The Book Publicity Blog

News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

Tips for using Facebook both personally and professionally

Last week, Facebook announced membership had hit 500 million users.  In other words, most everyone using the Internet is on Facebook (or at least it sure seems that way).

The tricky issue is that where Facebook was once primarily used to connect with family and friends (IRL — In Real Life — friends, that is), it has since become an online meeting spot for friends, strangers, businesses and more.  Many users wonder who to friend request?  And perhaps the more delicate question is whose friend request do you accept?  High school and college classmates?  Colleagues at work?  Professional acquaintances?  Your boss?  Readers of your book or blog?  Which leads to the question: can you use your Facebook profile both for personal and professional encounters?  You’d probably get different opinions from different people, but my answer is yes, and I do (largely because maintaining one profile takes enough time; managing two would be impossible).

While there’s nothing wrong with ignoring a friend request (I do when I have absolutely no clue who the requester is, when I can’t see their profile because it’s locked down and when there’s no personal message to me explaining who the heck they are), if I (remember) I’ve had contact with the person — either in real life or over email — I usually do accept the request so as not to seem rude.  And on the upside, becoming friends on Facebook can lead to genuine friendships or at least professional relationships.  Also, my News Feed, made up of status updates from the myriad people and companies I “friend” or “like” is like a personalized newspaper: it serves to provide a good picture of what is going on not only with my “real” friends, but also in the publishing and media worlds.

For those of you who do use Facebook for all aspects of your life (and work), here are a few suggestions about how to manage your online profile:

Turn on your Privacy Settings so your profile can only be viewed by your friends, i.e., people in your network by going to Account (on the upper right hand of the page) and then clicking “Privacy Settings.”  You can have one setting for the entire profile; you can also set additional privacy settings for each portion of your profile — the Wall posts, Photos, Basic Information, Friends, etc.  (At one point, some high school and college students, alarmed that potential employers were scanning their profiles, changed their Facebook names or shut down their profiles entirely, which seems rather complicated and inconvenient since it’s easy enough to prevent people from seeing parts — or all — of your profile.  It’s also possible to hide your profile — also under Privacy Settings — so you won’t even come up in a search of your name.)

Use Facebook’s Friend Lists by going to Account and then “Edit Friends.”  This enables you to make certain posts / photos / sections of your profile available to only certain people (or visible to all your friends except for certain people).  For example, I have a list entitled “People I Don’t Really Know” and the people on that list cannot view certain personal information, photo albums or status updates.

This type of list can be particularly useful for authors — or anyone else — who may wish to grant family / friends more access to a profile than readers / colleagues / random acquaintances.  (In case you’re wondering, no author or colleague has access to my entire profile — I did say I’m pretty liberal about accepting friend requests, so you know the axe is going to fall somewhere — but most friends do see most of it.)  Of course, utilizing Friend Lists for the sake of privacy requires that you add people to Friend Lists — which nowadays can be done when sending or accepting a friend request.  (At one point I did have to go through my then 400-person friend list and add everyone to at least one list.  Better done sooner rather than later, needless to say.)

Turn on notifications for when you’re tagged in a photo or video by going to Account, then Account Settings, then Notifications.  Most Facebook users will use discretion when posting photos of themselves.  But many of us don’t necessarily trust our hundreds (or thousands) of friends to exercise the same discretion while tagging photos of us.  (Of course, sometimes there’s absolutely nothing wrong / illegal / incriminating about a photo other than the fact that you look god awful.)  Either way, by turning on notifications, you’ll know the moment someone tags you in a photo or video, although you’ll need to get to a computer to untag yourself since that can’t be done from a mobile device.  (You can also change your Privacy Settings so that only certain people can see the photos posted — by others — in which you are tagged, which is different from the photos posted — by you — in which you are tagged.)

Hide status updates you don’t want to see.  Let’s face it — some people (and companies) are really boring and it just gets annoying seeing their status updates about politics or religion.  All.  Day.  Long.  To get rid of a status update, let your cursor hover over the right side of the update.  You will see a “Hide” button pop up that will allow you to permanently hide updates from the person.  Status updates from all Facebook applications (like Farmville and Mafia Wars) can also be hidden in the same manner.  FB allows you to block all, say, Farmville updates from a user, without blocking all of that user’s status updates, which is incredibly useful because some Farmville players are really quite witty and amusing when they’re not, say, trading eggs and building barns.  Or perhaps you’d like to see what they’re reading via GoodReads, but not whether they’re riding a tractor.  You get my point.

And lastly, regardless of how high your privacy settings, always post as though your mother and your boss can see everything in your profile.  Murphy’s Law and all …

If you’d like to find out more, check out the All Facebook’s 10 Privacy Settings Every Facebook User Should Know.


Do you use Facebook for both personal and professional reasons?  Why or why not?  And if you do, what are some of your tips for managing the balance?

July 28, 2010 Posted by | Social Networking | , , , | 3 Comments

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 | | 21 Comments

Don’t know anyone on Twitter?

