With Halloween fast approaching, HarperTeen has embarked on a suitably eerie promotion for three of its authors with vampire-themed novels. Pitch Black is an online/offline campaign that involves a content-heavy Web site, a sweepstakes giveaway and a five-city author tour for authors Ellen Schreiber (the Vampire Kisses series), Nancy A. Collins (the Vamps series) and Claudia Gray (Evernight).
“Based on the popularity of certain themes—vampires, sci-fi, fantasy—we thought, ‘How can we make a little more noise in the teen space?’ which is sometimes challenging to do,” says Diane Naughton, v-p of marketing at HarperCollins Children’s Books. “The idea of touring a group of teen authors was something we talked to the chains about and they seemed interested in pursuing. And we have great independents that we know hold terrific events and get teens out.”
The tour will begin with an October 25 appearance at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, Ill.; from there the authors will visit Barnes & Noble and Borders locations in Portland, Me.; Framingham, Mass.; Huntington Beach, Calif.; and Redmond, Wash. In addition to the typical reading, Q&A and signing, the events will include trivia contests with prizes, as well as “vampire bite” tattoos for attendees and red and black nail polish.
On the Pitch Black Web site, visitors can choose
between three doors—each of which will
lead them to a different featured book.
For Pitch Black’s online component, a dedicated Web site offers numerous interactive features, including a quiz for each book, a “Pimp My Coffin” game (visitors can decorate coffins, upload pictures of themselves for the creature’s head and post the results to MySpace or Facebook) as well as a sweepstakes contest. The grand prize for the contest, which runs through the end of this month, is an iPod Nano and a 10-book prize pack of YA novels. Harper is advertising the promotion on numerous teen-oriented Web sites, including Seventeen.com, CosmoGirl.com, MySpace and TeenReads.com.
The site has a different section for each author—sitegoers can switch between “Lover,” “Fighter” and “Biter” pages, paired to each book. Although the featured titles are all about vampires, Harper is counting on their distinct themes to appeal to different fans of the genre. The Vampire Kisses series, currently five books strong (along with two Vampire Kisses: Blood Relatives graphic novels), focuses on the romantic side of vampires. Evernight and the Vamps books, conversely, take place at elite—and dangerous—underworld academies.
“There’s a little bit of something for everyone, but they’ll complement each other at the same time,” says Naughton. “Ideally, it’s something we’ll reprise next fall.” She adds that the house is already at work on a similar “Supernatural Summer” promotion for next year. “It’s a great way to get teens interested in our authors and books, and get them engaged with their friends.”