by Sophie Schmidt

If you have an Instagram account, you may have seen pictures of books floating around your feed. If you’re part of the #bookstagram community like I am, it’s likely that books consume your feed. My name is Sophie and I run the #Bookstagram account @mindofabookdragon, along with my blog, The Mind of a Book Dragon.

I remember being dazzled the moment I joined. There are so many talented people that I couldn’t believe it. I have always wondered how the account owners got their pics to look just right. To find out I talked to one of my favorites, Nani from @booksthetics. She was happy to share tips and tricks you can use to improve your own feed.

Hi Nani! Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Well, hello! Everyone in the book community knows me as Nani, though my name is actually Adriana. I’m 17 years old, from the Caribbean island of Puerto Rico. I’ve been into arts and literature from a very young age, so the fact that I ended up on bookstagram seems almost like fate. Apart from that, I’m a musician and a singer. I’m a Christian, a vegan, I enjoy making people smile and feel good about themselves. My favorite books are the Young Elites trilogy by Marie Lu, I’m currently obsessed with a recently released series called The OA and I really love potato salad. Like a lot.

What inspired you to start your account?

The prospect of being able to combine two things I’m passionate about, photography and books, and being able to share that with a community that has those same passions, definitely!

Where do you find inspiration for you pictures?

I don’t think my inspiration comes from any specific place. I’m constantly inspired by anything and everything. I don’t really seek inspiration. It’s more like inspiration seeks me, if that makes any sense.

How do you deal with less than perfect lighting conditions?

I usually have a few pictures saved up for when there’s bad lighting or I just simply can’t take pictures, so I don’t struggle with that as much as you’d think. Not to mention, I recently bought a 1.4f fixed lens that works wonders when there’s bad lighting (although good lighting is always ideal) and I don’t have to sacrifice the quality of the pictures in the process.

What is your advice for taking great quality photos?

My go-to advice is to use good, natural lighting but I’d definitely recommend getting a fixed lens, as mine has definitely improved the quality of my pictures.

Does your account have a theme? Is it necessary to have one?

I don’t think my account has a theme, not at the moment, and I don’t think it’s necessary to have one at all, as long as your photography style comes through and you use more or less the same editing combinations on all (or most) of your pictures, just to keep it a tad cohesive. I personally prefer switching it up just to avoid monotony, but if you feel a set theme is the best way to go for you, by all means, you do you. This is all about creating something you’re comfortable and happy with!

How did you connect with other people on your account?

I’ve met a lot of my best friends through bookstagram! I honestly don’t know what I’d do if bookstagram hadn’t brought Fiderly (@readsleepfangirl), Taylor (@taylorreads) and me together. They’ve become a part of my family. Also, the girls from my book club (@bibliophileacademy) and my “TML (@themeltinglibrary) fam” are some of my favorite people in this whole entire world. Apart from them, though, I connect with readers from all over the world all the time; it’s what makes this platform so great, in my opinion!

What would you say is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to bookstagram?

Right now, it’s when people try to tell others what they should and shouldn’t read, and even more so when they shame people for reading this book or that. If it’s a matter of opinions, I feel like a lot of people need to learn to understand the fact that opinions vary regardless of race, religion, sexuality, etc. We’re all different; we won’t always agree or like the same things and that’s fine. We’re a diverse community! If it’s a matter of causing awareness of a problematic aspect in a book, politely educating is definitely the way to go. Public attacks/shaming, mockery and harsh words taint the causes we fight for and a lot of times have a negative effect on other readers. It’s important for us to choose our words carefully. Not to mention that just because a book has a problematic aspect (or aspects) does not mean you can’t enjoy the book while still being aware. At the end of the day, each reader’s reading experience is unique and very much their own. No one but yourself has the right to decide what you should read and how you should read it.

What is your favorite part of it?

Well, there are a few things I consider to be my favorite parts of bookstagram. I get to combine two things I’m incredibly passionate about, photography and books, and to talk about things that matter to me. I also, obviously, love the fact that I’ve met some of my favorite people through this community/platform, and I love knowing that there are so many people out there who are willing to listen to what I have to say (having a voice) and to appreciate the content I work so hard on.

Do you also blog or vlog? 

I used to blog, but not anymore. I plan on starting again sometime this year though, so we’ll see. I’ve also been wanting to start a book tube; I just need to find the courage to do so!

What advice do you have for new accounts?

To have patience, definitely. I’ve noticed a lot of new accounts get overly excited with the thought of receiving ARCs, repping for companies, collaborations, etc. and think that kind of thing will be easily handed to them. Every “popular” bookstagrammer you see has worked incredibly hard to get where they are and what they have, and they continue to work hard every day, so I think a fitting piece of advice for any new bookstagrammer is to be patient and work hard. Pour your heart and soul into your account and you’ll see that all will come at its right time.

Any closing comments you’d like to make?

Be genuine! Whether you’re a bookstagrammer or a follower, never feel like you have to pretend to be someone you’re not or like you have to try hard to fit in. It sounds a little cheesy but the right people will like you for who you are; just be yourself and don’t sweat it too much.

Don’t you love Nani’s bubbly personality? She’s one of my *favorites* and I can’t wait to see what she posts in the future. Stay tuned for the next installment featuring another #bookstagrammer you love!