By Amy Greensmith, Danielle Hernandez, Emily Lavin and Georgia Rees
Costanza Casati's debut novel, published on 2 March, offers a fresh perspective on one of the most notorious women in Greek mythology: Queen Clytemnestra. As the sister to Helen of Troy, Clytemnestra's story has long been overshadowed by the traditionally male-dominated narrative of the Trojan War. However, in this retelling, Casati skilfully centres Clytemnestra’s character, providing readers with an insightful and compelling account of the events that shaped her into Greek mythology's greatest heroine.
Clytemnestra is part of a current trend of classic myths being reclaimed and reimagined, focusing on the once overlooked, maligned or villainised female characters. It joins the ranks of popular feminist retellings like Ariadne, Circe and A Thousand Ships. Even before its release, the novel was steadily generating buzz and anticipation, and it has not disappointed. Within just one week of publication, it secured the number three spot on The Sunday Times' hardback fiction bestsellers list. It has also garnered attention from prominent publications, featuring in “the best books to look out for in March,” list on Waterstones' Blog and Cosmopolitan's “The best books to look forward to in 2023.” With its unique perspective, Clytemnestra is establishing itself as a must-read for fans of Greek mythology.
Drawing largely on influencer and social media promotion, Clytemnestra’s digital marketing campaign has masterfully generated excitement for Casati’s debut. On 28 September 2022, with an Instagram post consisting of a cover reveal and promotional video, Michael Joseph launched the novel’s social media campaign. This post not only displayed Clytemnestra’s lustrous gold cover and rose-red sprayed edges, it also drew attention to the themes of retribution and reclamation present within Casati’s retelling. On Twitter, Michael Joseph has made a particular effort to capture and post moments from Casati's impressive tour of Waterstones locations throughout England. Michael Joseph also engages with Twitter users who have posted their responses to the novel, thus encouraging more readers to share their opinions online. In their social media posts, the publisher remembers to appeal to their target audience by emphasising the powerfully feminist nature of this book. Casati has supported the digital marketing campaign by promoting the novel on her own social media platforms. This method affords potential readers the unique opportunity to make a personal connection with both the novel and its author.
Clytemnestra’s marketing team understands astute influencer marketing tactics can help to drive book sales. In recent weeks, copies of the novel have been sent to various BookTokers and Bookstagrammers. In addition to relaying the novel’s merits, book influencers have posted their reactions to the beautiful promotional boxes sent by Michael Joseph.
With such a compelling digital marketing campaign, it is no surprise that Clytemnestra has entered bestseller lists and earned a place as one of 2023’s most anticipated debuts. Of course, this marketing campaign is not limited to the digital realm. Clytemnestra’s marketing team have crafted an equally impressive range of in-person events to further promote the novel.
While creating a buzz with their digital marketing, Michael Joseph also decided to take the excitement to real life with an impressive array of book events, kicking things off at Cheltenham Literary Festival in October of last year. The marketing team worked hard to build word of mouth buzz around this feminist retelling, encouraging Casati to meet people and sign early advanced reader copies. It might have even been at this festival, and during other collaborative meetings with booksellers, that the details of a book tour were conceptualised.
During the pandemic book tours seemed a thing of the past, and indeed the journey back has been challenging for many marketing teams. However, Michael Joseph and Costanza Casati have managed to pull off a spectacular trip touring Waterstones bookshops in different cities around England as she promotes her debut novel. The In Conversation series in partnership with Waterstones also stars a carefully selected group of guest interviewers, including other talented authors in the popular Greek mythology genre such as Claire North and Elodie Harper. And of course, each event offered the Waterstones special editions, available to be signed and personalised by the author. With a beautiful gold cover, sprayed edges and decorative end pages, who could resist peeking inside to meet the equally electrifying story?
The marketing team have continued to promote this book with author interviews, podcast episodes (such as Apple’s A Novel Evening) and ongoing support at book events. Most recently, the Feminist Book Society held a Big Feminist Book Party where Clytemnestra was given space to showcase alongside other fabulous feminist books being published this year. Such a commanding presence in bookstores and book events has no doubt contributed to the strong position this book now holds in the bestseller list.