How Writers Can Use Pinterest
If you haven’t taken advantage of Pinterest.com, you’re passing up an incredible opportunity to add an attractive plank to your writer platform.
Now the third largest social site on the web (yes, you read right), Pinterest encourages you to “pin” your “interests” in the form of images or videos to unlimited themed “boards”. But make no mistake: for the savvy writer, Pinterest goes way beyond being a mere virtual scrapbook or yet another way to waste time online.
Pinterest can be used for inspiration, brainstorming, information collation, storytelling, reminders, homage, collections, wish lists, gift registries and more. In fact, you can even create a group board that allows specific friends to “pin”—or even the public.
So how can Pinterest help writers? I’m glad you asked!
First, we need to remember that sounding like an obnoxious carnival barker on any social media site will irritate at best and anger at worst. In fact, you’re better off staying away from all social media if you’re a mere promo whore constantly cawing, “Buy my book! Read my blog post! It’s cheap! It’s free!”
A solid auhor platform begins with good writing—content will always be king—but it builds and expands with likability.
I know, I know: I didn’t get the memo that a writing career involved personality contests, either.
The good news—especially for you introverted authors—is that your wit, originality, creativity and artistic eye can “speak” for you on Pinterest. Your personal flair can make you interesting, intriguing or entertaining…and that makes you memorable. People want to find out more about you, which includes checking out your profile…and that means discovering your books and writing.
But get this: you can leverage Pinterest by unobtrusively threading your expertise, genre specialty or book topic throughout your boards! What a cool, non-spammy way to strut your stuff, huh?
While illustrators, designers, crafters or photographers have a slight advantage because of the visual nature of their work, writers can create compelling montages highlighting their knowledge, innovation and enchantment, as well.
“I’m a fiction writer”, you may be thinking. “How in the world can I use Pinterest to help my author platform?” Or, maybe you’re a poet, essayist or non-fiction writer wondering the same.
The best way to show you Pinterest done well by writers is to give you examples. Let’s start with non-fiction.
Author of The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew--Three Women Search for Understanding (a book about spiritual searching and religious respect), Priscilla Warner recently penned Learning to Breathe: My Yearlong Quest to Bring Calm to My Life, which details her life-long battle with anxiety.
When you visit her Pinterest profile here, guess what?
You’ll see breathtaking skyscapes, lovely labyrinths, spiraling mandalas, vivid flowers, Buddha statues, serene pools of water, gorgeous trees, inspirational quotes and peace signs.
Here we have Priscilla’s journey from panic to peace—laid out for us visually.
She is showing us that she has found calm (or knows what promotes calm), poising her as an expert on alleviating anxiety…the topic of her latest book. And, Priscilla is also “telling” us that she’s well versed in meditation, spiritual contemplation and Buddhist philosophy (which also ties in to her first book).
While you may not have heard of Priscilla until now, you’ve probably heard of Mary Ann Radmacher. At least, it’s very likely you’ve seen her art and words on posters, cards and plaques.
When we visit her Pinterest page, not only do we see Mary Anne’s favorite art products and books (in addition to her own books and paintings) but also how others have transformed her words into visual masterpieces (including tattoos!).
Lastly for non-fiction, let’s visit my Pinterest profile. I am a Tarot expert (among other things), and my first two traditionally published book are about—wait for it—Tarot! So you’ll find a board dedicated to all the Tarot books I own (over 250!), as well as specific Tarot cards (for example, Fool images from over 50 decks).
Yes, my books are among the Tarot books listed…and yes, I have a board dedicated to all my books/eBooks…but those are a mere mention in light of having 30 different boards at this writing.
Thus, my boards are eye candy for Tarot enthusiasts—but I’m also indirectly saying “I know Tarot!” People will check out my books and blogs, and maybe even order a Tarot reading from my site. Passive income, anyone?
And lest you think you can only point to already-published works, check out my Snowland board. My husband and I are contracted for the Snowland Tarot deck. We co-create the images and he paints them. I’ll be writing the companion book. So what have I done to generate interest on Pinterest? Why, post the cards as they’re finished…complete with the URL in the comment sections, directing people to SnowlandTarot.com. Sneaky, huh? But not obnoxious!
If you’re a biographer or historian, pin images of your subject and related events. A cookbook author? Recipes! Kitchen gadgets! What you cooked last night! Science writer? Give us all the nebulas, rainforests, rock formations, infographics, microscope slides, cute critters and unusual insects we can handle! (And don’t forget to share the love by posting your favorite books on the topic, too!)
OK, you fiction writers…it’s your turn.
Yes, non-fiction expertise may seem easier for “pinning”—and you’re probably correct. All this means, though, is that you’ll have to think outside the box a bit. Isn’t that what you guys do anyway? *wink*
Let’s start with my absolute favorite Pinterester, Gypsy Thornton. Gypsy specializes in fairytales, so her amazing boards are dedicated to the characters, environment and stories found in folklore.
Her boards are not only dedicated to specific tales like Red Riding Hood, Billy Goats Gruff and Arabian Nights, but also mythical beings, maps, picture books and ballets. One of the most intriguing elements of her Pinterest page? Individual boards dedicated to a specific color—red, green, brown, white, and so on.
Lest you think, “That’s all well and good, but how will that help me sell books or gain a following?”…guess how I discovered Gypsy? She happened to re-pin the image of Jack Frost from our Snowland Tarot board to her Ice Maiden’s Touch board!
