By Lauren Layne
If you’re an author, chances are you have a pretty solid Facebook strategy. Maybe you dabble in Twitter. And perhaps you’ve been noticing Instagram’s potential for spreading the word about your novel(s).
But what about . . . Pinterest?
Pinterest has always been a bit of a murky resource as it relates to author marketing plans, am I right?!
Does this sound familiar: You have a Pinterest account, because it’s a big platform, and you feel like you should cover your bases. Maybe you create a board for each of your books, and save photos of Henry Cavill and Emma Stone as your character inspiration, and pictures of cakes for your wedding planner themed romance. Maybe when you’re creating your release day promo graphics, you create one for Pinterest. Maybe you even remember to post it.
But you don’t have as many Pinterest followers as you do on other platforms, you don’t know how to interact with them, and thus Pinterest is just sort of . . . there.
I know. I know, because I had the exact same approach for the first five years of my career. And then, in 2018, I did the unthinkable and left Facebook. I won’t go into the reasons here, but suffice to say I suddenly had a lot of free time, and a gap in my marketing reach. Mostly out of curiosity, I turned to Pinterest. Statistics show that it’s a popular platform, so why were we authors striking out with it?
I read every Pinterest-related blog I could find. I took several Pinterest courses. I read books, analyzed statistic, and trial-and-errored the heck out of my Pinterest strategy.
Fast forward to 2019, and Pinterest is the keystone of my marketing plan. Most months, it’s the single-biggest traffic driver to my website, and my click-through rate on my book-related pins is higher than anything I’ve ever seen on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Here are some of my key learnings on how authors can better use Pinterest.
1. Quit worrying about followers.
Unlike social media platforms, Pinterest is a visual search engine, which means that Pinterest users don’t necessarily have to be following you in order to see your posts! If you’re posting quality content to Pinterest consistently, the Pinterest algorithm will start to show your pins to people whose interests might include your books, regardless of whether that person is following you. Don’t assume that just because your follower numbers aren’t going up that you’re not being seen. Instead, pay attention to your monthly viewer numbers to measure the effectiveness of what you’re pinning.
2. Don’t put release dates or “timely language” on your graphics.
No “now available” or “coming soon” verbiage for Pinterest, please! Pinterest is very different from the other platforms in that content on Pinterest is more “evergreen.” Meaning, it doesn’t become old news within 24 hours (or 24 minutes, as is the case with Twitter!). Some of my most popular pins have hundreds of thousands of views, most of those occurring months after I initially posted the pin. (For this reason, Pinterest also isn’t the best place to advertise limited time sales!)
3. Prioritize original content.
Remember above when I mentioned that I see authors most often using Pinterest for their book inspiration boards? This is totally fine, but it also means that most authors are only ever using Pinterest to re-pin. Meaning, they go to Pinterest, browse, see something they like, and save it to a board. Im not saying you shouldn’t do this! I re-pin stuff all the time. But if you want to use Pinterest to market your book, spread brand awareness, and drive traffic, you’re going to have to start creating original content for Pinterest, not simply sharing content that’s already on Pinterest. After all, you want sales, right?! You’re not going to get them from someone seeing your re-pinned Chris Hemsworth photos! Instead, use a free tool like Canva.com to create your own pins for your books, and be sure that the destination URL is your website (or Amazon book page). Though, a word of caution, be sure to use stock photos, your book cover, or text-only for your original pins. Never upload a pin that contains an image you don’t own or have the rights to use!
4. Share book teasers
Related to #3, Pinterest is a great place to post short teasers of your books, or to share accolades (reader reviews, etc). Remember, unlike Facebook, it’s possible (even likely!) that people who don’t follow you may see your pins based on their search results, interests, or previously saved pins. Compelling teasers and high praise are a great way to hook these new readers who may not have heard of you!
5. Create a Pinterest Business profile
Don’t worry, if you have a personal Pinterest profile, it’s easy and free to upgrade to a business account. And you should. Not only is it required by Pinterest’s Terms and Conditions if you use Pinterest for commercial purposes (aka, promoting your book), but it also gives you access to features like analytics, promoted pins, and more.
And the most important tip of all? Have fun with it. One of my favorite things about Pinterest is that because it’s all image based, and not “what’s going on with my life right now,” it tends to be wonderfully drama free. It’s nothing but pretty pictures, helpful advice, and once we authors up our Pinterest game … great books to read!
Lauren Layne is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than two dozen romantic comedies. Her books have sold over a million copies, in nine languages. Lauren’s work has been featured in Publishers Weekly, Glamour, The Wall Street Journal, and Inside Edition. She’s based in New York City.
Great post! I use Pinterest quite a bit and have found it to be a great marketing platform. The teaser idea is a great one!
Wonderful, wonderful post — feel like a wondrous new world has opened up for me where I thought it was just a wonderful place to post photos and create boards!
This is a wonderful post that has me exhaling a breath I didn’t realize I was holding. As a relative newbie to Pinterest (and a highly visual person), I found myself hesitant with my approach to the platform. Your thoughts and tips have put my mind at ease. And that less drama thing is a welcome change to social media 😉 I love how Pinterest offers a clean place to graphically journal so many different aspects of a novel.
When linking your original pins to a website, do you prefer linking them to a website or your retail market page (i.e. – Amazon)? And if linking to your author website, do you link to the specific book page or the home page (there seem to be advantages to both)?
Thanks so much, Lauren, for a breath of fresh air and such useful tips. I look forward to deepening my involvement on this evolving platform for authors (and checking out your boards as well) 🙂
great post. I am not on pinterest. I think that wherever an author is on, if they don’t spend the time to truly engage there, then it is not a place for the authors profile
I couldn’t agree with this more, and it is leading me to re-evaluate where I am spending a majority of my time. Too many times, authors fail to use social media to be, well, social. It can be a blessing and a curse, all these platforms available to us. There are a select few that resonate with me, and it’s not a coincidence, I believe, that those are also the places where I find the strongest and most authentic connections with others.
thanks Dave:) all the best