5 Ideas for Using Pinterest as an Author

Pinterest for authors

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. 

Extroverted Writer by Amanda LuedekeWant to learn more about author marketing? Check out The Extroverted Writer from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

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Posted in Guest Post, Marketing & Promotion, Social Media.

Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary, Inc. Formerly a social media marketer, her new ebook, The Extroverted Writer: An Author’s Guide to Marketing and Building a Platform, is now available online. You can find Amanda on Twitter and Facebook.

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Esther Aspling

Thanks for the extra insight. I’ve been using Pinterest to link to my blog, but these other ideas really make the site new again!


[…] How authors, especially novelists, can start using Pinterest in a way that's a natural outgrowth of their work.  […]

Liz Long

It goes along with your novel inspiration tip, but taking and uploading photos of my city (used as inspiration for novel’s city) is a great way to remind yourself of how things (or people) look when sketching everything out. I shared a few points in my post that hopefully authors can use like yours. http://lizclong.com/2012/10/10/why-pinterest-is-my-new-favorite-writing-tool/

Fiona Ingram

An excellent example of an author using Pinterest successfully is Lucinda Brant, a Georgian romance novelist. She finds the most incredible images of clothes, landscapes, furniture etc., and links them to characters in her books.

Amanda Luedeke

I’ll have to check her out!

Lucinda Brant

Here’s the link http://pinterest.com/lucindabrant Enjoy!

Emily Scott

Thanks for the tip!

Lucinda Brant

Thanks so much for the mention, Fiona. I’m so pleased you enjoy my 18th Century Pinterest boards.

Kevin Lynn Helmick

I enjoy searching vintage photography there, as well book cover art, movie posters that I like, etc. but yeah, I don’t see it as effective marketing for my books. Just a well of images and art for me to look at and share. I could be missing the point. I’ve never thought of using images to illustrate characters and setting of my books, story board. That’s might be useful and certainly fun to do and see if that would equate into attention and sales. I doubt it though. Like most self-marketing it would probably just eat up writing time. In… Read more »

Amanda Luedeke

You have to do what works for you, Kevin. Marketing is a huge component these days, but recognizing when to NOT pursue a particular avenue will save you a lot of hassle and time.

Deb Atwood

I’ve been totally confused by Pinterest. Thanks for providing concrete examples that authors can actually use.

Anne R. Allen

How do you deal with copyright issues for Pinterest? If, as you suggest, you use the photo of an actor you’d like to cast in a movie of your book, do you write to that actor’s agent for permission? The film studio? How about getting permission to use another author’s cover image? Do you write to the publisher? I know bloggers have been hit with hefty lawsuits for using copyrighted material. Does Pinterest get some kind of blanket waiver? If it doesn’t, a lot of these ideas might lead to trouble.

Jane Friedman

Pinterest’s terms of use specify that people should only pin material to which they have rights/permission. As far as I can tell, the large majority of Pinterest activity involves pinning images one does not own outright, because that activity is in fact encouraged & welcomed by hundreds, if not thousands, of commercial entities. (Marketing & promotion, as Amanda points out.) Using photos of actors, book cover images, etc—these are rarely problematic if the images are meant for publicity in the first place, and if they are widespread online. I don’t deny there are murky waters here, but the most important… Read more »

Donna Martin

Hi Amanda!
This is a FABULOUS post! I’m just starting to become more involved in Pinterest and your list give me great ideas on how to highlight my (and other authors) writing. I think I will share this post on FB, Linkedin, Twitter and any place I can think of…;~)
I sent you an email about possible post dates for my blog and can’t wait to see what other writerly wisdom you will share with my readers. Thanks Jane for hosting this!
Donna L Martin

Amanda Luedeke

Thank you for reading!! I’ll check my email 🙂

Emily Scott

I had never thought of using Pinterest this way! What a awesome idea!

Rachel Leigh Smith

I use Pinterest for images that go with my WIP’s. Each novel has a board where I pin character templates, settings, important clothes, even a house floor plan if necessary. It’s mostly for my own use, but somehow I’ve managed to get over 400 followers without doing anything. Less than a hundred of them are Facebook friends.

Marquita Herald

I love Pinterest and have been using it since the early days when you had to score an invitation to join. In addition to the tips you’ve provided, authors can create boards that visually depict the themes they write about – say horses or particular periods in history. Of course posting big beautiful images of food is a no-brainer for those who write about recipes or food in any way shape or form! I’ve also seen writer’s with boards that share bits of their creative process, what their offices look like, and even a few dreams with readers – for… Read more »

Shauntelle H.

I literally just had this conversation with a writer friend of mine on Friday! She told me she was studying up on a Pinterest marketing book and I told her that her time was better used in some other fashion… I believe someone shared the statistic at one of this year’s Digital Book World Conference sessions that only 1% of readers polled found books via Pinterest, while something like 20% found books via FB. (Don’t hold me to these statistics since they come from my faulty memory… but I’m sure this was the gist of the data!) I LOVE Pinterest… Read more »

Karoline Kingley

One of my friends recommended some of these tips to me last year, and whenever I feel like some corresponding images would help me in my writing, I go on pinterest and pin them to my board “Visual Aids for My Novel.” It’s quite handy when trying to maintain images for a made up world in different times.

