Pinterest Ads for Authors. How to Build Your Email List and Sell More Books using Paid Ads on Pinterest

pinterest ads for authors

Why Pinterest?

Pinterest, the visual search engine service that allows people to save images to virtual pinboards, has slowly emerged as a powerful internet platform that authors can use to to build an author brand, attract new email list subscribers and sell books.

In September, Pinterest co-founder and CEO Evan Sharp shared that the network has now reached over 250 million monthly users, a growth of 50 million users compared to the numbers from 2017.

Pew Research Center also conducted a study and found that Pinterest is now the third most popular social media among adults in the United States, with a 29% market share.

In fact, research shows that Pinterest beats Instagram at influencing purchasing decisions with US users.

Small businesses around the world are using Pinterest to grow their businesses – including many authors.

But why do they use Pinterest instead of other social media platforms?

The answer is simple.

Pinterest is not only a social media channel. It is a visual search engine.

When someone goes onto Pinterest they are actively searching for specific information about a topic or problem or to be inspired with new ideas. Pinterest will provide search results in the form of images – pins attached to virtual pin boards, products and personal profiles which are directly linked back to the URL of the original source.

One click takes the Pinterest user directly to your content.

And it’s free organic traffic.

So why pay to advertise your books and offers on Pinterest?


Building an author platform and an audience of followers on Pinterest takes time. This is very much a long game opportunity for anyone seeking to build a real foundation.

Pinterest – just like any other social media advertising system – will actively share your promoted pins with the ideal audience that you create for your ad and make it look organic – and it works fast!

There are 6 things you need to do to get started with Pinterest ads.

Step One. Create Your Author Business Profile.

To use Pinterest ads, you’ll need to have a Pinterest business profile.

To do this, you have two options. You can either:

  • Sign up for a new profile, or
  • Convert your existing personal Pinterest profile into a business account.

Whichever you choose, Pinterest will automatically create an ad account associated with your business profile.

Step Two.  Start Creating Boards and Pins to Build an Audience

It is always easier to send ads to people who already know that you exist, rather than complete strangers.

This is especially true when you have created a pin which has already attracted a lot of views, saves and re-pins from the Pinterest audience.

When someone clicks on your ad they are also likely to look at your author profile and Pinterest boards.

It does not take much time to create several foundation Pinterest boards on topics linked to your work with a few pins on each board.

Step Three.  Decide on Precisely What You Want to Achieve with Your Ad

Every Pinterest Ad Campaign starts with a Clearly defined Objective.

  • What do you want this advertisement to achieve?
  • What exactly are you paying Pinterest to do for you?

The objective you select will determine bidding rates and the ad formats available to you, so it is essential to be very clear about the specific results you are looking for when you create the ad.

Pinterest currently offers four types of ad at the campaign level

Campaign types on Pinterest

Traffic Campaigns

The objective is to drive traffic to a particular page URL, as measured by % Click Through rate.

This is the ideal option for authors writing in any genre and niche.

Most of my ads are intended to drive traffic from Pinterest back to:

*a landing page where I offer my ideal readers a free gift, also known as a reader magnet or lead magnet, that I know they would love when they subscribe to my mailing list.

* A popular blog post on my website where I have a content upgrade which the reader can receive when they join my mailing list.

* A book sales page. This could be a link directly to an online book store, or the book page on my website. These types of ad are particularly useful around a book launch promotion and many authors offer discounts on the first books in a long-running series.

Build Awareness Campaigns

The objective is to build brand awareness, as measured by % Engagement rate.

If you are working hard to build an author platform and want to share your work and your author brand with as many viewers as possible, you can create pins which could link back, for example, to your website, Amazon author page, blog posts, guest posts and articles, marketing materials, research, books reviews… anything which builds awareness of who you are and what you are writing.

Purchasing a brand awareness ad is building up long term traffic of followers, and could take several weeks to gain traction, so the return on investment will clearly take longer than a direct traffic ad.

Video Awareness Campaigns

The objective is to drive impressions for your video, as measured by % Engagement rate.

Everyone processes visual images differently and it could be that a video is the ideal format for you to express your author brand and promote your work. If you are accustomed to using video and you already have a YouTube channel, for example, Video Pinterest ads can be very effective at sharing your work with the ideal audience.

Promoted App Pin Campaigns.

