Campaign Spotlight: The Last Devil to Die by Richard Osman
By Danielle Hernandez, Leah Murphy, Georgia Rees, Amy Greensmith and Emily Lavin
Just one year after the release of The Bullet That Missed, Richard Osman is back with the fourth instalment of the beloved Thursday Murder Club series. In The Last Devil to Die, the elderly amateur sleuths of Coopers Chase are back to solve yet another crime.
The Last Devil to Die is certainly one of the most highly anticipated releases of 2023 and the series is immensely popular with readers. In just two weeks since its publication, the novel has swiftly soared to the top of bestseller lists in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. The high-profile nature of this release didn’t deter the marketing team at Penguin from crafting a stellar campaign.
In this issue, we will take a look at how the marketing team for The Last Devil to Die has used social media, events and bookseller displays to promote the novel and pique readers’ interest.
As one of the best-selling Adult Fiction series of all time, the latest instalment in the Thursday Murder Club was already on many radars without the need for an extensive social media campaign. However, Osman is an author who likes to engage with his audience, and he has been teasing his followers on Instagram for a few months. The title for The Last Devil to Die was first revealed on Osman’s personal account, @misterosman, on 23 February 2023, with a cover reveal following on 4 April, where the book’s signature colourway – purple – was also revealed. For those signed up for his newsletter, Osman created a quiz to celebrate publication day and revealed the inside story of what happened when his mum met TV royalty, Angela Rippon.
A large part of the buzz leading up to publication was due to reviews posted by a lucky handful of bloggers who received the much sought-after proof copies. As social media and word-of-mouth marketing is often an essential part of any successful marketing campaign, book bloggers are a vital resource. As well as reaching each blogger’s curated audience, exposure also extends to anyone searching for this book on the internet, for example through hashtags such as #thelastdeviltodie or #whatwouldjoycedo. Another quirky piece of social media marketing was creating an Instagram account for the main character Joyce Meadowcroft in 2020 after the first book's publication. Joyce’s account @greatjoyce69 has amassed 35k followers as of September 2023, and regularly posts photos of the village and her dog Alan.
As Osman is a recognisable personality in the UK (having previously been a staple of British evening TV), it appears that the marketing team chose to focus more on an American campaign. The author completed a whistle-stop tour of the USA in September, flying to all four corners of the country. Beginning in Barnes and Noble in Union Square (New York), where he was joined by New York Times Bestselling author Harlan Coben (The Stranger; Stay Close). Washington’s Politics and Prose was next on the list, with Osman being joined by another New York Times Bestselling author, Daniel Stashower, for a free event at the independent bookstore and coffeehouse. The US tour concluded with an evening in conversation with Jeremy Finley at Parnassus Books in Nashville (opened by Ann Patchett). This event included a signing, but this was limited to one book per person due to time constraints as the busy author rushed to his final stop in America. Elizabeth Little joined Osman at Vroman’s Bookstore in California to wrap up discussions of The Last Devil to Die.
However, despite the larger focus on America, the UK was not forgotten about in the marketing campaign. At the beginning of September, Osman made an appearance at the Capital Crime Festival. Here, he was interviewed by English actor and comedian, Miles Jupp. After the author's main stage talk, fans were also treated to a book signing at the famous Goldsboro Book Shop.
This marketing campaign has also been extended to bookshops. Sending point-of-sale materials to booksellers is a common and effective use of marketing resources. It empowers local stores to get creative and design unique in-store displays, turning each branch into an exciting, immersive space for readers. Branches of Waterstones received materials for The Last Devil to Die that included bunting, posters and fox standees as well as bookmarks and tote bags. This allowed shops to create their own memorable displays alongside the promotion of their exclusive special editions and the Waterstones prize draw which gave readers the chance to win two tickets to a Bluebell Railway Murder Mystery evening.
The exclusive Waterstones editions with stencilled edges have also been a fantastic part of the campaign and a well-proven technique for driving sales. These special editions not only make a book even more collectable for fans of the long-standing series, but accompanying accessories like custom bookmarks add an extra touch of excitement to the reading experience, making it a must-have item. And let's not forget the "What Would Joyce Do?" tote bag which gives readers an opportunity to establish themselves as a fan to other like-minded readers.