The Differences between Publicity and Marketing for Authors

A great book marketing campaign incorporates both publicity and marketing efforts. Let's take a look at the differences between publicity and marketing, including the definition of the terms, and why it's important to integrate both publicity and marketing efforts in the publishing process.

Definition of publicity and marketing in publishing

Publicity in publishing is gaining media coverage for an author. Typically, a publicist tries to acquire press coverage by communicating with representatives of media outlets such as television, radio, blog, newspaper, and magazine editors. The goal is to convince news outlets to interview the author, write a story that quotes the author or mentions the book, or review the book. You can't pay for publicity, so consumers tend to trust these stories more than advertising. However, there's no guarantee that the news media will run a story.

Marketing in publishing is communicating directly with the consumer about a book. This is accomplished through paid services, such as print or online advertising, and services accomplished by a marketing team (or the author), such as email messages, content marketing, social media marketing, and events. Marketing efforts typically cost money, but the benefit is that you control the message and it's guaranteed to be executed.

Publicity vs. Marketing

Here are some of the key differences between publicity and marketing:



Free (publicity is free, however, a publicist isn't)

Payment usually required (ranges from affordable to expensive)

Third-party coverage

Your controlled message

No guarantee of coverage

Guaranteed message placement

One-time act

Repetitive message

Focuses on author (usually)

Focuses on book

Unbiased, more credible in eyes of the consumer

Biased, less credible in eyes of the consumer

Longer lead-time needed

Shorter lead-time needed

Examples: On-air interviews with TV or radio stations; book reviews in magazines, newspapers, and websites; author profiles in print or online media; and conference appearances or speaking engagements.

Examples: Print ads, online ads, in-store displays, contests and giveaways, emails, corporate partnerships, blog tours, launch parties, social media marketing, and website content marketing.

Coordinating publicity and marketing efforts

While publicity and marketing efforts are often carried out by different teams, departments, and professionals in publishing, it's important that the two parties coordinate their efforts to be effective. “Marketing and publicity are two oars on the same book boat,” says Marketing Director Lydia Hirt, in an interview with Literary Hub. “We work incredibly closely together and collaborate along the way—ultimately toward the same goal of bringing books to readers.”

Additionally, you need both marketing and publicity to maximize the success of your book campaign. Dana Kaye of Kaye Publicity says, "I believe these two forms of book promotion work hand in hand, and you can’t have one without the other. Dumping tons of money into advertising and guerrilla marketing isn’t going to sell a book if no one has reviewed it. Great press coverage isn’t enough for people to remember the book title, they need to see it on the front table of Barnes and Noble or see an ad on the train platform."

By understanding the key differences between publicity and marketing, and why you need both, you can achieve a powerful marketing mix that launches your book into the hands of readers.

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