How Pinterest Helps Me Research That Next Book AND Build My Author Brand
Bestselling historical romance author Lucinda Brant has become an all-star Pinterest user. Over the last four years, she has gained almost 15,000 followers by pinning everything from 18th century fashion to “power paunches.” She also uses private boards to pin various photos and articles as she researches each novel, and makes the board public once the novel is published as a behind-the-scenes bonus for readers. We asked if she would share some tips with us.
KWL: I’m mostly familiar with Pinterest for things like wedding planning, fashion, and interior design. How do you use it to research a book?
Lucinda Brant: Pinterest was almost exclusively about the things you mention when I started out four years ago. But it has evolved and been embraced by people like me: highly visual learners and teachers, who recognized the organizational potential and advertising opportunities of the platform. Now authors, readers, schools, museums, universities, publishing houses, and luxury brands, just to name a few, are putting Pinterest to good use to help educate, provide a service to their users, reach customers, or in my case, give my readers a value-added experience.
For me, Pinterest is a fabulous repository for my research. I’m still using my library and the internet to research my next book, but I’m also pinning articles and images on everything from 18th Century fashion and travel, to health and hygiene, onto their respective Pinterest boards. This not only helps me collate my research, but also provides other Pinners with access to all sorts of articles and images on the 18th century for their research and writing, as well as spreading the word about why I am so passionate about the 1700s!
Has it become part of your discoverability strategy? How?
The initial aim was to use Pinterest as my personal research playground. But as all my boards are highly organized and alphabetized by subject matter, I think this has helped gain me followers. Also, I carefully curate every pin, ensuring the captions are accurate and that the pin links to a reputable site, such as a museum, art gallery, history blog, or research site. This gives Pinners confidence that when they repin one of my pins, it is authentic and verifiable.
Also, my 18thC Inspired… boards offer an insight into how the 18th Century is still relevant today. So my pins crop up in searchers by Pinners who aren’t necessarily looking at history, but are searching out fashion, beauty, the performing arts, selfies, hairstyles, etc.
I also have several humor boards offering an insight into my quirky sense of humor, but again, all relevant to the 18th Century, such as the 18th Century Power Paunch, 18th Century Big Wig, and 18th Century Selfies boards.
Best of all, each of my books has its own board, and here I pin images of the research I’ve done into the real people and times, objects, events, social history, and anything else relevant, mentioned in the story. This provides readers with a visual reference, as well as allowing them to delve deeper into the subject by following the image links. The relevant Pinterest book board has an image and link appearing in the end matter of the eBook, encouraging my readers to “go behind the scenes.”
I also offer individual Pinterest boards for my audiobooks, translations, articles, and research resources. These boards contain buy and website links to my books, audiobooks, and articles in which I’m featured.
Has Pinterest created new opportunities for you?
Yes! My Pinterest boards have been showcased on plenty of blogs on how to effectively use social media, and held up as an example of how to use Pinterest to attract readers. And here I am on the Kobo Writing Life blog! 🙂 Also, particular boards have been showcased in a number of magazine articles. My 18th Century Power Paunch board was featured in the New York City-based art and culture forum Hyperallergic, which has a daily subscriber base of 65,000. It was also mentioned in a Daily Beast article on the Power Paunch in the 21st Century. The Daily Beast reaches over 20 million readers per month.
Are there genres you think are better suited to using Pinterest, or do you think all authors can use it effectively?
All genres and all authors can benefit from having boards on Pinterest. It is a visual feast, and there is room at the banquet for everyone!
As an author, how would you say you divide your time across various social media sites? How do they rank in terms of engagement and followers, in your mind?
I spend most time on Pinterest, because I enjoy it, and it is time-consuming to curate and organize my pins in a meaningful and organized way. But it is time well spent, because as I am researching I am thinking about my story and making notes as I go.
Facebook is more immediate in its engagement with friends and followers. But Pinterest users do post comments, send me messages, and I hear from lots of readers once they’ve finished a book, about how they went on to explore the relevant Pinterest board for that particular book, and then beyond to my other boards.
With 47 million users and growing, authors should take advantage of this social media tool and harness the power of Pinterest to engage and connect readers with their books.
Do you have some advice for best practices for using Pinterest?
It is very important to curate every image you pin or repin. Don’t take the caption at face value. Make certain it is accurate, and the pin has a reliable and verifiable link. Your pins should go somewhere – not just end with the image itself. So for instance, the pin of a Robe a la Polonaise links to The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The caption is also taken from The Met’s website. A fellow pinner can click on the image and be taken to the Met’s page and read more about the image, see further images, and delve deeper into the museum’s collection, and you are assured your pin will be repined by others.
I use secret boards as a place holder for images requiring further investigation before pinning; researching my WIP; and for images that inspire my writing but which I don’t necessarily want to share just yet with readers.
- Be focused—know why and what you are using Pinterest for
- Be organized—I can’t stress this enough. Organized boards will gain you followers
- Be selective—Don’t pin everything and anything
- Be vigilant—Ensure captions are accurate and the image links to a reputable source
- Be yourself—Show pinners what you’re passionate about, and why
- Have fun—The Pinning community is a fun, friendly and helpful place!
Happy Pinning, everyone!
LUCINDA BRANT is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of award-winning Georgian historical romances and mysteries. You can find all of her books on Kobo. Lucinda is also a member of the Jewels of Historical Romance, 12 bestselling authors who have joined forces to offer readers monthly contests, free books, and more.