Author Care and the Invisibility of Affective Labour: Publicists’ Role in Book Publishing

Abstract

Publicists perform an important but ill-understood role within the publishing industry. Surveys of the Australian and UK publishing industries reveal those working in marketing and publicity are at higher risk of sexual harassment (Books + Publishing in Over half of book-industry survey respondents report sexual harassment, Books + Publishing, 2017; The Bookseller in Sexual harassment reported by over half in trade survey, The Bookseller, 2017). There is little clarity about the role of the publicist or why they are at greater risk of workplace harassment. In this article, we synthesise existing scholarly and industry understandings of the publicist role and the labour they perform. This examination of the literature reveals an absence of critical engagement with publicists’ work. We explore the affective labour that constitutes their roles and argue that the work they do conferring visibility and prestige onto authors and publishers is a major contributing factor in rendering their role invisible in the industry. A better understanding of publicists’ role in book publishing is vital, but first this research aims to make the publicist visible.

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Correspondence to Claire Parnell.

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Parnell, C., Dane, A. & Weber, M. Author Care and the Invisibility of Affective Labour: Publicists’ Role in Book Publishing. Pub Res Q 36, 648–659 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12109-020-09763-9

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Keywords

  • Publicists
  • Book publishing
  • Affective labour
  • Sexual harassment
  • Creative industries