Publicity vs. Marketing: An Author’s Guide

Your book is done! You’re as ready as you’ll ever be to share it with the world. But what’s next? How do you get your book out there? How do you make sure your audience finds it? Should you look into publicity or marketing? Or both? And what’s the difference between PR and marketing anyway?

First, let’s start with basic definitions:

Publicity: notice or attention given to someone or something by the media.

Marketing: The action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising

The main difference? Marketing is focused on paid promotion of a specific product (i.e., your book), whereas PR is focused on earned media coverage for a brand (or author). It’s often said that publicity is free, but marketing you have to pay for. In the context of publishing, it’s better to think of PR as securing editorial coverage for an author/book and marketing as paid communication directly with the consumer about an author or book.


In the simplest terms, publicity is media attention. This includes traditional media, such as features in magazines, newspapers, and television (talk shows, news shows), as well as new media, like podcasts, blogs, websites, and social media. Publicists write creative pitches as well as press releases that are sent to targeted outlets with the goal of securing coverage. A publicist informs journalists, producers, storytellers, and influencers about why they should feature you as an expert or include your book in their content. Then the publicist and journalist work together to make that story come to life by coordinating interviews, sharing assets, and more until the feature is published. To learn more, check out our interview with a publicist here.


Marketing deals with promoting and selling a specific product, often in the form of advertising. From the ads you see on a train platform to ones you see scrolling through Instagram, these placements all cost money. In publishing, marketing starts with research to determine target audiences that would be most likely to buy your book based on demographics and interests. Once the audiences are established, you’ll then pay to have your ads shown directly to those consumers. Click here to see the step-by-step process to build a cookbook audience on Facebook Advertising.

By understanding the differences between PR and marketing as well as how they complement each other, you are able to achieve a powerful marketing strategy that launches your book right into readers’ hands. Although they’re different, PR and marketing often work hand-in-hand in the most successful campaigns. Send us a note to learn more!

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