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Campaign Spotlight: Check & Mate by Ali Hazelwood

By Amy Greensmith, Emily Lavin, Leah Murphy and Georgia Rees


Check & Mate, the much anticipated fourth novel from bestselling author Ali Hazelwood, has finally hit the shelves. Hazelwood is best known for her wildly successful romance novels, with her most notable title being The Love Hypothesis, a New York Times bestseller which quickly became one of BookTok’s (Book TikTok) best-loved novels. While Hazelwood is best known for writing beloved romance novels, Check & Mate is her first foray into the YA (Young Adult) space.


Hazelwood’s latest publication tells the story of Mallory Greenleaf, a disillusioned chess player on the brink of quitting the sport for good. When she begrudgingly agrees to take part in a charity tournament, Mallory unexpectedly outperforms master chess player Nolan Sawyer. As Mallory returns to the sport, she finds herself both infuriated by and attracted to Nolan – who happens to be known as the “bad boy of chess.”


In this issue, we will look at how the team at Penguin have used both social media and events to create an attention-grabbing marketing campaign.


Social Media


The Penguin Teen marketing team clearly recognised how Hazelwood’s social media popularity could be beneficial to their campaign, sharing content across social media platforms to build excitement before the publication day. Hazelwood’s debut novel The Love Hypothesis was extremely popular within the BookTok community, something which the marketing team have made the most of. A particularly innovative feature is a Check & Mate TikTok filter to “choose your favourite trope,” which was posted to the Penguin Teen TikTok account, encouraging fans to also complete the flow chart and share their responses.


The Penguin Teen team also drew similarities between Hazelwood’s latest book and the real-life romance between Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce; given that this romance has been on everyone’s lips, especially in the BookTok community, the parallel is sure to get fans excited for the book.

Over on Instagram, the Penguin Teen team built excitement with a countdown to the publication day by sharing quotes from Check & Mate, giving fans an exclusive sneak peek into Mallory and Nolan’s swoon-worthy romance. They also hosted a giveaway to win an ARC (advanced reader copy) of the book, which coincided with National Chess Day, highlighting the novel’s key theme while reaching a wider audience.


Hazelwood herself has also been heavily involved in her latest book’s campaign on social media, sharing a cover reveal of Check & Mate, announcing the arrival of proof copies, showing off the German edition of the book which includes baby-pink-sprayed edges featuring chess pieces and even teaming up with a book Instagrammer to host a giveaway to win a signed ARC of the book ahead of its publication. Hazelwood also announced her tour on her Instagram grid, giving fans the exciting opportunity to meet her as well as their fellow readers.


Events


Hazelwood’s book tour kicked off simultaneously with Check & Mate hitting the shelves on 7 November. With four consecutive dates from 7 to 10 November, Hazelwood was joined by many incredible YA and romance authors to discuss her new book. The tour started in Brooklyn, New York, at a dedicated romance bookshop, The Ripped Bodice, and moved on to Decatur, Georgia the next day. In Georgia, Hazelwood visited Little Shop of Stories where she was joined in conversation by authors Julian Winters (As You Walk On By) and Becky Albertalli (Imogen, Obviously), with Kate Goldbeck (You, Again) as the moderator. On 9 November, Hazelwood was hosted by Barnes & Noble at the Oakbrook Center in Illinois, where she was joined in conversation by Sonali Dev (Lies and Other Love Languages) and Mia P. Manansala (Murder and Mamon), moderated by Gloria Chao (When You Wish Upon a Lantern). The book tour finished at Third Place Books in Seattle where Hazelwood was joined by Julie Soto (Forget Me Not), Susan Lee (Seoulmates) and Rachel Runya Katz (Thank You for Sharing), in a conversation moderated by Jo Segura (Raiders of the Lost Heart).


Around two weeks before publication, Hazelwood was joined virtually by Alex Aster, author of the new book, Nightbane. The two discussed their upcoming novels which were available for pre-order during the livestream with exclusive signed bookplates. Hazelwood has also been very active in promoting other authors' works, taking opportunities to interview them about their upcoming publications, which enabled her to simultaneously promote her own work. Examples of recent interviews include the launch event for Katie Shepard’s Sweeten the Deal, Sajni Patel’s Sleepless in Dubai, J. Elle’s House of Marionne and Julie Soto’s Forget Me Not.



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