Using Pinterest to Promote your Books - Kathleen Jones

Spending time on social networking sites can take too much time from writing, so I try to keep it to a minimum.  It’s fine spending hours on Twitter and Blogger and Facebook promoting your work, but if you do too much of it, quite soon there won’t be any work to promote!  But I've recently found a new distraction that might just prove to be useful.

Pinterest is one of the names that’s been coming up a lot recently and I’ve been ignoring it.  But I’ve changed my mind.  I took a look at a couple of authors who were using Pinterest and was intrigued and very impressed.  Linda Gillard uses it to promote her work and so does another Electric Author Catherine Czerkawska.  Catherine's boards are particularly stunning!

I’ve been trying to find new ways to promote my recent novel The Sun’s Companion and it suddenly seemed to make sense to share all the images that were around me when I wrote it and which illustrate the story perfectly.  It’s set initially in the north east of England where my grandparents lived, but at the beginning of the war one of the characters moves, as a land girl, to the Lake District where I was brought up.  Both settings are very photogenic.  Almost without realising it, I found myself compiling a photo-album of the book;  Partenkirchen, where the half German Anna was brought up, the gravestone that Tamar finds with her name on it, the internment camp where Anna spent months at the beginning of the war, the fell farms where Tamar worked as a land girl - they’re all there.

Pinterest is a lovely way to make your book instantly visible to people.  They have a photo-tour of the landscape before they even sample the text - and it might just tip the balance between a sale and a walk-away.  Remember the old cliché?  One image is worth a thousand words?

Before I knew it, I was uploading all the illustrations from my biographies too - prospective readers can now have a preview of both the images and the story before they buy.

Pinterest isn’t totally user friendly yet.  The Pin boards are easy enough to set up, but once you’ve loaded your images you can’t shuffle them around.  You need to load the images in the order you want the reader to see them. And they have to be at a low resolution so that they can be uploaded and downloaded on any kind of internet setting.

I found this PC Mag article on how to get started on Pinterest very helpful for anyone not techie minded.

And this Wiki How page tells you how to adjust your settings and profiles, as well as pinning images, with easy screen capture pics.

You can also join Pinterest as a business customer at a rather higher level, presumably with more gadgets, and there are sites that tell you how you can use Pinterest as a business promotion tool.

This article from the HuffingtonPost is also useful on how to use Pinterest to promote your work.  Very clear too.

And you then have to make sure people find you.  Add the Pinterest link to your website and blog, and the bottom of your emails.  Tweet the links to your books, beg and plead with family and friends and people you don't even know to Follow your boards!  Grovel!  Make sure the titles of your boards relate to subjects people might be searching for - someone followed my board before I'd even finished it because they were googling the subject.  Then, hopefully, it should take off.

I’ve had a lot of fun browsing through the photo albums on Pinterest - it’s the perfect displacement activity for an author who’s hit the wall at 55,000 words on the latest biography and desperately needs to get going again in order to meet the deadline.  Only another 25,000 words to go, meanwhile, I will just go and pop another pin on the Norman Nicholson board . . .

Find out more about Kathleen Jones' books at
Kathleen also Blogs at A Writer's Life
And you can find her on Pinterest too!
She also Tweets @kathyferber

The Sun's Companion is available on Kindle  (on special offer) and e-pub
It's an Awesome Indies Approved novel and it has stunning 5 star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads!