Nina Amir

I love Pinterest as a way to give my blogs a bit of extra promotion. Whenever possible I post the photos to boards with their titles as descriptions. I then send to Twitter from there. I joined because someone told me it could serve as a “vision representation” of an author. I liked that and use it that way, creating boards that show a bit of my personality and interests. I also use it to promote my books in a variety of ways–boards specific to them. I tell novelists to create boards that bring their characters to life. They can… Read more »

Anastasia ASHMAN

I have a board for a memoir WIP which is a way to keep it active as a project (and something others can peek into the themes of) even when i am not writing. On my board I have comparable titles, I have images of people who remind me of characters, I have expressions and sayings that capture major themes, I have images that capture what it feels like to be writing the book. I have pinned news items and fashion pictures that would be of interest to my subject (my best friend, who’s deceased). I have pins of settings… Read more »

Lucinda Brant

As an historian and author of historical romances and mysteries all set in the 18th Century, I’ve found Pinterest to be a wonderful tool to showcase my novels (each book has its own board) and my fascination, enthusiasm, and expertise about the 1700s. Pinterest is a fabulous repository for visual knowledge about the 18th Century (or any era or subject you care to name!), but I also want my readers and followers to trust that when they re pin from my boards, they are assured of the image’s authenticity and provenance, so I carefully curate each image before I pin.… Read more »

[…] How authors, especially novelists, can start using Pinterest in a way that's a natural outgrowth of their work.  […]

Carmen Amato

Pinterest is a unique marketing tool, for sure, and can be a very useful part of a comprehensive marketing strategy. I have set up boards that illustrate my books, using character attributes as the starting point. This allows me to connect back to a wide variety of pinners–those interested in history, art, design, and Mexico, as well as mystery readers. I make it a point to add both my own content (photos, book covers, etc) as well as finding others’ content to comment on and repin. Sharing pins on Twitter and connecting back to my own website completes the circle.… Read more »

Carmen Amato

Authors who have blogs–remember to write a post now and then to tell readers what’s new on your Pinterest boards, especially if they illustrate a work in progress, a book location, etc. And have fun with it, too!

[…] Like Pinterest but wonder how you can use it to help sell your books? Amanda Luedeke has 5 ideas for authors on Pinterest. […]

[…] Luedeke: 5 Ideas for Using Pinterest as an Author. Five excellent quick tips for using Pinterest to both aid your writing and market your […]

Stacey Haggard Brewer

Thanks for the tips! I’ve been trying to think of effective ways to use Pinterest. This will be a big help. I especially like the idea of a “Novel Inspiration” board.

Evelyn Stice

On my novel inspiration pinboard, I also created and uploaded maps and layouts of locations, such as houses and rooms. I use it as a reference while I’m actively writing, and it helps me to move about in the physical space seamlessly.

Meg Kirsic

LOVE the idea of creating a novel inspiration pinboard. Not even to market yourself, but to collect some visual inspiration, I don’t know why I never thought of it. Great post!


Keith Skinner

Since I am also a photographer, Pinterest has long been a place I refused to go. However, these are great tips and I think your first tip could work for my historical novel in progress. I had planned to write some articles about historical figures and locations, so I may tie that into Pinterest. Thanks for the great ideas, Amanda.

[…] Luedeke did a guest post at Jane Friedman’s blog on “5 Ideas for Using Pinterest as an Author“. They’re not bad and may inspire yet more ideas. Let us know if you do get […]

[…] 5 Ideas for Using Pinterest for Authors by Amanda Luedeke […]

Tanner Murphy

I use Pinterest in all sorts of ways. Being in a college English class, I have used it to gather ideas for projects and used pictures to post on my blog. Pinterest can help anybody from trying to sell their products to even getting ideas for your wedding.

[…] (Don't hold me to these statistics since they come from my faulty memory… but I'm sure this was the gist of the data!) I LOVE Pinterest and have been a member since the early days… but it's a place for discovering tips, recipes …  […]

[…] Literary agent Amanda Luedeke posted at Jane Friedman’s blog about using Pinterest as an author. […]

[…] 5 Ideas for Using Pinterest for Authors by Amanda Luedeke […]

[…] How authors, especially novelists, can start using Pinterest in a way that's a natural outgrowth of their work.  […]

[…] 5 Ideas for Using Pintrest for Authors […]

[…] Pianifica il tuo libro: se stai scrivendo un libro, perché non condividerne con noi il processo? Crea una board con il working title del romanzo e condividi immagini che ci raccontano i tuoi personaggi, le location delle scene, la città in cui la storia è ambientata. Ci ho provato anche io qui […]

[…] So, I conclude that we all need to learn Pinterest. Here’s a link to a post by agent Amanda Luedeke on authors can use Pinterest: https://janefriedman.com/2013/04/08/5-ideas-for-using-pinterest-for-authors/ […]

[…] Pinterest really intrigues me, and you can see from my profile that I’ve dived in there, but haven’t fully engaged. I’d like to play with this further as it can be a really interesting medium when used well. There are lots of reports that authors are finding success with Pinterest and a little bit of research will come up with multiple articles to help you, like this one. […]

[…] Ideas for using Pinterest on Janie Friedman’s blog. […]

Gianluca Malato

Great tips! I was wondering whether using Pinterest was useful or not. Now I have clearer ideas. Thanks a lot.