Successful authors – whether intentionally or not – usually develop a strong brand identity for their work and themselves.  In the past, this often entailed an expensive PR and marketing campaign.  Now, the advent of social media has made brand building  more accessible and affordable.  Social media marketing is still in its infancy and the playbook seems to be rewritten daily. To learn more about this evolving area of book marketing, I decided to consult a public relations expert, Patricia Vaccarino.

Patricia Vaccarino has over 20 years of experience working with a wide range of national and international clients, in all areas of public relations: managing worldwide campaigns for global companies and developing strategy for small companies, startup ventures, non-profits, foundations, and individuals. She is especially well known for her talents in strategic planning and branding for individuals who are experts in their respective fields. She owns her own public relations firm Xanthus Communications.  Patricia has also published a book, PR for People, that provides people all of the pieces they need to create a solid brand identity that will help them to get hired, develop their careers and increase their business.  She currently represents over 150 individuals, many of whom can be viewed on http://www.prforpeople.com.

I recently asked Patricia about the impact social media marketing is having on book marketing.

FPP –  How has the emergence of social media affected book marketing and PR during the last two years, if at all?

PV – Social Media has evolved to be one of the most important components of book marketing and PR. Not to oversimplify the matter but book marketing and PR is like a stool with three legs: Press, Networking and Social Media. You can’t be effective unless all three “legs” are strong and balanced.

FPP – You’ve often spoken about the “slow-cooked” branding process. Could you explain what you mean by that term and how social media plays a role in that process?

PV – The man who wakes up and one day and finds himself suddenly famous was not an overnight success. It takes a minimum of five years to build a strong brand. Take Facebook, for example, this is a company that is now celebrating its sixth birthday. For the first three years of Facebook’s life, it gained momentum over time among twenty-somethings. It wasn’t until its fourth year that the company gained traction among all the rest of us. It took five full years for this brand and business to become firmly entrenched in our psyche and to get many of us to become users.

FPP – What are some of the essential things an author should do to leverage social media in the marketing of his / her books?

PV – Set up a Facebook page that defines your persona as an author and clearly distinguishes how you are different from other authors. Facebook should tell the story of who you are personally and how you live without being maudlin or stupid in what you reveal. Use Twitter in a way that strategically points followers to your book. Create a tweet platform composed of all the individual tweets that you will post over a sustained period of time. Your tweet platform should have a theme and not just be a rambling of disjointed tweets that are purely self-promotional. Be creative come up with tweets that are saying something powerful and important and yet are all connected thematically.

FPP – Is there a rule of thumb publishers should follow regarding the investment in traditional marketing versus social media marketing for their titles?

PV – Every book and every author needs to be assessed according to the target audiences that they are trying to reach. For some books it may make much more sense to rely more heavily on traditional media whereas in other instances heavy use of social media is the most effective tool. Always ask yourself who is your audience? What do they read? What do they watch? Are they using social media? Let the audience dictate the type of media that you will choose to use.

FPP–  There are so many different social media venues these days.   How should an author prioritize his or her use of social media?

PV – You need to be very discipline d about using social media. Before you sign on to any social media site, you need to first decide exactly what you will do. If you are not clear and focused, you will spend more time than you should and that can seriously damage your overall marketing strategy. Remember time is your most valuable asset.

FPP – Is there a minimum time investment in social media that an author should plan on each week to maintain an effective presence?

PV – When you are in the building phase i.e., acquiring a following or gaining friends, it can take an hour or so a day. After your infrastructure or network has been established, you need to get your time down to a maximum of 15 minutes a day.

FPP – Are there social media venues that are more effective for marketing or PR purposes in non-fiction, fiction, or certain genres?

PV – It is different for every genre and there are new social media sites popping up every day. You need to do your research and keep it current.

FPP = How can an author avoid mixing personal and professional messages when using social media to promote a book?

PV – We have entered a time when there is a tremendous blurring of the boundaries between what is personal and what is professional. Anything you post, or tweet must be subject to a test: The test is what do you stand for? What you stand for defines your professional brand. Your professional brand speaks to who you are both professionally and personally, and must connote integrity, value and strength. So before you post, always ask yourself what do you stand for?

