Monday 18 July 2022

Writers’ Questions: Book Publicity vs. Marketing—What’s the Difference?

Hello again, everyone, and welcome to my Writers’ Questions series, in which I’ve been answering your burning questions about the writing and publishing process. In the last blog post in this series, I covered how to get your book featured on podcasts. This time I’m back with another marketing-related topic.

So, you’ve got a traditional book deal or you’re pursuing self-publishing, and now you’re hearing about both “Marketing” and “Publicity”. Maybe you’ve been introduced to both a publicist and a marketing person at your publisher, and you’ve been left scratching your head and wondering what’s the difference?

When it comes to promoting a book, or any product really, it’s all about attracting consumer attention—and attention can be either bought or earned. Therefore, simply put, your marketing person will be dealing with paid advertising and other paid opportunities, while your publicist focuses on earned media and promotion. 

Let’s break this down with some examples.

Getting you featured as a guest on a podcast? That’s the realm of Publicity. But promoting your book in an ad, which plays midway through a podcast? That’s Marketing.

Sending your book to reviewers at top publications? Publicity. Buying you space on a billboard in Times Square? Marketing. 

What about social media and influencers? There may be differences in how publishers divide responsibilities here, but it’s likely that organic posting and gifting copies of books to major Bookstragrammers falls to Publicity, while paid social media ads and sponsored influencer posts come out of Marketing budgets and are managed by that team.

So why does any of this matter?

If you’re working with a big publisher knowing this distinction can help you address your questions, thoughts, and ideas to the right person, though there’s no need to be embarrassed if they occasionally have to redirect you! 

And if you’re working with a small press or going it alone via the self-publishing route, you can better manage your own budget and plan more easily if you start to identify which opportunities are paid (marketing) and which are free (publicity). 

What question would you like to see me answer next as part of my Writers’ Questions series? Let me know—here, on Facebook, on Instagram, or by tweeting @SVictorianist

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