Pinterest and Self-Promotion

As I’ve commented on this blog before,writing a book is relatively easy compared to the Herculean task of actually marketing it. People need to know that something is available to buy,if one is to make a sale. One way of doing this is self-promotion – selling yourself.

There’s lots of different ways of doing this,and social media is the way to go,assuming that funds aren’t available for a costly advertising campaign. The notion that one can simply write a book,upload it without saying a thing about yourself,and it will sell like hotcakes is laughable. Remembering that most ebooks struggle to reach sales of 100 over a couple of years,is a great goad to get involved in all of this putting yourself about by schmoozing. But I warn you,it feels like pushing a length of string,as no discernible progress can be seen.

I’ve read advice that gaining a significant amount of followers for a blog can take a couple of years. The same thing is said of Pinterest,which I hadn’t previously considered as a venue for self-promotion. I’ve looked at it plenty of times,enjoying the wonderful images that people compile,but hadn’t really noticed anyone trying to sell themselves and their products. As one of the main selling-points of a book is its cover design,then it’s easy to appreciate that Pinterest is a great place to gain attention for one’s stories.

I’ve been trying all sorts of things to raise my profile,since finishing my novel ‘The Perfect Murderer’ last November. I don’t really feel like a creative writer anymore,as all I’ve produced in three months is four poems. Instead,I’ve been researching marketing,blogging,making postings on this blog and Face Book,as well as updating the already published books to mention these places to find me.

I started a business account with Pinterest,to promote myself as a brand. I’ve been adding to my Pinterest boards,though what good they’ll do I don’t know. I like sharing nice photographs and spreading knowledge,but it’s an astonishingly time-consuming process. I did a board on favourite art on Tuesday,and thought to add some biographical detail about the artist. This needed checking,so pinning 73 images took me nine hours !

Linking some of these to my existing books could be a bit tricky,but the thing is one links one page to another,then to my blog,to my Face Book page,to my Linked-In account,to my Twitter feed ( maybe ),to my Smashwords shelf,to my Amazon page,to the Good Reads book review site.

By which point Paul Whybrow has disappeared up his own arse !

Referencing myself via the Pinterest boards is easier for some of my chosen subjects than others. For instance,some of the book covers I designed for my stories used copyright free paintings,which I included on the ‘Art I Like’ board,along with my designs. The theory is,that anyone who likes my taste in pinned images,might click on the cover and onto the sales sites where they’re sold.

I’m considering doing a similar thing on Tumblr and Reddit,but that would mean repeating a lot of what I’ve already done,which runs the risk of boring people. Doing this is such a lengthy and involving task,that I now understand why people work as social media marketing consultants.

I am in danger of developing carpal tunnel syndrome,from the amount of clicking that I’ve done recently on Pinterest. I’ve put together nine boards so far :

      * Joy – Pins To Make You Smile  * Doom  * Animals As Friends * Rust Never Sleeps

     * Art I Like  * The Road Goes On Forever  * Look At That View  * Colours Of Nature

      * Wise Words

The latter board uses the common Internet trope of placing inspirational quotes on a suitable background image. I’m aiming to include lots of sayings to do with literary endeavours,to encourage other writers – and maybe even myself ! Here are some of my favourites : 

Anais Nin offering a toast

Anais Nin offering a toast





Why all writers are vain

There was an interesting article in The Guardian newspaper today by Julian Baggini,about how sensitive writers are to criticism.


( some great stories on writing beneath this article,and do read the comments section )

One of the first pieces of advice that I’d give to anyone considering writing a book,is to develop a hide as thick as a rhinoceros. Everyone thinks that they’ve got a book inside them,but nobody considers what will happen when the book is released into the wild ! 

Being an author is setting yourself up as a target for criticism and rejection. These brickbats will come from friends,family,readers,publishers,book-sellers and critics. That’s if they say anything at all,for being completely ignored is the usual fate of a freshly published book. This is why writers welcome adverse criticism,for at least it means that someone has noticed you.

14 reasons why you shouldn’t dream of being a full-time author

The British government’s YouGov poll on which are the most desirable jobs,prompted several articles in the newspapers from authors.

Chas Newkey-Burdon discusses the reality of being a writer in this article from The Daily Telegraph :

Chas Newkey-Burdon

In the last few months,since I’ve been chasing a traditional publishing deal,I’ve come across two rather startling,not to say depressing,statistics about the process of getting one’s work known.

It’s said that out of 1,000 submissions made to a literary agent or publisher,only one will be given any serious consideration.

