Social Media 101: What to do if you are concerned about privacy

facebook privacy

Social media can be a useful tool for authors and personal brands. It can help with exposure, lead to new fans of your book(s), and is an easy platform to publicly engage with your audience or other book lovers like bloggers and reviewers.

The other side of that coin, however, is murky. The last week has been a storm of revelations over Facebook and how it uses information from its users by selling it to advertisers—and, once that information has been sold, your data belongs to them forever!  You can only tighten your personal Facebook privacy and security settings so that future information cannot be sold (read this New York Times article for more information on the updated privacy security settings Facebook released this week).

Worse, Facebook has allegedly been logging data from calls and texts from Google Androids—even though Facebook says they do not sell that logged data. (This article from Wall Street Journal explains.)

Now, companies and people are taking a stand against Facebook with the #DeleteFacebook movement. Mozilla is “taking a break,” and Elon Musk has removed Tesla and SpaceX pages, among others.

So what can individuals and their brands do if they’re concerned about privacy and are considering deleting social media?

If you use Facebook and other social media, and are now unsure of whether or not you want to continue, you must consider how you are going to get your brand out there.  Here are a few ideas:

  1. Create a public author or brand page, but keep your personal Facebook settings private. Author and brand pages are public, so if anyone were to search you, those would come up. But what if your private Facebook account also shows up and strangers try to add you? By going into the Facebook security settings, make sure that only “Friends” or “Friends of Friends” can see your profile information, or even set it so that only you can see certain things like your current hometown or who you’re in a relationship with. In your privacy settings you can also make sure that your personal profile does not come up in web searches.
  1. If you plan on deleting Facebook, then you have to put yourself out there. If you’ve gotten rid of your social media presence, then you need to make up for it by putting yourself out there in person. Attend festivals, visit your local bookstore and library, go to conferences, meet with other authors or book lovers, and create postcards/bookmarks to drop off at local coffee shops or stores you inhabit. Read more in our blog post on how you can create visibility.
  1. Focus on a blog and newsletter. If you are concerned about your privacy, but want to have an online existence, then creating or focusing more on your website/blog and sending out an email newsletter to friends, family, and those who signed up is a good way to keep your audience updated on what’s going on with your writing endeavors.

This is all “new news” that exposes just how much Facebook was really using our data beyond their own advertising platform. The least we can all do right now is tighten our private security settings across social media platforms so that our personal data can’t be used in the way it has in the past.

Book Marketing 101: Create Visibility for Your Book with These 5 Tips

You’ve written a book and published it — but the sales just aren’t happening. The biggest likely reason for this is that no one knows that you or your book exists, even if it’s been uploaded to Amazon. There are thousands of authors on Amazon vying for people to buy their books. That’s why authors need to create visibility so that they can stick out from the crowd.

It can be really tough to put yourself out there and talk about yourself and your work, but if people don’t know who you are, then they won’t buy your book!

Here are some ideas for authors to create visibility for their books:

  1. Visit your local bookstore, retail stores, or library. Dropping by and leaving a copy of your book for the bookseller or librarian will help them learn who you are as a person and give them the chance to look at your book before deciding to purchase. Many indie authors shy away from selling books on consignment, but sometimes it’s the best that your indie bookstore can do, especially if your book is not available through the proper distribution channels or is unavailable for return.
  2. Have a release party or event. Invite friends and family to celebrate your new book at your house, and have them purchase copies there. Or you can have it at a restaurant where you can incorporate the plate price with the price of the book, so everyone who comes is guaranteed a copy. You can also see if your local bookstore will have an event for you, if you are positive you can get enough attendees to come. (Read more about authors events in this blog post.)
  3. Ask family and friends to review on Amazon or Supposedly, those with more reviews on Amazon are more likely to be included in the company’s email newsletters and receive more visibility overall–although to be honest, nobody but Amazon knows how their algorithm works. It’s still worth having friends and family post reviews so that it will generate interest for others to read your book. Books with no reviews whatsoever will likely be passed over by shoppers.
  4. Put yourself out there at festivals and conferences. Start visiting local book festivals and writers conferences and hand out cards or copies of your book. See if any of them will put you on a panel. Many festivals have the option for author signings, although you most likely have to pay for that privilege, at least in the beginning.
  5. Make sure it’s easily accessible for purchase. Even though Amazon is the most popular online outlet to purchase books, readers do have other shopping preferences–whether it’s a local store or a Barnes & Noble. Make sure that your website, blog, and social media pages have links to these sites and to Indiebound, so that your audience can purchase through their favorite indie bookstore.

It’s important to get yourself out there in some way, shape, or form to create visibility–whether it’s by putting yourself out their physically or through online channels. You may not sell hundreds of copies at first, but you’ll be on your way to make yourself known. The readers will come–you just need to put your foot out the door.

If you’re an indie author, do you use any of the above ways to create visibility for your books? Tweet about it to us @McKinneyPR!

Publicity 101: Who are the Media?

