Author MJ Rose

Should an Author Favor PR or Marketing?

In Guest Contributors by Guest Contributor

There is a big difference between PR and marketing, and while PR may seem more sexy, it is often a dead end for many books.

By M.J. Rose

MJ Rose

M.J. Rose

The one questions author should ask themselves that they typically do not when it comes to book marketing is: “Should I do PR or marketing?”

To most people PR sounds much sexier than marketing. They’d rather pay $5,000 – $15,000 for a shot at People magazine than investing in 1 million ads.

But the fact is that very very few books have real PR value.

So the biggest question an authors should ask is if they can only afford one or the other – should they be buying PR or marketing. 

For non fiction PR can make sense – if the book really has something big and new about it. But for fiction – not all NYT bestsellers get People magazine. PR agencies are great but they are up against less reviews and less outlets for books so they are relying more and more on small blogs and blog talk radio to get press. And while those outlets are nice they are not what most authors expect to get from PR.

The second question an author should ask herself is what are her expectations. Most authors have wildly unrealistic expectations about what’s going to happen with their books. I’ve had debut authors whose publishers were printing 4000 copies, not spending anything in marketing tell me they expected to get on the New York Times bestseller list. Authors should sit down and make a list of expectations then talk to some other authors and excerpts and see if its realistic or not and then research ways to make those expectations come true.

It’s a tough gig. We need to be optimistic enough to spend a year writing the book and believing in it. Then we need to let accept the reality of the marketplace where unbridled optimistic expectations can devastate us and ruin the whole experience.

A former advertising executive, M.J. Rose is the founder of — a marketing services for authors that works with many of top consumer-facing book trade publications around the world. She is also the author of numerous bestselling novels including, most recently, The Witch of Painted Sorrows (Atria Books).

About the Author

Guest Contributor

Guest contributors to Publishing Perspectives have diverse backgrounds in publishing, media and technology. They live across the globe and bring unique, first-hand experience to their writing.