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A Peek into Publishing: The Difference Between Publicity and Marketing


In many publishing companies, particularly smaller ones, marketing and publicity overlap a lot and usually work within the same department. While they work closely, you might’ve heard people say “that’s more publicity” or “we don’t do that in marketing” – so what’s the difference?

Long story short: marketing tends to deal with paid media (such as advertising) while publicity focuses more on free media (reaching out to newspapers/magazines etc.). By no means is this the whole story, and the lines get a little blurred when it comes to social media, but in essence that is the biggest difference between the two.

When you see a review in a publication or an author featuring on a podcast, that will have been organized by the publicity team, whereas if you’re wondering who created the cool merchandise being distributed alongside a new book, that will have likely been arranged by the marketing team.

The difference between the two departments and exactly what they’re in charge of is a question often asked in job interviews. When advertising for the role of Publicity Assistant last year, one of our first interview questions was “what’s the difference between publicity and marketing?” So, it’s good to become familiar with who does what. 

A day in publicity might look like … 

  • writing targeted pitches to different members of the press
  • responding to emails from publications who were interested in the pitch you sent out yesterday
  • arranging mailing ARCs (Advance Reader Copies)
  • contacting an author about a speaking event at a bookshop
  • coaching an author though writing a piece for a publication
  • organizing author tours
  • writing a press release for a forthcoming title.

A day in marketing might look like … 

  • creating graphics for social media and scheduling them
  • securing a paid advertisement for a book in a relevant magazine (and often designing them)
  • producing digital ads using keywords and targeted demographics
  • constructing an Eventbrite page for an author’s ticketed event
  • creating and updating title’s Amazon plus pages
  • increasing a website’s visibility using SEO
  • designing bookmarks to be sent out alongside ARCs. 

A lot of these roles can overlap, particularly in smaller companies, Sometimes, a job may even cover both marketing and publicity. But people tend to lean slightly more toward one side as both can be very time consuming.

At the end of the day, both sides have the same goal: get the book out there as widely as possible!

As always, if you have any questions or want to keep up-to-date with our blog posts, you can find us over on Twitter. You can see all of our previous posts exploring different departments here.

Top Ten Terms: Marketing & Publicity in Publishing

Hi everyone and welcome back to a Peek Into Publishing! In an effort to demystify the jargon used in publishing meetings and around the office, we’ve asked each of our departments to name and define ten terms they wished they’d known when they first started in the industry. We’ve already published the Top Ten Sales Terms. This week, we’ll be taking a look at the Top Ten Terms our Marketing & Publicity team have chosen.

These terms are useful for anyone looking to work in publishing, or someone who has recently started out in the first publishing role, not just in M&P. They are mentioned in meetings with all departments, so we hope you’ll benefit from learning them!

1. ARCs

Advance reader copies (ARCs) are free copies of forthcoming titles that publicists can send to booksellers, reviewers, influencers and publishing professionals in advance of the publication date. Their purpose is to create buzz before a book is published, giving readers a chance to submit early reviews and increase pre-order numbers.

2. Press Release

In short, a press release is a news document. They are usually one–two pages long and provide a brief summary of a title and its author so that journalists can look at it and very quickly get to grips with the book and whether it is of interest to them / their publication.

3. Embargo

An embargo is something that would usually appear on a press release. It’s a warning to the media not to publish a news item until the date specified. For example, there might be a line on a press release saying, “EMBARGOED UNTIL 16/06/2021”, which would allow the publishers to release information on a title first.

4. Press Kit

Publications, such as magazines and newspapers, often have a downloadable press kit on their website. These documents outline the advertising opportunities that are available with that publication as well as the associated costs. Nowadays, many influencers will also have press kits, which allows publicists to determine whether working with them is relevant and helpful to a title and whether it would fit with their budget.

5. Circulation

Also known as “reach”, circulation refers to the number of people who view and/or read a publication. For example, Good Housekeeping has a circulation of 433,661. When it comes to online publications, this number is referred to as UVPM (unique visitors per month) – so, for Good Housekeeping Online the UVPM would be 16,884. We can easily find this information on Cision, which brings us to our sixth term …

6. Cision

Cision is a database that contains information about journalists and the publications they work for, such as the circulation for a publication and where it is located. It provides contact information so that publicists can send pitches to journalists directly from the site, as well as collating coverage as and when it comes in.