Mirroring this figure,out of 1,000 downloads of an ebook on Amazon only one review will be made by a reader.

I keep saying it,but being a writer is tough !

You think writing’s a dream job ? It’s more like a horror film.

This article was in today’s Guardian. I recognize many of the thoughts of Tim Lott, who wrote it.

Tim  Lott

The comments at the bottom of the article are worth reading (expand them),particularly the one about the 60% of people who want to be writers,imagining that it’s all J K Rowling easy-peasy wealth and celebrity. It wasn’t for her,when she was trying to find a publisher for her first Harry Potter book,though fortunately that turned into a publishing juggernaut which will keep her for the rest of her days.

The John Dos Passos observation quoted made me snort in recognition at the truth of it : “Writers are like fleas, they get very little nourishment from one another”.

A Word A Day

One of the best sites to subscribe to,if you’re interested in words is

They have a service called A.Word.A.Day,which sends out a daily email containing just that.

The service comes from Anu Garg,who founded Wordsmith twenty-one years ago. Remarkably,his first language is not English,but his fascination with words led to him quitting the corporate world to spread his love of etymology.

Anu Garg

He has a quarter of a million subscribers in 170 countries. Each week he chooses words that fit a particular theme,such as English words derived from a foreign language or words with a military connection. Feedback is encouraged,and there’s an enjoyable discussion of the week’s words delivered to your in-box at the weekend.

Each daily word email also has a pithy quote at the bottom of the page,which is a bonus.

Edward Abbey

I grew up in a market town called Stevenage. It’s in the county of Hertfordshire,about 30miles north of London. The New Towns Act of 1946 designated several towns to become so-called ‘New Towns’,and Stevenage was one of them. These were to take the overflow of population from London,whose housing stock was dilapidated and which had been decimated by German bombing in the Blitz.

When I was born,in 1954,the population of Stevenage was about 7,000. Today it stands at 85,000. The old town is an ancient settlement,situated on a long straight Roman road known as The Great North Road. It has the widest high street in Hertfordshire,with a medieval row of shops called Middle Row.

I attended Alleyne’s Grammar School,one of the oldest in the country as it was founded in 1558. I walked the fields with my dog,feeling myself to be more of a country lad than a town dweller. I was a young naturalist,so seeing wide open spaces turned into housing estates broke my heart. A pasture that we called ‘Skylark Field’,where I once counted a dozen larks in the sky at one time,became a sterile development of 400 little boxy houses.

I knew that people needed somewhere to live,but I also felt,even at that young age,that there were way too many people. A distaste for the incomers saw them labelled as ‘New Towners’,with the older inhabitants clinging to their ‘Old Towner’ status. A modern pedestrianised shopping centre harmed the old-fashioned shops in the high street,with many closing and being taken over by fast-food chains.

Seeing all of this desecration coloured by attitude to modern housing and shopping developments. I left home as soon as I could,rarely returning. I last visited twenty years ago,and got lost – in my own home town !

I’d done some minor disruption of the stakes and lines laid out by a surveyor,for houses to be built on an old orchard which was my childhood refuge,so it was easy to take to the writing of Edward Abbey. His best known novel is ‘The Monkey Wrench Gang’,a title that comes from ‘throwing a spanner in the works’ – that is,deliberately sabotaging machinery being used to destroy wild places.

Edward Abbey

Cover of the first edition

His work spawned the term ‘monkeywrenching’,and his disparate gang of malcontents take on industrialists who are despoiling the landscape. Abbey worked as a park ranger for the United States National Park Service,and was passionate about protecting the environment. A prickly character,he riled many people,and was considered sufficient a threat to warrant the attention of the F.B.I.

The work that he did,along with his writing proved inspirational for those who tired of the wishy-washy,compromised campaigns of early environmental protection groups. He was deliberately outspoken in his views,mainly to keep people aware of the threat posed by those who would rape the land for profit.

Abbey’s early death at only 62 was probably a relief to some. Awkward to the end,he ensured that he was buried in the way that he wanted and where he chose. His friends put him in the ground of the Cabeza Pieta Desert in Arizona,so that he could rejoin the circle of life by becoming fertiliser for cactus.

He remained true to his beliefs,and I think that he would have got on well with some of the other outsider,rebellious writers that I’ve written postings about on this blog. It’s easy to imagine him sitting around a camp fire and sharing some beers with Charles Bukowski,Richard Brautigan,John Kennedy Toole and Tomi Ungerer.

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