5 Ways for Writers to Use Pinterest

22 Feb

Everyone tells writers that we need to use social media to market and connect, but few tell you how to really do it.

Pinterest is a great example.

The latest in a long line of new social media  “platforms,” Pinterest is deceptively simple, so it’s easy to dismiss. The site is powerful because unlike Twitter, Facebook, or blogging, Pinterest is completely oriented to the visual. Users “pin” photos from elsewhere on Pinterest or anywhere on the net to “boards” that they’ve created, divided into subjects that interest them (“My Style,” “Cars I Love,” “Books I’ve Read,” etc). Friends and followers can see what you’ve discovered and say, “Hey! That’s pretty cool. Imma pin that, too.”

Like Pinterest, I’m visually oriented, too, especially in my writing process. Before I even start a draft, I collect photos on the Internet that help me imagine what I’m writing about. So Pinterest has been very fun for me to play with.

While creating boards for various works in progress, I realized I could do the same thing for two of my books that have already been released. That sparked a couple other ideas that were fun to dol and, simultaneously, helped market the books. Just playing with Pinterest in this way, I now have a pretty decent following on my boards for The Patron Saint of Plagues and The Magician and The Fool (the traffic on Pinterest is swift and bubbling along right now).

So here are five suggestions about using Pinterest, for your creativity, your drafting process, and the marketing of your published works. I haven’t used all of them yet, but I’m very eager to get going!

My "Patron Saint of Plagues" board

1) Create a Cast List for Your Book

Come up with a Hollywood cast list for an imaginary film version of your book, short story, or script. Who would play the lead, the villain, the love interest? Make a “book board” on Pinterest, using the title or working title of your book, and “pin” images of actors there.

Would Jessica Biel or Lindsay Lohan play your lead? Ryan Reynolds or Chris Pine for the love interest? Put them all up on your book board so you can see them and decide who looks “right” for the part.

If you have books published already, Pinterest can be an excellent way to engage with established fans of your work. Email die-hard readers you know and ask them to contribute their own ideas about who should play certain characters to their own Pinterest board.

NOTE: Make sure you have at least one image that links back to your website so people can learn more about you. (Pinterest isn’t great for textual information AT ALL.)

2) Be Your Own “Location Scout”

Movie producers hire people to scout out possible locations for filming particular scenes in their movies. You can do something similar by searching for images of landscapes, buildings, animals, skylines, crowds, maps of locations, or cultural tidbits (food, clothing, etc) from your book.

I did this for my book The Patron Saint of Plagues which is about a horrifying urban outbreak in future Mexico City. The book proved proved slightly “prophetic” in that a swine flu outbreak did occur in Mexico a few years after the book came out. For my Patron Saint board on Pinterest,  I found images of Mexico City doctors and patients from that outbreak to use as location shots for my Patron Saint of Plagues storyboard. This added a fun, creepy note of realism to the book board, I think.

Another tip! Upload videos to YouTube that you yourself have taken of various book locations (maybe in your own city or on travels), and pin the YouTube page to your Pinterest board.

3) Seeds

You’d be surprised how many readers and fellow writers would like to know what you read and which books might have influenced you as a writer. Create a Pinterest board featuring books, authors, and/or movies that influenced your thinking about this particular book. Which reads planted seeds in your brain, inspired and delighted you? Are there scenes from movies that helped shape your book?

Take some time, and dig deep. You may discover there were books that you didn’t even realize had planted important seeds in you.

I was influenced by an array of short stories, movies, and books for The Magician  and The Fool, a thriller about the search for what might be the oldest tarot deck. You can take a look here.

Important: Pin images that link back to your favorite bookstores and give them some all-important, authory love.

4) Soundtracks

Most writers have VERY specific music in mind for their stories. Link to music videos or Grooveshark and Spotify website URLS to create the soundtrack for your book.

5) Action!

Are there scenes in movies that remind you of scenes in your book-to-be? Epic battle scenes, shots of costumes from period pieces, or snatches from documentaries covering topis intersecting with your book can be great to have on hand when drafting scenes.

You can also use movie clips in your writing process the same you way  you used actor pics to describe characters. Video may be even more useful than stills, right? Is there a particular dancer whose movements you’d like to be able to describe when writing about one of your characters? A swashbuckler? What about accents? Limps? Facial expressions?

Maybe there’s a very particular chemistry you want to strike between characters. The delivery of actors in certain scenes from old films (Robert Redford’s humiliated squint after he admits to Paul Newman that he can’t swim in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid) can help you improve the blocking of scenes, better characterize emotional responses, sharpen dialog, and otherwise flesh out your story’s action.


My one problem with Pinterest is that it’s not possible, right now, to re-order and organize your pins very easily.  I really wish it had more of a mind-map ease to it, so that I could use it more freely for the brainstorming phase of writing. As is, if you want to create a sequential, linear storyboard on Pinterest, you’d have to design it ahead of time and pin the pics in the order you want them to appear — which sort of defeats the purpose of using Pinterest this way. (For what it’s worth, Facebook photo albums can be reorganized far more easily.)



How to Storyboard (YouTube)


Free Storyboard Pro Software (for filmmakers)


Bubbl.us for Brainstorming and Mind Mapping (I use this)


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