The Publishing Post
Campaign Spotlight: Really Good, Actually
By Caitlin Davies, Danielle Hernandez and Georgia Rees
The highly anticipated Really Good, Actually was recently published on 17 January. Written by Schitt’s Creek screenwriter, Monica Heisey, there has been a lot of excitement for her fiction debut after the success and accolades of the Canadian sitcom. The novel follows Maggie after her divorce following a 608-day marriage. She is keen to embrace the status of “Surprisingly Young Divorcee” as she navigates her studies, romance and friendship. Heisey’s exploration of modern love has become a Sunday Times Bestseller, and a top pick around Valentine’s Day. In this article, we explore how the campaign unfolded on both sides of the pond.
Monica and the team at 4th Estate celebrated the release of Really Good, Actually with a string of publicity events. On release day, Monica was joined by Dolly Alderton for the latest BookBar In Conversation With event. It was BookBar’s biggest event yet, with the first round of tickets selling out and a last-minute venue change to the Church at the Crypt on the Green in Farringdon. A partnership with Black Bear Burger meant that audience members could enjoy a custom cocktail, called “The Maggie,” and also receive exclusive vouchers for Black Bear if they bought a book on the night. The first event on Monica Heisey’s tour proved to be a roaring success with BookBar showing off the lengthy queue to meet Monica over on their Instagram.
A couple of days later, Monica appeared for another In Conversation With event at Waterstones Deansgate, this time with writer Naomi Frisby, where they discussed the themes of the book, and had a brief Q&A session followed by a signing. The US and Canada tour, taking place in March, will follow a similar format, with guests including Ryan O’Connell, Heather O’Neill and Sarah Hagi. All of these events have been well publicised by Monica and her team on social media, and the focus on effective social media marketing has been vital in bringing attention to this debut.
Proof Copies and Social Media Marketing
Engaging with online communities through social media channels has become an impactful way for publishers to reach a wide variety of readers. As this connection grows, we can see an increased emphasis on these communities in marketing campaigns. The social media reaction to a book now seems to be considered in every step of the marketing process.
Current book cover trends are highly influenced by what publishing teams think is Instagram-friendly. The US cover design for Really Good, Actually, for example, is very playful and interactive. This is no doubt inspired by the recurring trends of book face, where readers attempt to seamlessly align their real life portrait with the partial face on a book cover and post to social media. There are more than a few examples of marketing campaigns that played off the cover design of their book to create a similar viral moment on Instagram. It was not so long ago after all that the #bookfacefriday tag on Instagram was flooded with posters imitating the anguished facial expressions on the US book cover of A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. Author Monica Heisey also took advantage of the trend encouraging readers to pose with her debut novel and post to Instagram, building some pre-publication social media hype.
The UK and Australian cover design, featuring a more minimalist pop art version of this facial cover, was then revealed 22 June on 4th Estate Books’ Instagram account. Animating the face on the cover to roll her dramatic eyes around the screen, this Instagram reveal provided a unique introduction to the UK edition and set the tone for a comical and colourful digital campaign.
The proof copies were revealed shortly after in July 2022. Proof copies are not something that usually get space on a publisher’s Instagram grid but these are something else. These proofs have a beautiful cover design, with plenty of colour, an expense often avoided in advanced reader copies of past years, and a foil texture on the teardrop motifs. These extra special touches help the bloggers, reviewers and authors receiving their copy feel all the more special to be allowed an early preview of such an anticipated read. Of course, this certainly helped promote the book too, as these gorgeous covers were soon featured in popular flatlays on Instagram and shimmering videos on TikTok, evoking the envy of fellow readers.
Once the early proof copies were sent out, reviews came flooding back in return. Those from popular authors were featured on the 4th Estate Instagram grid in the same bold contrasting colours as the cover. However, even smaller book bloggers and bookstagrammers were featured on the publisher's Instagram stories, unboxing their special proof copies, giving quick reviews and creating buzz for the big publication date in January. This social media campaign has been an impressive example of how prioritising online reading communities can really pay off.