My (Super Easy) Guide To How I Edit My Bookstagram Photos

There is nothing more satisfying than looking at your Instagram feed and seeing a cohesive group of pictures that blend so well together that the overall effect is like you’re looking at one picture. It’s similar to one of those artistic photos that, when you look close enough, are actually made up of hundreds of different smaller photos.

So I know you probably haven’t been wondering, but if you have and would like to know, below you will find a (super easy) guide to how I take and edit my Instagram photos as of late! Keeping in mind that my feed has changed a lot since I first started Instagram, but I do feel like I have finally found a theme that suits me!

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Equipment & Editing Apps

Lets start with the easy stuff! What I use to take my photos. I don’t use anything special! No big bulky camera, not lighting set up. I just use my iPhone XS and I make sure I take all my photos right next to a big, open window, with lots of natural light streaming in! I always try to shoot when the lighting is the same, otherwise I end up having to tweak my photos more to keep their uniformity.

Once all my props are set up, which can take anywhere from about 5 minutes to an hour, depending on how creative I feel that day, I generally take about 10 photos before I get the one I’m most happy with. This can vary though, again, depending on how creative I feel and If I’m happy with my initial set up! I have also made sure to get really familiar with my Iphone’s camera settings so I know how to adjust the exposure and focus while shooting. I’ll usually shoot with ‘portrait’ mode when I’m not doing a flat lay because it gives the photos a really nice, almost professional, quality.

After sorting through the photos I’ve taken, I choose my favourites to edit. I start by using the in phone editing options to crop or realign a photo. After this I drop it into:

Colourtone

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Price: Free (with optional in app purchases)

Colourtone is my all time favourite editing app. I don’t want to bother with creating my own filters or paying big bucks for a subscription to an app I may not even use! I am much happier using presets! And boy, does this app have some beautiful preset filters!  The app itself is free and a select few of the filters are free also! However, the filter I use, I purchased in a pack for no more than, I believe, about $2.99 Australian.

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After I’ve thrown on the filter I like to use, I then move on to checking where it will fit in best on my feed by using:

UNUM

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Price: Free (with optional in app purchases)

UNUM allows you to plan out your entire feed, and the best part about it, is that it’s FREE! Well, you can purchase an upgrade, but I’ve never found I needed it. I import all the photos I have edited into UNUM and start moving them around to see what photos I want to upload to Instagram and in what order I’d like to upload them. This is a much easier way of creating an overall aesthetic, rather than uploading to Instagram and then finding out later that the photo doesn’t really fit with the rest of your feed! Or worse, uploading, then taking it down, then uploading, then taking it down… You get the picture! It’s annoying for both you and your followers!

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Once I’ve decided what order I want to post my content I move onto Instagram! In Instagram, I usually only ever use the sharpening tool to really make the foreground pop! Other than that, I don’t make use of any of the other editing tools or filters within Instagram.

At the end of the day, your content should reflect your personality. Create content that you love and are proud of, but don’t be afraid to try something new! Happy Bookstagramming everyone!

February Reading Wrap-Up

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I can’t believe we’re already wrapping up February! This year has been flying by. This month wasn’t the best for me in terms of reading. In theory it was looking like it’d be amazing, but after reading The Hearts We Sold, I slipped into a weird reading slump and it’s been taking me a good two weeks to finish the book I am currently reading! Here’s hoping I can get through it and smash my March TBR!

So the short of it is that I spent most of February buying more books than I have been reading, but I suppose thats pretty great too.

My Review System

5 Stars: This. Book. Blew. My. Mind. I’d read it again and again and would highly recommend it.
4 Stars: The book was great! I enjoyed it and I may read it again.
3 Stars: I could take or leave this book. It had some interesting moments, but nothing too captivating.
2 Stars: Not a very good book, I’ll more than likely forget about its existence once it’s lost in the expanse of my book shelves.
1 Star: A book I wish I didn’t waste my time on. I did not enjoy it at all and would definitely not recommend it.

