Guest Post: How Writers Can Use Pinterest

When it comes to social networking, Pinterest has emerged as a major player. Cat Rambo provides an excellent overview in the post that follows. -ED

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest describes itself as a virtual pinboard. You can think of it as a way to save links and organize them by image or you can think of it as a way to save and organize images. I like it because people often put together collections that are beautifuldisturbing, evocative, or worth reading.

What makes Pinterest interesting?
It’s interesting partially because it’s a new way of sorting information. Some of us think in images rather than text, and this may be more accessible for them.

It’s also interesting because it’s become identified as a woman-centric social network – or at least that’s something the media has focused on, to the point where a male friend stated definitively and somewhat defiantly, “I don’t know a single man who uses Pinterest, but every woman I know does.” (Reported figures seem to actually put women at 60-82% of the users.) Women adopt new social media more readily than men, which may account for some of it, but the odd tone that some of the reporting takes on makes it a phenomenon worth taking a look at.

And it’s interesting because it’s growing FAST to the point where it’s the number 3 social network.

How can writers use Pinterest?
Well, an obvious one is a board that features their book covers. For example, Stephen Hunt’s Books Worth Reading (by me) displays 24 covers, including foreign language editions. It’s a nifty way of showing one’s output.

You might choose to create a gallery of fan art as both a way of gracefully acknowledging fans while driving recognition of the stories they illustrate.

Pinning research is an obvious thing. M.K. Hobson’s pinned reference images for her book, The Warlock’s Curse, and there’s plenty of interesting stuff to look at there.

Using it isn’t difficult, nor is incorporating it into your website. There are plenty of WordPress plug-ins for Pinterest already; I use one to provide additional visual interest to my website.

Why might you want to avoid Pinterest?
Plenty of questions have arisen about Pinterest and copyright, although the company has been responsive to concerns and revised its terms of service as a result. While some avoid Pinterest for these reasons, some advocate embracing it, as Trey Ratcliff does in his essay,Why Photographers Should Stop Complaining about Copyright and Embrace Pinterest, pointing out that it drives website traffic.


Cat RamboFind Cat Rambo’s fiction, which includes over a hundred published stories, at her website, where this post first appeared. She teaches at Bellevue College as well as via online workshops and serves as a volunteer with Clarion West. Her most recent publication is her short story collection for Kindle and other e-readers.

4 Responses

  1. Elizabeth Moon

    If only days could expand to provide the time necessary to tend to all the social networking opportunities…and still leave time for writing the books and doing the few household chores I can’t get out of or ignore. Pinterest sounds interesting, but…one more thing would push me over the edge. Twitter, bless it’s tiny little heart, is at least fast and almost effortless and lets me spread the word about new posts on the blogs. LJ, with all its problems, is still where I have the biggest bunch of followers. I’ve got people all over the place I try to keep up with, and people who expect me to let them keep up with me…but the days still have only 24 hours and I still have to write the books and take a shower and sometimes even sleep.

  2. Kaye Draper

    I like pinterest precisely because it IS EFFORTLESS and doesn’t take up a lot of your time. I first joined to pin some jewelry that I made, with links back to my etsy site. But then I created a board of Urban Fantasy books and included my favorites just for fun. Other people started following my board and I had re-pins from it, so I thought, why not include my writing blog. I pinned my blog header pic to the board. So, while I’m not a published author with a bunch of book covers, I am using common intersts to hopefully bring more traffic to my blog. I also have a board titled Inspiration- where I post pictures that I find that remind me of my works or give me story idea. I think there are endless ways to use this to bring more traffic to your website, or spread the word about your work (if you are published). After you sign up, it takes no time whatsoever to “Pin” something. There is an add on that goes on your toolbar, so if you are surfing the web for something else and you see something you want on your board you simply click “pin it” choose what board you want it on, and go on your way. Easy as pie 🙂

  3. Cat Rambo

    Yeah, social media will swallow all the time you’re willing to pitch at it. I try to monitor how much time I spend on it as well as whether or not it’s actually driving traffic to my website (presumably a couple of those visitors might buy one of those books.)

    The thing I like is that you can tie these together, so effort in one social network can be used to create a presence in another one. Twitter, for example, can be set up so your tweets there also show up on your Facebook page and blog; the same with Pinterest.

  4. John Burridge

    I love using Pinterest.

    It’s great for getting a good feel for character description, setting, and period details.

    I find it’s less great for prompts about verbs, conflict or emotion. Maybe I’m using the wrong search words. For example, searching for “jealousy” will get you 100 copies of the same picture of three toddlers, plus angry brunette women looking at busty blonde women (I’ve yet to find an angry average guy glaring at a younger guy with fabulous abs).