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[Start-it-up] How To Go From Being an Instagram Poet To a Published Author If stringing words together to create beautiful poetry or prose is something that comes naturally to you, social media can now help you make it a well-paying gig.

By Debroop Roy

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If stringing words together to create beautiful poetry or prose is something that comes naturally to you, social media can now help you make it a well-paying gig. From Rupi Kaur to Beau Taplin, the rise of Instagram writers has been a big talking point in literary circles all across.

What started with a simple experimentation of putting small snippets in the form of aesthetically pleasing square pictures is now a full-blown industry. If you, too, believe your writing has what it takes to go out there and make people spend, here's a little guide that would help you along.

Creating a Brand

One of the most important reasons why things work on Instagram is how you present yourself and build an image in front of your followers. The very first step to doing this is creating a username that resonates and is easy to recall. It must reflect the kind of work people could expect from you or should depict your personality.

Your bio is another place where you would like to be careful. Don't put too many details, but just enough along with the contact details that would help you connect to relevant people when you grow.

And while it is true that there can be artistic blocks, make sure that your posts are regular if you are to build a brand that continues to grow. Your writing may be exceedingly great but unless you are posting something regularly, some of the fickle followers might decide to unfollow and there's also the case of Instagram's algorithms reducing your reach.

With the option for Instagram stories, even if you don't have posts everyday, it gives you an option to regularly interact with your followers. Do live videos, polls, giveaways and Q&A sessions which would help drive engagement metrics.


Publishing over the years has become easier and cheaper as well.

To get your books to the maximum possible audience, it no longer requires going to a big publishing house and hoping that they decide to take you in the traditional way. While it is still a good option, it takes a lot longer considering the volumes of manuscripts that they get and the miniscule amount that they end up choosing.

There are plenty of new age publishers that have come up and are helping authors self-publish with little to no investment. While the likes of Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing allows you to have your own book for free if you have everything from book design to the cover ready, there are paid options from companies such as Notion Press which guide you through the process with packages as little as about INR 17,000. While Amazon KDP does give a free ISBN, you may want to get your own if you want to sell across platforms.

All you need to do is go to any of their online portals, put your details and there would be tools for help.


Other than spending on any of the paid packages, you may need to also spend a bit on marketing your Instagram presence in the initial few days. It may vary depending on your budget and how many people you want to reach but it is recommended to start with about INR 3000 to INR 5000 a month.

Videos are also a quick way to get you recognition. A lot of Instagram poets put out videos of them reading their written pieces, sometimes performing them at open mics and those who may not be reading your posts may just be hooked to something audio-visual. Making these videos with the help of a freelancer can cost you about INR 4000- INR 5000 per video.

In terms of earnings, self-publishing tools give you better margins but it really depends on the publisher that you decide to go with. For example, a 200-page black and white paperback priced at about INR 200 can earn you about INR 30-40 per book if you are selling on e-commerce sites. On Amazon KDP, you can earn up to 60 per cent of your list price.

Average royalty for traditional publishing is 10-15 per cent of selling price.

Debroop Roy

Former Correspondent

Covering the start-up ecosystem in and around Bangalore. Formerly an energy reporter at Reuters. A film, cricket buff who also writes fiction on weekends.
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