You’ve heard of Pinterest, I’m sure. My girls have been raving about this online, visual bulletin board site for quite some time. Fine for young women looking for home decorating and recipe ideas, I thought, but not something *I* needed to get involved in.
I took a closer look recently and changed my mind. It can be a fun, visual tool for authors. Let me show you how I use it, but first, a bit about how it works.
It’s technically still by invitation only, so if you sign up here they will send you an invite. Mine took several days to arrive. Here is a great getting-started article by Author Media.
Once you have access, you check areas of interest and they recommend people for you to ‘follow’ who are popular in that area. You can uncheck them if you like, and look for your own! You can connect through Facebook or Twitter, and find people who are already your friends, or just browse. The search bar works better for items than usernames, which is too bad.
When you have your own account, you may create boards and name them anything you like. Then, when you see something someone else has pinned that you find inspiring for some reason, you can ‘repin’ it to your board. This isn’t stealing! The idea is that every image links back to its original internet debut. (Of course this doesn’t always happen, but most people put in a good effort.)
You may want to pin things that you find elsewhere on the web. Pinterest provides a little button you can bookmark–mine is on my browser bar with other sites I check often. When you’re on a website and see an image you like, click your ‘Pin It’ button and a page overlays the one you’re on, showing every image on the page. Just click ‘pin it’ on the one you want and a little box will pop up asking you which of your boards you’d like to add this image to. You also enter a word (or a few) of text, then set the pin. If you highlight some text before clicking ‘pin it,’ Pinterest will automatically add those words to your entry, though you can change them.
Nearly every time I pin something–anything!–I get an email (you can set the frequency of notification) to tell me a bunch of people have repinned or liked it. Usually these are people I don’t even know, but now they’ve seen something I like and might check out the rest of the board, or all my boards. They might choose to follow that particular board, or me (meaning all my boards).
So, what’s an author to do? Here are 4 ways to use it:
1. It’s great for co-authors, as you can share boards. Here is the board I started for Rainbow’s End. Once I had pinned a few images to the board that related to the novella collection, I invited my co-authors to be contributors to it. Now it shows up on all four profiles. Any of us can add to it, and all our followers can see it. Fun!
2. You can create a board for general inspiration. Tricia Goyer has a board for characters. Cara Putman has a board for character clothing ideas. Angie Arndt has this board for settings that inspire her. Rachel Wilder has boards for historical fashion by the decade.
3. You can create a board to give your readers more visuals for your novel. Catherine West created a board with Vietnam images for Yesterday’s Tomorrow, which is a romance novel that takes place during the war.
4. You can create a board for specific inspiration. I’m working on a story set in Victoria, BC, so I started a board on the city. Debby Mayne has a board for hairstyles in her Class Reunion series, which features a beauty salon.
Warning: Pinterest is addicting! But still, why don’t you follow me, or some of my boards? There’s a button in the sidebar!
Any other ways you can think of using this site as an author? Share in comments!
Cathy West says
Hey! And here I thought nobody was looking at my Pinterest!! LOL! At first, I admit, I found the whole concept overwhelming, but then I started looking, figured out how I would best like to use it for my own pleasure, but also whether or not I could promote not only my books but others as well – and then one day I woke up and I was a Pinterest addict. I hear there is no therapy strong enough to overcome this one.
I agree, I didn’t think it would be that fun or useful for me, but I’ve been picking up speed over the past few weeks! I really liked your VietNam board in particular.
Valerie, I appreciate your post. I have to admit that like Cathy I was somewhat overwhelmed. As a Christian, I have wondered where to embrace this techy stuff and where to draw the line (referring to last days). Does that make sense? I am new to it and I will have to come follow you. As a new writer, this will make a great storyboard as well as the feeling of browsing through others’.
Miriam, it’s great to meet you! I think you’ll enjoy storyboarding with Pinterest. I’m new to it, too, but the possibilities seem wide open!
