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Market Research Group

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Promoting Your Book: PR vs. Advertising



Advertising and publicity are often confused, especially by individuals outside the publishing industry and new authors. While they both fall under the broad category of marketing, there are crucial distinctions between book publicity (also known as PR) and buying ads. The main difference is that advertising involves a purchase, while publicity is earned through media coverage and mentions. While advertising can be influential and well-executed, many experienced individuals in the publishing industry believe that media coverage carries more weight as it lends credibility to a book and its author.


PR firms for books work behind the scenes to secure media coverage, making their efforts mainly invisible to the general public. It differs from paid advertisements, which are clearly recognized as purchased media. Publicity also positions authors as newsworthy, making their books relevant to current entertainment and informational topics. Being featured in a news article or broadcast story implies a certain level of standing, and links to such coverage can serve as compelling social media content and impress and engage fans. Repurposing an ad similarly doesn't carry as much weight.


When authors have the budget to choose between seeking publicity or purchasing ads, they must consider the potential risks. For instance, they have little control over how journalists and interviewers portray them and their work. While favorable coverage is possible, there's always a risk of negative commentary. Despite the potential drawbacks, most authors ultimately decide to engage with the media to secure coverage, often believing that the benefits of being included in a trending story outweigh the risks. On the other hand, paid advertising keeps you in complete control.


Reviews in today's market can be earned through publicity or paid for as advertising. There is ongoing debate about the integrity and value of paid reviews. However, in today's book market's competitive landscape, some authors incorporate paid reviews into their marketing strategy. It's important to remember that not all books and authors are the same. What works well for one may not work well for another. Understanding the target audience and suitable media for each book is crucial. Whichever route you choose, or a combination, ensure that you reach your target audience.

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