Pinterest for Fiction Writers Part 2

Pinterest for Fiction Writers Part 2

Gwynn Scheltema

In Pinterest for Fiction Writers Part 1 we explored how Pinterest can help you as a writer while you are writing. But of course, there is the other side to writing: selling the book! Pinterest can help there too. (Note: If you are not sure what terminology like “boards” and “re-pinning” mean, please read Part 1 first.)

Why consider Pinterest for sales?

According to Omnicore Agency’s January 2018 report:

  • Monthly active Pinterest users numbered 175 million (75 million in the USA.)
  • 93% are women
  • 2 million shopping pins are saved daily
  • Millennials use Pinterest as much as Instagram
  • Pinterest drives more referral traffic to websites than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined.
  • Nearly 85% of Pinterest searches happen on mobile devices

One of the reasons I prefer Pinterest is that what you post is always there, easily found and well-organized. You don’t spend time creating a post that disappears into a long news-feed and may never be seen, like on Facebook and Twitter.

Two kinds of Pinterest accounts

Pinterest offers registration as either a personal user or a business user. Both are free.

A personal account allows you to create boards and pin to them. You can also pin from other people’s boards and send to other people’s boards, social media accounts, and email.

If you have a business account, you can additionally:

  • place links on your website to take people to your page on Pinterest
  • get visitor analytics and what they’re looking at the most
  • use rich pins to let users do special stuff with the content on your website or Pinterest page, and add prices to your images.
The right Pinterest mindset

Pinterest is not a point of sale. It drives people to click through to your website or to Amazon or wherever your point of sale is. It’s great for building an author presence, (see how below) but never lose sight of the fact that your end goal is sales!

But, and it’s a BIG BUT, like all other social media platforms, avoid incessant self-promotion. The immediate goal is for vistors to pin and then to click through.

Pinterest is a quieter, more subtle platform where sales are made indirectly by building trust, loyalty and engagement. On Pinterest you express yourself through images. So if you want to showcase a review of your book you’ll have to make a visual for it.

Also remember that most pins are re-pins, so if you provide original content, pinners will happily spread it for you. Just give them a good visual with a few, repeat few, words that hook them and you’re on your way.

Become a Business Author

I’m a personal pinner and I have over 60 boards covering all my hobbies, dreams, and plans. Some are general: gardening; art; books I recommend. But there are also more personal boards: my daughter’s wedding; things I want to do with the grandkids; travel plans and of course, unpublished book boards.

When selling your book, you don’t want your efforts buried in clutter and you want to be accessible but stay professional.  The best way is to register as a separate author persona with a business account.  Use your name, and simple add “author”: Jane Doe, author. And just like Twitter and Facebook, a decent head shot and succinct profile that sells you and your products is a must. Notice in the author page below that Rachel Thompson has 6,000 followers and 22,100 monthly viewers. Wow!

What boards could I create?

You can still have multiple boards, but keep them associated with the book or you as an author. In a business account, Pinterest allows you to have “featured boards” and “latest pins” that show up when you first go to the Pinterest page.

Remember sales is the goal, so make sure to put links to your sales page/s whenever you can. You can put them in your profile, in the description portion of your images, and add the URL to images you create.

Here are a selection of boards to consider:

Boards about the book
  • The book/s.

Create a separate board for each book you want to sell. Pin pictures of the cover, back page blurb, reviews, and enticements to read excerpts. Link all the images to your sales page and where appropriate put prices on your images. In the image below, notice that Carla Laureano has 8 separate book boards. (She also has her website URL prominently displayed and a URL to a free book in her profile)

  • Behind the book/s

Glimpses into the book in the making: pictures or quotes that inspired your characters, settings etc. (all poached from your initial vision board.) Cover choices that didn’t make the cut. Characters and/or excerpts that didn’t make the book. Story boards, notes.

  • Special offers

Freebies, contests. New book ideas: Invite people to post pictures of what the villain could look like, or what kind of car the protagonist might drive. Give a free book to the winner when the book is done. In the board below, 75 authors collaborate on this board to offer giveaways. The board appears like this on each of their pages.

Boards about the author
  • About the author

You can get personal here or stay all business; it’s up to you. You can cover how you got started writing, your mentors, your writing resume, your future plans, your passions, causes you support, hobbies and views on life.

  • Events

Reading and signing events (use your photos and posters as the visual); conferences, guest posts, speaking engagements, workshops you’re giving; TV, print or radio interviews. Again add links in the description portion of the pin.

  • Fan club

More photos of happy fans holding your book; book club group shots; quotes from fans or fan letters. Tag people using the @ sign in your pin descriptions (tagging in Pinterest works similarly to Facebook.) Plus, other people can pin things to your page (if you allow them to become “contributors” to a particular board), which encourages more sharing and interaction.

