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The Magic of Marketing to Bolster Books

By Sarah Lundy, Laura Jones, Lucy Lillystone, Ellie Brady, Kelly Stone, and Kate Baguley


With bookshops once again open and lockdown rules continuing to ease, in-person book launches might soon be back on every marketing plan. But having experienced more than a year where live launches were cancelled and book-buying audiences were not guaranteed, we explore some of the ways publishers have adapted by taking a look at some of the best marketing campaigns for recent releases.


The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman


A tool used to market this incredibly successful book was one that is becoming increasingly popular with authors: the humble email newsletter. These messages have the power to give readers exclusive (and free!) content from the author while also reminding them of the upcoming release. This was expertly done by Osman during lockdown, as his newsletter contained a fantastic weekly quiz. Dotted throughout the email were pre-order links and occasional sneak previews of the book itself. The fact that Osman avoided the hard sell and built excitement without ever selling himself out was what made his newsletter so effective.


The Betrayals by Bridget Collins


Given the success of Collins’ previous novel, The Binding, it could have been an easy assumption that marketing for The Betrayals would fall short in terms of impact and reach. However, when the hardback edition was released in November 2020, the HarperFiction marketing team proved once again how beautiful proofs and considered bookshop placement can make all the difference. From the moment The Betrayals began its promotion on social media during the first lockdown, fans were clamouring for proof copies, given its golden foil and intricate clock face detail. Such was the success of the marketing campaign, Sarah Shea and Katy Blott from HarperFiction were highly commended by the Book Marketing Society in January of this year.


The Lock In by Phoebe Luckhurst


Publishing your first ever novel can be a daunting experience as the anxiety that no one will read it sets in. That’s why you need a brilliant marketing campaign to get readers talking about the book online. Set for release on 22 August, Michael Joseph’s marketing team are already doing a brilliant job of promoting The Lock In. Most notably, the team have created innovative Hinge profiles for each of the protagonists to introduce readers to the characters and get them excited for the release. The campaign has also involved sending out stunning proofs to bloggers along with book-related stickers, both of which are perfect for Instagram shots. This campaign is only just getting started, but the work so far has successfully made The Lock In the book to read this summer!


The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary


In their campaign for Beth O’Leary’s debut romantic-comedy novel The Flatshare, Quercus’ impressive marketing team made sure The Flatshare was on everyone’s radar before the official release date. Stamping promotional posters and the book’s debut cover with praise from two behemoths of romantic fiction – JoJo Moyes and Marian Keyes – lured in just the right sort of bookish individual to create ample buzz around O’Leary’s debut. Building on this buzz with impressive and lucrative proofs, a noticeable bookshop presence and an overall stylised and quirky campaign, The Flatshare became a staple of modern fiction from the get-go.


An Ember in the Ashes Deluxe Set by Sabaa Tahir


Accompanying the release of A Sky Beyond the Storm, the final installment in this epic young adult fantasy series, Harper Voyager partnered with FairyLoot to release an exclusive box set of the entire series. Featuring special design details like stencil-sprayed edges and extra foil finishing on the covers, these limited editions generated a ton of buzz on social media, as fans wanted to have these beauties on their shelves. Subscription book box partnerships have become quite common in the industry, as they offer readers the chance to collect special merchandise and editions of their favorite books. This deluxe set serves as a celebration of the beloved series’ conclusion.


The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary


Yes, another Beth O’Leary novel! Quercus are clearly killing it in the marketing game. With O’Leary’s new book, The Road Trip, coming out at the end of April, Quercus pulled out all the stops with their very own Road Trip Proof Hunt. This involved following the road trip taken in the novel and ‘stopping off’ at various bookshops via Twitter, with O’Leary’s fans following clues to tag the correct bookshop, giving them a chance to win a proof copy of the book. O’Leary may not have been able to do an in-person bookshop tour, but this Twitter-based campaign included all the ingredients of a book tour: independent bookshops, events over several days and eager readers!


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