Monday, January 20, 2014

Make sure you understand the important "peas" in the publishing "pod"

Book publicity is one of several related and sometimes confusing or nearly synonymous “p” terms.

Someone does promotion (which often includes public relations) to achieve publicity. They all can be part of an author's platform.

Publicity is lots of people knowing about your book and hopefully buying copies and/or urging others to buy.

Promotion is all of the efforts intended to achieve publicity. Although publicity is the end result of promotion, many people call themselves book publicists and relatively few call themselves book promoters. (Publicists used to be called "press agents"). A publicist or promoter can guarantee to provide promotion, or public relations, but cannot guarantee that you or your book will achieve publicity. 

Red Hot Internet Publicity is mis-titled. The author uses "publicity" as a synonym for "marketing," and it wasn't until I reached page 115 of her 193 pages that I encountered anything that I considered to be related to the book's title -- which was the reason I bought the book.

Despite its name, public relations is not directly concerned with relations with the public. Media are intermediaries. Writers hope to attract the attention of media people by sending out press releases, or by contacting journalists, editors, bloggers, talk show hosts, TV producers and movie makers.

Promotion includes more than public relations. It may include public appearances, publicity stunts and platform building. 

Platform is a major buzzword in current publishing. It’s not the same as a political party’s platform. Think of it as a metaphor for a structure that will boost you up and make you visible to potential readers, sources of publicity and bookstore buyers. Components in your platform include websites, blogs, business connections, social media, radio and TV appearances, quotes in media, online mentions, speeches, articles, friends, neighbors, etc. Your first book is part of your platform and should help sell your later books.

Platform photo from Thanks.


  1. Just a sticking point from a former PR firm owner turned full-time writer: public relations does indeed focus on relations with the public. What you're talking about is media relations, which is a small subset of what public relations actually involves. That confusion is a big pet peeve for me and a number of colleagues in PR, almost as much as the confusion between public relations and marketing (or worse, the common assumption that PR is just a type of marketing).

    1. I also have a background in PR, but as an employee and freelancer, not a PR firm owner.

      You may be technically correct about "media relations" but "public relations" is a much more commonly used term (four times as many Google links).

      Some companies that send out news releases are PR Newswire, PR Web, PR Log and -- not MR Newswire, MR Web, MR Log or

      Lots of companies have PR departments, but MR departments usually deal with market research, not media relations.

      I stand by my comments. PR is aimed at the media with the hope that the media will attract attention of the public. A PR release is sent to dozens, hundreds or thousands -- not to tens of millions.

      And as for PR not being a type of marketing: it's certainly part of marketing, so why isn't it a type of marketing?