I haven’t started using it much, but I do have three boards and try and remember to add to them. Didn’t know about the highlighting with Pin It though, so that’s a great tip :).
Yay! Glad to provide a useful tip in there 🙂
Jessie Gunderson says
I love these ideas Valerie and I had just this month started brain storming for my own post on this. 🙂 I’ll get back to you. You stole all mine. LOL I’m just kidding!!! So far all I have are boards for my WIPS. I like the City and Characters boards. And it is addicting but after a week or so it’s pretty self sufficient.
Hope I get to see you in March.
Hey Jessie! There may be other uses for it too, so feel free to write your own post. I’ll come see what I can learn from you. And yes, I’ll be at conference in March. Looking forward to seeing you again! 🙂
Jessie Gunderson says
Haha! I know you aren’t copywriting the Pinterest for writers post. I was just teasing you. 🙂 I’m excited about all the possibilities. I’ll see what I can dig up.
Looking forward to March too!
🙂 Looking forward to seeing your take. I’m sure I can learn something from you.
Peg Phifer says
Great tips! Like everyone else, I through, “Oh, great, another social board to use up my time.” But, it’s growing on me. I have a few new ideas, and these you’ve listed are great, too.
Yes, it’s ‘another’ site, but at least it’s different and pretty! Thanks for coming by.
Diana Lesire Brandmeyer says
I love pintrest. I’ve been using it for writing and gathering other things of interest.
Thanks for visiting, Diana!
Debby Mayne says
Great post, Valerie! I used Pinterest for all kinds of things – from inspiration to keeping characters straight in my books/series and for recipes that look nutritious and yummy. I’ll probably even combine the two and have my characters eating some of those foods. This is just another place where fiction and reality collide.
Great way to put it, Debby! Where fiction and reality collide, indeed. Thanks for visiting!
Adriana Ryan says
Thank you for this post! I’ve been wondering about Pinterest and how on earth to get started. I’m sharing your post on Twitter. 😀
Thank you, Adriana! Nice to meet you.
Sonya Clark says
I saw where Adriana shared this on Twitter and took a look because I’ve been at a loss as to what to do with Pinterest. These ideas are awesome and I think they will help me put together some boards on research and visual inspiration for my writing. Thank you!
Thank you for coming, Sonya! I’m glad Adriana shared the link.
What a great post and a lot of great ideas. Thank you so much for blogging about this. I’ve learned a lot. I am brand new to Pinterest and this article gave me some great ideas to streamline some characters and promote other authors as well.
So glad to be of help, Kara!
Mary Connealy says
I’m finding Pinterest very user unfriendly and instead of pinning stuff to my board (or whatever) I think I’ll just go hammer my head against something REALLY HARD!!!!!!!
But thanks for trying to help. God bless you.
Looks like WordPress assigned you the right emoticon, Mary! I’m sorry you’re finding it frustrating.
Angie Arndt says
Thanks for mentioning me, Valerie. I hadn’t thought about using it for collaboration. Great idea. I love using Pinterest in conjunction with Scrivener as I write.
Oooh. If you come back and see this, Angie–how are you using it with Scrivener? Sounds like my kind of topic.
Angie Arndt says
I keep the Pinterest character board open and flip back-and-forth (command + tab) between it and Scrivener.
You can have a separate window in Scrivener with another file – like a character, but with Pinterest open, I get all my characters and my text screen is as large as I can get (eyes are getting old – LOL).
Ah, okay. That’s how I’m using it, too. I was wondering (hoping?) that there was a way for fuller integration. I do print out character images and house plans, etc, for my physical inspiration board over my desk, as well as incorporating them to Scrivener AND pinning (some of) them to Pinterest. Visuals everywhere 🙂
Sherri Wilson Johnson says
I have officially spent the last several hours on Pinterest!
Woot! My job here is done, lol.
Sherri Wilson Johnson says