If you’re a new author who is looking to build your social media platform, either before you start querying agents or because you’ve got a deal and have been told it’s something you need to work on, then you might want to consider Pinterest, the image-sharing website. It’s less demanding than a blog, Facebook or Twitter… although it can be just as much of a time vampire if you let it.
Still, with a bit of self-discipline, it can be a way to promote yourself and your books, while also being a great source of inspiration for your writing.
What should I pin?
Look at creating at least ten boards on different themes, and having at least the same number of pins in each. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Have a board directly relating to each of your books or to each series. I have a board for my Isla’s Inheritance trilogy, for example. I’ve pinned not only the book covers and various teasers I’ve made, but images that inspired me while I was writing. That being said, I’ve sorted my boards so that all the ones relating to my books are at the bottom of my list, because I don’t want to be too obnoxious about it. (These boards are admittedly much easier to build as you’re drafting, because as you’re researching things for your book you can pin as you go.)
Have boards that relate to the genre/s you write in. Because all my books are set in Canberra, I have a board full of pins of the city. And although I don’t write steampunk, I’d like to one day, so I have a board for awesome steampunk pictures. If I wrote romance, I’d create one dedicated to romantic gestures, or beach-side holidays, or beautiful dinners. If I wrote sci-fi I’d definitely create a board full of photos of space, and another one of sweet spaceships. The options are endless.
Have boards relating to things that interest you. Remember, social media is about being social. On Pinterest it’s one step removed because you’re not usually going to be talking to people (although there is a comment feature if you’re a chatty kind of person). But if someone’s browsing your boards, they are going to be more interested in you if they can get a sense of who you are, or if you share interests. Bonus points if the things you like are very popular, like recipes, do-it-yourself kids parties or fashion. I’ve got boards on various geek things — it used to be just the one but I split it into three categories recently. I also have boards for gorgeous photography, art, and baby animals. Because who doesn’t like baby animals? 🙂
Have boards relating to seasonal events or abstract themes. Halloween, Christmas, the seasons — if you think of a theme, it’s a possibility for a board. I’ve got friends with boards just devoted to a single colour, which are spectacular to browse through. And if you’re choosing big, culturally significant events, they will be interesting to others as well.
Have boards that are useful to others. This is where an interest in recipes or DIY would be a real asset. I sadly have neither. The best I’ve managed here is a board where I’ve pinned helpful blog posts for writers — I’ve got posts in there on self-promotion, grammar, publication, writing techniques, and loads of other things. They are a great resource for me too. Other writing-specific options include inspirational quotes, writing prompts, and jokes about grammar.
A word of warning
Don’t spam. Pinterest addresses this in its acceptable use policy as follows: “You aren’t allowed to Pin large amounts of unwanted or repetitive stuff, post unsolicited commercial messages in comments, descriptions, etc., or try to artificially boost views, Pins, comments or other metrics.” Even if they didn’t, spam would still be a bad idea. People will unfollow you quicker than my son can eat a lollypop if all they see are ads promoting your book. Like I said before, the “social” aspect of Pinterest as social media is more subtle than on Twitter, but it’s still a factor.
Exercise caution when uploading content. Because Pinterest doesn’t just display thumbnails of images the way that Facebook and Twitter do, it is in a bit of a murky grey area as far as copyright goes. The site tries to get around this by having users authorise that they have the legal right to upload the content. There are a few ways to play it safe on Pinterest:
- Only upload content you own, have the licences to (such as purchased stock photos), or have generated yourself.
- Only repin other people’s pins onto your boards, rather than pinning directly from the internet.
- If you’re going to pin from the internet (which, let’s face it, most Pinterest users do), then use the “pin from the web” function and link back to the original artist’s site. That way the work is attributed and others can follow it back to the original. What you shouldn’t do is save their image off and upload it as a pin direct from your PC without attribution.
- If someone contacts you and asks you to remove a pin of their work, do it. Be gracious about it.
As you can see, the options with Pinterest are pretty much endless, and it can be a lot of fun to build a collection of images. Sometimes too much fun; at times it can be tempting to pin rather than write. As in all things, pin in moderation, folks!
Aussie Owned and Read has a Pinterest page here — it’s a handy way to look through all the books we’ve reviewed, for example, or all of our interviews or advice posts.
If you’ve found this post helpful, you might also be interested in our post Twitter for Authors: a Newbie’s Guide.
Cassandra Page is a young adult urban fantasy writer who has spent too much time creating her Pinterest page.