Browsed by
Category: Social Media

Using Pinterest Secret Boards for Promotional Purposes

Using Pinterest Secret Boards for Promotional Purposes

Everybody I know is pinning things like made to their Pinterest boards. Every day I see friends and acquaintances sharing links via Twitter and Facebook of recent “acquisitions” like new recipes, clothing, and nifty gadgets for a birthday or holiday wishlist. My own Pinterest board has grown by leaps and bounds as I use it for a variety of purposes – promotion of my work, collecting recipes for future dinners, and even creating a Christmas list for family. Recently, Pinterest rolled out the ability to create secret boards. If you’re an avid pinner this could be something useful on many levels.

So now when you log into Pinterest and go to your boards, you should see when you’ve scrolled to the bottom of the screen a shaded section for secret boards. Right now, users can create up to three boards of pins that will not be seen by other users when they view your Pinterest page. If you wish, later on, to make these boards public you can adjust the settings to do so, but note that once a board is no longer secret you can’t change it back. Also, your existing boards are not able to be set to secret.

If you want other people to see the board, right now the only way to make that happen is to invite collaborators to pin on the board with you. While you can add people to collaborate, only you have the power to make the board visible if you choose, and to approve new collaborators. These collaborators can like and repin selections from this secret board elsewhere on Pinterest, but as long as the board is secret those pins will not show the origins to others.

Secret Pinterest boards can be useful if you are planning a private function and you are gathering information to help you with the project, or if you’re working on a themed board and do not want to present it until you think it’s complete. You might wonder, however, what good is a secret board if nobody can see your content, but there are advantages.

Let’s say you want to create exclusive content that’s only visible to select people. These could be VIP subscribers, contest winners, or others in a unique group. Blogs and other sites have the functionality to create password protected pages for exclusive access, so in that sense it could work here on Pinterest. You create a secret board, invite other select Pinterest users to collaborate, and you have created a small community within this social site. In turn, these contributors could help you by repinning certain things from this board and hopefully nurturing the viral quality of your work.

Social media will forever change as the public demands more flexibility. Secret boards could be the beginning of some great stuff for Pinterest, but for now this functionality is worth looking into for marketing ideas.

Kathryn Lively is a social media specialist assisting clients with social media writing and Facebook marketing. Clients include Virginia Beach rug stores, Fairfax personal injury lawyers, Virginia health care services, Norfolk real estate agents, global trade portals, and Gainesville bed and breakfast inns.

Using New Social Tools to Help With Book Promotion

Using New Social Tools to Help With Book Promotion

Every day when I check my current social feeds, I notice an author friend has joined the next new thing. I couldn’t tell you how often a brand new social platform with a funny name picks up interest, but I don’t doubt that with each launch there’s an author trying to figure out how to use it for book promotion. As an author, I like to think outside the box where selling books is concerned, though I recognize the importance of reading terms of service policies to make sure I don’t step on any toes. Nonetheless, if you’re still trying to wrap your head around Twitter and become overwhelmed by new gadgets and sites, don’t worry. They’re here to help with word of mouth, and some are quite simple to use.

Let’s take a look at some up and comers in the social realm. Some may prove more useful than others in terms of self-promotion, and if you can find something creative to do with these sites go for it.


Everybody I know is “pinning” things to virtual boards. I see notifications pushed through Twitter that somebody has found some kicky new boots, while other friends have set up entire sections of their account to categorize recipes and home decor ideas. I one saw a joke that Pinterest is typically used for the wedding you wish you’d planned years ago, but as I’ve come to know the social site I realize one can use it to draw attention to books.

While the site’s TOS has changed recently and may again to reflect rules of blatant promotion, you can use Pinterest in a number of ways:

  • Create a board for each book you have written, and “pin” items associated with the story or things that inspired you while writing. If you’ve written a romance set in Paris, pin images of landmarks that featured in the story. If your book is an account of history, find items relevant to the topic. You can see one I’ve started for my Lerxst Johnston mystery series.
  • Create a “dream cast” board. It’s not unusual for readers to imagine certain actors in the role of a book character. You can have a little fun with a board featuring images of people you’d cast in the movie version of your book.
  • Connect with other authors to create a group board on a specific genre. By pinning books by various authors, you can create a library of recommended reads to share with readers. This board is dedicated to books readers may wish to check out after reading Fifty Shades of Grey.


