Chip MacGregor

May 31, 2012

Thursdays with Amanda: How do I use Pinterest as an author?


Amanda Luedeke Literary AgentAmanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.

Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+ … these are a few of the social media sites that I don’t feel a great need to push on authors. Their usage is minimal, their markets are niche and their options are limited. But while we’re at this whole platform thing, I figured I should spend some time at least touching on these sites.

Social media sites come and go, and Pinterest is the most recent site to see a major usage spike. Consequently, businesses and brands and marketing teams are just now beginning to infiltrate the site and use it for their evil purposes of getting you to buy, want, need things or experiences that you normally could care less about. So naturally, there’s buzz in the industry about how to use Pinterest to promote books.

But let’s be clear about what Pinterest is…Pinterest is a site that allows users to “pin” images found on the web onto their virtual pinboards. There’s minimal text involved because it’s a visual site. It’s all about virtual scrapbooking. To give an even better idea of what/how Pinterest is used, I’d say right now it’s probably the biggest fad among brides-to-be. They can have their wedding pinboards where they gather all of the pretty photos they see online…photos they’ll then use as wedding inspiration.

So why are authors feeling the pressure? I honestly can’t say, and if you’re reading this, baffled by corporate America’s desire to turn Pinterest into a marketing trap, then you and I can have a drink sometime and shake our heads at marketing teams who feel they have to have all of these online presences just because “everyone’s doing it.” Personally, I wouldn’t waste my time with Pinterest. I think it’s a fad that will fade, and your time would be better spent with more tried-and-true sites.

But, if you must do some pinning, here are my thoughts:

1. Create a pinboard of your novel covers. People are very visual, so what better use for Pinterest than to gather all of your book covers (provided you’re a multi-published author) and put them on one pinboard that can be easily shared with fans/friends? It’s a great way to promote old titles and hopefully get them circulating around the Internet. (You may even want to ask fans to re-pin…or create a contest that encourages them to do so.)

2. Create a “novel inspiration” pinboard. Novel characters are usually inspired by celebrities, and settings are inspired by real places. So why not tease your fans by creating a pinboard that holds a bunch of photos of people and locations that inspired the book? This would also be a great thing to pass on to your publishing house’s design team . . . it would give them some help when creating the perfect book cover.

3. Create a novel comparison pinboard. This can especially work for unpublished authors. Think of the authors within your genre who write similar stories to your own. Gather their book covers, author photos and what-nots, and put them on a pinboard. This can be your “If you like ________, you’ll also like my book!” board. You never know when it might hook some potential fans.

4.Create an upcoming cover art pinboard. Fans love leaked images, so when you begin working through cover designs with your publisher (or even if you epublish!), be sure to “leak” the images to your pinboard. Ask for fan input and make them feel part of the process. Plus, Pinterest is designed to make it easy for users to share images…so again, if you start seeing your book’s cover appear on multiple boards, you know you’ve got a winner. (You may even want to ask them to re-pin…or create a contest that encourages them to do so.)

5. Leave comments on other cover art/novel images on Pinterest. This is where you can go out and get new fans…When you see a cover that has been grabbed by another Pinner, and the cover happens to be in the same genre and to the same audience as what you write. Feel free to leave a comment, pointing people to your fan page or book. Don’t be too aggressive with this, but a nice, fun comment followed by a simple link is always welcome.

If you’re interested, you can check out how agents use Pinterest. As soon as cover art is available, I pin my authors’ upcoming books. It’s a great way for potential clients or editors to get a feel for what types of books I do.

Anyone else have any thoughts, questions or great Pinterest ideas? Share them below!

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  • Laura L. Smith says:

    Thanks for the reassurance that this one place I don’t need a presence. 

  • Jeff Goins says:

    I like using Pinterest to pin and share quotes — my own and those of other authors. I saw Gretchen Rubin do this.

  • Katherine Harms says:

    I am writing a non-fiction book right now. I am exploring on Pinterest the use of images that illustrate themes in the book. So far there has been some interest, but nothing huge. I now realize that I need to get people back to my blog, where I am also developing those themes. So that is my real challenge. I think the biggest problem with all the social media options is the wise use of time. If my objective is to share my message, how do I do that most effectively?

  • Josh Kelley says:

    Thank God, I was afraid you were going to tell me to get on Pinterest. Glad to see you don’t think Google+ and LinkIn are crucial either. Just managing Facebook and Twitter seems to be enough!

  • Thanks for the ideas!

    I make sure I include a photo of some sort with any blog post I make and then I pin that post on Pinterest. On at least one of my blogs I’ve seen traffic increase because of this.

    One way an author can use it is to create content on a blog that’s related to book content and then pin it. Also, people like to pin inspirational quotes and photos, so if there is something along those lines that relates to an author’s book content, that would be something worth pinning.

  • MommaMindy says:

    I loved your ideas!  I just learned of the possibility of using Pinterest for platform at the Northwest Christian Writers Renewal.  There’s always the question of how to wisely invest time you don’t have to spare as a writer, so I appreciated your candid opinion and valid information.  Thank you!

  • Martha Ramirez says:

    Awesome tips, Amanda! Thank you!

  • Beckyjacoby says:

    Hi,Amanda, I just finished reading Jeff Bulla’s tips on using Pinterest. He had some “novel” ideas, too, so I thought I’d share.

  • Thanks for this information, Amanda. I’ve been a little afraid to take the Pinterest plunge because I’ve heard it’s one more way to use up time that could be spent writing. I love your ideas for putting it to constructive use. 

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

       Focus your time where you think it’s most needed, Lesley. I’d say that’s the best thing you can do for your platform.

  • Ruth Douthitt says:

    I’m not a big fan of Pinterest. I can see a lot of copyright issues with that one. But I have considered making a board for my book. It isn’t at the top of my list yet, but I probably will try it.

    Great ideas! Thanks for the info!

  • Connie Almony says:

    I’ve gotten some readers to my blog through Pinterest. Not a whole lot, but I haven’t worked on it much lately. My biggest win on Pinterest was when I connected with another author who wrote about military issues, right at the time I was looking for articles for my military ministries series. She gave me two excerpts from her book for the non-fiction site and inspirations for her novel for my fiction site. The timing was perfect!

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

       Sounds like you’ve found ways to make Pinterest work, Connie. That’s huge. 🙂

  • Bobbie Cole says:

    Pinterest has potential as a research tool, too. A search yields information from all pinned sources.

  • Sandyl says:

    Thank you, this was helpful

  • karenrobbins says:

    Pinterest works well in linking others to my blog. Since we travel a lot, I have many pictures of favorite places we’ve been. If someone is interested, they can click through to my blog and read my post about the pictures and of course, right there next to the post are the links to my books. I’ve noticed a few more followers gained on Twitter as well since I tweet the Pinterest pin and of course it all links to my blog. I don’t spend as much time with Pinterest as I do with FB however. That is still my mainstay. I think Pinterest will wear out since it’s not really the same kind of connection that Facebook offers. 

    • Rajdeep Paulus says:

      I did the same thing. Painfully made a Pinterest page last week and pinned a picture from many of my blogs. I like Michael Hyatt’s approach from his book Platform. He suggests that all roads lead back to your Blog. So that’s the point of my Pinterest. Each pin leads to a story on my blog, based on the main themes found the blog: waterfalls, sunrises, sunsets, marriage, chocolate. Seems to bring a little more traffic to the blog. But not planning to invest a lot of time in Pinterest, as I do in FB or twitter. I just wonder how all these social media masters get any sleep. 🙂

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

       I agree that Pinterest will fade away, but I think using your travel photos to draw readers is really great, Karen.

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