appealing. The biggest mistake I see is when people use outdated or considerably worn materials from around their house. If you have designer wood floors, plush throw blankets, yards of flowing linen, use it! But face it, most of us are moms with jelly stains and tight budgets. So, where can we find backgrounds that aren't lackluster?
Here are a few options:
1. Books: Try lining up some of your favorite covers side by side. Or even open up their pages and layer them in a fun way.
2. Things from around the house: Do you have a cool chunky knit blanket that you cuddle up with when you read? Has your back porch weathered in a cool way that fits your Insta's rustic theme? Get creative. Even if something's not perfect, you can make it into a lovely backdrop
3. Go on-sight: The outdoors have so much potential. And all the natural light you could want! There are some really fun examples under #outdoorbooks and #readingoutside on insta. Go check them out for inspiration!
4. Paper Backdrops: If you're going to be regular about flat-lays, I totally recommend investing in a paper backdrop. I have two that look like gorgeous hardwood floors. You can find them online for as low as $10 each. Search around on Etsy or Amazon for the look you want. Having a consistent background color helps each of your pictures stay within a related color palette and will make your feed look really cohesive.
You can use as many, or as few props as you want when you're setting up a flat-lay. Just remember, using props should support your books, not detract from them. Start by finding items around your house that relate to the book, match the tone of the cover, or even just look nice. Here are some ideas for suggested props:
Artificial Flowers: These are one of the easiest props to start with. If you hit up a 50% off sale at Hobby Lobby or Michael's, hunt down flowers at yard sales, or ask family, you can piece together a decent amount of prop flowers without breaking the bank. Try to find colors that will compliment the widest variety of books you can. I purchased a lot of white, a few cool colors, and a few warm colors. That way, I'm covered, no matter what color palette I'm working with.
Fandom Items: Funko-pops, socks, crowns, swords, home decor, mugs, bookmarks, maps... If you're a collector, utilize these items in your flatlays! Someone who does a really great job of this is @lulumoonowlbooks.
More Books: Sometimes the best way to highlight a book is with other books. If I see a book that I haven't read, I'll be more inclined to read it if it's paired with other books that I have read and enjoyed.
Simple Items: Sometimes you can get creative and set a mood with simple items from around the house. Are there things you own that might work? Check out _moonlight.reader_ for a TON of good examples.
Flatlays can be a lot of fun to play around with. The options are as wide as your imagination.
Cover facing up: Having the full cover visible is a great way to highlight a particular book. If you are showcasing more than one book, try not to put them in a straight line. Play around with diagonals, alternating heights, or even varying angles.
Spine facing up: You can get creative about how you showcase your book spines. Form different shapes, create rainbow effects with alternating colors, or come up with something completely unique!
Arranging your books in a fun way, and taking a close up can be a simple way of creating a flat-lay without a background or props. Play around with different options, browse around for inspiration, and enjoy spending some quality time with your books!
I usually use my phone to take flat-lay pics. I use the Photo Shop Express app to make it look it's very best. When you go to post on Instagram, the recommendation is to use the same filter every time, to make your feed really cohesive. So, if you do choose to use a filter, stick to the same one to keep the same tone throughout. Once your picture is cropped and edited, it's ready to go!
I hope you take a few moments today to try it out. I'd love to see what you come up with! Post a link to your flatlay below so I can come celebrate your books with you!
Let’s say someone decides they’d like to be a professional writer. Even though they don’t have much experience, there’s this one story idea that’s been hounding them for years. They pick up a pen and a notebook and write it down, day after day, scene by scene. After putting “the end” on their manuscript, it’s done! That’s all there is to it, right?
But no one wants to publish or represent their book, and those who read it don’t like it but don’t know exactly why. And if no one knows why they don’t like it, how can the writer possibly fix it?
There’s the obvious solution of hiring an editor to polish things up, and that might help the work feel more polished, but editing can only do so much. Sometimes, it can’t fix what’s really wrong with a story. Sometimes, you have to change your mindset more than the words on the page.
First of all, a story isn’t just a bunch of scenes put together. Secondly, being a professional writer isn’t just writing every day and publishing what you finish.
If you believe you can be a writer, and be really good at it without proper training, you have a lot to learn. Literally.
Have you ever felt like you didn’t belong somewhere? It’s an uncomfortable experience to walk into a place, start talking to people, and immediately realize that you’re different. I had that experience recently. I presented at a 3-day writing conference, and I took my 5-month-old baby with me. I should be used to this by now. After all, I took him to the Life, the Universe, and Everything Symposium in February, but that was only for part of one day. This was an entire weekend of toting around a 20lb baby, juggling my gear, and having people walk up to me and start wiggling fingers and babbling at my son.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great ice breaker! I met a lot of authors who will probably remember me the next time we’re at an event together because I brought my baby. I love bringing my babies to conferences, but it has its downsides too. By day two I was burnt out. My baby was fussier, having his nap and feeding schedule thrown off and being overstimulated by strangers and noise. I could tell he missed his routine, and truthfully, so did I. I had to leave every class I tried to attend so that others could learn. I was so frustrated and since all of my presentations were done, I wondered if I should just go home. What could I possibly accomplish with a fussy baby and a troubled heart?
If I had been alone in this author journey of mine, I probably would have gone home. And there’s no shame in that, but I am so glad I wasn’t alone and that I didn’t give up. Instead, I sent a text message to my husband, who was home with my older kids. I sent another message to our writing group chat. I prayed they would be able to help. And boy, did they! While my baby rolled around on the floor, and I cried in a secluded corner of the conference venue, messages flooded in.
We're all writers, we're all moms, writing our way through the "brambles" of life and our stories.