Who Are the Media









Written by Arianna Parks

We become what we behold. We shape our tools and then our tools shape use.
-Marshall McLuhen, Canadian media theorist

Who are the media? The question of who exactly the media are, or what “it” is has been one pertinent to the public as of late. While technology evolves, the definition of media changes. Knowing what the media are, along with the “who” in charge is especially important to promoting your book.

Who are the media?

The “What” of Media: Journalists, PR professionals, and others in businesses relating to the wider public audience split media into two categories, legacy or “traditional” media, and new media. Legacy media includes newspapers, television, and books. New media encompasses digital, from blogs, online papers and magazines, and social media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even YouTube!).

The “Who” of Media: Perhaps the most important aspect of media, the “who” include those holding job titles behind media outlets. Journalists, editors, critics, bloggers, staff writers, assignment editors, and content managers are under this category.

Maintaining good relations with those holding such titles helps establish a substantial media presence. The key to good relations surpasses just a knowledge of the media world.

With the words of media theorist Marshall McLuhen in mind, take the powerful tool of media and behold how it shapes your audience!

Interested in the in-depth details of media and what they mean? Do You Know What a Book Publicist Does? by Claire McKinney covers this and other areas that are important to promoting your book.

Publicity 101: The Niche Audience

niche audienceniche. niCH,nēSH/ adjective. denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population. (Google Dictionary)

It often happens that an author will come to us with one goal in mind — to get a New York Times Book Review. This is a great long-term goal to have, but many times it is clear the author hasn’t done his research.  Otherwise, the author would know that the NYT will rarely consider an independent book for review and has a strict policy on not accepting self-published titles. Even though there are many self- and independently-published books, many major outlets still feel some aversion to them.

The good news is this: self-published and independently-published authors don’t need the NYT to review their books in order to gain traction in the book community. As an independent author it is crucial to understand that while a review with a wide-reaching magazine or newspaper could be helpful for exposure, it is important not to brush off what could be your niche audience (or audiences).

A niche audience — or what the dictionary calls a “small, specialized section of the population” — can really help to raise awareness of your book. Think of it like different sections of the bookstore: there’s the Science Fiction/Fantasy shelf, the Mystery/Thrillers shelf, Biographies/Memoirs shelf, the spirituality/religion shelf, the self-help shelf, the women’s fiction shelf, the regional/local interest shelf, and the business shelf. Where does yours belong?

Once you know in what section your book belongs—let’s say it’s Mysteries & Thrillers—you have the opportunity to dig deeper. Is your niche audience political thrillers? Is it cozy mysteries? Is it hardboiled mysteries? This is where you can really explore where your interested and loyal fans are, because these niche audiences actually have media outlets, bloggers, reviewers, communities, and book clubs of their own. Many of them even have their own conferences that you can attend to meet like-minded thriller, cozy, or hardboiled mystery book lovers! If you’ve written a thriller, why not reach out to the group of people that you know have a built-in affinity for thrillers and dark mysteries?

The word “niche” means small and specialized, but when you get down to it you’ll find that there could be hundreds, or even thousands, of people who are in these communities. Hundreds of thousands of people read books in the mystery genre every year—and they may not necessarily read the New York Times Book Review to find their next favorite reads.

So sit down, take out a piece of paper and pen, and think about what your book is about and what your niche audiences could be. You’ll be surprised at how many you might be able to find and how they will be able to help you build your writing career.

Looking for information on book reviews? Check out our post on some of the do’s and don’t’s when seeking book reviews.

You can also read more about book publicity in Claire McKinney’s new how-to guide, Do You Know What a Book Publicist Does?

Publicity 101: Your Publicity Calendar

publicity calendarWhen it comes to your public relations campaign and your publicity calendar, what is important to remember is that the campaign starts before the book, with proper preparation and set up. You want to be able to take advantage of every opportunity, so being organized and having access to all the information you need is going to give you an edge over the competition.

Some dates to mark on your publicity calendar (besides your publication date) are:

Events and appearances: Record the dates for any readings or speaking engagements where you can promote or sell your book. Start as early as the six-month mark so you can have a postcard or business card made to pass out to audiences or potential contacts.

Pitching Magazines: In general, there is a four-month lead time for book coverage in glossy magazines, and even longer for features. You can try finding out on the magazines’ websites what their requirements are, but in the absence of any information, plan to approach editors four months ahead of your official publication/media date.

Pitching National Broadcast: Usually three months is enough time for most shows, but talk shows like The Dr. Oz Show or Steve Harvey could tape your segment and not air it for months. You don’t have complete control over this, but I recommend you get in touch with these outlets as soon as your materials, like your press kit and review copies, are ready.

Pitching Radio: Radio tends to book between two to six weeks ahead of time, and then there are those stations that will ask you to be on tomorrow. I like to start my radio work about four to six weeks ahead of time and if I’m contacting the station too early, I make a note to follow up at a later date.

The months following your publication date are for building on the media you get, making appearances at outlets or events, and new pitches. Keeping a written publicity calendar on paper, or in Outlook that dings when you have an upcoming event or deadline, is going to make your process a lot easier…and more effective!