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A Peek into Publishing

A Peek into Publishing: The Difference Between Publicity and Marketing


In many publishing companies, particularly smaller ones, marketing and publicity overlap a lot and usually work within the same department. While they work closely, you might’ve heard people say “that’s more publicity” or “we don’t do that in marketing” – so what’s the difference?

Long story short: marketing tends to deal with paid media (such as advertising) while publicity focuses more on free media (reaching out to newspapers/magazines etc.). By no means is this the whole story, and the lines get a little blurred when it comes to social media, but in essence that is the biggest difference between the two.

When you see a review in a publication or an author featuring on a podcast, that will have been organized by the publicity team, whereas if you’re wondering who created the cool merchandise being distributed alongside a new book, that will have likely been arranged by the marketing team.

The difference between the two departments and exactly what they’re in charge of is a question often asked in job interviews. When advertising for the role of Publicity Assistant last year, one of our first interview questions was “what’s the difference between publicity and marketing?” So, it’s good to become familiar with who does what. 

A day in publicity might look like … 

  • writing targeted pitches to different members of the press
  • responding to emails from publications who were interested in the pitch you sent out yesterday
  • arranging mailing ARCs (Advance Reader Copies)
  • contacting an author about a speaking event at a bookshop
  • coaching an author though writing a piece for a publication
  • organizing author tours
  • writing a press release for a forthcoming title.

A day in marketing might look like … 

  • creating graphics for social media and scheduling them
  • securing a paid advertisement for a book in a relevant magazine (and often designing them)
  • producing digital ads using keywords and targeted demographics
  • constructing an Eventbrite page for an author’s ticketed event
  • creating and updating title’s Amazon plus pages
  • increasing a website’s visibility using SEO
  • designing bookmarks to be sent out alongside ARCs. 

A lot of these roles can overlap, particularly in smaller companies, Sometimes, a job may even cover both marketing and publicity. But people tend to lean slightly more toward one side as both can be very time consuming.

At the end of the day, both sides have the same goal: get the book out there as widely as possible!

As always, if you have any questions or want to keep up-to-date with our blog posts, you can find us over on Twitter. You can see all of our previous posts exploring different departments here.

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