Last week a college friend posted a question about Twitter as his Facebook status.  He’d just signed up, he said, and was having trouble finding friends who use Twitter.  Several of his friends — Facebook veterans, obviously — said they’d tried Twitter but “didn’t get it” or couldn’t find anyone.  (Although Oprah, who finally got on the bandwagon and started tweeting, picked up almost 500,000 followers in less than a week.)

Just in time, Wendy Kaufman of NPR’s Morning Edition explored, earlier this week, how businesses are using Twitter as a marketing tool and how individuals use it to keep up with the news in Thumbs To The News: Public Turns To Twitter.  Yesterday, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd debated — in her typical sardonic fashion — To Tweet or not to Tweet.

The dirty, little secret of Twitter is that it’s really basic: it lacks the bells and whistles of Facebook or LinkedIn, no photos, no audio or video, no groups, just 140-character status updates.  The Twitter website isn’t pretty.  It crashes all the time (displaying the much hated “fail whale”).  Still, it works well enough that fire departments use Twitter — among other tools — to track wildfires, doctors use it to share information and L.A. foodies use it to hunt down mobile taco trucks.  (Not to mention it’s a handy tool for those of us in book publicity, allowing us to follow the news and network with authors and others in the industry.)

Guy Kawasaki, Internet guru and How to Change the World blogger, showed How to Demo Twitter earlier this week, covering why one would want to use Twitter, how to find people to follow and what desktop applications can run Twitter.  (That’s the summarized version; for more, check the Twitter section of his news aggregation site Alltop.)

For more Twitter basics, I’ve posted about how to get started on Twitter and how to figure out the Following / Follower lists.

And for a glossary of Twitter terms, try this recent post from Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists.

Lastly, for those of you inclined to regurgitate at another mention of Twitter but who understand that one must nevertheless adapt to change, Dave Fleet suggests (non-Twitter) Social Media Baby Steps.


For those of you in the publishing industry, don’t forget that Jennifer Tribe of Highspot maintains a directory of bookish tweeps.

April 23, 2009 Posted by | Social Networking, Trends | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pros and cons of social networking

Stop biting those nails.  We’ll know soon enough.


Swivet lists the pros and cons of various social networking sites (in completely normal, non-techy language)including MySpace, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and more.


Scott Karp Publishing 2.0 talks about how to increase your followers on the microblogging site Twitter.  Specifically, he talks about “narcissisistic” Tweets — updates that only refer to yourself / your product — versus linking.  This concept (referring only to yourself vs. linking to others) can also apply to blogs.  While an author (or publishing house or freelance publicist) obviously wants to promote their book(s), if you only ever talk about your book(s), you risk losing the interest of readers.  On the other hand, if you also link to similar blogs / sites, not only do you provide variety for your readers, but you reach out to other bloggers.  (When you mention another blog on your site, the other blogger gets a “ping.”  Obviously, popular blogs like Boing Boing or Gawker will get zillions of pings, most of which they will ignore by necessity, but many bloggers do keep track of who mentions them and will investigate those blogs.)

November 4, 2008 Posted by | Blogs, Social Networking | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Ebooks and a new social networking site

Hope everyone had a good weekend and Halloween.  I have to say, one of the most peculiar experiences of the New York City marathon — which I’ve somehow never noticed in any other race including the marathon — is my sneakers sticking to the ground after sloshing through all the spilled Gatorade at each fluid station.  That and the 40,000 runners invading Staten Island so New York Road Runners can say the race goes through each of the five boroughs of New York City.  Technically, the race doesn’t *go through* Staten Island, given that it starts on the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.  Literally.  Next to the toll booths.


I’m pretty interested in eBooks — increasing sales over the years, free giveaways, etc. — and when Oprah went to the mat for the Kindle, there was definitely a spike in eBook stories.  This weekend, The Publicity Hound posted 26 ways to promote eBooks including blogging, social networking and submitting articles to ezines.


Crains New York Business reports that Barnes & Noble has launched a new social network, My B&N.  Apparently you can share information through Digg and Facebook, which is a good thing, because at this point I can’t imagine people wanting to create *another* social networking profile.

November 3, 2008 Posted by | ebooks, Online Marketing, Social Networking | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Social networking miscellany

What would you do if every time you got an email message you had to type in your account name and password and then you couldn’t see who the message was from or what it was about until you opened it?  How often would you check email?  Would you even bother checking it at all?

Sound ridiculous?  Think about this: I’ve just described a voicemail message.


Catching Flack posts about whether or not one should change one’s social networking profile, particularly as one graduates from college and enters the working world.  Not really a consideration for yours truly since we didn’t have social networks when I was in college (mostly on account of the Internet having just being invented), but this situation also applies to authors who already have social networking profiles when their books come out — should an author use their existing profile which may be limited to (mostly) “real” friends and family or should they create a new profile dedicated to the public / readers?  For authors who choose to create separate profiles, keep in mind that you can create more than one profile with the same name (obviously, given the number of different people with the same name) although you will need to use a different email address for each profile.  Most social networking sites allow you to set different levels of privacy so you could have one profile, for example, that is not searchable / only searchable by friends of existing friends and one profile that can be found by anyone.


