November 2017

Pinterest can be a powerful tool for authors—even if your book isn’t about baking or crafting. But it requires a different approach than most social media, partly because it isn’t all that social. In this post, we’ll give a quick overview of reasons you could benefit from using Pinterest, what sets it apart from other online networks, and how you can best use it. We’ll finish off with a list of further resources.

First, a question: Should you use Pinterest as an author?

The short answer: maybe.

Here’s a quick list of reasons Pinterest could be a great resource for you:

  • You love Pinterest already.
  • You are a novelist.
  • You have practical, hands-on tips to share with your audience.
  • Your posts are highly visual—or can be easily made highly visual.
  • You have a blog.

There are two reasons Pinterest might be the wrong choice for you:

  • You don’t understand the appeal of images over words.
  • You have your hands full with Facebook and/or Twitter.

Still interested? Read on for a few key things you need to know, and then resources you can use get started.

Pinterest is more a search engine than a social network.

Blogger and Pinterest enthusiast Cath Oneissy puts it this way: “Well, the first thing you should know about Pinterest is that it isn’t a social media site. It’s a search engine.”

Oh sure, you can follow your friends, and they can follow you. But as of last summer, there were over 2 billion monthly searches on Pinterest. People often come to the website searching for ideas, solutions, and visuals related to their interests. Even when users don’t directly search for pins related to their interests, Pinterest automatically recommends pins to them—by accounting for, among other things, the keywords included in the pins’ descriptions. Because of this, SEO (search engine optimization) is an important part of using Pinterest to promote your book.

Does SEO sounds like something you need special training for? Like savvy-millennial-only ground? Don’t worry! It’s mostly about creating good content and using keywords. For more information on the topic, check out Oneissey’s article on Persuasion Nation, “Pinterest SEO: How to Optimize Your Pins for the 2017 Algorithm Change.” The article is geared toward business owners—that is, business owners who aren’t authors—but most of what she shares is still very relevant to you.

Pinterest’s search-oriented, rather than connection-oriented, approach might mean you have to learn more about SEO than you do when you use true social media like Facebook. But depending on your personality, you may find Pinterest more doable precisely because it’s not normal social media. Kristen Oliphant, in her article “Pinterest for Authors: A Beginner’s Guide,” calls Pinterest the “Un-Social Network” and lists several advantages for folks who prefer not to spend their online time connecting and conversing:

This means you can be more businesslike about your time there. On Twitter or Facebook, if you aren’t engaging, you might turn people off. On Pinterest, no one cares if you comment or interact. It utilizes an algorithm like Facebook, so if you decide to pin twenty things in ten minutes, it won’t clutter up your followers’ home feed. You can get in, do some pinning, and get out.

So if you get tired of responding to comments and, well, networking, Pinterest could be great for you.

There are several approaches to Pinterest.

You can pin everything from your book’s cover to inspirational quotes—you just need a bit of organization. Here are three of the many ways you can use Pinterest.

Use Pinterest as a writing and planning tool.

Oliphant mentions two main approaches to Pinterest: First, as a writer offering advice on writing, and second, “as a writer simply writing.” That second one is applicable to more DRB authors, so let’s focus on that:

The platform can be a great tool for your research and planning. The added bonus is that it provides that peek behind the curtain many fans love. It’s like sharing an intimate view of your planning process for your readers.

Basically, you can use Pinterest both for your prewriting process and to connect with readers. That sure sounds like an efficient approach!

Use Pinterest to give a behind-the-scenes look to your readers.

Indie author and Pinterest expert Lorna Sixmith’s tips include pinning book reviews (both reviews of your book and reviews of similar books)—and really, pinning anything book-related, since you can connect with your readers as a fellow reader. Like Oliphant, she mentions the behind-the-scenes aspect of Pinterest:

You can use a Pinterest board to give fans a sneak peek into your daily life. Sharing snippets of the ordinary (going for walks, doing research) as well as the special days (when you host your book launch or are interviewed on radio or television) will help people feel they are getting to know you.

Since Sixsmith writes humorous books about being an Irish farmer and a wife, she also has boards dedicated to similar topics: her family’s farm, Irish history, and farming in general. Check out her “6 Top Tips for Pinterest for Self-Publishing Authors” for more tips—and don’t worry, they’re not actually specific to self-published authors.

Use Pinterest to pull your readers further into your book’s experience.

Bestselling Christian novelist DiAnn Mills shares great ideas in her article “The Power of Pinterest in Novel Promotion,” and some of her tips apply to non-fiction authors as well. She pins, among other things,

  • images of actors and actresses who would do a great job portraying her characters in a movie;
  • visuals relating to her setting and characters; and
  • “quotes from the story—those witty comments that can be hummorous, insightful, or memorable.”

She also recommends that authors look around Pinterest. See what other writers are doing, and adapt their best ideas to work for you.

As you can tell from the varied suggestions above, Pinterest can work for a variety of genres. Yes, most “Pinterest for Authors” articles focus on ideas for novelists. And many articles assume you’ll have a blog with useful how-to information to share on Pinterest. But with a little creativity, you can make Pinterest work for you, almost regardless of your genre.

Whatever your approach, there are a few overarching principles.

Whether you pin pictures of your writing studio, links to your blog posts, or inspiring quotes from your book, here are a few overarching tips to keep in mind:

  • Create a business account. It’s easy to convert from a personal account, and it will open the way to useful tools.
  • Include your website’s URL with every pin related to your book. If you haven’t been convinced to establish an author website, see this article. Many of the tips you’ll find about Pinterest involve you having a website.
  • Use keywords to help Pinterest’s algorithms find your pins and profile.
  • Share your pins on your other social media accounts. It’s often not best to auto-Tweet or auto-share your pins as soon you pin them. But you can tell your Facebook followers about your book’s Pinterest board and share a link to it every now and then.
  • Be aware of copyright issues. When you upload pictures you didn’t take, or that aren’t from your book’s official marketing material, make sure that either the image is marked as free for common use or you have permission to use it.  

If you’re not familiar with Pinterest, all this could sound overwhelming. Learn about SEO? Create a business account? Be aware of copyright? But don’t worry! Many authors, bloggers, and entrepreneurs have gone before you, paving the way and writing articles to help you make sense of it all. If you have the interest and will, you can make the most of Pinterest, too.


Ready to dive in? Check out the links below for more details on how to set up your Pinterest account and make the most of it.

“Pinterest for Authors: A Beginner’s Guide” by Kristen Oliphant

This article is a guest post on Jane Friedman’s site—a website we often link to, because Friedman and those she invites to guest post are full of fantastic advice for authors. In this article, Oliphant outlines four reasons authors could benefit from Pinterest, some Pinterest best practices, and how to get set up.

“The Power of Pinterest in Novel Promotion” by DiAnn Mills

Whether you’ve used Pinterest before or need to start from scratch, this article has you covered. Mills is a novelist, but many of her tips can benefit other authors, as well.

“Pinterest SEO: How to Optimize Your Pins for the 2017 Algorithm Change” by Cath Oneissy

If you want to take full advantage of Pinterest’s search engine traits, this article will be a great help! While Oneissy isn’t writing specifically for authors, her guidance applies across disciplines. She doesn’t talk so much about what to save to Pinterest as how to do so.

“6 Top Tips for Pinterest for Self-Publishing Authors” by Lorna Sixsmith

You don’t have to be an indie author to learn from this article by indie author and Pinterest expert Lorna Sixsmith. If you’d like to see how another non-fiction author approaches Pinterest, this article will certainly benefit you.