Pinning Books to a Board by Susan Price

I've been pinning. 

Not dress-making. I'm using Pinterest to publicise my books.

The brothers put me on to it. They're artists and they love Pinterest because it's an unending scroll of images, good, bad and indifferent. Some are merely shots of the work-tops, toasters and coffee machines someone is hoping to put into their new kitchen. But others are of beautiful original artwork or hand-made jewellery -- or architecture, herbs, churches, cars, sculpture. Whatever interests someone.

Other pages are mood or research boards, where people have 'pinned' images with links to the sites they came from, so they have all their research handily gathered in one place.

The Pinterest metaphor is of a large cork-board to which you pin notes and images that you find inspiring, or as a memory aide.

The 'board' is much the same as a 'folder' on a computer. You might put everything to do with a particular book into a clearly named folder on your computer. On Pinterest, you have a 'board' for each book or topic.

Each 'pin' is an indiviual image (like those on these blog) which you either upload to your board, or save to your board from someone else's. Unless you make your board secret, all other Pinterest users can see your pins and can save them to their own boards.

If you have a website, you can join as a business user by 'validating' that website. Then you can upload pins you've made yourself (conforming to a specific size) and add a 'destination link' which connects to your website or to your book's page on Amazon.

You can also add a brief description of what your pin is 'about' and 'alt text' which is read aloud to people with visual impairment (by their computer.).

If your 'board' is about a book set in the 16th Century, you might add pins of historical portraits, buildings or jewellery-- or pins of other historical novels you've enjoyed. You might 'follow' the pinners of these pins. This makes it more likely that people will stumble on your pin because, if they have an interest in one of these subjects, they may also click on your pin and so discover your 'board.' For instance, to my 'Bad Girl' board, I've added pins to sites warning about 'romance scammers' and to 'true crime' sites and newspaper reports. The kind of things I read when I was researching the book.

And does pinning work? I can report that it certainly has an effect. For instance, I have four 'Ghost World' books: Ghost Drum, Ghost Song, Ghost Dance and Ghost Spell. The first three were conventionally published, by Faber. The last, Spell, was first published by me, through KDP. 

Ghost Dance
The first, Ghost Drum, which won the Carnegie, has always sold fairly steadily -- but it was a bit of a red-letter day if one of the others sold. They did, occasionally, every three or four months.

We started pinning at the beginning of April and, since then, all four books have sold reguarly, every week. We're not talking huge numbers but it is a marked improvement. Sales of our picture books have picked up too.

Before April, all my sales were to the UK or US. Occasionally, one would sell to Canada, Japan or Germany. Since we began pinning, we reguarly sell books to UK, US, Ca, Ja, De.

It makes sense, I suppose. Human beings are very attracted to images. If you want to remember anything, turn it into a big, exaggerated mental image. Want to remember to buy milk? Make a big picture in your mind of huge gateposts to your property, in the shape of milk cartons. Or imagine opening your front door to find the hallway blocked with oversized milk bottles. You can tag this image to, say, doorways so every time you see or open a door, the giant milk-bottle image flashes upon the inward eye. You'll remember to buy the milk.

Pinterest sends visual stimuli, reminding people of your book, flashing around the world. If only a tiny percentage of those people click on your image, if only a tinier percentage click through to your website or Amazon page and if only an even tinier percentage actually buy the book -- well, you've sold a few more books than you would have done otherwise.


I'm really interested in this approach to using Pinterest, having often wondered how I can make more use of it. I tend to be most active on it while I'm doing research, particularly for historical novels, but it's really more of a personal thing and not so much a form of advertising. You seem to be making it work well!
Susan Price said…
Thanks, Cecilia. It is a lot of work, though -- as all this social media promotion is.
Griselda Heppel said…
I had no idea really of what pinterest is for or how it works so thank you very much for this useful guide. Great that it's led to so many more sales for you. I should look into it!
Umberto Tosi said…
Thanks for this post, Susan. I am Pinterest curious, but clueless. This will help me start exploring its possibilities.

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