Ten Tips for Authors Using Pinterest

Rachelle Gardner

Blogger: Rachelle Gardner

Series: Non-Scary Social Media for Authors

A couple weeks ago Wendy blogged about Social (Media) Anxiety and how overwhelming it can be. Every time we turn around there’s another networking site we’re “supposed” to be on. Wendy advised we all relax and only do what we can do. I agree with that!

But I’ve also noticed that the latest networking site, Pinterest, might be different from all the others. After spending time on it, I think it could be a joy for you to participate in, rather than a chore. See my related post, 13 Things Writers Should Know About Pinterest, for some reasons you may want to consider it.

Assuming you’re already on Pinterest or you’re going to join, here are some tips.

1. Feature your books, along with other things.

No doubt you’ll want to have a board that features your own books. But don’t have only your own books. Add other boards so that you’re not perceived as using Pinterest strictly for self-promotion, which isn’t its stated purpose.

2. Build some boards of other books.

You might have them separated by genre; you might separate out fiction and non-fiction; maybe you want to have a special board with books written by your friends. The point is, share the love!

pinterest-logo3. Pay attention to where your pins lead if clicked.

If you pin a book cover, pin it from the buy page or a page where it’s reviewed. Make sure the pins of your own books link back to the page of your website/blog that includes “buy” buttons.

4. Tag your friends.

If you want to pin your friends’ books, be sure to tag them by including “@TheirPinterestName” in your description.

5. Share what inspires your writing.

Build some boards that feature things that inspire you in writing your books. You might have boards that feature settings reminiscent of a scene, clothing that your characters might wear, items that are prominently featured in a story… the possibilities are endless.

6. If you’re a guy, don’t ignore Pinterest!

To all the men out there: You might not love Pinterest, but if you want women to buy your books, seriously consider having a presence there. I imagine this can become as helpful as blogging for some authors.

7. Make it easy for others to pin from your site.

Have a “Pin It” button clearly visible on your author website and/or blog so people can pin your posts and your book covers.

8. Include helpful book descriptions.

In your pin descriptions under your books, include a brief description of the book, perhaps genre and a tagline, not just the title and author.

9. Follow other users.

Search for boards you find interesting and useful. Use them for inspiration in your writing, or even to research your latest book. Browse Pinterest to get new ideas for characters, situations, settings. There are so many wonderful boards already. Two I like: Vintage imagery from Scholastic (like opening a road map to my childhood) and New York Public library’s Picture of the Day board. There are also some really cool boards created for writers. Here’s one I found, and I’m sure there are hundreds more.

10. Invite your friends.

If we’re going to commit to this, we may as well let people know about it! Once you’ve signed in to Pinterest, hover the mouse over your name in the top right, then click on “Invite Friends.”

If you’re on Pinterest, give us your opinion. What advice can you give to authors?

Bonus: Be sure to read my companion post, 13 Things Writers Should Know About Pinterest, on my blog.

P.S. You can find a lot of info about Pinterest online. However, I found this user’s FAQ post very helpful.

31 Responses

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  1. Thanks for sharing. I’ve recently gotten into Pinterest myself, so I found this very useful.

  2. Amanda Dykes says:

    What I love about Pinterest is that it’s a natural place for authors to connect with readers on myriad levels. Yes, I absolutely agree that author boards (book boards, inspiration boards, storyboard boards… wow, that’s a lot of “boards”…) are a wonderful tool. But I find the recipe, parenting, decor, words of wisdom, etc. etc. boards from authors just as interesting. How neat to realize that I have similar taste as ___(insert author name here)___, or that they re-pinned the same recipe pin that we tried for dinner. Trivial? Perhaps, but still a neat way to connect.

    Thanks for your pointers as well as your companion post; loved it. Regarding item 13 in that post, here’s an article by Amy Lynn Andrews that echoes your words of caution about Pinterest and copyright: http://bit.ly/z69MoG

  3. I’ve seen Pinterest links lately on my Facebook wall and wondered what all the buzz was about, so thanks for this blog post.

    Very informative!

    Christi Corbett

  4. I use Pinterest, but as a design reference. I’m not sure how it will add much value to writers who aren’t writing highly image-focused works (such as design or art books). Sure, if you have a great cover, it may get pinned, but is anyone going to read my novel because we share the like of a similar image?

    The one aspect of the site where I can see it having value to authors is pinning images from their blog, which might draw people into viewing their blog and, thus, become interested in their book. However, in my metrics, not a single person who has come to my blog from a Google image search (it’s always for a Steve McQueen dress—always) ever spends significant time on my site or moves beyond the post with the McQueen dress. If you’re one of the many writers who use stock images (most of which, I hate to say, are dreadfully cliche and visually uninteresting), why will anyone stick around.

    Sorry to be curmudgeonly, but I’d like to see some evidence that Pinterest has some conversion value before I commit to it beyond just having fun with whatever I happen to find interesting.

    • Conversion rates remain to be seen, but I can’t see a downside if people are clicking through your pins to read more about a book and then potentially clicking “buy.” We shall see! As far as I can tell, this is by far the easiest and least time consuming of the social networks. (But then again, I’m not one of those people getting sucked in and spending hours on the site.)

  5. I love Pinterest. I’ve gotten great recipes, craft ideas, home organization tips, and even found a blog post that touched me so deeply, I reblogged it for tomorrow’s post.