Instagram is fast turning amateur photographers into enthusiasts. It’s interesting, too, to see retro-style renderings of photos taken by friends, and with the network’s recent acquisition by Facebook one has to wonder where it will go. Also, the marketer in me wonders how one can use Instagram for promotion. Naturally, you’d use it as you would a regular camera, and post appropriate pictures to your account.

  • People holding/reading your book.
  • Booksigning events as you meet readers.
  • Visiting landmarks that feature in your stories.
  • Unique author portraits to feature on sites and other social media.

It’s important, too, that as you join new social networks that you use them socially. Don’t be content to simply post information and hope it sticks. See what others are doing with their accounts – like and comment where appropriate. The more active you more, the more likely somebody will notice you, and your books.

Kathryn Lively is a mystery novelist and freelance writer specializing in articles on social media writing and Virginia web design. Clients include Fairfax personal injury lawyers, book publishers, Virginia health care services, Norfolk real estate agents, global trade portals, and Gainesville bed and breakfast inns.

Guest Post: Toby Neal

Guest Post: Toby Neal

Please welcome guest author Toby Neal to the blog! Her book, Building an Author Platform that can Launch Anything: a Social Media Minibook, is free from for a limited time.

One Woman’s Potholed Journey to Bestseller

I started blogging about 7 years ago on Livejournal under a pen name. I’d always written, but this was a fun online diary and observations. Acerbic, touching and otherwise, the blog was about my counseling work in a high school, my kids and their friends and a host of minor and supporting characters such as Ms McBride of the colorful outfits and Dragon Lady, the principal. In the comfort and anonymity of my guise I even wrote about my therapy work.

This was where Blood Orchids was born—a short story that took on life, inspired by the actual tragic drowning of two young girls. I added chapters and followers and it became a novel.

I discovered Brigit’s Flame, an online writing community on Livejournal hosted by the gracious, talented and supportive LaCombe. Through their American Idol style weekly writing/voting contests, I honed my skills in writing to a prompt and responding to reader feedback. A talented writer friend I “met” on Livejournal referred me to Authonomy, an interactive novel site that competes for a review by HarperCollins UK.

I launched Orchids on Authonomy and discovered the sheer awesomeness of having my budding book read! What heady stuff! With a virtual cover, my posted chapters looked like a real book and I began to not only believe I could finish my novel but I could get published. In a flurry of creative writing energy I finished Orchids and cranked out Torch Ginger.

The first novel had taken 18 months to write, the second took 6 months (first draft). I realized I had the necessary obsessiveness, drive, and sheer egotism to be a novelist as I drove my family crazy with daily updates and revelations—not to mention interest in firearms, dismemberment and police procedure. This was also fueled by the dread Empty Nest – my youngest child was leaving for college. Writing about Glocks, takedowns and romance filled the huge void she left.

I developed a network of friends all over the world whose work I’d reviewed and who’d read mine on Authonomy. It was a heady, addicting time as I worked Orchids higher and higher in the rankings, eventually plateauing at 25. So after a year, and making a ton of useful connections (including my first editor, the talented Cheri LaSota) I pulled my books off Authonomy and switched to Facebook to keep up with my author and other online friends. By then I Cheri and I had overhauled Orchids to the point I was ready to query, and all the feedback, good bad indifferent and ugly, had prepared me for the gauntlet of querying agents.

I went about it systematically, using AgentQuery to research, a spreadsheet to track, and a daily goal of five query submissions. After 173 queries and 5 months, I had 6 requests for partials and 6 requests for the full MS. I rode the rollercoaster of emotion from hope to despair as the rejections came along. God, they suck and folks, it never gets easier—though you tell yourself it does.

Finally one day, a brief note after reading the full MS: “Please call me to discuss” from Irene Webb of Irene Webb Literary.

Then the rollercoaster began in earnest as this coveted agent said she liked the concept and the characters but the novel needed a rewrite.

She had suggestions. A lot of them.

I took copious notes and cranked out the rewrite in a month. I am nothing if not focused when I have a goal. I sent if off, high on hubris.

