5 Pinterest Tips for Writers

I wrote a post not long ago about using Pinterest and how it can help you as a writer to organize ideas and research. If you’re not familiar with Pinterest, then this post is a good introduction to the picture pinboard concept of Pinterest.

If you already use Pinterest (or are interested in getting started), here are 5 quick tips about how you can use this site to boost your writing or market your books.

Pin pictures from your blog or website

This is probably the most important one for increasing your online exposure and boosting traffic to your website. If you have pictures on your website and blog posts, then when people find those images on Pinterest, there will be the automatic link back to your website. Have you ever found a cool new website because you followed a link on a pin? Well, others can find your website the same way!

Use secret boards for research and ideas 

This is from my secret board for a 1930s historical fiction story I'm working on. This is all you will see of this board till much later!

This is from my secret board for a 1930s historical fiction story I’m working on. This is all you will see of this board till much later!

Do you have a place where you collect images and links for inspiration? Pinterest offers something called “secret boards” that only you can see, so you can now create boards for research or WIPs (works in progress) without making everything public. When the time is right, you can make the secret board public if you want, or transfer some of the pins to a public board.

 

 

Have a board (or several) for your books or other writings

If you’ve published a book (or even articles on other website or blogs) you can pin these. Pin your book cover from Amazon – then the link will take users right to your book. If you’re working on a project that you do want to share with the world, then a Pinterest board of your research and inspiration will help you gain followers and fans even before the book is out.

Have a board (or several) for stuff besides your writing 

I love music. Music often finds its way into my writing, but I have a general music-ish board that's not specifically related to my story ideas.

I love music. Music often finds its way into my writing, but I have a general music-ish board that’s not specifically related to my story ideas.

Your fans want to get to know you as a person. They may love the gritty thrillers that you write (and they follow all of your related pinboards), but they’d probably also like to know that you love dogs and that you enjoy hiking.

There’s nothing wrong with having non-writing boards, as long as it’s part of the public image that you want to share.

Make sure your profile is up-to-date

This goes for any social media. Make sure your profile picture on Pinterest matches your profile picture on your Facebook fan page and your picture on your website. On Pinterest, profiles are pretty bare-bones, but there is space for links to Facebook, Twitter, and a website. If you have any of those, make sure you link them to your Pinterest account – and then make sure that you keep all of those profiles clean and up-to-date. Nobody wants to track down their favorite author online only to discover that said author hasn’t tweeted in two years or hasn’t gotten around to listing their newest book on their website.

My Pinterest profile page. Simple but effective.

My Pinterest profile page. Simple but effective.

Do you use Pinterest for your writing? What’s your favorite thing about Pinterest?

5 Types of Books to Make You a Better Writer

Some time ago I wrote a guest post about five books that have helped me as a writer. In this post, I want to discuss five types of books (as opposed to specific titles) that I believe can help you become a better writer.

A craft of writing book

This is one category that I need to work on more. I’ve read a few books on the craft of writing, but it’s something that even the best authors can always get better at. If you want to get better at writing, then constantly writing is important – but a how-to writing book can help you strengthen your writing strengths, adjust your weaknesses, and point out mistakes you didn’t even realize you were making.

A people skills book

You know those self-help books about different personality types or how to get along with other people? Those are actually really useful. Even though most of us writers are introverts who would rather just not deal with people at all thank you very much, the truth is that we do have to deal with people. Family, co-workers, and your readers – all are made up of people. Learning how not to alienate your fans or get stressed during a conversation can really make for a nice life.

And secondly, if you write any type of fiction, then – you guessed it – you’re writing about people. Even in more plot-driven genre fiction like sci-fi or epic fantasy, there are characters. Understanding how people work – especially those people who are not like you – can really help you add depth and realism to your characters.

A follow-your-dreams book

Go back to the self-help or inspirational section of the book store and get one of those upbeat books about never giving up on your dreams. Having the determination and the know-how to press through the doubts and rejections and keep going is ultimately more valuable than knowing how to properly punctuate. Writing can be a lonely and difficult thing. Hopefully you have a support network of other writers (whether a local writer’s group or an online forum), but you need to be able to encourage yourself, too.

A well-written book in your favorite genre

If you want to write good science fiction, then you should be reading good science fiction. If you want to write a cozy mystery, then read some good cozy mysteries so you know how to structure the story. This is probably not a difficult task for most writers, because you’re already reading books in your favorite genre, because it’s your favorite.

An important key here is the “well written” part. Don’t just grab the latest free ebook by a first-time author. This doesn’t mean that the book is bad or poorly written, but if your goal is to craft a well-written book, then you need a good example of one. You don’t necessarily have to go for a New York Times bestseller, but take the time to check the reviews, view a sample page, and maybe check the author’s track record or publishing history.

A well-written book in a genre you don’t usually read or write

Even if you’re a fantasy writer, and all you ever intend to write is high fantasy, you should still read the occasional mystery or sci-fi book or contemporary literature. Why? Because you can learn from everything. Character development, foreshadowing, proper sentence structure, proper dialogue tags, pacing – all of these elements that go into making a good story are important no matter the genre. Reading outside of your favorite genre can make you notice elements of storytelling or writing style that you might not have otherwise picked up on because your mind is stretching in a different way. There are excellent writers in every genre, and you might be missing out on some valuable writing tips (or even missing out on discovering your new favorite author) if you never branch out.

And see the previous point about the importance of using a well-written book, not just any old freebie or your teen cousin’s fan fiction. If your goal is to learn, then check your sources.

Do you have any favorite books that fall into one of these categories? Do you have another type of book that has helped you to grow as a writer?

The Nitty-Gritty of Writing: Style Sheets and Consistency

Consistency counts for a lot, and can cover many writerly issues. This is not to say that if you’re a consistently bad speller, everything will be okay, because that’s not the case at all. And being a consistently bad storyteller will not put you on any best seller lists.

What I’m talking about here is perhaps better described as a “style sheet.” A style sheet is a set of notes for yourself – and perhaps for your editor, too – about how you are choosing to spell, punctuate, and capitalize certain things in your story.

Some examples:

Let’s say that you’re an American author, but you’re writing a book specifically for a European audience and you’re planning to submit to a British publisher. Because of this, you have made the personal decision to use British spellings: favour instead of favor, honour instead of honor, theatre instead of theater, etc. You’ll likely get a red underline in Word every time you type one of those words with an extra u, but for your purposes, it’s not a misspelling. Just make sure that you use those non-American spellings consistently throughout the entire work. Writing about the color of the honourable judge’s hair will just confuse everybody.

If you’re a fan of the Oxford comma (or serial comma), then make sure you use it in all instances that would warrant it. If you write “I ate beans, chicken, and corn bread,” then don’t neglect that second comma in a similarly-structured sentence later in the book. (Side note: I’m not advocating for or against the serial comma, or endorsing any particular style guide. Just pick your favorite and stick with it).

If you have a character named Sara at the beginning of the book, make sure that her name doesn’t change to Sarah halfway through. Or if the town is called Bellavista in the first chapter, it shouldn’t be Bella Vista in chapter two (unless the name change is part of the story).

Whether you’re adhering the rules of a specific style guide or not, a personal style sheet can be a good idea to keep yourself consistent. An alert reader will notice inconsistencies – whether they’re big plot holes, or just little misspellings. But either way, inconsistency makes you come across as a sloppy or uncaring author, and no one wants that. So do yourself a favor, and make sure your writing is consistent.