By Amy Greensmith, Emily Lavin, Leah Murphy and Georgia Rees
Impossible Creatures by Katherine Rundell
The well-deserved children’s campaign winner was Bloomsbury Children’s with Katherine Rundell’s Impossible Creatures. Already well-known for middle-grade titles such as Rooftoppers and Wolf Wilder, as well as a more recent foray into non-fiction with Super-Infinite and The Golden Mole, Rundell’s latest release, the start to an epic middle-grade fantasy series, has had a major marketing campaign, coordinated by Alesha Bonser and Sophie Rosewell, and spanning most of 2023.
With an exciting cover reveal in April, Bloomsbury Children’s Instagram has since been posting regularly to garner some buzz ahead of publication on 14 September. There have been posts with glowing endorsements from established children’s and fantasy authors such as Jacqueline Wilson and Neil Gaiman, as well as reels of Rundell reading excerpts from Impossible Creatures.
One of the major players in the success of Impossible Creatures was larger bookstores Waterstones and Foyles, who have both since named it Book of the Year, an accolade that will inevitably drive sales. To celebrate this achievement, an exclusive sprayed edge edition is available through Waterstones complete with ribbon marker. Prior to publication, bookshops were provided with POS to help promote the book. These included promotional bookmarks, as well as standees of creatures from within the book to decorate windows and adorn bookshop displays. Waterstones Piccadilly had a particularly effective window complete with a vast banner which could be seen from across the road. A large 3D model of Archie Pelago, the travelling dragon toured select Waterstones stores across England, before settling back in Piccadilly for a few weeks. Impossible Creatures also had its very own “spillboard” – a billboard complete with standout dragon design – by Gospel Oak Station in Hampstead Heath, which also encouraged passersby to pop around the corner to Daunt Books to pick up a signed copy.
My Roommate is a Vampire by Jenna Levine
The recipient of the Guerrilla Campaign Award (marketing spending below £2.5k) was this year’s highly anticipated romance novel My Roommate is a Vampire by Jenna Levine. The debut novel has certainly cemented the author as a contender in the romance genre, with thanks to the strong marketing campaign from Cornerstone (Penguin).
The campaign began with a series of pre-order sales advertising exclusive editions, including: FairyLoot’s signed edition with a foiled cover and ombre edges, and a partnership with Nashville’s Parnassus Books for a signed and personalised edition. NetGalley also offered an opportunity for readers to request a digital proof in return for an honest review. On her Instagram, Jenna Levine revealed that her book was one of the most requested romance novels on the site!
A huge part of the campaign focused on social media, with the team at Cornerstone identifying BookTok romance readers as one of the target audiences. One of the most popular topics on BookTok is tropes, so the back cover of the proofs featured a breakdown of the themes and tropes of the book; for example, friends-to-lovers, forbidden romance and BookTok’s favourite topic of discussion, spicy scenes. The author also kept fans engaged with regular activity on her social media accounts. From the cover reveal to several giveaway announcements, Jenna Levine helped to maintain the hype around her debut novel.
Away from digital marketing, selected influencers received a proof package at the beginning of the year, which included a note from the book’s vampire, Frederick J. Fitzwilliam. Booksellers were also given the opportunity to partake in the campaign, with a selection of bookmarks and A3 window stands made available to create eye-catching displays in-store.
None of This is True by Lisa Jewell
Sarah Ridley and Claire Bush from the marketing department at Cornerstone were honoured with the Adult Fiction Campaign Award. Ridley and Bush crafted a stellar campaign for None of This Is True, the thrilling New York Times bestseller by Lisa Jewell. The aim of this marketing campaign was to transcend the book world and tap into the cultural phenomenon of true-crime podcasts. To achieve this, the team created Hi! I’m Your Birthday Twin!, a faux true-crime podcast based on the events in the novel. The podcast quickly caught the attention of listeners and created excitement and intrigue surrounding the novel’s release.
The podcast element of the campaign was complemented by more traditional modes of marketing, including an extensive book tour across the US, Europe and UK, as well as social media promotion. Overall, this campaign was both well-executed and inventive, a well-deserved winner of a BMS award.