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Campaign Spotlight: The Familiar by Leigh Bardugo

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

 

Having firmly established herself in the young adult fantasy genre with the Shadow & Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology, Leigh Bardugo’s newest novel follows in the footsteps of her first adult fantasy, Ninth House. Published on 11 April 2024, The Familiar is a dark historical fantasy novel set in 16th-century Spain. It follows a servant girl with magical abilities who an important tradesman chooses to be his “holy champion” in a magical life-or-death tournament, guided by Santangel, the familiar bound to serve him.

 

Bardugo’s latest release has been hotly anticipated and has enjoyed an extensive marketing campaign and support from booksellers, with Bardugo herself set to embark on a large US book tour.

 

Social Media


​​Through a consistent social media marketing campaign, the Viking team has successfully created and maintained excitement for Bardugo’s highly anticipated publication.

 

In an atmospheric trailer shared on Instagram and X (Twitter), the Viking marketing team got this campaign off to a flying start, with the video gaining 25,000 views on X. The video introduces Bardugo’s latest novel, teasing its setting in the Spanish Golden Age and revealing the cover for the book. A cover reveal is a key moment in a book’s campaign, highly anticipated by both long-time fans and potential new readers.

 

To ensure engagement from the online book community, the Viking marketing team sent out proof copies to lucky Bookstagrammers (Instagrammers in the book community) and even held a giveaway where five proof copies were up for grabs. Those all-important pre-order sales were driven by a second giveaway, in which readers could win a bottle of Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella’s Melograno fragrance if they pre-ordered The Familiar.

 

In case that wasn’t enough for Bardugo’s dedicated fans, Viking gave readers exclusive access to a sneak peek of the first chapter of The Familiar two months before its release date, adding to the anticipation even more by allowing more readers to connect with the plot and characters, which will ultimately help to drive social media buzz further.

 

Events


The Familiar is one of the most anticipated fantasy reads of spring 2024, and with Leigh Bardugo as one of the hottest writers of the last few years, the book has a big tour. However, sadly for us in the UK, most of the events for the book focus on the US, as the author lives in America. Luckily for us fans across the pond, Bardugo is coming to England for two events. The first one will be held on 25 April in Bath and the second one on 26 April in London. Both events’ tickets include a copy of the book, with the London one being the gorgeous special edition copy. They promise an evening of conversation with the author about her new book and previous works, followed by a signing session at the end. The most strategic part of the marketing and publicity side of the tour is the locations because each event on the book tour is held in a church or arts centre, keeping with the mood of the book being a historical fantasy.


Bookshops

 

As we have covered in previous issues, bookshop displays and in-store marketing materials play an important role in crafting a creative and multifaceted campaign. An eye-catching and well-placed display can draw the attention of potential readers and help to boost the popularity of a new release.

 

In mainstream bookshops such as Waterstones, displays for The Familiar are strategically positioned in high-traffic areas. The displays usually feature the standard hardback edition of Bardugo's latest novel alongside posters featuring the black and red hues of the cover art. These displays are sure to catch the attention of Bardugo’s fans as well as readers unfamiliar with her work.

 

Much to the delight of Bardugo’s dedicated fans who are eager to collect multiple editions of her novels, an independent bookshop edition of The Familiar – featuring exclusive endpapers and unique sprayed edges – has been published. The publication of an indie edition is a fantastic way to not only drive sales of the book, but also encourage readers to support indie bookshops. In the days following the publication of The Familiar, displays featuring this stunning special edition have been spotted in independent booksellers across the UK and US.

 

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