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Title: Four Dead Queens (4.5 stars)
Author: Astrid Scholte
Genre: YA Fantasy/Dystopian/Murder Mystery
Find it on Book Depository

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: I was lucky enough to receive an advanced readers copy of this book from Allen and Unwin Publishing and I am so grateful because this book was fantastic! I would recommend it to YA fantasy lovers with a soft spot for smart mouthed, theives! The book has a really well executed “whodunit” aspect to it with a touch of dystopia!

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Title: Emergency Contact (3.5 Stars)
Author: Mary H. K. Choi
Genre: YA Contemporary
Find it on Book Depository

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: This book was so tough for me to review. I both loved it and disliked it immensely! For some weird reason, I feel like I might re-read it some time despite this. In the end I did come to love both the main characters and I recommend this to anyone looking for a cute but equally as quirky YA contemporary romance.

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Title: The Wicked King (5 stars)
Author: Holly Black
Genre: YA Fantasy
Find it on Book Depository

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: Do I even need to write anything here? I am trash for Cardan Greenbriar, High King of Elfhame. These books are amazing, go read The Cruel Prince and follow it closely with The Wicked King, then find me on instagram and fangirl with me.

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Title: The Hearts We Sold (1.5 Stars)
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy
Find it on Book Depository

You can read my in-depth review here.

My Recommendation: Uuuuhhhh… I really disliked this book. It had a terrific premise, but it wasn’t executed well at all. I had no strong feelings for any of the characters and a lot of their interactions felt really forced. Nothing really happens until the very end of the book. As such I probably wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone.

5 Popular YA Books That Were Given Really Terrible Covers In The Beginning

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“Don’t judge a book by its cover” your mother would say. Which, when it comes to people, is great advice! But when it comes to books, is easier said than done.

Below I have complied a list of really popular YA books/series that were given terrible covers in the beginning! Thankfully a lot of these books ended up getting new covers over time, but how anyone (myself included) picked them up to start with I have no idea!

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Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

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So it might just be me, but I absolutely hate when books have realistic looking character  portraits, or worse, an actual photograph of a person on the cover. I don’t need you filling my head with ideas of what these characters look like, I want to read the story and do all that for myself! The Throne of Glass series is one of my most highly recommended reads. Thank goodness it was given top notch covers after this debacle!

City of Fallen Angels by Cassandra Clare

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So the original covers for this whole series where pretty terrible, but this one takes the cake for me! I remember I fell in love with this series despite its covers being horrible (and despite a certain weird plot twist at the end of book one! KEEP READING IT’S NOT TRUE!) These books were given a revamp fairly recently and are now much easier on the eye! Unfortunately I have the whole 6 book series in the above cover style though and I can’t bring myself to spend the money to get the new covers for books I already own.

Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead

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Eeeeek… I hate these covers. I hate everything about them, there really isn’t much I can say I like! I guess the font is ok and of course I didn’t mind the story! Well, It was ok, I read the first couple of books years ago and I didn’t mind them. Sadly, even the new covers for the Vampire Academy series are pretty average, but thank goodness they decided to ditch the models!

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

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The Hunger Games series had the biggest ‘glow-up’ I have ever seen when it comes to book covers! Once the movies came out the covers were changed, but not in that horrible “movie cover” way, where they chuck pictures of the actors on the front and call it a day. These books got some really beautiful editions! I’ve had my set with the original covers (above) on my bookcase for years! Until recently when I found the trilogy, second hand, in the most beautiful editions I have ever seen for just $3 each! I couldn’t resist and snapped them up right away! If I have successfully peaked your interest, you can find a picture of these editions on my instagram, here.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

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So I read the first book in this series on a plane from New York City to Los Angeles and I loved it. I then promptly left it in the back of a taxi, along with a number of my other belongings, never to be seen again. But I can tell you now, I would not have picked this book up if it had had this cover. Once you start putting people on the covers of books, I lose interest really quick! Not to mention, this cover has very little relevance to the book in my opinion. I’m not sure what they were thinking here! This series did end up getting some really lovely covers though, which is probably what got me to buy the book in the first place!

So I know in the end it doesn’t really matter what the cover of your book looks like, it’s the story that matters! But I’m sure most book lovers would agree, a pretty cover sure does help!