You’re starting to see the viral possibilities, aren’t you?
Let’s keep going, fiction writers, by stepping our toes into genre waters!
Writing a romance? Already published one (or more)? Create boards splayed with “hotties”, celeb crushes, romantic gift ideas, quotes about romance, Hollywood relationships or your favorite romance novels. Although I’m not a romance writer or reader, I have a board dedicated to hearts…just because I like them.
Are you a cozy mystery writer? Your boards could be collections of your series’ theme or location—coffee, cookies, embroidery, cupcakes, bookstores, orchards, BBQ, tea, floral shops, libraries, knitting, cooking schools, psychic cats, decoupage, Tarot readers, churches, donuts, home repair, antiques…you get the “picture”.
If you write traditional mysteries, dedicate your Pinterest boards to symbols of the genre—magnifying glasses, fingerprints, footprints, forensic tools. Or what about boards featuring your favorite authors (Mary Higgins Clark! Agatha Christie! Sir Arthur Conan Doyle! Tess Gerritsen!) or beloved sleuths (Sherlock! Poirot! Miss Marple! Jessica Fletcher! Columbo!)? Heck, you can create a board with quotes featuring the word “mystery”…or even songs that have the word “mystery” or “mysterious” in the title or lyrics! In fact, you can pin YouTube videos to your boards! (Click here to find out how).
Do you pen historical tomes? Dedicate boards to the city and occasions you write about, as well as décor, garb, architecture, music, politics, significant players, parallel events and so on.
At the very least, you’re a writer…right? So why not create boards with encouraging quotes, writing advice, books on the craft, esteemed authors, favorite writing teachers, admired publishers or creativity tools?
Writing your first book? How about a board (or boards) dedicated to your work-in-progress! Visually brainstorm characters (preferences, favorite foods, playlists, decorating style, clothing), settings or even plot points.
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this post, but I hope it’s demystified Pinterest for writers and given you a bazillion ideas for the writing life.
Here are 10 Pinterest Tips for you:
1. Don’t be spammy. Imbed your book cover or blog among helpful, interesting and visually stimulating boards. Don’t make it all about you.
2. Put the red P symbol on your site or blog linking to you Pinterest page. Alternatively, use the Follow Me on Pinterest image with a link back.
3. Comment on, or “like”, the pins of others. It’s easier and faster than commenting on blog posts! If one of their images fits the theme of one of your boards, by all means re-pin away.
4. Follow the boards of other writers or creatives you find inspiring. If you only like one or a handful of boards from Pinterest profile, you can select only those.
5. Create a group board to magnify the fun factor and cross-pollinate ideas (and fan base). It’s less demanding than a group blog.
6. If you’ve authored multiple books and eBooks, by all means make a board for it (among many other boards, of course)! Mine’s titled My Books—I Made It Myself!
7. Spread the love by creating a board featuring the books you own or love that are related to your specialty (or not!).
8. Give a shout-out to fellow pinners on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, your blog, etc. when you discover exceptional boards, providing a direct link to them.
9. Name your boards with a descriptive or catchy title. Don’t forget to choose a category, too. If your board doesn’t fall under any of the preset categories, simply choose “Other”.
19. Select visually interesting images (on Pinterest, bigger is better) to express your uniqueness and expertise. You can find images via Google Images (make sure to pin from the source), other Pinterest boards, websites, blogs, DeviantArt, photo sites or your own hard drive. If you know who created the image, give credit.
To learn more about Pinterest, visit their About page. If you’re not already signed up, you’ll have to request an invite. They’ll let you in pretty quickly…within a week.
Above all, have fun! Pinterest shouldn’t be a burden, but a creative outlet to show the world what you love...all via striking, quirky or pretty pictures.
I was unable to comment on this before and left my comments at your Google Plus profile! :-) I just want to say that not only authors but EVERYONE ought to be on Pinterest hehe! ;-) It is "done" so much better (and they think like a girl apparently). The cool dudes are on Google Plus, but the cool CHICKS are on Pinterest! WEHEW!
Posted by: Aartiana.wordpress.com | 04/19/2012 at 06:12 PM
i love this post! such great info. I'm definitely bookmarking it. new follower by the way:)
Posted by: Nutschell | 04/20/2012 at 02:20 PM
HAHAHA! So right, Aartiana! ^ 5
Hi Nutschell! Thanks so much for your kind words and for taking the time to post. Nice to "meet" you!
Posted by: Janet Boyer | 04/24/2012 at 12:18 AM
Janet, this is the article I've been looking for! Thank you.
I've just started experimenting with using Pinterest as its own storytelling platform in the vein of a graphic novel, but couldn't figure out how to entice readers without going on a spam fest.
I think now I'll set up a group board for other "Pin Fiction" writers. (If you or any of your readers have any suggestions for me, they would be gratefully received. I'm over at my Pinterest boards, "Our Souls Meet in Dreams" or "Tips for Writers".)
Posted by: Arleigh Chase | 06/22/2013 at 08:18 AM
Great to hear, Arleigh! What's the link/s, please?
Posted by: Janet Boyer | 06/25/2013 at 12:24 PM
Thanks for asking. Here's the link for my own pin fiction piece:
And then the group board I've set up for other pin fiction writers to promote their stories told through pins is here:
Anybody that's interested in joining should just leave a comment and I'll add you to the board.
Posted by: Arleigh Chase | 07/13/2013 at 06:01 AM