by Janet Kobobel Grant
An aspect of publishing that’s often a puzzle to authors is the difference between marketers and publicists. Since you’ll encounter both when it’s time to start promoting your book, understanding the difference can help you to target your ideas, questions, and concerns appropriately.
The easiest way to think about each of these roles is that the marketer’s job is to spend the money budgeted to promote your book. The publicist looks for free opportunities to help readers discover your book. (This is a quick and dirty definition since some publishing house allot a small portion of the budget to publicity.)
Most publishing houses will assign a marketer to create a marketing plan for your upcoming release. It’s his job to know your book well enough to target specific readers. Say, for example, your book will appeal mostly to millennial men. That’s the obvious audience, but a secondary audience is the women who care about this guy:
- his grandmother,
- his mother,
- possibly a wife,
- and his sister.
As a matter of fact, women often buy books for the men in their lives.
In figuring out where to spend that budget, the marketer will consider where the primary and secondary audiences “reside” online. In the example we’re considering, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram all fit the bill. So ads might well be placed in all available venues.
These expenditures will vary, depending on the budget’s size and other expenditures:
- How many ads
- Their location (banner ad vs. sponsored views of the cover)
- Length of time displayed.
Metadata and Bookstores
Marketers also will choose the keywords and metadata to target those most likely to be interested in buying your book. Finding the audience through SEO and other search-related data is of considerable importance.
Bookstore placement is another consideration that the marketing team focuses on. Those books at the front of Barnes and Noble didn’t end up there by chance; the publishing house paid for that locale. Endcaps (end of the center aisle displays) and shelftalkers (slips of heavy paper that hang down from the shelf with copies of your book holding the paper in place) contain a fetching tagline about your book to draw a brower’s attention to your title also are paid for out of the marketing budget.
The publicist you work with focuses her attention on submitting your book for reviews in trade publications, newspapers, blogs, and Goodreads. She sees to it that your book is uploaded to online sites such as NetGalley and Edelweiss, where book reviewers and store buyers can access your book for free.
Setting up blogging tours and in-store events also fall onto the publicist’s shoulders. As does sending out copies of your book to bloggers and podcasters. Those copies are distribued either for reviews, for interview requests, or requests for you to write a blog post about your book.
Interviews, Email lists, and Physical Paraphenalia
If you’re longing to be interviewed by Terry Gross on Fresh Air, it’s your publicist who works that magic. And that Today Show appearance? Your publicist deserves a bouquet for that “get.”
The publicist also will wield the publishing house’s email list, bloggers’ and podcasters’ lists and sometimes (if the budget permits) buy a list that targets your readership to proclaim the existence of your book.
She will run Goodreads contests and create memes and other social media material, which she will post and provide to you and your street team to post as well.
Bookmarks, Banners, and Mugs
Publishing houses differ when it comes to whether marketers or publicists are responsible for creating physical items that promote your book. Standard fare includes:
- foldable banners for you to take to book signings, speaking events, and exhibit booths (such as a homeschooling conference, or a regional library conference);
- and mugs, water bottles, etc., with your book cover, title, or tagline displayed on it.
What other aspects of working with your marketing and publicity team do you have questions about?
What’s the difference between a book marketer and a publicist? Click to tweet.
Ever wonder what a publishing house’s marketing and publicity team can do for you? This blog post lays it out. Click to tweet.