Bookstagram Behaviours That Are Making You Look Like An Idiot

If you’ve been on Bookstagram for any length of time, you’ll probably have noticed that some people are just out there looking for a “follow back.” They aren’t always easy to spot, but generally as a Bookstagrammer, if some big, beefy fitness guy who only ever posts mirror selfies follows my account, I can almost guarantee he’s doing it for the follow back and he’ll be unfollowing me within a day or so.

Unfortunately though, it doesn’t seem to end there! For some reason the Bookstagram community is now like this weird, post apocalyptic, dystopian world where we trade in likes and follows and we’re all really wary of giving away too many, without gaining in return. The more followers we have, the more successful we feel and the more we feel like our content matters.

There are a million reasons why I disagree with posting content solely for the purpose of gaining followers, my main reason being, it should be something you actually enjoy, not a chore. But that’s a whole different blog post altogether. Below I have compiled all the ridiculous follow-hungry behaviours that are prevalent in the Bookstagram community today and how they are making you look like an idiot.

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Asking Popular Accounts For Shoutouts

People work hard on their content and more often than not, it’s taken years of dedication for them to have gotten that follower count. Don’t contact popular Bookstagram accounts, or accounts bigger than yours begging for a shoutout, they won’t like it and it makes you look desperate and silly. Instead, enjoy the community and interact with people who share the same love of books as you!

Liking Someones Entire Feed, But Not Following

You know the ones, when someone randomly likes your last 30 posts in the span of a couple of minutes but they don’t follow you. They must like your content enough to sit there and like your posts, right? Oh, but not quite enough to follow your account. This tactic is so transparent and ridiculous, it’s actually quite clear you don’t really like the content, you’re just looking for someone to make their way to your page in hopes that you’ll end up with a new follower. How about next time, if you like that many of someones pictures, give them a follow, maybe even ask them about some of the books you can see in their photos! Trust me, you’re far more likely to make friends this way.

Playing The Follow, Unfollow Game

This one is the most annoying in my opinion. I’ve even had a fairly popular author use this method on me! I noticed because I got rather excited to see an author follow me! I thought “No way! She likes my content!” only to have her unfollow me the next day after she realised I’d followed her back. The ‘follow, unfollow’ method is the epitome of viewing your ‘follows’ as some weird form of currency! People don’t want to be following more accounts than the amount of followers they have. It’s ridiculous. If you like someones content, follow them, if you don’t, bugger off and leave them be. Not to mention how time consuming for you, when you could be using that time to create your own content! Or in the case of that author, I don’t know, writing more books!

Leaving Generic Comments

So I get it, you want people to make their way to your account. You want people to see all your hard work. But why don’t you actually pay attention to what peoples captions say? Chances are in the Bookstagram community, the post you’re about to comment on is worthy of more than just your generic “great content :)” comment. Interact, answer questions, ask questions! But please, for goodness sake, don’t leave a generic emoji comment hoping that you’ll get a follow. If you want to comment, make sure you mean it and you care about the topic being discussed!

There are so many more ridiculous things that go on in this community. It can be thoroughly disheartening when most of us joined Bookstagram to make friends and talk about the books we love. When social media becomes more about instant gratification and numbers, it gets less fun for not just you, but everyone else too. So next time you’re about to leave a generic comment or you’re getting your thumb ready for another round of follow-unfollow, maybe just, don’t. Go leave meaningful comments, start a discussion and enjoy the community. Don’t get so caught up in the numbers that you make yourself look like an idiot.

How To Host A Bookstagram Giveaway

Chances are if you’ve been on the Bookstagram community a while, you’ve seen people hosting giveaways! A “giveaway,” for those who don’t know, is essentially when you host a mini competition with the prize being something bookish! To make things easier, when I host a giveaway, I’ll usually make the prize a book from Book Depository to the value of, say, $20 Australian. Giveaways are a great way to expand your follower base and get your content seen by a wider range of people. Please note however, that they are not a necessity and you are under no obligation to host a giveaway. But if you are interested in hosting one and have no idea where to start! Below are a few tips and tricks I’ve picked up along the way!

Giveaway Rules

All giveaways have rules! You aren’t exactly giving something away for nothing, you’re offering people the chance to win something if they follow a certain set of rules to enter the competition. For the sake of not getting too in depth, I am going to assume you already know the basics of how instagram works! A common set of giveaway rules would be as follows.

