INDUSTRY KNOWHOW Who's who in publishing? Part 3: marketing and publicity

A publishing house can seem like a confusing mess of titles and roles that don't really mean anything to anyone. Co-editor, Ellie Brough, sheds a little light on who's who in a publishing house and how they can help you get that book deal. Part three: Publicity and Marketing. 

For the author or illustrator trying to get past those big, imposing gates to the world of publishing, it can seem like an impossible task. Can you just walk straight up and knock? Who should you be talking to? Is there a chain of command you should be following? Or an elusive back door that you haven’t heard of? Surely there must be some trick to getting someone to unlock that gate? 

One trick is knowing who is who, what they do and how they can help you. In this post I'll reveal who's who in the marketing and publicity departments.... 
The marketing and publicity departments have two very different roles in a publishing house that work very closely together. Before I introduce you to some useful players, here’s a breakdown of what they actually do: 

The marketing department: develops and runs campaigns to help sell the books. These can be anything from adverts in newspapers and magazines, social media campaigns and bookstore displays.

The publicity department: creates buzz around books and authors. This can be through radio, television and magazine interviews, social media campaigns, events and collaboration with bloggers.
One simple way to remember the difference is that marketing tends to be paid for promotion and publicity is all about that free buzz and exposure.

Alison Donald with the book display for The New Libearian at her book launch. 

So who do you need to know….

The Head of Media/Marketing Communications This person oversees all of the marketing and publicity campaigns and activities on an imprint. They will have the final word on budgets, methods and schedules. They might not work closely on any campaign, but they’ll decide which books get the most attention and will coordinate the teams behind each book. 

The marketing manager is typically responsible for a portfolio of titles at one time. They will organsie and manage all of the activity and campaigns on this book. This will include looking after budgets and schedules and delegating duties to other players in the marketing team. 

A publicist looks after authors and their books. They’ll manage their authors’ publicity schedules. This will involve book events, talks and signings for them as well as scheduling interviews with relevant magazines, radio hosts and bloggers. 
The publicity assistant is a publicist in training. They will handle all of the admin behind planning a great publicity campaign. From booking hotels and trains to being a helping hand on the day of an event, they learn the ropes very quickly! 

Marketing and publicity people are some of the most enthusiastic people you will meet in the industry. Think about it, they get paid just to talk about books. You’d be pretty excited too. Here are some tips for how to make the most out of a meeting with them.

Kim Nye, Ellie Brough (me), Abigail Tompkins and Yasmin Finch at the launch for Mr Mustachio.

Tips for success: 

  • Check their mood. If you’re at an event then it’s very likely that the publicist or marketing bod is working. Part of their job is to talk to people at the event, but their mind will be on a million things, from their author, to the catering, so if they look stressed, give them a minute. 
  • Prepare to listen: These are the people with the best insight into trends in the industry. Take advantage and find out all you can about the current trends and patterns and think about how your work could fit into these. 
  • Pitch with caution: It’s always worth pitching to a marketing or publicity person if what you have to offer matches what they’re looking for. Listen carefully to what they have to say and only pitch if you tick all of their boxes. 
*Feature image: book wall at HarperCollins 

   Ellie Brough is co-editor of Words & Pictures

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