By Caitlin Davies, Danielle Hernandez and Georgia Rees
Booker prize alumni Douglas Stuart first flew onto our radars with his 2020 debut, the staggeringly emotive Shuggie Bain, a tale based on Stuart’s own adolescence, growing up in 1980s Glasgow. Just two years later, Stuart is set to publish his second novel, Young Mungo, not a sequel but a companion to the well-loved Shuggie Bain.
Young Mungo is a stark study of sexual violence and masculinity among men, and in particular those coming of age in working class Glasgow. The book tells the story of teenagers Mungo and James, friends turned lovers, who must keep their relationship a secret not only because they are gay, but also because of the religious conflict between Mungo’s Protestant community and James’ Catholic one. Despite not yet being published, there is tremendous excitement for Young Mungo with many critics already claiming it as superior to Shuggie Bain.
Stuart’s second novel will be published by Picador Books on 14 April, and has already stolen the hearts of many Scottish and literary greats. First Minister for Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, had nothing but praise for Stuart, firmly cementing him as “one of the greats of Scottish literature.” Fellow Booker Prize winner, Bernardine Evaristo, remarks that Young Mungo “is an urgent addition to the new canon of unsung stories.”
With less than a month to go until publication day, we are taking a look into the marketing campaign that is putting Young Mungo on everyone’s radar.
Exciting events are in the pipeline ahead of Young Mungo’s publication date. Stuart was the closing speaker for the #SYPFUTURE conference, a hybrid event held by the Society of Young Publishers Scotland. With a range of speakers and panels, panellists explored the current publishing landscape, along with the aim of looking to the future of the regional and nationwide industry. After winning a range of accolades for his debut novel, including the 2020 Booker Prize and an Honorary degree from Herriot-Watt University, Stuart’s recent impression upon the Scottish literary landscape encompasses the theme of future success at this conference.
Picador have also planned an exclusive London launch of Young Mungo, taking place on the 13 April 2022. At Conway Hall, Douglas will be having a discussion about his second novel with poet Andrew McMillan, as well as reading excerpts from the highly anticipated book. Whilst building excitement ahead of publication day, the event will also benefit vulnerable members of the LGBTQ+ community. Profits from the evening will be donated to akt, which aids LGBTQ+ youth faced with challenges such as homelessness and domestic abuse.
Several tour dates have also been announced, starting in the US with in-person and live events. From the 5 April to the 8 May, Stuart will be visiting bookshops across the country, including in-conversation events with Min Jin Lee, Liz Moore and Emiko Tamagawa. Following on, Stuart will tour UK bookshops and literary festivals, starting in Bath on the 12 April, finishing in Brighton on the 22 April.
Unsurprisingly, this launch campaign is further supported by a strong social media presence. Taking advantage of the author’s critical acclaim, Picador has encouraged the social media hype using the author’s platforms to promote the live events and build anticipation.
One of the biggest benefits to social media campaigns is the more personal behind the scenes peek that it allows readers. That is exactly how Stuart’s social accounts feel. His Instagram account (@douglas_stuart) and Twitter feed (@Doug_D_Stuart) are both filled with consistent content giving readers a glimpse of signed copies to pre-order, reminders of dates for his upcoming book tour and enthusiastic tweets from a genuine book-lover turned author excited for his own release. We’ve been let into his world of pre-publication buzz with these snippets on social media, and the buzz is definitely infectious.
While these snippets might seem minor to some, many marketers will agree that the extra publicity is worth the effort. After all, you never know where a strong social media presence can lead you. I’m sure catching the attention of rapper Drake was not something Douglas Stuart ever thought to put on his wish list and yet a copy of Young Mungo was clearly seen sitting underneath the Canadian’s shoe in a now infamous post on @champagnepapi’s Instagram stories. While Stuart jokingly remarks that his publicist now “runs this mf town,” we shouldn’t overlook the undisputable impact all this social media chatter can have on book sales. As evidenced by the Vogue article that shortly followed, in which the writer laments at not having a copy themselves to keep up with the international star, exclaiming “How did Drake get Young Mungo? It’s not even out yet!”
And as any good marketing team would, Picador of course jumped on the trend. They recreated their own version of the iconic book (and shoe) stack, and enticed other readers to do the same with the hashtag #TheShoeStack for the chance to win a free copy of Young Mungo as well as the other Picador books featured.