Mashable posts some considerations for navigating the social media world (like not writing on your own Facebook wall or feeling the need to respond to all negative comments).


Gosh, darn: apparently Friendster has blogs now, according to fishbowlNY.  (I just logged in to my Friendster account to see how many of my friends were still active — of 66 friends, nine had logged in … since July.)

October 23, 2008 Posted by | Social Networking | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Morning Brief — Wednesday, October 1

GalleyCat reports that the Chicago Reader and the Washington City Paper are the latest publications to declare bankruptcy.  Not quite sure what “filing for bankruptcy” means for us book publicists since we still fly on bankrupt airlines (and bank at bankrupt banks).


Ami from Folio mentioned that she’s been seeing quite a bit about online book launches — instead of getting people together in some fancy digs (and having to pay for all that wine and cheese), authors interact with their readers (and other authors) through podcasts and online chats.  Here’s an example.


NPR has launched their own online networking community.  Which I would try except I’m already juggling Facebook.  And Twitter (which is, incidentally, how I found out about this — WBUR tweeted the news).  And LinkedIn.  And Shelfari.  And probably some other sites I no longer remember.  But maybe someone else can try the NPR community and report back …

October 1, 2008 Posted by | Online Marketing, Social Networking, Update Your Database | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Morning Brief — Monday, September 15

The Swivet, via slunch, offers an explanation of the book publicity process.  It’s a great guide for authors (and publicists) because it offers a handy publicity timeline.  One thing that I would add is that when authors provide the names and addresses of contacts to whom they would like galleys / books sent, it’s ideal if these names are provided in an Excel document.  This way the information can instantly be imported into our publicity systems / mail merged into labels.  If the contact information comes in any other format (in a Word document or in an email) we have to either copy and paste or retype all the information and that’s a waste of time.  (And by “waste of time,” I do, of course, mean “probably gets passed to the intern.”)  Lest anyone kick up a fuss about this, I’d like to ask, when was the last time someone wrote a book in Excel?  Sounds pretty ridiculous, right?  So why is it any less ridiculous to be submitting data in Word?


The Washington Post’s book blog, Short Stack, will now feature daily posts including author Q&As and publishing trends.


For authors who might be considering blogging, social media guru Chris Brogan offers some tips on starting and maintaining a blog.  For those who prefer Facebook or Twitter, Marketinghackz posts A Quick Guide for Newbies.


On Confessions of an Idiosyncratic Mind, Sarah Weinman posts her sixth and final entry of the Publishing Imprint Report Card that explores the Random House imprints.

September 15, 2008 Posted by | Author-Publicist Relationship, Blogs, Miscellaneous, Online Marketing | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Morning Brief — Thursday, August 28

Between the Olympics and the conventions, no one’s going to get any sleep until, like, Columbus Day.


Critical Mass reports that departing San Francisco Chronicle book editor Oscar Villalon will be doing freelance book reviews.


As an author prepares for a book’s publication, one issue that must be considered is how to establish an online presence.  Joan Reeves of Sling Words posts some pointers about whether to set up a blog vs. a website and whether to do it yourself (with a template, assuming you aren’t a tech whiz) or to pay.  And here are Reeves’ thoughts about how to build an audience for a blog or website.


The Publicity Hound posts about whether authors should try to land guest column gigs at magazines.


Bookends (via Editorial Ass) has posted a dictionary of some publishing terms.


Apparently, Facebook has just hit the 100 million user mark.

August 28, 2008 Posted by | Miscellaneous, Online Marketing, Update Your Database | , , , , | Leave a comment

Morning Brief — Tuesday, July 15

As pretty much everyone who knows me knows, I like computers, gadgets, technology, social media.  (A few months back I ran into an old college friend.  Another old college friend asked how he looked.  I replied, “He looks great in his Facebook picture,” to which she bellowed, “You saw him less than 24 hours ago and you’re telling me about his Facebook picture?!”)  I am, however, open minded enough to have friends who do not have Facebook profiles.  (I know, how generous of me.)  I do find it amusing, though, that Facebook-less friends, when faced with Facebook, spend ages looking through everyone’s profiles (and, of course, making you look up people they want to find), all the while declaring there’s no way they would ever join.  Curious.

As much as I and many others enjoy Facebook — both to connect with friends as well as with authors and people in the media — I don’t think all authors should set up social networking profiles.  This is an issue that comes up a lot these days (like yesterday, for instance) given the increasing popularity of social media.  There’s a really easy test to see if a profile is appropriate for an author (assuming they don’t already have one) — do you know how to go about setting up an account or can you figure it out on their own?  And once an account is set up, can you maintain it?  Having a social networking profile isn’t about having a social networking profile — it’s about using it (friend requesting people and building your network, interacting with friends online, updating your status, posting items / pictures / videos).  In other words, if Tom is your only friend, you just might want to reconsider your marketing strategy.


Layoffs at the L.A. Times have commenced.  No word yet on whether anyone covering books is among the 150 people who will leave.

July 15, 2008 Posted by | Miscellaneous, Social Networking | , | Leave a comment