The Book Publicity Blog

News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

Facebook profile or fan page? Who should set it up — author? Publisher?

The other day I was discussing an author’s Facebook fan page with a colleague — we’d set up the page, but months after the book’s publication, we didn’t have time to maintain it.  So what to do?  Shut down the profile?  Post an “out of office” status message?  I’ve blogged about this before, suggesting that book publicists not maintain Facebook pages and profiles for authors.  And in fact, while we did establish the page, we made it clear that it was set up by the publishing house … except no one saw that.

This raises two issues (at least for those authors and publishers interested in promoting a book on Facebook, which often is a good idea — but not mandatory — for all titles):

1) Do you set up a profile (typically for people), or a fan page (for people or products)?

Profiles and fan pages allow you to connect with friends or fans in different ways.  (For example, if you friend request someone, they need to accept your request; on the other hand, anyone can become a fan of a book or author.)  But what it really comes down to is that there needs to be a real person, i.e., not a book publicist or marketing team, behind a profile — with more and more authors on Facebook these days, users automatically assume that any author profile or fan page is maintained by the author.  (If you as a book publicist or author are getting pressure to do otherwise, send the powers that be the link to this post.)

There’s a little more leeway for a book, i.e., product, fan page — for example, I assume the folks behind the Red Mango fan page to which I belong are on its marketing team, but that doesn’t make the suggested flavors / toppings any less yummy.

Some authors choose to set up both profiles for themselves as well as fan pages for their books, which is great as long as an author has the time to maintain both.  The advantage is that a user looking up either an author’s name or the book’s title will find something.

2) Who should set up and maintain the Facebook page or profile — author or publishing house?

Although I am advocating authors getting involved in their Facebook profiles / pages (if they are interested in social networking), there’s still plenty that the publisher can do.  A book publicist (or someone else at the publishing house) can help set up a profile / page by:

— providing content about the book (text, JPEGs)

— adding information about in-person and virtual author events

— helping to update the page / profile with links to coverage of the book or author

In addition to any of the above, an author should:

— maintain the page / profile by interacting with readers


Facebook, realizing the increasing popularity of its service, has published its own tips for creating pages and profiles.  Also, Buzzmarketing Daily offers good social media tips.  Do you use Facebook profiles?  Or fan pages?  If you’re a book publicist, how much do you and how much does the author do?


February 3, 2010 - Posted by | Social Networking |


  1. Thank you.. nice post Boss…

    Comment by GIGA | February 4, 2010 | Reply

  2. Good tips. What do you think about setting up a general Facebook fan page for the publishing house, so different authors can chime in? We’ve just done this, and if it works well I might recommend authors start their own pages.

    Comment by Pete | February 4, 2010 | Reply

    • Pete — a lot of publishing houses do maintain their own Facebook pages (and at the larger houses, individual imprints have Facebook pages as well). The key is making the time to update the page regularly with interesting and relevant content and interacting with the users who comment on the page.

      Comment by Yen | February 4, 2010 | Reply

      • Yes, agreed. I’ve found that blog posts can be syndicated to appear on your FB page though, so that helps. Then it’s just a matter of adding some occasional extra content and interacting with anyone who visits.

        Comment by Pete | February 5, 2010

  3. There isn’t really that much upkeep when it comes to having a page. You update it when you feel like it — that’s part of the appeal of Facebook. You can put in a lot of time or very little. That’s why it’s such a great tool!

    An “out of office” message? Nada. Your best bet might be to find someone who has used FB for a while because they enjoy it, not someone who just started using it to promote a product. (Probably someone in their mid-twenties.) They’ll be able to answer questions like that so you look like you’re using it organically 🙂

    Comment by Alexis Grant | February 4, 2010 | Reply

    • Alexis — Thanks for your comment, although this does remind me of what Debbie Stier from Harper Studio said at Digital Book World: you only get out of [social networking] what you put in. So if an author / publisher does want to use Facebook to promote a book (and as I mentioned in my post, this isn’t a mandatory component of all book publicity campaigns), one should engage with readers who come to the Facebook page, otherwise the page ends up being just for show.

      And let’s not forget that while many people in their mid-twenties are very savvy about Facebook and other social networks, there are many more people not in their twenties — including myself, my co-panelists at Digital Book World and many bloggers on my blogroll (and not on my blogroll) –who are equally knowledgeable about (and comfortable) with these applications!

      Comment by Yen | February 4, 2010 | Reply

  4. In my experience maintaining both a personal profile and a fan page for my graphic design business, there is one key limitation to FB fan pages that make them somewhat more difficult to maintain than a profile: As owner/admin of the fan page, you do not get notifications (neither emails nor pop-up notifications in the lower-right corner of the FB window) when someone posts a comment or replies to a post on your fan page. So, to keep a high level of engagement with your fans, you have to visit the page daily and scroll through all your posts to see if there are any new comments. Not that this is hard work, per se, but it’s an extra step to keep in mind.

