A Publisher's Conversation with Authors: Understanding the Difference between Marketing and Promotion


It is Tuesday. Time to tall turkey. Monday's madness is over, and Wednesday will take us over the hump, so Tuesday it is--for some serious discussion with authors. Tuesday talks mean to address authors in waiting and self-published authors who would like to go a more traditional route or who would at least like to take their steps with a publisher by their side.

Today's topic addresses two terms that are generally used together but mean very different things: marketing and promotion. 

Marketing has as a goal getting someone to buy your book. It can include, but is not limited to:

  • advertising, whether in print (e.g., direct mail, posted posters, ads in magazines and newspapers) or via social media
  • passive marketing: presence in bookstores, online catalogues, distributor's catalogue, publisher's website and webstore
  • presence on other websites where it is for sale
  • listing in catalogues
  • email blasts
  • tweaking SEO and following results
  • holding sales 
  • sales booths
  • book signings
  • handing out order forms at events

Promotion has as a goal getting someone to notice your book. It can include, but is not limited to:

  • presentations
  • talk shows
  • articles
  • participation in community events (e.g., offering a book copy for a community raffle)
  • presence on websites for information only
  • references by others in articles, blogs, etc.
  • exhibits
  • book tours
  • answering questions for book clubs
  • social media; blogs, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, Face Book, Linked In
  • sharing with social and professional networks
  • book reviews
  • book award competitions
  • word of mouth - talking about the book, hyping it

The bottom line is that understanding the difference will help you to market and promote your book better. It will also help in talking to your publisher and setting appropriate expectations. (Publishers generally market; they do not necessarily focus on promoting books other than formally, with an eye toward sales, which is, in fact, marketing.)

Lesson for today's Tuesday talk: Book marketing focuses directly on sales; book promotion focuses on getting the book known, with the hope of both renown and sales. The success of your book will require both marketing and promotion. Mix them together well.

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 (Publishing for Smarties: How to Find a Publisher available from MSI Press LLC; discount of 25% with coupon code FF25; currently on sale for $5, but that offer will not last forever).


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