  • Behind the scenes

Pictures of you writing, your cork board of favourite inspirational quotes etc,  your waste basket of discarded scenes, the view from your window, your cat lying on your keyboard. Let your public see you as the person behind the book.

Boards that support the content of your book/s
  • Topic boards

If your book features a mental health issue, have a board about that mental health issue; if your books are Georgian romance, boards of all things 18th century would be of interest to your readers.

  • Books you recommend

Can be in your genre only, or anything you recommend. Alternatively, have a board about “reading now” or “my to-be-read list.”

  • Related activities

If you have written a kids book, have companion boards for teachers or parents or libraries.

  • Any other book-related topics

Libraries you love. Book stores you recommend. Books you loved as a child. Quotes from writers ……..

And there’s more

Once you’ve created your Pinterest author account, don’t forget to grow your audience by adding a Pinterest Follow button on your website so people can follow your Pinterest account from your website.

You’ll also need to brush up on some of the technical stuff, all of which could warrant a separate blog post, but there’s plenty of help out there. Here are a few links to get you started.

Of course you can search on Pinterest yourself! Here are three pins I found in a search “selling books”.

Book Club Confidential

Book Club Confidential

Ruth E. Walker

The first book club invitation I received came from Sharon, a co-worker. She’d read Living Underground and wondered if I might come to her book club while they discussed my book. Holy poop! I thought. Be there while they dissected my characters, found holes in my plot, puzzled over themes I didn’t know I had in there?

Absolutely terrifying. So naturally, I said yes. I figured it would be my one and only. I was wrong.

Sharon's book club Toronto
Sharon’s book club Toronto

My book was published in 2012, and Sharon’s lovely invitation was only one of many I continue to receive. I’ve travelled all over southern Ontario to libraries, pubs, living rooms, coffee shops and even an office boardroom. I’ve accepted book club invites to Virginia and Michigan. I was with a seniors’ group in London Ontario recently and in September, I’ll meet readers in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

For authors, book clubs are a wonderful opportunity to meet with people who read your book. But you should be prepared before showing up. Each club has its own structure and set of expectations — some are social with wine and nibbles; others are prepared with note pads and questions. Remember: you want to be a welcome guest who adds value to their reading experience.

Here are some pointers for attending book clubs.

Do your research. Ask questions before you go:

Coffee Shop Book Club Whitby
Coffee Shop Book Club Whitby
  • what is the format and what do they expect of you? (if they’re not sure, you need to be prepared with suggestions. Consider preparing a book club guide/questions to provide in advance)
  • will a member lead the evening or is it more free-flowing?
  • what time are you expected to be there? (sometimes, you’re asked to show up after the meeting starts to let the group settle before you arrive) and when you should leave? (they can’t talk about you if you are still in the room…)
  • what is the address? (you may think this is a silly question but you need to know exactly where you are going — front door, side door, meeting room on 2nd floor & not the main floor…)
  • what are the contact phone numbers? (and give them yours in case of last-minute changes)

Set out your parameters:

  • let them know if any question is out of bounds for you (in my case, I am clear with book clubs — they can ask me anything at all about the book & they can’t offend me with opinions or questions)
  • time limits, if you have them

Be the guest author, not the wannabe member:

A Lunchtime Book Club
A Lunchtime Book Club, Queen’s Park
  • avoid the social drinks; stick to water or tea/coffee (I like wine but not at a book club; I’m there to answer their questions, not join their group.)
  • similarly, go easy on the nibbles (eat dinner before showing up)
  • dress professionally (it’s not a white tie event; however, know that your ripped jeans and sweatshirt is only great for writing marathons and not a book club)

Bring copies of your book:

  • book clubs have usually already bought your book but it is helpful to have copies on hand (be discreet because it’s not about selling the book; you are there to appreciate your readers)

    Stafford Virginia Book Club
    Stafford Virginia Book Club

Be prepared to hear negative comments:

  • reading is an individual experience and not everyone will love your book (p.s. – really, it’s no longer YOUR book once you send it out to readers; it becomes THEIR book that you wrote)
  • practise the following:
    • Thank you for letting me know.
    • That’s interesting. It wasn’t what I had in mind when I wrote that scene but I appreciate knowing your response to it.
    • I appreciate your honesty.
  • I always let the organizer know the following:
    • Your members can ask me anything at all. I’m a writer and I’m used to critiques and rejection. They can’t hurt my feelings even if they didn’t like anything about my book. (and I repeat this at the beginning of every book club appearance — it helps break the ice for some readers.)
Third Thursday Book Club Whitby

Remember to say thank you:

  • What a terrific compliment; the club members picked your book to read. If you think about it, what better validation of the crazy passion we have for writing than to have readers engage with your book?

    "Red Sails" London Chapter
    “Red Sails” London Chapter