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Market Research Group

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Advertising vs. PR in Book Promotion


Through the years, book advertising has been a factor in promoting some marquee titles but has primarily existed in the shadow of PR. Book publicity is the preferred and more cost-effective method for most titles. When traditional media reigned supreme, books were sometimes promoted with ads in newspapers and magazines. A few rare titles were promoted through TV commercials. Since the digital revolution, those have lessened in favor of online banner ads and paid clicks. But even in the new media era, the coverage produced by PR campaigns is primarily regarded as more valuable and persuasive.


On the other hand, paid promotion has been and continues to be a factor. Producing posters for in-store use and event sponsorships are two examples. Online marketing investments include creating websites, blogs, and podcast series. Each has the potential to attract members of your book's target audience and contribute meaningfully to its promotion. But they go directly to your audience and don't carry the implied endorsement of third-party coverage. It's one of the reasons why PR continues to be necessary unless you're a celebrity author with millions of fans clamoring for your book.


Hybrid campaigns incorporating various promotional methods are often the most effective, mainly when they're targeted to your book. When you work with a publicist or marketer, they can run through many options with you to develop the plan. Highly targeted marketing continues to gain in popularity versus mass media. Breaking through to people with a more profound interest in your book can spark sales and propel its success more quickly. When you reach a vast audience, the numbers may sound impressive, but only a tiny fraction will have significant interest, making the media less effective for you.


While carefully planning your book's marketing campaign is vital, it's also helpful to be flexible once it begins. If you have notable success in an area, you may elect to do more of it and less of something else. Not everything can be predicted in advance, and part of the process is fine-tuning as you go along. Many of the biggest selling books today sell continuously in a "slow drip" method rather than an avalanche of sales in a finite period around launch time. As you accrue media and online coverage, more people will find out about your book and become excited about reading it. Word of mouth is powerful advertising.


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