    One feature I do really appreciate about FB fan pages is the ability to push your status updates (posted from your fan page) to your Twitter account. The Twitter post then has a link back to your FB fan page, which is handy if you prefer to use FB as your home base for fan interaction but still want a Twitter presence.

    Comment by MANvsGEORGE | February 4, 2010 | Reply

  5. I have a question for you. I am a new author with a debut YA novel coming out in May. I maintain a regularly updated website blog. I HATE Facebook with a passion usually reserved for slimy vegetables. I have a profile under my name (and a couple hundred friends) and a fan page for my book. Do you think it’s better to have this and have it say on my page to visit my website for everything new, or not have it at all. I just can’t take on one more thing, especially something I detest so much. I know other people LOVE it, but I am so overwhelmed by the site my head feels like it might explode two seconds after signing in.

    Comment by Joelle | February 4, 2010 | Reply

    • Joelle — the reality of it is that we all have limited amounts of time and therefore need to pick and choose what we do. So although I personally like and use Facebook, and although many authors use it successfully, I think what’s really most important is that authors do what they like (and what they have time for). It’s a bit like working out — running undoubtedly burns the most calories, but if you’re injured and can’t run or if you just hate running, you’re better off finding another way to burn calories rather than (perhaps unsuccessfully) forcing yourself to run just because you’re told it’s good for you.

      I think *the* most important component of an online campaign is to have *a* web presence — whether that is Facebook, Twitter, a website or a blog — so that something comes up when people Google you. In other words, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using Facebook to direct people to your blog. (Include the link, of course, so people can click right through.)

      Remember when Stephanie Meyer shut down her MySpace page? It happens! (She did direct people to her website though, so she’s still interacting with readers online.)

      Comment by Yen | February 4, 2010 | Reply

      • Thanks! That’s not only great news, but reassuring too.

        Comment by Joelle | February 4, 2010

    • Joelle,

      You can set up your Facebook (and Twitter) accounts so that your blog posts will automatically be posted. This makes it much easier to keep your social networking sites updated and current.

      Comment by Lynn Jordan | September 25, 2010 | Reply

  6. I found a link to this blog on FB and will be adding a link to my blog roll. I haven’t tried twitter yet, but may sign up!

    Comment by Tara | February 4, 2010 | Reply

  7. […] Yen at the Book Publicity Blog weighs the pros and cons of Facebook profile pages vs. fan pages. […]

    Pingback by Friday’s Links: Ancient Books, Future Fears and Talking Cats. « Booklife | February 5, 2010 | Reply

  8. While maintaining a Twitter account, blog, and personal Facebook page are well within the norm of 21st century book publicity, the idea of setting up my own fan page on Facebook seems entirely immodest.

    And when I get an invite reading “[Person X] wants you to join [Person X’s] fan page,” I cringe. It’s like giving yourself a flattering nickname… only worse.

    Comment by Bart King | February 5, 2010 | Reply

  9. Definitely believe it should be the author. My book fan page contains links to new material I’ve written, updates on the book, little chats with readers. The technology is there to make it seamless for authors to connect with readers — putting the publisher or an agent in the middle? Why would a reader want find that interesting??

    Comment by Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos | February 6, 2010 | Reply

  10. I agree Pamela. Authors do/should do, what they can to hold on to as much creative control possible, why would you give a top-tier promotional tool like your Facebook fan page to someone else to manage, only for them to do a half average job because they’re too busy themselves. Having promotional control and interacting with your readers has never been easier!

    Comment by Anthony Puttee | February 7, 2010 | Reply

  11. […] Facebook profile or fan page? Who should set it up – author? Publisher? ( […]

    Pingback by If I Were An Author I Would… | Nettie Hartsock | February 7, 2010 | Reply

  12. Why Facebook Fan Page?

    In the Era of Social Media where facebook and twitter took place of every marketing mechanism over the internet, People are now spending more time over these social media platforms and your pressense on these social platforms will give you some major benifits like:

    Promote your business/product amongst 10+ million users base

    Connect directly with your fans

    Drive Traffic and profitability

    Impress your clients/customers with videos, photos, links and more.

    View Sample =

    Comment by Fanpage | March 5, 2010 | Reply

  13. I think one of the things we are seeing now in social media marketing is sites like Facebook realizing the value that a fan page can have and adding in the necessary bells and whistles to support it. A year ago I would have said it would still make more sense to focus on having a FB profile. Now a fan page has been merged into being every bit as useful as a profile.

    Great topic!

    Comment by michaelsean | September 9, 2010 | Reply

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