Example of a publicity stunt to promote The Testaments, the sequel to the Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood © Penguin Random House 2019
Senior // Publicity Department
What does a Publicity Manager do?
A Publicity Manager is an important part of the core team behind the publication and launch of a book. They are responsible for making sure that potential readers know about the book and are persuaded to buy it (and tell others to buy it), by creating exciting, creative and impactful publicity campaigns which drive sales. They will usually have several years’ experience in this area.
Day-to-day activities involve:
- Working with colleagues in editorial, marketing and sales to create an innovative, unique (and sometimes show-stopping) campaign for a book – from start to finish.
- Working with the Marketing team to create events or stunts around a book’s launch.
- Working closely with the author on promotion of the book, such as accompanying them on a book tour or attending an interview with them.
- Maintaining and developing excellent media contacts, so that they are able to make sure the right journalists and bloggers are given the opportunity to review the book or interview the author (e.g. a sports blogger might be interested in an autobiography of a top footballer, whereas someone writing about cookery might be less interested).
- Actively researching the marketplace and readership, and building excellent awareness of trends, so they know what potential readers are interested in and how best to reach them through those channels.
- Attending the pitch meetings when a publishing house is trying to convince an author to publish their book with them, rather than with another publisher.
It’s a fun, fast-paced and exciting role, and often no two days are the same!
What are Publicity Managers good at?
- Remaining calm under pressure and being adept at managing multiple projects and deadlines and prioritising their time effectively and flexibly.
- Being creative and not being afraid to do things differently or push the boundaries to make a book stand out from others in the market.
- Communicating effectively, with strong written skills and good presentation skills. They will be enthusiastic about presenting their ideas and can represent the team both internally and externally.
- Have great people skills and enjoy meeting new people, because working in this role requires speaking to and spending a lot of time with other people in the industry – from other colleagues to booksellers, journalists, bloggers and designers, and of course the author themselves.
- Engaging in the world around them, whether that’s pop culture, social media or the news, and will think about how to use these channels in new and different ways to reach readers and what different audiences are interested in
- Being determined and having the tenacity to give 100% to a project, even when the sales of a book are lower than hoped – as sometimes a book’s success takes a while to get going.
- A strong team player and very passionate about what they do!
Who do they work with?
Publicists will usually work very closely with the Marketing Team on a book launch and campaign. Whilst similar, people working in Marketing would work on ‘paid-for’ promotion for a campaign – i.e. raising awareness of a book through advertisements, brand partnerships or digital campaigns – which is different to the work that publicists do with the media.
A Publicity Manager would also work with:
- Editors, to decide how to best promote the book’s story or subject matter in the wider world
- Authors, to support them ahead of interviews with journalists or appearing at events
- Booksellers and other retailers, to organise book promotion events or launches
How do I become a Publicity Manager?
An entry-level role in a publicity team at a publisher
Many people working in Publicity will have started in publishing in an entry-level role, usually as Publicity Assistant. Find more about what a Publicity Assistant’s role involves here.
Gaining experience elsewhere
Alternatively, lots of people enter this area by working in Publicity for a company in another industry (which could be anything from fashion to TV, or food to technology) and then moving across to publishing once they have a few years’ experience. Other people will work in a Publicity agency.
You will usually be able to come in at a higher level if you have gained relevant experience elsewhere. This is because the fundamental skills you learn in Publicity are generally transferrable, whatever the product, and can be applied across many different industries. In fact, many publishers see it as very helpful for employees to have experience in other industries – meaning they can bring different perspectives, fresh viewpoints and new expertise to the table!
Working in similar roles
You don’t always have to have direct experience in Publicity to take up a role of Publicity Manager. Instead, you might have similar but complementary experience, such as working in Marketing, Social Media, Events or PR.
Learn more about what it’s like to work as a Publicity Manager: