The Difference Between Book Marketing, Sales, and PR

Julie Trelstad
Julie Trelstad

Marketing, PR, sales—it’s all the same, right?

No, marketing, PR, and sales perform different functions even though they can have a similar outcome- more book sales.

Let’s look at the difference between marketing and PR (public relations).

According to Shashank Sharma, the content creator of Dextra Art, Marketing is defined by creating “awareness” of your book or your personal brand. An example would be paid promotions, advertising, or social media. Marketing is the concept of researching and understanding the reader’s needs and desires, and who those target readers are.

Whereas public relations concerns press outreach in the form of press releases, getting reviews, or placing excerpts of articles about the book. Public relations used to specifically target print media, but with the growth of technology public relations now includes reaching out to other online sources such as news sites, online journals, and bloggers.

While both public relations are marketing are at their best when working together, Alex Honeysett, a brand and marketing strategist for CEOs notes some professionals believe that each approach should be considered separate. In some publishing companies they are in the same department, and in others, they are different functions.

Marketing creates the response that public relations can respond to and vice versa—if a book gets featured in a prominent publication, then marketers will work to make sure readers know about it.

Now, let’s look at sales and how this approach compares to the other two.

The term is defined as directly asking for the customer to purchase the product or service. Any author who has tried to ask, “buy my book!” in social media (marketing) knows that asking for a direct sale in marketing or PR often falls flat!

Marketing and PR  creates consumer awareness. Only sales sell.

Sales techniques are what it takes to “close a deal” or what needs to be done for the reader to open their wallet.

Marketing, PR, and sales go together as marketing can make sales go easier by already understanding the reader’s desires and generating interest in a book.

However, in marketing the seller cannot generally ask for someone to buy without typically turning off the customer.

Online marketer Heidi Cohen reminds us that Marketing, public relations, and sales is an ongoing cycle.

For authors that means the publisher markets the books to gain a reader’s attention and make readers more aware of their reading desires and needs.

Public relations informs the reader more about the book such as launch dates and other specifications ensuring this product is right for the customer.

Sales happen when the reader agrees to pay a price for a book (or the time it takes to borrow it from the library) and commit the time to read it.

book marketing

Julie Trelstad

Julie Trelstad is a book publishing pro (former acquisitions editor, digital rights director, publisher) who teaches writers the art and science of book publishing to support her serious book habit.