BEA Panel to Self-Publishers: Pin It. Now! - article

If you’re a self-published author and not on Pinterest, I only have one question.

Why not?

Consider these stats from a 2012 BookExpo America (BEA) panel of experts:

  • Pinterest is the fastest-growing and third most popular social media site;
  • 87 percent of Pinterest’s 10.4 million registered users are women, ages 25-54;
  • The 10th most popular word found on the site is “books.”
  • And, according to industry analyst Bowker, women make 64 percent of all book purchases.

Wall Street Journal reporter Katie Rosman says that when she first learned of Pinterest last August, the site was “way too small for me to ever write about.” Today, she told a rapt BEA crowd, “I couldn’t get them on the phone if my life depended on it.”

It seems counter-intuitive. Authors deal in words. Pinterest is mostly about pictures. How could writers ever leverage the site to sell books?

Rosman and her BEA panel, which included Kathleen Schmidt, president of a New Jersey PR firm that specializes in books and authors, and Rebecca Joines Schinsky, who writes, “The Book Lady’s Blog, say authors should use Pinterest to “create community and further their brand.”

How? One obvious way is to learn from those who are doing it right.

For example:

  • Chronicle books also got a shout-out. Here’s one for the Harry Potter series.

For those who’ve missed the Pinterest craze, think newspapers and magazines, scissors, pushpins and a corkboard. Now subtract the scissors and pushpins, and place the word “digital” in front of “corkboard.” It’s that simple.

Begin by joining the site (requires an invitation, but everyone gets one upon request), and then pick a theme and start a board. Browse the Internet, find pictures, quotes, videos and more that fit the theme, and begin “pinning.” Many have multiple boards, and as mentioned, most users are women.

“It is female,” says Schinsky. “That doesn’t mean it’s not powerful.”

The hottest category is weddings, but recipes and favorite books are also in the mix. Some use Pinterest as a search engine, reasoning that others have already done the work of selecting the best of innumerable categories.

Search “gifts for my wife,” for instance, and you’ll find these boards.

Authors are using the site to organize their drafts, market their books with boards about plot and characters, and to learn what other industries are doing to make their products surprising and appealing.

Best practices include:

  • Crediting your sources;
  • Mixing up your content;
  • Writing likeable content (don’t be sour);
  • Keeping descriptions short (no more than 200 words);

Says Rosman, “This is a rich area for book lovers.”

And a potential gold mine for authors.

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