1. You must be following me, do not follow to unfollow later.

2. Like this post.

3. Post about the giveaway in your stories and remember to tag me.

4. Comment “done” on this post when you’re done! (This is an important step as this will be the list you use when choosing your winner)

Some people then go on to create another list of optional requirements that will allow an entrant to gain more entires into a giveaway. Some of these include things such as

1. Tag some Bookstragam friends who might be interested in this giveaway, each person you tag is an extra entry.

And

2. Share this giveaway post to your feed and tag me for an extra entry.

I would also recommend having a look at some of your favourite Bookstagram accounts and see if they have hosted any giveaways, look into what kinds of rules they applied and mix it up to suit you.

Be Aware Of What Hashtags You Use

When hosting a giveaway on Bookstagram, you want your target audience to be other book lovers. People who aren’t going to unfollow you as soon as your giveaway is over! Because this is the case, you need to be very aware of what hashtags you’re using and try not to be too general with them! Instead of just tagging your post with #giveaway, try using #bookishgiveaway or #bookstagramgivaway. This allows you to target your preferred audience, instead of people who aren’t really interested in books and only want free stuff. I could even argue that hashtags aren’t necessary if people are posting about your giveaway to their stories. This gives you a far more organic “word of mouth” reach without having to worry about hashtags. Another way around this is to include a disclaimer in your giveaway that only Bookstagram accounts can enter.

Choose Your Winner Fairly

When it comes to choosing a winner, I believe you need to be as fair as possible. I find taking the time to be thorough with your entires is of the utmost importance. Once you have your list finalised, you are then able to input the names into a random name picker (you can google this and you’ll find plenty)! I find this to be the most efficient and fair way of choosing a winner without it being influenced by myself. After this, I check that the winner has satisfied all the entry requirements and if it looks like they have, I announce the winner on my stories! Once they reply I get them to check out the book depository to see what book(s) they would like and I have it shipped to them! This could very well be the most important step! Follow through with the giveaway guys!

In my time on Bookstagram, this has easily been the most effective way to gain a following, however I would suggest keeping your giveaways to a milestone or special event. If you host too many, it may get a bit tiresome for you and your followers!

Happy Bookstagramming! You can find me on Instagram @readingsumpton.

Bookish Gift Guide For Readers

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Ringing in the new year means a whole host of birthdays once again coming our way. I have often found it hard to find the perfect gift for certain loved ones in my life, but when it comes to bookworms, I’ve got you covered! So if you have a book lover in your life, why not try to find them something they will really love! Below are just a few ideas of gifts that every bookworm will be ecstatic to receive!

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Bookmarks

Save your book lover from using a receipt, business card or tissue as a bookmark! There are plenty of beautiful bookmark companies out there! Ink and Wonder is just one of these many companies, but it is easily my favourite! They have created what they call a “woodmark” which is made of very thin, ethically sourced wood. They have a whole range of beautifully vibrant and incredibly designed products, not just bookmarks, including tote bags, enamel pins and stickers!

Game of Thrones Woodmark from Ink & Wonder

Book Sleeves 

Chances are your bookworm carries a book with them everywhere they go. This often means throwing said book into their bag or even onto the back seat of their car! Book sleeves keep their books safe when they are on the move! A quick google search will have you covered in this category! There are plenty of beautifully handmade book sleeves on Etsy! A couple of wonderful book sleeve companies  I enjoy are Bookbeau and Thumbelara!

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Bohemian Book Sleeve from Thumbelara

Bookish Candles

I know what you’re probably thinking! “Candles? Really? That’s what I buy my mother when I don’t know what else to get her!” But these candles are different! They are themed! Themes usually range from different books/series to things bibliophiles love (like bookstores, cafes or the great hall from Harry Potter)

If your book lover is also an avid instagrammer (or bookstagrammer) candles also make fantastic props! A few of my favourite candle companies include Flick the Wick, Spark and Sparrow, In The Wick Of Time and Alchemy and Ink!