    I created a character board, where I can pin my heroine’s horse, pics of characters, but the pins that drive the most traffic to my website have been my Do-It-Yourself posts.

    I really love this site and feel I get so much useful information. Even my latest hair style. I can see why it’s grown leaps and bounds.

  6. I’ve started boards for some of my research on clothing from the 1850’s and 1860’s as a tool for me to keep all my images organized in one place. Two days ago I came across a picture of George Armstrong Custer and Elizabeth Bacon Custer, captured in the 1860’s, and because her dress caught my attention, I pinned it on my board “1860’s” – http://pinterest.com/gabriellemeyer/1860-s/ This picture has been repinned 36 times in two days by people I don’t know and I have gained a nice handful of new followers because of it. I think Pinterest is another great way to get exposure – and a great way to organize my favorite things online. Thanks for the tips and suggestions above.

  7. Jolene says:

    I’ve been on Pinterest (@yummyinspire) for a couple of weeks and am a real fan of the site. I’ve found that each day I’m receiving more and more hits on my blog direct from Pinterest as people are pinning and re-pinning my posts. I agree that it’s important not to just use it as a selling tool and just let your hair down a little and post from all sorts of sites that inspire you.

  8. I enjoy Pinterest because of all the varied images I find on the boards. Food, clothes, houses and lovely interiors all feed my muse. I enjoy seeing friends’ links and writer friends’ book covers in one unique place.

  9. Amy Sorrells says:

    I love pinterest. I’ve been having a lot of fun with storyboards for my novels. A great way to find inspiration to write, in general!

  10. I’m making notes and taking names or am I making names and taking notes? Too early to decide.

    Love Pinterest. Smiled to see you join!

    I agree, that site has a real relaxing and inspirational quality to it.

    Excellent tips!

    Only other thing I can think of is perhaps for folks to not become a Pinterest hog and pin 100+ things at one time. Like Twitter, that can clog up or dominate a page and their message is diluted. Just food for thought.

    ~ Wendy

  11. I have a question. When I started, I pinned pictures of books I reviewed on my InfiniteCharacters blog so the link went back to the review. I only did this with books I really liked. After there was some discussion about copyright issues, I changed this so the links would go back to the author’s sites. However, the reviews were promoting these books. Would that be a copyright issue? Would others see it as tacky blog promotion? Any thoughts would be appreciated. Thanks!

    • I believe the copyright issue applies to images, and is harmful to photographers and visual artists who may be deprived of the ability to profit from their work. With book covers, it’s different – the cover art is created specifically to be used in public. As long as the cover art is only used in connection with the book itself I don’t see an issue.

  12. Robert Lynch says:

    I just started my Pinterest account a few days ago. With no followers, and without following others, one of my oins was repinned six times in the first few hours. I have started by setting up boards for books I like, Authors, Writing resources (Rachelle’s blog was one of my first pins), book trailers, and information on the subject and locations of my first novel. When the book is closer to publication, I will start a board for my own novels, and will include the second novel which is in progress.

    I have a feeling that this is going to be a great tool, and I intend to put a lot of effort into it.

  13. Burgandy Ice says:

    I keep a growing list of Book Bloggers on Pinterest. There’s so many fun book related things and so many ways of sharing and expressing them. We’re sharing giveaways, book reviews, cover reveals… and more!! Here’s my list: http://burgandyice.blogspot.com/p/pinterest-book-bloggers.html

  14. After reluctantly dragging myself onto Twitter (I’m enjoying it more and more) and hating things like Klout (which I’ve dropped), I was wary of Pinterest, but I have come to love it. Laughs, inspiration, and great place to gather together ideas for a WIP. Locations, clothes, character looks… the possibilities are endless.

  15. Miriam Pia says:

    Until now, I had never heard of Pinterest or this or Books & Such: another victory of Twitter!

  16. In the last few days I’ve seen lots of warnings about Pinterest legalities. Be sure not to post anything there unless you own the rights or have permission.

  17. Tracy Jones says:

    Great topic! Should there be any concerns regarding copyright infringement and pinning book images?

  18. Jan Kern says:

    I agree, Rachelle, Pinterest is a joy. It is helping me connect to people I’ve known in a new way or to entirely new people–all in a mutually fun and image-rich environment. I am just starting to use it, but I have a couple of boards that are subtly building followers around current and future book projects. (Eventually I’ll be less subtle.) I’m enjoying coming up with unique ways to participate in this form of social networking.

    Another benefit I am noticing is how Pinterest activity helps me visually define what makes me smile or shiver or what doesn’t stir me at all and why that is. The other side of that is that I am watching what interests or inspires others, especially over and over again as images are repinned. For me that translates into what in life moves a potential reader and where I might as an author connect in more of an “I get you” sort of way.

    I’m enjoying the tips that you and Wendy are offering. I find myself saying, “Yes!” or “I hadn’t thought of that,” or “Yep, I better do that too.”


  19. I love Pinterest. I’ve gotten more response to TV shows I’ve talked about than books. I try to be careful not to spend too much time pinning things. I could lose all my writing time otherwise.

  20. Thank you so much for this post and the thoughts you shared on your blog, Rachelle!

    I’ve been withholding from joining Pinterest, but wow, you’ve created a slam-dunk case. 🙂 I’ll be referring back to these tips when I join. Thanks again!

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