A publicity assistant sends out galleys (early bound and typeset copies of a book) to select book reviewers at newspapers and magazines, maintains and updates lists of reviewers who should receive free copies of the published book one it’s out, works with his/her boss to arrange radio, print, and television interviews for authors, and may work to organize book release parties and signings at bookstores. Additionally, the assistant needs to know all the social media venues like Facebook and Twitter as this, too, is how books are promoted. Publicity assistants go on to become publicity directors–and because good publicity is so important to book sales, the best publicists sometimes move on to corporate marketing and executive publishing levels.
There are also two other ‘assistant’ roles, one in marketing where the department seeks to build ways of promoting the book on its own, via web campaigns and book events. There is a role for an assistant in the Subsidiary Rigths Office, which means lots and lots of data entry, recording the details of the many, many deals that come through, and constantly communicationg with agents and other publishers.