The first thing to understand about the publicity and marketing departments is the difference between them.
- The publicity department primarily focuses on free (or nearly-free) promotion for the book and author: reviews, interviews, TV & radio appearances, feature stories in print periodicals and online, public appearances and - when warranted - bookstore or media tours.
- The marketing department focuses on paid promotion of the book and author. There are variations of marketing.
- Sales marketing focuses on putting together the sales conferences (where the marketing department "sells" - ie, pitches your book to the sales force and tries to get them excited about it), in-store placement (also known as co-op, ie, those big stacks of books you see on end caps and tables in bookstores), sales materials, and special discount promotions geared toward large chains, jobbers, clubs (Sam's, Costco, etc) and indie bookstores.
- The trade marketing department (the one most people think of when they think of marketing ) also includes online marketing, and focuses on consumer promotions, contests, book clubs, supplementary materials (reader's guides, bookmarks, t-shirts, etc), online promotions, website creation, email blasts, newsletters, etc.
- The advertising department is an arm of the trade marketing department that focuses on paid newspaper, television, radio, magazine and online advertising.
- There are also academic (aka school) marketing departments and library marketing departments (self-explanatory), but for the general purposes of this post, we'll be focusing on the retails market.
- focus on the author + media +/- book tours = publicity department
- focus on the book + consumers + online + sales force = marketing department
With some rare exceptions, most new books will get galleys created (also called an ARC [advanced readers copy] if the marketing department has gone to the trouble of having a fancy cover slapped on it) and mailed to the trades. These are the publications that are considered the most essential to the book trade; in the United States, these include Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, The New York Times, Library Journal, School Library Journal, and Booklist. A later mailing will go out to additional magazines, newspapers, and online reviewers. Your book will most likely get a finished copy mailing with a press release or press kit that goes out to additional reviewers, local and/or national media, and - if the publisher has a website and/or email newsletter - placement on that as well. Depending upon the book and author, the publicity department may try to set up phone, online and print interviews as well.
What most new authors won't get is a bookstore/media tour. The vast majority of new books being published will have a publicity budget of less than $500. Unless the publisher feels the need to send an author out on a media/bookstore tour or spend money on a TV satellite or radio drive-time tour, then there is no real reason for a book to have a publicity budget. The truth is that, for the most part, bookstore/media tours are costly and ineffective, both for the publisher and the bookseller. They are especially ineffective for fiction.
Marketing is less set in stone and is more geared toward an individual book. The marketing department may arrange for you to do book club telephone tours. They may create a special tchotchke for the publicity department to send out with galleys, something that they hope will be talked about and created buzz. They arrange for the book to be featured at any appropriate conferences and book/media conventions. And although online marketing falls into this area, you shouldn't expect your publisher to build you a website or pay for you to have one built. The marketing department's sole purpose is to come up with creative ways to promote your book to consumers and booksellers. But they tend to spend a lot of time on a very few lead titles, so the chances are that you may never even speak to anyone in the marketing department.
The third thing to understand about the publicity and marketing department is that they are not your adversaries. What they are - like most publishing departments these days - is under-funded and under-staffed. Your publicist may be working on as many as 40 titles in one three-month publishing span, possibly more if he or she handles a great many trade or mass market originals. Likewise, the experience of the publicist assigned to your book may depend a great deal upon the size of the advance you've received and whether or not your book is considered a lead or sub-lead title. An inexperienced publicist can still be a passionate advocate for your book, however. But even the most experienced, competent, and/or passionate publicist has only a limited amount of time to spend working on your book; the best thing you can do is make it as easy as possible for the two of you to work together so that your publicist can make the best use of his/her time on your project.
Tomorrow I'll talk about how you can help make that happen.