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How To

How to Talk About Books on Snapchat

Rachel Smalter Hall

Staff Writer

Rachel Smalter Hall may be a professional Book Rioter, but she still hangs out in the public librarian clubhouse. Two of her top three loves include audiobooks and knitting, and her favorite song is Cold Hearted Snake as performed by Alyssa Edwards and Coco Montrese on season 5 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. She co-runs a boozy book club in Lawrence, Kansas, in her spare time. Twitter: @rach_smalls Website: Rachel Smalter Hall

So you like books and you like Snapchat! Good, we have so much to talk about.

The best part about Snapchat is that there’s no right way to do it — it’s a totally experimental, fun, and playful platform (once you can finally find your way around). And yes, olds are totally allowed to play, too. If you want some help with the basics, I love and recommend Wired’s How To Use Snapchat.

For those of you who are all set on turning your face into a puppy and pinning a donut emoji to your head, you might be ready to explore my FAVORITE use of Snapchat: talking about books!  Here are a few tips I’ve come across in my bookish adventures on Book Riot’s Snapchat.

What To Talk About?

Be inclusive.

It’s a good idea to create some kind of balance in the books you choose to talk about, whatever that means to you. When I put together a group of books to snap about for Book Riot, I always try to represent a range of formats, genders, races, and sexual orientations.

Keep track of titles you’ve already talked about.

Since Snapchat deletes everything older than 24 hours, you can’t go back and look up what you’ve already covered. Tuck away a master list of titles so you won’t wind up repeating yourself in a few weeks. (YUP, I learned this one the hard way.)

Keep it under 60 seconds.

Do you like talking about just one book for a long time, or would you rather cover a lot of books in short bursts? Whichever style floats your boat, I suggest keeping your daily Snapchat story under 60 seconds to help keep your viewers’ interest.

What to Actually Say?

Plan ahead.

Snapchat gives you just 10 seconds for each video snap, which is only 1-2 sentences, or about 30 words total. (Reality check: that is less than 2 tweets.) Eek! Spare yourself some dead air by figuring out what’s most interesting about the book ahead of time — does it have an intriguing character, setting, genre, style, or conflict? Then talk about that.

Captions are your friends.

Remember how you only have 10 seconds? You can shave off a few extra seconds by putting basic details like title, author, publication date, genre, or whatever in captions on the screen.

Macgyver yourself a DIY teleprompter.

This one’s my fave. You can actually type out the gist of what you want to say on your computer screen in a super big font, and then put your computer right in front of your face while you’re recording! (Pro-tip: this “script” can double as your master list of books you’ve already talked about.)

How To Say It?

Keep it loose.

This is one of the hardest for me personally. It helps me to imagine I’m just chatting up my sister about books, and sometimes I even jump around, wiggle, and make funny faces right before I record to loosen myself up. You might wind up doing more than one take… I almost always have to do 2 or 3 takes before all the sounds come out of my mouth as actual words.

Iron out the technical stuff.

Umm, have you noticed that book titles are spelled backwards when the camera’s in selfie mode? Ha! I get around this by snapping a nice clear picture of the book before I switch to selfie mode (2 seconds seems to be a good length). Experiment with pinching, rotating, resizing, moving, and changing the color of your text to make sure it’s legible, too.

Find a format you like and stick with it.

No one’s going to make you reinvent the wheel every time. It’s totally OK to find a format that works for you and then keep doing it. (Slightly embarrassing fact: I actually have mine written down so I don’t forget it.)  When I snap about books for Book Riot, I like to use a mix of photo and video, and I usually wrap it up by putting on a silly face filter and wishing everyone “happy reading.”

Get Inspired


Have I mentioned that I love how Snapchat opens up a sense of creative play that many of us are shut off from? Dive in there and play around with face filters, stickers, emojis, etc. etc., to show off your magical personality and make your snaps even more fun to watch!

Check out other bookish snapchatters.

I get some of my favorite ideas by following other bookish accounts and seeing how they approach Snapchat. I also learn a lot from trying to figure out how they pull off certain shots or techniques. Not sure how to find other bookish snapchatters? Here, start with these 8+ great bookish snapchat accounts to follow.

Check out some non-bookish snapchatters, too.

Non-bookish accounts can also be a treasure trove of great ideas. The Verge and Pop Sugar are two accounts that do really helpful coverage of new Snapchat features, and you can poke around in Discover to see what else you find there, too.

Above all: take what works for you, leave what doesn’t, and make it your own <3