Jan Ruth said…
I read this with interest Kathleen, I too was a late starter to Pinterest! I was missing out, having the most scenic settings in my books (Snowdonia). I quickly became absorbed in this activity, as you say it is the ultimate distraction.
I'm sure I don't use it to its full advantage, like all of these tools, it does require quite a bit of effort but I do enjoy the collecting and storing aspect very much.
Elizabeth Kay said…
I heard about Pinterest through ABNA, and have found it a great outlet for my father's paintings, some of which are in the Imperial War Museum. And book covers, of course, as well as my illustrations. It's a great resource.
Kathleen Jones said…
Thanks Jan and Elizabeth - I'll look you up and click 'follow'!
Bill Kirton said…
Oh dear, another way of doing precisely what you warned against in your opening sentence, Kathleen. But you make it sound both interesting and productive. I've been looking for a scapegoat for the slow progress I'm making on my sequel to The Figurehead so you and Pinterest are now it (until the next one comes along).
Chris Longmuir said…
I've been thinking about Pinterest for a while but never seem to have enough time available to pursue it. Now my new book is ready to launch I really must do something about it! Great article, Kathleen, and lots to think about.
Dennis Hamley said…
It shows my ancient roots that I'd never even heard of Pinterest before today. But I think I'll have a look at it. Someoneone somewhere has to be FORCED to be interested in my books. I've been thinking already about possible phototrails through them. Yes, I must have a look and try. But I bet I can't be bothered in the end!
Lydia Bennet said…
I intend setting up a business account there (it's still free seemingly) though it's finding the time... also, I'm not sure how new people/prospective readers find your boards - how to get new followers or whatever they are called. every time I go to some new site, it tends to load my fb contacts etc so it's the same people.
Susan Price said…
Can you post a link to your Pinterest board on Twitter?
Kathleen Jones said…
Lydia - I've inserted a few lines on how to get people interested in following your boards. Thanks for pointing out the omission!
Susan Price said…
I went back for a more careful read... Loved your Pinterest board on The Sun's Companion. The one on your biographies wouldn't let me in though - page not found.
Kathleen Jones said…
Susan - I think it's because you followed the link to just one board. To get out of that and back to my page you have to click on my name at the top. Here's the link to them all
Lee said…
Probably a good idea. However, more and more, I just can't be bothered. I'm at a point of declutter, where the scramble to acquire a few more readers only distracts me from what is really essential.
Anonymous said…
It is an interesting idea. I read the terms and it seems if you are using Pinterest in any form of business promotion, you should be signed up as a business account. It used to be that they did not accept self promotional pinning when they started out.

I do worry about your pins though because they are all user uploads, and you do not credit the originators of the images at all - which is poor Pinterest Etiquette, and disrespectful of images that may be copyright. Did you take all these images yourself? If not, you are creating copyright orphans, which can be repinned, and then the originator can find them being used where they may not have wished, and without permission.
Would you like your words to be printed somewhere and shared without your permission?

Please - all users of Pinterest - be aware of copyright issues and link pins correctly to give credit to the source.
Anonymous said…
Further to the above comment, on checking one image from your pinning - the Bastles house - led me to this copyright information on the use of that same image.

"Feel free to use any of the images on the site, if your use is not commercial.
All we ask is that you follow these simple rules
My pictures are only available for your own PERSONAL, NONCOMMERCIAL use
You must link and give copyright to under the picture and on your home page, by using the logo at the top of this page"
julia jones said…
Ho hum - I've joined Pinterest and have yet to find my way around (hope it doesn't go the way of Goodreads which is a constant reproach). However I do like the idea and it was a brilliant help today when I was doind writing workshops with a bunch of Y5s who hadn't read my book and didn't really know much about saiing, Swallows and Amazons blah blah. We made a non-virtual Pinterest board and it was the perfect short cut to understanding + lots of good conversation as we went. (It's on th SWT facebook page looking rather scruffy.
Kathleen Jones said…
Anonymous - thanks for raising this issue, which perhaps I should have covered in the blog, except that I think most people are very aware of copyright on the net. Most of the images I pin are my own or my partners, or ones on which I've paid copyright fees (the Mansfield images cost me around £3,000!), and they're all very low resolution - too low to re-use for any commercial purpose. Other images have been used under Creative Commons agreements. Some images are free to share, but are watermarked so that the copyright holder can be contacted if people want to use the image commercially, and they can do this by clicking through to the original. Thanks for pointing out that I've not credited the owner on the Bastle house - I will rectify this, though as you found, the owner can be identified by clicking through.
On the Business/Personal point you raised. I am not a publisher or a bookseller - this is my personal page and I just happen to be a writer and I'm sharing my books (and other personal 'likes') with my friends, fans and family. I'm not selling anything from this page. As far as I'm aware Pinterest has no problem with this at all.
PS It would be nice to know who you are!
Anonymous said…
Thanks for addressing the copyright issues. I hadn't traced the Bastle House by clicking through; I did a reverse image search.

Pinterest is a HUGE problem for many image makers. So many images on Pinterest link to a address instead of the original source url.
It would be good if Pinterest addressed this problem by preventing such links, but it isn't in their interest to do so.
Thanks for clarifying, and highlighting the importance of respecting copyright.

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