The Publishing Post
Campaign Spotlight: Juno Dawson
By Caitlin Davies, Danielle Hernandez and Georgia Rees
Juno Dawson’s highly anticipated novel, Her Majesty’s Royal Coven is set to release this summer on 21 July. This marks Dawson’s adult fiction debut, but she is no stranger to the writing world. Previous publications include This Book is Gay, The Gender Games and Meat Market. Recently, Dawson has created a popular addition to the Doctor Who ‘Whoniverse’, with Doctor Who: Redacted, an audio series that places queer women at the heart of the narrative. But Dawson’s experience as a storyteller doesn’t stop there, she also works as a screenwriter, a contributing writer to Attitude magazine, as well as starring in Michaela Coel’s successful TV drama, I May Destroy You. In addition to that, she contributes to the transgender rights movement as an activist, and is vocal about LGBTQIA+ issues and equality.
In this issue, we dive into the multifaceted approach to marketing Her Majesty’s Royal Coven (or HMRC if you will). In Dawson’s supernatural new book series, we follow a coven of witches tasked with protecting “crown and country from magical forces and otherworldly evil.” In a year where crown and country are at the fore of public focus, along with growing trends in the mythical and supernatural in adult fiction, this promises to be an exciting new series.
The marketing for Her Majesty’s Royal Coven has been carefully considered at every step to
convey the feel of the book and get readers anticipating Dawson’s debut adult novel. From the very first look at the cover art readers are given a good idea of the ride they are about to take. The detailed illustration of a woman in the centre alludes to the mysterious and mythical elements of Dawson’s witchy tale, while the hot-pink, bright yellow and jet-black colour combo recalls an element of 90s punk rebellion, which Juno herself cites as inspiring so many of the empowering feminist themes in this latest story. HarperVoyager have even created a special Waterstones edition with sprayed yellow edges to complete the full effect.
This striking cover will no doubt help Dawson’s book stand out in the crowd as she attends Also Festival in July to spread the word of her new supernatural series, as well as YALC the UK’s Young Adult Literature Convention in London, or any other future events the popular author has scheduled. The bold cover has already proven useful in distinguishing itself amongst the titles Cosmopolitan UK listed as the hottest beach reads of the year and will surely continue turning heads all summer long.
The jacket design of a book can often inspire materials used in marketing campaigns. Alongside proof copies sent to book influencers, HarperVoyager asked Dawson to handwrite a letter on vibrant pink paper to match the UK cover of the book where she explained where the inspiration for the book came from. Equally colourful marketing materials have also featured on social media, where endorsements from other fantastic writers and trailers teasing the coming book launch are proudly displayed across Dawson’s Instagram and Twitter feeds in the signature colours of the coven.
The author frequently uses her social media savvy to give the readers a behind the scenes look at her writing process and life as a published author on Instagram, saving certain stories as permanent highlights at the top of her account. And this book release is no different. Taking advantage of the more intimate relationship social media platforms allow authors to have with their readers, Dawson documented her recent trip to Hebden Bridge, in West Yorkshire, giving her followers a peek at the real-life places that feature in the book.
But the social media marketing doesn’t stop there. Dawson’s new release was also the start of a novel marketing approach never seen in publishing before. HarperVoyager, with the help of digital marketing agency Rocket, launched the industry’s first ever TikTok creator house, partnering with eight influential UK booktokers in Hay-on-Wye, the infamous bookshop town.
Creator houses are a unique way of encouraging collaboration between influencers to help
promote a particular product. Dawson, along with Saara El-Arifi, author of The Final Strife, was chosen as part of this campaign to launch HarperVoyager’s new TikTok channel, and to promote both of their upcoming releases. Drawing on the witchy themes of Her Majesty’s Royal Coven, Dawson hosted a tarot card reading with the influencers.
HarperVoyager highlights the value in TikTok as a marketing tool for publishing, with publishing director Natasha Bardon commenting that “TikTok is an exciting opportunity to provide fresh access to our brilliant authors, deliver behind-the-scenes content and authentically appeal to a market-changing platform.”
Dawson has also announced recently that she was delighted that actress Nicola Coughlan, of
Derry Girls and Bridgerton fame, had agreed to join the coven and narrate the audiobook due to be released on publication day on the 21 July. The decision for Coughlan to narrate HMRC, which has a prominent transgender character, seems particularly well-considered as Coughlan’s portrayal of Derry Girls’ openly LGBTQIA+ character, Clare, has been highly praised.