The objective is to drive installs for your app as measured by % Click Through rate. Perfect if you are a tech writer who create apps as part of your work. This feature is only available for IOS devices I believe, where you can persuade people to download and use your app.

Step Four. Target Your Ad to Your Ideal Reader

To reach the perfect reader for your work, you need to have the right targeting.

The goal of any targeting initiative is to focus on that specific niche or section of the Pinterest audience who will be most interested in your work.  With over 250 million monthly visitors, you have a huge potential audience on Pinterest covering every possible niche and interest group.

One of the advantages of Pinterest is that you can really narrow down on who you want to share your ad with.

pinterest targeting


This will depend completely on what you are writing and who your target reader is. For example, if you specialise in chick-lit romance fiction, where your ideal reader is predominantly female, you would be wasting your money sharing your ad with male readers.


Pinterest Ads are only available in Specific Countries

At the time of writing Pinterest ads are only available in six countries: Australia, Canada, France [new addition], Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Your ads will only be show to residents of those countries. There is no doubt that Pinterest ads will expand to more markets but be aware of the current limitations.

Some books are very local to a specific county or area. Most fiction authors don’t have that problem and I would recommend selecting all six English-speaking countries, excluding France where the return on investment would be low.

I always set the language to English and tell Pinterest to run my ads on all devices.

Audience interests

Interest targeting lets you reach Pinners based on boards that they’ve created, pins they’ve engaged with and other things that they care about.

If you’re brand new to Pinterest, visit the Pinterest Insights page to discover the different groups of people who are already on Pinterest and learn how to reach them.

There are several thousand interest topics available, so to make it easier you can search all the interest categories to find the best match for keywords and phrases which precisely define what kind of book or offer you want to promote.

Keyword Targeting

Now we move on to the most important and exciting aspect of Pinterest Ads – the ability to use the power of the Pinterest search engine to find your ideal readers.

Now you can harness that power to create another layer of targeting for your ad with specific keywords and keywords phrases.

Pinterest makes this easy by offering you a complete search function – and giving you the monthly search data numbers for each search term, so that you can use the most popular keywords in your ad.

pinterest keywords

Find out more about keyword targeting on Pinterest.

Step Five. Set a Launch Date and a Budget

 Ad Group Dates

You decide when you want the ad to begin and end.

How long should you run a Pinterest Ad for?

Pinterest Ads do take several days to build up traction, so you need some patience and allow the ad to run for at least 5 days if not longer before making changes. You also have the option to run the ad continuously which is great for awareness campaigns.

Ad Group Budget

This can be the daily or the lifetime budget for this ad group.

At this point Pinterest will suggest a maximum cost for a strong bid for your ad. This will be based on the keywords, interests, locations, languages, devices and genders that you’ve specified. This number is based on what other advertisers are bidding in order to reach similar people

Because the example is taken from a Traffic ad, the cost quoted will be the maximum you will expect to pay for a Click on your Ad through to your website or other URL. The Cost-Per-Click.

It is only a suggestion – and it is the maximum you can expect to spend.  In reality, you will probably pay a lot less than the maximum.

Think about the objective of your ad. If you are driving traffic to a sales page for a book that it is on sale for $2.99, then the profit from that book sale must be balanced against the cost of the ad. Yes, you will probably have a link inside your book inviting the reader to join your email list, but that is a longer-term benefit.

Be realistic. You can bid a lot less.

 Step Six. Select the Pins for your ad

The pin you want to promote must be already created and pinned to one of your public Pinterest boards.

Check that the pin is linked to the correct URL of a page on your website or a landing page where subscribers can join your mailing list and all the details are correct.

Then press Launch! Pinterest will do the rest!

Advanced Audience Targeting

Once you have been through the Pinterest Ads process a few times, you can scale your ads by using the advanced tools that Pinterest provides, such as audience targeting inside the Ads Manager for your Ad Groups.

Audience targeting includes options like act-alike targeting, customer list targeting, engagement targeting and more.

To take advantage of these custom audiences you will need to be able to share your ad with a target list of at least 100 engaged Pinterest users.

So, best start work on building that Pinterest platform!


UPDATE 25th April 2019- Pinterest Ads are now available to all businesses in Germany, Austria, Spain and Italy!



ads for authors

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pinterest for authors

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