How Writers Can Use Pinterest

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Pinterest can prove strangely addictive. Can you make that addiction part of your social network branding efforts?

I’m prepping for this weekend’s class on Blogging and Social Networks and, as always, there’s lots of new stuff that I need to fold into my existing notes. Pinterest is a big one — it’s become a big deal since last time I taught the class and so I need to talk about it.

So 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 beautiful, disturbing, 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, not 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.

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 100+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and Tor.com. Her short story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her story collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012.
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  • http://www.demimonde.com M.K. Hobson

    Great post, Cat! Personally, I’m amazed at how rapidly and thoroughly I’ve integrated Pinterest into my writing process. While I have always been in the habit of saving folders of inspiring or useful images, I never really had a good way to page through them. Pinterest’s lovely visual layout organizes everything so beautifully, which is a great help for when I’m feeling stuck and need some fresh visual inspiration. What I love most, though is how Pinterest provides me a whole new way to deepen my readers’ relationships with my books, because it allows them to see (and comment on, if they like) the images that inspire particular scenes or character descriptions.

    I love Pinterest. Thanks for doing this post about it.

  • http://exploringeliza.com Eliza

    I started using Pinterest with the express intent of cataloging interesting images and ideas that I found, both for my WIP and for future projects. It kind of got away from me after that, and has evolved to embrace more social networking aspects. Still, I’ve got those two boards which I add to, and can pull from. Like MK, I’ve collected things through the years, but never had a good way to organize them. Pinterest is really good for that, and so dead easy to use.

    Once I *have* book covers, I’m sure I’ll pin the bejeezus out of them.

  • http://blog.ceciliatan.com Cecilia Tan

    OK, you convinced me to look into it. It’s funny how some social media I took to immediately (Twitter) while others I never got beyond that first week of looking around (Tumblr).

    See you at Wiscon?

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