7. CPC

CPC, or cost per click, is a pay-per-click bidding model where you pay every time someone clicks on your digital advertisement. Your cost per click is how much you pay when someone clicks on your ad and will vary depending on your allocated budget and targeting. The lower the cost per click the better you are at getting more engagement for your money.

8. SEO

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization – this is when we influence a website’s visibility in a search engine’s organic, unpaid search results. For example, we can ensure that our website will come up first when you search “Watkins Publishing” by incorporating relevant keywords, publishing regular content and using other techniques.

9. KPIs

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are a set of metrics that can be used to measure a company’s goals. Your KPIs should be SMART:

  • Specific: Be as precise as possible. For example, do you want to increase your click-through rates by 20% by the end of the year?
  • Measurable: Will you be able to track your progress? How are you going to do it? During a monthly check-in, you should be able to determine how close you are to meeting the goal.
  • Attainable: Keep it real. Set KPIs that are within an achievable scope. How are you going to achieve your KPI?
  • Relevant: Make sure each social media KPIs connect to the business’s larger goals. How will this help the company as a whole?
  • Timely: What’s the time frame for achieving this goal and determining whether success has been met: one month, six months, one year?

    Example KPI:
    S: We would like to increase our brand’s Instagram following by 50%.
    M: We will track our progress monthly through an Excel dashboard, measuring engagement and growth.
    A: We will achieve this by reaching out to 100 relevant influencers so that they will promote and review our books on their channels. We will also post twice a day instead of once a day to increase our online presence.
    R: We would like to increase our brand’s presence in the US – targeting American influencers will help us to achieve this goal.
    T: We will aim to achieve this goal by January 2022.

10. ROI

Return on Investment (ROI) is a ratio that measures the benefits of doing something against the costs. For example, if a magazine advertisement cost £1,150, you would want to work out the ROI to make sure it’s worth doing. Does the size of the readership means it’s likely to result in increased sales worthy of £1,150?


That’s all for this week! We hope you gained a little more knowledge of the marketing & publicity terms that get used a lot. We wish those of you seeking a job in marketing and/or publicity (and in publishing in general) the best of luck!

If you want to learn more about upcoming Peek Into Publishing projects, follow Watkins on Twitter. Next week, we have a fabulous team member giving insight into the rights department, so come back on Wednesday for that. To catch up on previous posts, see below for insights into editorial, sales and design:

A Peek into Publishing: Marketing with Rachel Gladman

Welcome back to A Peek into Publishing! This is a new initiative we started two weeks ago where we reveal behind-the-scenes insights into working in publishing. In our last post, we asked Craig to show us around the sales department and what he gets up to on a day-to-day basis. This week, we’re talking to Rachel, who will be telling you all about marketing in publishing …

Rachel Gladman, Marketing Executive

How did you get into the industry and into your current marketing role?

Rachel Gladman

I’ve always had a passion for books and knew that I wanted to work in publishing from an early age. 

While studying English and American Literature with Creative Writing at the University of Kent, I completed a few publishing work experiences. First, I did an internship in the editorial team at a small Brighton-based publisher called Salariya Book Company. Then, I did a two-week summer placement at Penguin Random House in their children’s publicity team. While I enjoyed my editorial internship, this introduction to marketing and publicity taught me that my true passion was for marketing! 

After I graduated, I worked as a Marketing Assistant in a different industry. Alongside this, I volunteered as an Events Coordinator for the London Society of Young Publishers, organising panel discussions, networking events and the SYP annual conference.

My first publishing role was with Springer Nature as a Marketing Assistant, promoting their scientific journalsI then moved on to SAGE Publishing as a Marketing Executive where I was responsible for the marketing of 38 scientific journals. I moved over to trade publishing when I got a job with Hachette Partworks as a Product Manager. In this role, I worked closely with global entertainment brands including Warhammer, Marvel and Disney to promote their new comic and magazine launches.

I joined Watkins in August 2020 as their Marketing Executive, working on self-help and personal development books.

What does your day to day look like as Marketing Executive?

Every Monday, the marketing, publicity and sales teams meet to discuss our priorities for the week, as well as any acquisition proposals sent over by the editorial team. With any new acquisition, our team comes together to create a comprehensive plan. It is my responsibility to brainstorm ideas for social media promotion, blog posts, events, advertisement opportunities, external partnership opportunities and print assets. 

A large part of my role is also looking for opportunities for our company to grow. In my time at Watkins, I have created a TikTok account to reach new audiences, launched digital stores on Amazon, Bookshop.org, Facebook and Instagram to make purchasing our books quicker and easier for our customers, and teamed up with Eventbrite to make book launches and other events possible during the pandemic. 

