If you’re an author, you’re probably already getting social (and trying to sell your books) on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and LinkedIn, not to mention leaving comments on blogs and writing posts of your own. I know what you’re thinking: it’s just not enough!
Okay, that might not be exactly what you’re thinking. But Pinterest is another place where you can establish a presence as an author and perhaps woo a few more people into checking out your work. I signed up at the end of last summer and Pinterest was the 43rd highest referrer of traffic to my site this month, which… isn’t all that impressive really. That accounted for 15 visitors. Not a lot! However, I spend very little time on Pinterest (as opposed to Twitter and Facebook, where I’m quite active), so I didn’t have to work very hard for those visitors. Also, according to Google Analytics, those folks spent a much higher-than-average time on my site, meaning they actually stuck around and read the excerpts of my books (more on how I know that’s where they went later). Did any of them end up buying my books? Since my sales all happen on other sites (Amazon, B&N, Kobo, etc.), it’s impossible to say, but so much of book promotion is a matter of being in as many places as you can, that you may find it worth it to set up a Pinterest account.
What is Pinterest?
According to the site, Pinterest is a virtual pinboard that “lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes.”
Uhm, all right. So what does that have to do with promoting books? Well, there’s a social aspect to the site (people can like, comment, and “repin” each other’s images), meaning that your awesome new book cover could get spread all over the site by people you don’t even know. If you were the person who originally posted the cover, you could have linked it to your sales page at Amazon or (probably better) an excerpt of the book on your site, one that includes links to all of the major stores where the book is available.
Ways to Use Pinterest to Promote Yourself as an Author
We’ve already touched upon one way, so let’s go over that first.
- Upload your book covers. If you have multiple titles out (or plan to one day), you can create a special “board” just for your covers. For example, here’s a picture I just uploaded to Pinterest for my novella, Beneath the Surface. I didn’t put the full book blurb in the description, but you could certainly do that, especially if you have a short one. You’ll see I used hashmarks to tag the book with keywords (fantasy and steampunk), the same way you would on Twitter. Hashtag keywords are searchable on Pinterest. You’ll also see that I edited the link, so that clicking on the picture will take people to an excerpt of the book on my site. If you put a price (use a $ somewhere in the description), people will also be able to stumble across your book when browsing the “gifts” section of Pinterest. Put $0 if you want it to be tagged as FREE.
- Upload cool artwork related to your books — Remember, the power in Pinterest is in the sharing, and people love to share (repin) cool pictures. If you publish children’s books and you have some fun interior artwork that you can upload, this would be the place to show it off. Again, you can edit the link to point interested parties back to your website. For those of us with adult (non-picture) books, it may be tougher to come up with artwork to share. I have a board where I post the fan art readers create for my Emperor’s Edge world, but if you’re a new author, you may not have anything like that yet. You could also find artwork out on the web that reminds you of your world or your characters. In this case, you should make sure the link goes to the artist or photographer who posted the picture, but you could chat up your story in the comments and mention the title so interested people could investigate further.
- Upload interesting quotations or tidbits of advice from your books — If you spend any time on Pinterest, you’ll see a lot of quotations or humorous greeting-card-esque phrases pinned on people’s boards. I haven’t done this yet, but I’d like to go through my books’ popular Kindle highlights and turn some of those into images to share on Pinterest (in fact, if anyone reading this wants to make a few bucks doing this for me, let me know :D). You can turn text into images with Word, but there are also some online tools for making things quick and simple, such as Pinstamatic.
- Network with other Pinterest users who are “pinning” in your genre/niche. I honestly don’t spend much time doing this, but if you enjoy your first few days on Pinterest and see some results insofar as drawing traffic to your site, you could get more involved. In my case, I might look up active pinners (folks who share a lot of pictures and get a lot of likes and comments from their community) who do a lot of fantasy, steampunk, geekdom humor, science fiction, etc. If you get on these people’s radars, they might be more likely to pin your book covers and other genre-related pictures.
- Pin and comment for the heck of it — People aren’t that keen to help out those who are blatantly promoting themselves all the time, so you may want to post some “just for fun” stuff, too, and do some commenting on other people’s pins without an obvious agenda. I keep most of my boards related to my genre and general geekery, but I added a dog one, too, just for kicks. Food boards are very popular too. You probably shouldn’t post so often that people get sick of seeing your stuff, but nobody will mind a little variety.
For those who are already active on Pinterest, do you have any advice that I haven’t touched upon here? Would you like to point out any authors who are doing a good job on Pinterest? Please, let us know in the comments. You can also follow me on Pinterest if you want to keep track of my pins.