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Digital Book Marketing vs. Book Publicity

Thursday, December 14, 2017

When it comes to book promotion, digital marketing and publicity are often mentioned in the same breath. It’s easy for them to be viewed as the same thing, especially since they both help promote your book and get it in front of readers. However, there are several key differences between digital book marketing vs. book publicity that you should keep in mind as you decide how to promote your book.

Digital Book Marketing is Advertising While Book Publicity is Not

Digital marketing, in its simplest definition, is advertising, whether paid or organic. Your digital marketing may include blogging, email communications, social media outreach, and traditional advertising. This is very different from publicity, which relies on reporters, bloggers, and tastemakers to choose your book and feature it at no charge to the author. The advertisements you plan are guaranteed to run, while publicity is beholden to the whims of the media cycle and individual writers.

Digital Book Marketing is About Conversions and Sales While Publicity is About Exposure and Credibility

The function of digital marketing is very different from the function of publicity, and both are very important to a book’s exposure. Publicity is especially helpful around a book launch as it establishes an author’s brand and gives him or her clout in the publishing world. If an important blogger or reporter writes about a book, readers will appreciate it as a title curated by a media outlet they trust, which helps increase the perceived value of your book. Digital marketing, however, is about getting people to click on an ad and buy your book. This is great for sales, but does a lot less for your author branding and is often best incorporated after the initial book launch so that people will see your book both in advertising and in trusted media publications and blogs.

You Control the Audience for Digital Book Marketing While Media Outlets Develop and Curate Their Own Audiences

Both options are double-edged swords. If you have a good handle on your own audience, digital marketing may be an easy move; however, if you don’t know the ins-and-outs of your audience, it’s easy to spend a lot of money sharing your book with the wrong people. This is much less likely with publicity since writers and reporters are selecting your book based on the idea that their readers will be interested. Once you figure out what kinds of readers are interested with a publicity campaign, it can be a lot easier to develop a digital marketing campaign that effectively targets your readers.

Read more about picking the right media outlets to pitch your book.

Book Publicity Campaigns Typically Take Longer Than Advertising Campaigns

Since publicity campaigns are dependent on media outlets and bloggers deciding to read and write about your book or conduct an interview, this process takes a lot longer than setting up digital ads. Because of this, you must plan more lead time for your publicity campaign before launch than you do for a digital advertising campaign, although it's incredibly important to plan your book promotion ahead of time for both.

Digital Book Marketing Has More Potential for Long-Term Use, While Book Publicity is Very Time Sensitive

Digital marketing campaigns can begin at almost any point in your book’s lifetime. Publicity, however, cannot. Publicity is very focused on the idea of news-worthiness, and a book that came out a year ago or even a month ago has already lost its excitement for a lot of traditional media. Though some publicity can be done after a launch, it is typically very limited. This means that publicity campaigns and digital marketing campaigns work well in conjunction with each other, where the publicity campaign focuses on launch and the digital marketing campaign focuses on post-launch book sales.

As you evaluate the marketing and publicity needs for your book, it’s important to take a minute and evaluate your timeline, purposes, and intended audience. Evaluating these things will help you decide what is best for you and can help you decide what kind of resources you need to get going.


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Sydney Mathieu

Sydney Mathieu is a digital marketing expert who creates innovative campaigns for author and publisher clients for JKS Communications. She is a well-respected book publicist with a graphic design background that makes authors' visual promotions and social media pop. She focuses much of her time on promoting authors through social media, Amazon SEO, Goodreads support and creatively getting promotional material into the hands of tastemakers.