I got into a (somewhat) heated discussion this week on Facebook about a publisher's definition of PR versus marketing. My contact with editors and agents at both big and small houses has left me with an impression that some consider them one and the same, even though some publishers still have both a marketing department AND a PR department. The idea of both marketing and promotion is to get the word out about your book, whether it is still being written, is in the galley stage or is on the book shelves.
Many of the editors I have talked to express their hope that authors will be doing some of the "PR" work themselves, preferably before the book even gets purchased. Many agents and editors go to find out if you have a web presence the minute they decide they might like your book. While it doesn't mean you HAVE to have 1,000 friends on Facebook or MySpace or a huge number of followers on Twitter, it should show that you are out there in cyberspace ready, willing and able to put yourself before the public, talk about your writing, your books and anything else that might help you brand yourself and build a following online.
Those authors who still believe it is the publisher's job to do all the PR and marketing may not be selling to their full potential, and their publishers may be disappointed at their lack of eagerness to help promote their own work. If you're not someone like Stephen King or Laurell K. Hamilton, your publisher probably isn't going to put major buckage into publicity for you. There are a lot of authors out there who know the value of self-promotion - and online, it's pretty much free in social networking sites to get your name in front of hundreds or thousands of people.
If you don't believe me, there are some who make a decent living helping others learn to put themselves out there. Consider M.J. Rose and Douglas Clegg, and the course "Buzz Your Book." It's all about creating your own buzz if your publisher can't or won't do it to your satisfaction, or if you're still in the writing stages. And that can even help you land a publishing contract.
Anyway, think about it and do what you need to.
Also, remember the Brenda Novak Juvenile Diabetes Auction starts May 1. If you haven't been to check it out, it's at www.brendanovak.com. I'll be donating again this year, so go bid and bid often. There are prizes to win and great deals to be had, for writers, readers and everyone in between!