PhotobucketIt seems like as soon as we tackle one hot “it” tool and capture ways to use it for publicity (first Facebook, then Twitter), something new and even cooler comes along and grabs everyone’s attention. Right now that “it” tool is Pinterest and I’ll admit – I’m hooked.

If you’re not familiar, Pinterest is like an online scrapbook or a place to create an online inspiration board. Basically, you find images and videos you like and “pin” them to your online boards. Others can see your boards, see what’s inspiring you and be inspired too.

For instance, I used Pinterest to help create a story board for a client photo shoot I recently did – we found some amazing images of the look and style we were trying to achieve in the photo shoot and shared the board with our models and photographers. It was a great way for all of us to see the vision and get inspired for the photo shoot.

I’ve seen others use Pinterest for dinner ideas (a “must make” board), for gift ideas, for room makeover ideas and even one recently called “books worth reading”, where the creator had pinned up book covers of books she recently read and loved. This inspired me and starting feeding my creativity as a book publicist – as I’m always trying to find new and exciting ways to help authors promote their books online. I thought, how can I counsel my clients to add Pinterest to their social media strategy in smart and creative ways? Would it work?

After doing some research and talking with some Pinterest fanatics as well as book lovers, here are a few ways authors can engage potential new readers on Pinterest and help spread awareness and interest in their books.

#1 Add the “Pin it” widget to your site
Just like you have the social network widgets for Facebook and Twitter on your website and blog, you can add the Pin It widget. This allows readers and visitors to automatically share something they like on your site with their networks, including your book cover. As book lovers, book bloggers and avid readers flock to Pinterest and join the bandwagon, you’ll see more of these “Books I Want to Read” or “My Favorite Books” type boards. Make it easy for book lovers to add your book to their boards.

#2 Hold a contest
Facebook contests have sort of worn their welcome when it comes to books. What used to be a really cool way to connect with readers and give them a chance to win books and prizes is now common place and these contests are a dime a dozen – what started out as “win one book”, quickly became “win 30 books”, “win 90 books”, “win a year of books”, “win a brand new car and a year of books!”. Put a cool new spin on your giveaways by doing a “Pin It” contest. Encourage readers to visit your website or blog, pin photos of your book(s) to their personal boards, and share with their networks. Because Pinterest incorporates Facebook and Twitter, the sharing capability is automatic and the viral effect is large. Award the best book board or the person who uses Pinterest in the most creative way or shares their board the most, or have them create a cool book board with their favorites of all time. Have them incorporate your book into a board that explores the themes of the book.  The options are endless.

#3 Create an inspiration board
One cool way to engage readers and bring them into your process is to create an inspiration board for your book(s). I know many of the authors I work with create story boards as part of their writing process anyway. Pinterest allows you to share your storyboard online – what pictures, songs, other books, characters, videos, settings, photography, articles, history inspired your novel? Use Pinterest as a storyboard tool and bring your readers into the process. Create one board for the entire book or create separate boards for each aspect of the book – for instance, you could create a board solely on the setting with pictures of the town and places described within and then another board that focuses solely on your main character. Create your boards during your work in progress stage to entice readers and get them emotionally engaged in the story during the process or what until the book is final and release your board after the book is out to engage those who have read the book. Again, the options are endless but you create your boards and readers will share and become engaged in your process. Cool boards could even be used in the pitching process – “see what inspired XX author to write her breakthrough novel”.

I know I’m hooked on Pinterest – and I can’t wait to see what inspires you!

Photo courtesy Flickr’s stevendepolo

About Crystal Patriarche

Crystal Patriarche is founder of BookSparksPR, her full-service boutique PR agency that provides strategic public relations and book publicity support, social media, branding, marketing, and consulting to authors - from digital campaigns to traditional media. She’s also a journalist. Her articles and her clients have appeared in many national magazines, newspapers and websites. For more, visit <www.BookSparksPR.com. Follow BookSparksPR on Facebook and Twitter.