Image: My Pinterest board image for Saint Maggie. And, yes, that is Jack Black, flanked by Erica Fae and Susan Sarandon. I could write a completely different story with the photos in that board collage!
The other day, my friend, Stephanie Moore Hopkins, who also is my part-time social media advisor, suggested that I might consider doing something about my books on Pinterest.
My first response was to grimace and think, “Really? I don’t get Pinterest. What’s the point?” But I said to her, “Okay, I’ll check it out.”
Frankly, I don’t “get” a lot about social media. For instance, I really don’t understand Twitter. We’re writing somewhere around 280 characters maximum, and that is supposed to be a form of meaningful communication? People, I went to graduate school and routinely wrote 20-page papers. A woman with a Ph.D. (which is short for “Piled Higher and Deeper”), just cannot communicate in only 280 characters. I have to write a thesis. It's in my blood.
I’ve been on Twitter for some time now and am still doubtful about that meaningful communication thing. On the other hand, I have fun looking at other authors’ tweets and happily retweeting them. My favorite person there is a woman who posts old medieval art work and tells amusing (and totally inaccurate) stories about what the people in the picture are doing. Plus, one of the characters is always named Bob. You can't beat that. Some of her stuff makes me laugh out loud. Her name is Annie Whitehead and she is a writer and historian. Please check her out @ALWhitehead63 on Twitter.
Back to Pinterest. I was thinking, “How can I do this? I’m not even sure why Pinterest exists.” But I went back to my account anyway and looked at my boards - and was stunned at how many photos I had put up already. Had I been doing this in my sleep? No. I remember putting the material on my boards, so my mind isn't slipping yet. And I must know something about Pinterest after all. The real irony is that today I actually had to explain Pinterest to a friend. I ended up saying, “It’s like a collection of online scrapbooks where you keep stuff you’re interested in. The only difference is other people can come in and copy your stuff to their boards.” I might be right about that. You never know.
The most fascinating board on my site was for Seeing the Elephant. It has a ton of photos of old insane asylums, which makes it wonderfully macabre. On the lighter side, I had pinned a photo of 1860s slippers Maggie might have worn to a ball (yes, she actually gets to attend a ball in the novel), as well as a photo of “winder stairs,” which are found in many old New Jersey homes.
Returning to Pinterest helped me realize that at one point I had been using my boards to tell a visual story of the characters and the plots of the books. This seems like a good thing for me to continue doing. People are more visual these days. Why not have a little fun with this form of communication? Because, frankly, it seems much more fun than writing copy about my books.
So now I’m on a mission to put up boards for The Great Central Fair and The Enlistment, as well as short stories, The Christmas Eve Visitor and The Dundee Cake. I also will need to start one for The Good Community, although at the moment, I’m not sure it will have more than photos of schoolhouses and school books on it. However, the secondary stories in the novel probably will yield other ideas. My characters will see to that.
If you’re out and about in the world of social media, I invite to visit my little spot on Pinterest. It's https://www.pinterest.com/jrstaff/. There you will find boards for my novels and see badly-neglected boards called “Books I Love” and “Places I Love Board.” And, because I do work in a church, there is a board labeled “Church Ideas,” because frankly people working in worship and faith formation never can have enough ideas. I mean it. We never can have enough ideas.
I was surprised to find Stephanie Hopkins’ LAP It Marketing board there, though. Since I didn’t put it up (unless it's one of those "in your sleep" things), I’m presuming there must be a way to connect one of your boards to someone’s Pinterest wall.
When all is said and done, I think most authors really would rather avoid social media and just stick to writing. After all, most of us are introverts. We prefer our “invisible friends” to the rough and tumble "social" world of Twitter and the like. But since having a presence on social media is one of those things we need to do these days, we must join the crowd. Unfortunately, being on social media for marketing reasons is completely different than being on Facebook or Instagram for fun. Oh, sure, sometimes doing the marketing is fun, but most of the time it feels like this: “Oh, great… [huge sigh] I need to post something on [insert name of appropriate social medium here] again.”
So be gentle with authors on social media, dear readers. Have pity on us and forgive us, for I suspect far too many of us know not what we do.
See you Friday!