You will probably have noticed that marketing terminology is used very casually in publishing. In some companies, ‘publicity’ is a catch-all phrase for marketing activity or staff; in others it may be the specific job of one person. In the context of this chapter, I am talking about publicity as editorial coverage in the media which leads both to promotion by word of mouth and to sales. Publicity is often a subliminal sell: the publicist tries to lodge so many references to a particular project in the brain of the consumer that the latter is prompted to buy the book without ever having formally made the decision so to do.
An important point to grasp is that because publicity strives to achieve editorial space – i.e. to get your project included in a newspaper’s features or news coverage, rather than as a paid-for ad – the publicist is effectively asking for something for nothing. At the same time, all media can calculate exactly what the space is worth (from their advertising rates). It follows that in return for the space allocated, the medium chosen will certainly want something in return: a scoop (a story before anyone else has it) or an interesting angle that will appeal to their readers. However, the story they want to feature and the image you want to present may not be the same.
You should also remember that in a publishing context:
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