FPP – Are there guidelines to measure the effectiveness of social media marketing in selling more books?

PV – The thing speaks for itself. Are you getting an increase in book sales?

FPP – What trends do you see for the use of social media in book marketing during the next few years?

PV – The good news is social media and book marketing will help good to great books achieve a success that lasts. There is no longer the six-week shelf life to promote books. Good to great books can be promoted indefinitely and achieve classic status. The concept of Slow-cooked brand will endure.

1.  How has the emergence of social media affected book marketing and PR during the last two years, if at all?  Social Media has evolved to be one of the most important components of book marketing and PR.  Not to oversimplify the matter but book marketing and PR is like a stool with three legs: Press, Networking and Social Media.  You can’t be effective unless all three “legs” are strong and balanced.

2.  You’ve spoken about the “slow-cooked” branding process.  Could you explain what you mean by that term and how social media plays a role in that process? The man who wakes up and one day and finds himself suddenly famous was not an overnight success.  It takes a minimum of five years to build a strong brand.  Take Facebook, for example, this is a company that is now celebrating its sixth birthday.  For the first three years of Facebook’s life, it gained momentum over time among twenty-somethings. It wasn’t until its fourth year that the company gained traction among all the rest of us. It took five full years for this brand and business to become firmly entrenched in our psyche and to get many of us to become users.

3.  What are some of the essential things an author should do to leverage social media in the marketing of his / her books? Set up a Facebook page that defines your persona as an author and clearly distinguishes how you are different from other authors. Facebook should tell the story of who you are personally and how you live without being maudlin or stupid in what you reveal. Use Twitter in a way that strategically points followers to your book.  Create a tweet platform composed of all the individual tweets that you will post over a sustained period of time.  Your tweet platform should have a theme and not just be a rambling of disjointed tweets that are purely self-promotional.  Be creative come up with tweets that are saying something powerful and important and yet are all connected thematically.

4.  Is there a rule of thumb publishers should follow regarding the investment in traditional marketing versus social media marketing for their titles?  Every book and every author needs to be assessed according to the target audiences that they are trying to reach.  For some books it may make much more sense to rely more heavily on traditional media whereas in other instances heavy use of social media is the most effective tool.  Always ask yourself who is your audience?  What do they read? What do they watch? Are they using social media?  Let the audience dictate the type of media that you will choose to use.

5.  There are so many different social media venues these days.  How should an author prioritize his or her use of social media? You need to be very discipline d about using social media. Before you sign on to any social media site, you need to first decide exactly what you will do.  If you are not clear and focused, you will spend more time than you should and that can seriously damage your overall marketing strategy. Remember time is your most valuable asset.

6.  Is there a minimum time investment in social media that an author should plan on each week to maintain an effective presence?  When you are in the building phase i.e., acquiring a following or gaining friends, it can take an hour or so a day.  After your infrastructure or network has been established, you need to get your time down to a maximum of 15 minutes a day.

7.  Are there social media venues that are more effective for marketing or PR purposes in non-fiction, fiction, or certain genres?  It is different for every genre and there are new social media sites popping up every day.  You need to do your research and keep it current.

8.  How can an author avoid mixing personal and professional messages when using social media to promote a book?  We have entered a time when there is a tremendous blurring of the boundaries between what is personal and what is professional.   Anything you post, or tweet must be subject to a test:  The test is what do you stand for?  What you stand for defines your professional brand. Your professional brand speaks to who you are both professionally and personally, and must connote integrity, value and strength.  So before you post, always ask yourself what do you stand for?

9.  Are there guidelines to measure the effectiveness of social media marketing in selling more books?  The thing speaks for itself. Are you getting an increase in book sales?

10.  What trends do you see for the use of social media in book marketing during the next few years? The Good news is social media and book marketing will help good to great books achieve a success that lasts.  There is no longer the six-week shelf life to promote books. Good to great books can be promoted indefinitely and achieve classic status. The concept of Slow-cooked brand will endure.


