Not another account to manage!
No doubt many self-publishing authors will react that way. Life is hectic enough with having not only to write, format and publish but also publicise and market books. On top of which there is the need to constantly interact with readers, fans, followers, customers etc. No matter the perspective taken, all social media takes time. Pinterest is just another branch. Nevertheless, does Pinterest have anything to offer authors? Could it be utilised in a positive manner? The undoubted answer: yes.
Todays society is increasingly a visual one therefore anything that feeds it must have value. Pinterest, along with other sites such as Instagram, is visually oriented and many authors have started utilising it. (Instagram is another topic not part of this discussion. Perhaps it will form the basis for a later article.)
Undoubtedly, most people reading this will already have some knowledge and familiarity with Pinterest, the image sharing platform. If not, it is fairly easy to understand – simply search ‘What is Pinterest’ and a lot of helpful articles will turn up in the results.
Principally, the site comprises ‘boards’ which have individual ‘pins’ (images) within them. Boards are usually created by topic e.g. travel diary; fashion; animals; films; books; etc. There is no limit to the choice. Boards usually reflect the users interests, hobbies, business, etc. As with other social media sites users are able to interact with each other: follow users or individual boards; add other users pins to their own boards (known as ‘pinning’); message each other; contribute to community boards; etc. So, how may an author utilise the site for their books and career?
Word of warning: Many users admit they get very distracted with Pinterest and find they are spending endless (often non-productive) time glancing through all the various images and photographs available.
Prior to commencing, users should determine the aim and goal for their boards and pins: To build their following; To sell books; To get people to their website/blog; To obtain newsletter signups; etc. To facilitate the end purpose, authors may, or in some instances should:
- Create boards with images that reflect a book’s content: Perhaps chapter by chapter. Naturally, care needs to be excised so the board will not end up being a ‘spoiler’ for potential readers.
- Have boards based upon a charter’s: makeup; personality; likes; dislikes; etc. These add another dimension and interest for readers. May even help the author format their characters.
- Design boards that reflect scene settings; locations; etc. Again may assist the author when determining how to world build within their tales.
- Phrase board titles so they attract readers attention. Same as when wording a synopsis or book blurb.
- Add viable, descriptive captions to each pin. Again there is the need to avoid ‘spoilers’.
- Include one or two # words within captions. Pinterest will automatically link these to similar words and images. Enhances interaction.
- Ensure any links (urls) included make clear where a user will be taken if they click it. N.B. Pinterest does not permit shortened links that cannot be verified. Though this may sometimes be frustrating it is a good security facility that users should appreciate.
- To be effective as possible pins should: tell a story; evoke an emotion; be compelling; etc. Nevertheless, it is suggested the author does not become over distracted or concerned. If the image viably reflects a book’s content it should be sufficient for purpose.
- Establish boards not related to the book or aim e.g reflect the author’s hobbies; interests; etc. It can become boring and irritating for a viewer if all boards relate to the same topic. They often like to have a little insight into who the person behind the book/site is.
How to use
Note: As with most social media sites, there is provision for both personal and business accounts. However, as this discussion, as usual, is based upon the view point of an independent (indie) author, business accounts will not be considered in this article but to simply say, if the reader has a viable business it may be worth their while looking into setting up such an account. More information may be obtained by means of an internet search and from Pinterest’s help section.
- Bearing in mind the intended purpose; aim; goal for the site, users should position the most relevant boards at the top. Moving boards round is a simple exercise. It may even be effective to change them round regularly so visitors are presented with something new each time they access the site.
- Link site to website/blog. As with all publicity it is sensible for users to enable easy access for their readers; followers; etc. to all their accounts. Could also refer/link back to the account in e-mails and newsletters.
- Connect Facebook; Twitter; G+; etc. accounts. Again, to direct their fans, etc. to the site.
- Consider sharing pins and even boards with Facebook and Twitter. Care should be exercised as some may become irritated by dislocated pins and boards suddenly appearing, especially if it is on a regular basis. The last thing an author/entrepreneur wishes to do is annoy or put off their followers/customers.
- Pin regularly and frequently. Some suggest 5-30 times a day, others 5-10 and others 1-5. The user will have to determine this for themselves. Besides the time involved in doing this they should also consider what engagement their boards and pins are getting.
- Interact with other Pinterest users. Note: Other than copying and pinning fellow users pins it appears the majority are not over-concerned about interacting with each other. Nevertheless, they do appreciate ‘follows’. Users may simply enter a keyword in the search bar to find accounts; boards and pins that are either similar to their own or that interest them.
- Search for pins (within Pinterest) to add to boards. Besides enhancing their own boards this also has the effect of notifying other users of the author’s presence and boards. They may become followers if they find pins they like within the author’s site. Note: Users are not restricted to utilising other pins; they may upload photographs and images from their own computer or from elsewhere on the internet.
- Look into possibly forming ‘Group’ boards. These are boards that other users may pin into. These effectively form a community that may help gain wider exposure. Also, vice versa, users may consider adding pins to other user’s group boards. (Admittance to a group board is by invitation – not complex and often pre ordained by the board owner.) Care should be exercised to ensure any board pinned into is relevant or at least alines with interests. It will be quickly noted if anyone tries to ‘game’ the system.
Update: Keywords and Hashtags, which have become increasingly relevant, were not mentioned when this article was published. Consequently, to correct the omission, two new articles have been published: Making the Most of Pinterest – Part 1: Keywords and Making the Most of Pinterest – Part 2: Hashtags
Pinterest is not an essential for authors. Nevertheless, it could prove useful for publicity, marketing and interaction.
The possibilities are as varied as the individual. Creativity is the key.
As always the suggestions made above are not exhaustive.
At present authors cannot sell direct from Pinterest but of course they may add links to where their books may be found or purchased. However, as discussed in Pinterest – Buyable Pins (Selling from Pinterest) a facility for such an option is being tested. At present it is restricted to a limited number of selected business account holders who have to meet requirements that authors may not be able to. The intent is to eventually make the option available to general users which would be very useful if conditions are eased and third party companies provide additional facilities such as customer service support, return and refund systems, etc. Users will have to wait and see.
Disclaimer: Other than being a general user, neither T. R. Robinson Publications nor T. R. Robinson have any affiliation with Pinterest. Nor do either receive any renumeration for referring to the site.