The role of Marketing Executive is the perfect blend of problem-solving, creativity and analysis.  

For example, here’s a quick look at what my top priorities were for today (a Friday):

  • Design a print advertisement to feature in The Big Issue for Earth Day.
  • Create an Eventbrite page for “Meet Your Feet”, a foot health workshop with Yamuna Zake, the author of The Foot Fix.
  • Research keywords to create an Amazon advertisement for our upcoming cookbook French Countryside Cooking by Daniel Galmiche.
  • Create Earth Day themed book lists on our Amazon Store and Bookshop.org.
  • Submit titles for NetGalley’s Book of the Month.
  • Draft the Watkins Newsletter – this showcases our upcoming projects, a sneak peek at our forthcoming titles and event announcements.
  • Brainstorm marketing ideas for a new oracle card deck.

What were you most surprised to learn when you started in marketing in publishing?

In my previous publishing roles, I worked for larger companies with big marketing budgets and interacted very rarely with authors. I quickly discovered that in a small company, with smaller budgets, the author is one of the most important assets to a successful marketing campaign. For example, Dr Ryan Martin, author of Why We Get Mad is very comfortable with public speaking and being in front of a camera, but hadn’t previously posted a lot on social media. Knowing this, I worked with Ryan to create his TikTok account where he could share more information about the book and discuss important topics around the subject of anger. After only a few months, he has a highly engaged audience of 86k followers on TikTok. I can’t wait to see how far he’ll go! 

What is the best thing about your job? 

The diversity of our titles. One week I will be creating a marketing plan for a new tarot deck, and the next I will be working on a sourdough cookbook. Every project is different and each one challenges me to experiment with new, creative ideas.  I really love content creation and exploring new ways to reach customers, which is a huge part of my role. With such a diverse range of topics, each title offers me fresh opportunities to work with new audiences, expanding my knowledge and network. 

What is the most challenging part of your role?

It is a very fast-paced role with colleagues, authors and external partners needing your attention at the same time. 

While organisation skills are key to a marketing role, it is also important to know when to ask for help when it becomes too much. The marketing and publicity team at Watkins are in constant communication with each other and will pick up each other’s work if we need help to reach a deadline. 

What would be your top tip for people applying to work in publishing? 

Narrowing it down to one top tip is hard! My top three would be:

  1. Join societies and attend events (when you can) – these are a great opportunity to get to know people who are already working in publishing, listen to interesting speakers and meet people who are also trying to get into the industry. Some examples are:
  2. Don’t worry about getting your dream job straight away. Instead, think about your transferrable skills – getting experience in marketing outside of the publishing industry has been invaluable to my career. Building a portfolio of case studies that I can refer to during interviews greatly increased my chance of landing a job in trade publishing. 

    We all have a passion for books but being able to answer scenario questions such as “What has been your proudest achievement?”, “Can you describe a time when you failed?” or “What could we be doing differently?” sets you aside from everyone else.
  3. Twitter is your friend – it’s my go-to place for being on top of industry news and current events. It’s also a fantastic place to network and showcase your passion for the industry. If you’re not already, I suggest following:

What’s one Watkins book you’d encourage everyone to read?

Derek Frost’s Living and Loving in the Age of Aids is a personal favourite of mine. It’s a brilliant and moving memoir about one couple’s love story during the AIDS epidemic.  

Channel 4’s brilliant It’s a Sin, about the early days of the AIDS pandemic in London, created a massive buzz in both the UK and the US. For anyone who loved the series and wants to learn more about that difficult time, Derek’s book is an incredibly detailed and moving personal account. As an added bonus, all proceeds from book sales will be donated to AIDS Ark – a charity founded by Derek and Jeremy which has now saved over 1000 HIV positive lives around the world. 

While it’s a real tear-jerker, it’s incredibly uplifting. It is available now. 

Tell us about a project you’re currently working on? 

I am currently working closely with the Watkins Marketing & Publicity Manager to spearhead preparations for Publishers Weekly’s US Book Show. This will be my first time representing our titles at an international trade show and I can’t wait to see all of our hard work come into fruition! 


That’s all for this week! We hope you gained a little more insight into our marketing and publicity department. We wish those of you seeking a job in marketing the best of luck! If you want to learn more about upcoming “A Peek Into Publishing” projects, follow Watkins on Twitter.

You can also follow Rachel on Twitter and Instagram!

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