Today’s guest post is by Amanda Luedeke (@amandaluedeke), a literary agent with MacGregor Literary, Inc., and author of The Extroverted Writer: An Author’s Guide to Marketing and Building a Platform.
Social media sites come and go, and Pinterest is the most recent one to see a major usage spike. Consequently, businesses and brands and marketing teams are feeling the pressure to infiltrate the site and use it for their purposes of getting you to buy, want, and need things or experiences that you normally wouldn’t consider.
And people in publishing—including authors? We’re feeling the same push to be present on that platform.
Let’s be clear about what Pinterest is: Pinterest is a site that allows users to “pin” images found on the web to virtual pinboards. There’s minimal text involved because it’s a visual site. It’s all about virtual scrapbooking and visual inspiration. To give you a 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 and use them 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 mecca, then you and I can have a drink sometime and shake our heads at marketing teams who feel they have to have all these online presences. Personally, I think your time would be better spent with more tried-and-true sites.
But if you really connect with this medium and want do some professional pinning, here are five ideas.
1. Create a novel inspiration pinboard.
Tease your fans by creating a pinboard that showcases photos of people and locations that inspired your upcoming book. This would also be a great thing to pass on to your publishing house’s design team. It would give them a helping hand when creating the perfect book cover. (I’ve also heard of authors looking to their fans to help “cast the roles” of their favorite characters. It’s a neat game.)
2. Create a novel comparison pinboard.
Think of the authors within your genre who write stories similar to your own. Gather their book covers, author photos, and whatnots, and put them on a pinboard. This can be your “If you like ________, you’ll also like my book!” board. (If you have a published book, be sure to add it to the pinboard as well!) You never know when it might hook some potential fans.
3. 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 e-publish!), 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. If you start seeing your book’s cover appear on multiple boards, you know you’ve got a winner.
4. Create a blog pinboard.
Some authors see success with Pinterest when they consistently pin photos from their blog posts. This requires you to (a) maintain a blog, (b) include photos with each post, and (c) properly pin those photos. But the general idea is that if you end up with some photos that attract attention, people will click through to see where they originated.
5. Encourage wish lists.
This is an idea I stole from the clothing store Express. During the 2012 holiday season, they offered a shopping spree to one lucky Pinner who put together an Express wish list. At the time this was written, Pinterest’s search engine was totally unreliable, so if you try this idea, you’ll need to develop some way for Pinners to let you know their boards exist. But the basic idea is that you ask Pinners to create holiday (or Valentine’s Day, etc.) wish lists in which they pin books that they want, including some of yours. One lucky winner will receive a prize. The ultimate payoff with this tactic is that it encourages family and friends of these Pinners to actually go out and purchase some of these wish list items as gifts. That’s what happened to me. I made my Express pinboards, and though I didn’t win anything, I received three Express items that holiday season from family and friends.
Proper Pinning 101
- Create great, concise descriptions of each pin, using hashtags, keywords, links, and more.
- Pin book covers from sites in which the book can actually be purchased.
- Tag every book cover pin with genre, author, and title information.
What ideas do YOU have for using Pinterest? Let us know in the comments.