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Sheila Clover-EnglishBook Vid Lit

by Sheila Clover-English

Sheila Clover English, the CEO of Circle of Seven Productions, is a pioneer in book video production, marketing and distribution for authors and publishers.


There are many ways to do marketing and promotions but I want to focus on two:  influence and authority

Influence marketing happens when you promote yourself indirectly. You influence someone with your style, your behavior and how much they like you.  It is “personality” promotion. You are so well liked or respected that people want to be like you or associated with you in some way. That means buying what you recommend because they believe in and/or like you.

Authority marketing happens more directly. There are people out there looking for what you are selling but they can’t buy it if they don’t know it exists. Or they may not know they need it unless you can convince them they need it. So you advertise to let people know about your book, and give them all the information they need to make a purchase. Or at least link to that information within your ad.

Here are examples of each type of marketing used to promote the same book. 

Influence Marketing

This could be a blog or Facebook note.

“When I wrote this book I was going through a very difficult time. I researched for months both in resources and in my heart before I ever touched pen to paper. My sister died of breast cancer and I wanted anyone reading my book that is going through the same thing to know they are not alone. Someone is here who understands.”

Notice that at no time was there a direct sale of the book.  Nothing in the blog says “Buy my book”. What it does though is create a personality and an environment around the book’s theme. You feel connected to this person because they are willing to share something of themselves. This invites comments. It invites us to care and to want to be involved with the author of the blog.

Authority Marketing

authorityMy Sister is Dying and the World Keeps Turning takes the reader inside the final stages of death for living sister, the one who will be left behind.

A true story of love, faith and acceptance with a forward by renown psychologist Dr. Emen Touchstone, author of Final Stages, Final Goodbyes: Hospice For Survivors.

Note the differences in the two styles of marketing. With the second blog we get more of a commercial feel. We know exactly what the name of the book is. We see that a doctor with a well-known background in the field is involved with the book. This doesn’t invite questions as openly or as intimately as the first blog. There isn’t a question that a book is being promoted in the second blog.

Which is the best way to promote a book?

There is a time and a place for everything. If you have a blog, website or profile on MySpace, Bebo, Facebook, etc. and you use that to promote yourself or your work, then you are an authority there and can use Authority Marketing in that space.

If you are in an online community which you use primarily as a social platform, you should use Influence Marketing as your promotional strategy.

How do I know which to use?

Here are the questions you should ask yourself to determine which strategy is best fo you: 

  • What is the expectation of the readership of this profile/blog?
  • Why are they there?
  • Why do they think YOU are there?

You need to be honest in whatever it is you are doing. If you are there to pitch your work that’s fine. Just be sure people know that.  If you are there to make friends and be social, you can let people know you will be releasing information about your work occasionally. Then you have established why you are there and what you are doing. Everyone knows what to expect.

But, if you act like you are there to socialize and make friends and all you do is promote yourself you are setting yourself up for trouble.  Think of it like a spam e-mail:  your subject line says “I’m here to make friends!” but your content is all about making a sale.

If visitors know you are going to sell something and they still come to your site then they are interested in what you have to sell. It is acceptable to use an authoritative marketing tool to communicate with them. The expectation is set. There is no trickery or subterfuge. They can still trust you because you are doing what you said you would be doing.

A great book on this subject is Trust Agents by Chris Brogran and Julien Smith (http://www.trustagent.com/) that can help you better understand the need for building trust online and strategies for doing that. If you are marketing online I highly recommend this book.

Which is better to help sell my books?

With all the hype about online marketing and social media technology, it is easy to overlook the most important element of marketing:  what does my audience want?

Know your readers.  Take the time to research your audience.  Ask yourself these questions:

  • How will they benefit from your book?
  • What would inspire word-of-mouth about your book? 
  • How do they like to be communicated to?

From those answers you should be able to identify whether to use Influence Marketing or Authority Marketing.  Or a combination of the two – e.g. use Authority Marketing on your website and Influence Marketing on your social profile. Just remember to let people know what to expect wherever they “meet” you online.

We are an accumulation of our words and deeds.   How do your readers see you?


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