By Leah Murphy, Danielle Hernandez, Georgia Rees, Amy Greensmith and Emily Lavin
Bestselling American author, Rebecca Yarros, returns with Iron Flame, the much anticipated second instalment of her fantasy romance series, The Empyrean. The series’ first book, Fourth Wing, dominated TikTok last year, shooting Yarros up the bestseller charts, and earning a place on the Waterstones Book of the Year 2023 shortlist. With a recent boom in what has been dubbed “romantasy” (romance and fantasy), Yarros’ series has drawn fans of both genres to her growing readership.
The sequel sees Violet face more gruelling challenges, as she uses her training from Basgiath War College to survive. But as she sees her boyfriend Xaden slowly evolving into one of the power-hungry enemies they are fighting against, can everyone survive in the end?
In this issue, we explore how the marketing team has capitalised on the strong social media popularity of the first novel, as well as several interactive fan events celebrating the book’s release.
The social media reception of Fourth Wing, particularly on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, has set a standard in the publishing world. Taking advantage of this, the marketing team behind the sequel Iron Flame have integrated social media into their campaign in a significant way. By leveraging her personal accounts, Yarros has fostered a deeply engaged community, sharing enticing snippets, intimate readings and exclusive behind-the-scenes glimpses of her electrifying book events and signings.
The author's vibrant content has been mirrored in the creative efforts of dedicated book influencers. Their visually stunning flatlays and enthusiastic selfies, featuring both the new release and special editions of Fourth Wing, have amplified the fervour surrounding the series. Despite some minor criticism of sending so many copies to readers who already owned original editions, the strategic distribution of complimentary special editions has undeniably heightened anticipation and created a sense of exclusivity among readers. Additionally, the collaboration between independent bookstores and seasoned influencers for giveaways has successfully increased the series' visibility and strengthened community engagement.
With Instagram's hashtags getting filled up with fan art and early predictions for the plot, it's safe to say a dynamic reader community has been successfully cultivated, spurring pre-orders for Iron Flame ahead of midnight reading parties. The shared urgency to devour the sequel reinforces a collective excitement and makes this book an experience that readers do not want to miss out on. In this way, the impact of social media communities on book sales really cannot be underestimated.
Events celebrating a book’s release are a really great way to engage readers, creating a hub for them to meet and discuss the novel and with Fourth Wing being such a hit, it’s no surprise that fans flocked to events celebrating the release of its sequel. The Iron Flame marketing team have clearly recognised how high anticipation is for Yarros’ next book, planning several midnight release events for fans to come together, celebrate the publication and share fan theories. Sticking to her American roots, Yarros herself appeared at a midnight release at Barnes and Noble, Union Square (New York) on 6 November to celebrate the publication with her devoted fans and give a Q&A. Numerous other midnight events took place in other Barnes and Noble stores across America, as well as in independent bookstores on release day (7 November), including Mostly Books in Arizona. The demand for these events demonstrates the huge fandom Yarros has cultivated with the first instalment of her fantasy series.
Excitement was also paramount in the UK, with Waterstones stores up and down the country holding midnight release events for Iron Flame. One store participating was the Trafalgar Square branch, which hosted a lock-in to celebrate all things Empyrean. Fans could expect quizzes, competitions and drinks, as well as the rare opportunity to get their hands on a copy of the sequel as soon as it was released, creating a truly unique and memorable experience.
Along with social media marketing and in-person events, bookseller displays play an important role in creating a dynamic and all-encompassing marketing campaign. Displaying new releases in key points throughout the store is a great way to attract both loyal fans and prospective new readers to an author's release. Displays not only boost sales but also contribute to building anticipation and excitement around the author's work. Furthermore, they make wonderful backdrops for book signings and other marketing events.
The marketing team for Iron Flame are certainly aware of the importance of effective bookseller promotion. Displays for the much-anticipated sequel to Fourth Wing have taken centre stage both in major book retailers and independent bookshops throughout the UK. As documented on social media, numerous Waterstones locations feature gorgeous displays for Iron Flame at the entrance to their stores, ensuring that readers’ eyes are drawn the moment they walk in. Each display features an abundance of copies of Iron Flame, showcasing its stunning gold foil cover and black sprayed edges.