The Raven Cycle Candle from In The Wick of Time (Owlcrate exclusive)

A Book Subscription Box

A book subscription box is a monthly subscription, delivered to your door, full of amazing bookish content, including a book! This is on the pricier side, especially if you choose to subscribe for longer periods of time! However, one off purchases are available and it’s essentially a “lucky dip” for book nerds! Owlcrate, Fairyloot and The YA Chronicles are just a few of these fun boxes!

A Coffee/Tea Mug

Give me the name of one book lover who doesn’t enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while they are reading?! I’ll wait!

Seriously though, you can’t go wrong here! Especially if you find out if they have a particular book or series they absolutely adore and you find a mug that coincides with that book! I received the below Harry Potter themed mug in an Owlcrate subscription box and have been in love with it ever since!

Harry Potter Mug (Owlcrate exclusive)

A Reading Journal

a reading journal is a fun way for bookworms to track and plan out their reading for the week, month or even year! There are a lot of beautifully designed journals and a quick google search will have you on your way! A journal is a far more intimate and personal way for your book lover to track their reads as opposed to sites like Goodreads.com (which I also love)!

So there you have it! If you have a book lover in your life and you have no idea what book to buy them next, why not skip buying them a book or voucher all together and get them some fun bookish merch!

5 Books Every Little Girl Should Have On Their Bookshelf

I am the mother of a fairly new human being. That human being happens to be a little girl and I feel a strong sense of responsibility to create an environment for her where she knows that girls can do and be anything they choose to if they work hard enough.

My daughter is currently only six months old, I know, I know! “She can’t even read yet!” You’re right, she can’t! But this book loving Mama has to prepare because an appreciation for books is in this little girls blood, I just know it!

Below are my top five books that I believe every little girl should have on their book shelves!

1. Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

This beautiful book is easily my number one pick when it comes to books for my daughter! Each page has a quick, easy to read story about a famous woman throughout history! Such women include Michelle Obama, Frida Kahlo and Amelia Earhart! The illustrations are beautiful and the stories are perfect for a quick, before bed time adventure!

Age range: according to the Rebel Girls website this book is best for girls/woman between the ages of 4 and 101!

2. Harry Potter And The Philosophers Stone by JK Rowling (illustrated edition)

It wouldn’t be a Reading Sumpton list if I didn’t include Harry Potter! These books are full of amazing female characters! The likes of the phenomenal Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood and Minerva McGonagall grace these pages! This is a story, at its very core, of love and friendship and I would hope that one day my daughter and I will be able to read these books together! I have only included the first book on my list, but all of them are fantastic.

Age range: technically the Harry Potter series is a categorised as a middle grade read (9-12 years) but for the sake of every human being my age who is still flicking through these pages, I’d say ages 9 and up!

3. My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can A Little Girl Dream by Jennifer Fosberry

This short, fun book is all about a little girls journey to self-identity through women’s history! Throughout the book Isabella imagines being different woman who changed the world, choosing different characteristics that she admires about each. Until one day she realises that being herself is actually pretty great too and that she already encompasses all those wonderful traits herself!

This is a sweet and beautifully illustrated book that teaches young girls that they are capable of doing whatever they set their minds to, just as women before them have done!

Age range: 4 to 8 years.

4. Matilda by Roald Dahl

So this one could just be because I am a nineties baby and grew up both reading Roald Dahl and watching the movie Matilda constantly. But this incredibly funny and inspiring book is one I would highly recommend having on your little girls shelves! Matilda is an incredibly smart, funny and quick witted little girl who overcomes the many struggles she faces in her life. She has a tenacious spirit and a flare for revenge against those who have wronged her! This is the kind of laugh out loud book that I will definitely be introducing my daughter to!

Age range: Ages 7 and up!

5. Strong Is The New Pretty: A Celebration Of Girls Being Themselves by Kate T. Parker

Now this one is a little different! Girls are fearless, smart, wild and powerful! This collection of photographs showcases real girls, being their authentic selves, in their element proving this! This inspiring work aims to show readers that girls aren’t just “pretty” but that they are so much more than that! This book is a “celebration of girls being themselves” and I think thats possibly one of the most important things we can teach our daughters!

Age range: Ages 4 and up.

That wraps up my top five books that every little girl should have on their bookshelf! Whether the women in these stories are fictional or not, I hope that they inspire more girls to reach for the stars and know that they can achieve whatever they set their minds to.