By Caitlin Davies, Danielle Hernandez and Georgia Rees
2022 was another strong year for new, captivating reads, and the accompanying marketing campaigns have highlighted immense creativity and emerging new trends. In this issue we recount some of our favourite campaigns from the past year.
Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Delving into Taylor Jenkins Reid’s latest novel was a real treat for the team in 2022. Our campaign spotlight explored a multifaceted approach catering to the ever-growing fanbase picking up Reid’s work. Carrie Soto is Back is the story of the comeback of the eponymous tennis star, returning from retirement with a lot to prove. The summer publication date cleverly coincided with the height of the tennis season, with chapter samples handed out during Wimbledon. A sold-out tour was held across the UK and US, and proof copies circulated to key users on Bookstagram and BookTok, key areas where Reid’s popularity has particularly grown in the past few years. The marketing team behind the novel created a jam-packed summer, utilising a variety of engaging strategies, and the payoff continues as Reid’s work remains on bestseller lists worldwide.
Hester by Laurie Lico Albanese
Laurie Lico Albanese’s Hester emerged as a surprise favourite in 2022. A stand-out work of historical fiction, Albanese’s retelling of Hawthorne’s classic The Scarlet Letter focuses on a young seamstress named Isobel who migrates to New England during the height of the witch trials. Its accolades include Audible’s Best Book of 2022 and nominee for Goodreads’ Best Historical Fiction Prize. Hester had brilliant publicity, coupled with a strong social-media marketing campaign. Bloggers were sent advance copies of Hester in a box of goodies including a tote bag adorned with the book’s cover art. Working with Insta Book Tours, Duckworth Books ran a two-week-long blog tour on Instagram, aiming to engage directly with the Bookstagram community. After also holding a successful Instagram live launch, Duckworth Books have continued to create a variety of reels and posts focusing on Hester, and it continues to be a popular choice for historical fiction fans.
The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake
A standout campaign from early this year was Olivie Blake’s dark academia fantasy The Atlas Six. Originally a self-published novel, this book was already a huge hit on TikTok so the marketing team at Pan Macmillan needed a high-impact campaign to draw in new audiences whilst also providing something extra for Blake’s existing fanbase. With buzz already circulating on social media, the team really focused on using these platforms to their advantage. A handful of fantasy fiction-oriented book influencers were selected to receive proof copies to promote on their channels. Alongside the regular proof run, a special edition run of 150 exclusive red proofs, each numbered and scented with woodsmoke, were given to a lucky group of influencers. Creating excitement and a sense of exclusivity around this book prior to release reflected in sales, with around 7,000 pre-orders coming from Waterstones alone. The team at Pan Mac also used the opportunity to take the impact of TikTok on the publishing industry more seriously, creating their own account to share information about competitions, teaser trailers and exclusive author content. The team even took out a paid advertisement on TikTok, using the app’s unique algorithm to try to reach as many people's 'for you' pages as possible. And, to reward those loyal fans who had been with Blake since the self-publishing days, the team created an AR TikTok filter in which users could discover which character from the book they would be. With such a short campaign window, the team did an excellent job of keeping The Atlas Six at the front and centre of every fantasy fan’s mind.
Luster by Raven Leilani
Despite already launching in hardback a year previously, the paperback launch of Luster by Raven Leilani became a memorable campaign of 2022. Maintaining momentum while competing with new releases can bring immense pressure. In an interview with the Book Marketing Society, Gaby Quattromini explained how she was able to create a detailed consumer profile of the target audience using data from the previous campaign. While putting this key audience at the heart of their creative brief, Picador mixed both print and digital marketing in clever ways to draw in readers. First, three beautiful murals by Black female artists made a splash in London at the beginning of this year, taking over Brixton Academy sites. Using the iconic imagery from the jacket cover as inspiration, each artist created a totally unique representation of the author's words and message. This process was then filmed, and the three creators were interviewed, allowing the marketers to utilise not only the outdoor billboard but also repurpose the video on social media and keep the buzz going. Of course the virtual roundtable was a standout publication event as well, allowing the panel of Black female creators and authors, including Leilani herself, to connect with the readers and discuss some of the central themes of the book. This campaign not only exhibits an incredible amount of creativity but also serves as another reminder that the core power of marketing is knowing your audience.