She didn’t like it. I hadn’t fixed whatever it was, and I now I was unable to see what was wrong and getting panicky. Fortunately, she didn’t drop me, but referred me to a new editor with extensive background in the mystery/suspense genre, Kristen Weber.

Kristen reviewed the MS and sent me a huge report with overall suggestions, articles to read, and line-by-line corrections. Whew, this girl knew the genre, the market, and what was wrong. I fell in love that day, with an editor half my age and both of us already married. (Joke! This would freak her out)

I buckled down and did a “scene map” — a scene-by scene outline of the MS, a tool that helps an author see redundancies and sags. While doing it I spotted problems, added in Kristen’s feedback, and saw elements to cut, combine, slice and dice. I read my articles, wrote extensive bios on all the main characters, and plunged back in to my tired and overworked manuscript: suddenly seeing it in a new way.

Irene and I sent Blood Orchids out “on sub”—until we both got discouraged and she left the agenting business. (These are tough times for agents too!)

At that point I was left to a) find another agent b) self mutilate/self medicate c) self publish.

I chose to self publish. And Blood Orchids has become a hit. Through all these setbacks, social media, relationship building and connectedness have been a unifying thread and the way my writing improved and evolved. So I wrote a minibook about it, How to Build an Author Platform that can Launch Anything. (Which is FREE this weekend, April 7, 8, and 9!)

There you have it—for this author, the lurching, potholed journey along the road to publication wouldn’t have been possible without the tools of blogging and social networking. The spur of being read and encouraged has increased my output like nothing else could, and doing that for others is a golden loop of connecting possibility.

Aw. Now I’ve gone and waxed poetical. What has your journey been like?


Toby Neal was raised on Kauai in Hawaii and makes the Islands home after living elsewhere for “stretches of exile” to pursue education. Toby enjoys outdoor activities including bodyboarding, scuba diving, photography and hiking as well as writing. A mental health therapist, she credits that career with adding depth to the characters in the Lei Crime Series.

Book Description: Blood Orchids

Hawaii is palm trees, black sand and blue water—but for policewoman Lei Texeira, there’s a dark side to paradise.

Lei has overcome a scarred past to make a life for herself as a cop in the sleepy Big Island town of Hilo. On a routine patrol she finds two murdered teenagers—one of whom she’d recently busted. With its echoes of her own past, the murdered girl’s harsh life and tragic death affect Lei deeply. She becomes obsessed—even as the killer is drawn to Lei’s intensity, feeding off her vulnerabilities and toying with her sanity.

Despite her obsession with the case and fear that she’s being stalked, Lei finds herself falling in love for the first time. Steaming volcanoes, black sand beaches and shrouded fern forests are the backdrop to Lei’s quest for answers—and the stalker is closer than she can imagine, as threads of the past tangle in her future. Lei is determined to find the killer—but he knows where to find her first.

One of over 51 five star reviews on Amazon:

Hawaiian Background for a Fast Paced Mystery

“In this fast-paced mystery set in Hawaii, we follow police officer Lei Texeira as she and her partner stumble upon a grisly find–two murdered teenagers. Lei knew one of the girls and is determined to find her killer though her help is not wanted by the lead detective on the case, Stevens.

As the multi-layered story unfolds, Lei’s past history becomes apparent, casing a psychological shadow which colors everything she does from dealing with a disturbing stalker to the unwanted attention of a neighbor. More murder victims turn up, and Lei becomes the target of a serial killer.

Blood Orchids is one of those books that once you start you won’t be able to put it down. Author Toby Neal, a native of Hawaii, adds plenty of island atmosphere to this fast moving tale of murder and suspense and a healthy sprinkling of romance.”
-Marilyn Meredith


Available on Amazon as ebook and print:

Available on Barnes and Noble, print only:

Toby Neal’s Blog:

Building an Author Platform that can Launch Anything: a Social Media Minibook

Effective steps to building an author platform that can take advantage of free programs and launch any book into visibility and better sales.

Self published or not, today’s authors have to develop their own “platform” for reaching book buyers. This power-packed 20 pagebooklet contains tips based on author Toby Neal’s sales and psychology background and experience with her bestselling crime novel, Blood Orchids. These secrets maximize social media to build an author platform that can bring fast, wide-ranging visibility and increased sales to any book.