Initial marketing efforts launching James Patterson’s Witch & Wizard were shrouded by a veil of secrecy. At this year’s BEA, Little Brown kept ARCs under wraps and under lock and key—literally. Now the publisher is keeping anything but mum about the novel, which debuts December 14 with a 700,000-copy first printing. The current promotional campaign entails a number of initiatives intended to spark young adults’ interest in the novel—and to build on the buzz that began last spring.
The BEA promotion (which the publisher repeated at Comic-Con in July) was inspired by the plot of Witch & Wizard, explains Diane Cain, brand marketing director for James Patterson’s books for young readers. Written by Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet, this debut title of a new series introduces a brother and sister who discover they have special powers when they’re forced to stand up to a new fascist government. “The campaign had an organic start, since we based it on the mystery angle of the novel, and on the story line about how the government, the New Order, takes away everyone’s freedoms,” she says.
The ARCs were wrapped in red acetate bearing a message from the new government: “Banned by the New Order.” To amplify the mystery, the publisher locked the ARCs in a cage in its booth for the first day of the convention and passed out teaser brochures allegedly containing info from both the New Order and the resistance. The tease definitely generated curiosity, Cain reports. When staffers unlocked the cage at the announced time on the second morning of BEA, “there was a large crowd of people waiting to pick up an ARC.”
Witch & Wizard ARCs under lock and key at this year's BEA.
Little, Brown’s more recent pre-pub marketing strategies include multiple digital components. Readers visiting a dedicated Web site find several options to obtain a preview of Witch & Wizard. They can read sample chapters online, download an eBook version of the chapters or listen to them on an audiobook narrated by actors Elijah Wood and Spencer Locke.
Also on the site is a link to the iTunes store, where teens can download a free Witch & Wizard app, enabling them to read sample chapters on their smart phones and to use their own photos to create book-branded “Wanted” posters to send to friends. This iTunes application has had “an excellent response,” says Cain, adding that it was the fourth most popular book-related app during the promotion’s Halloween week launch.
Witch & Wizard has also been featured on Nickelodeon’s family of Web sites, including teennick.com and nick.com, garnering over 19 million total brand impressions.
For those less digitally inclined, during Halloween week Little, Brown provided booksellers with chapter samplers (in a counter display) and tattoos to give away, as well as branded Witch & Wizard bags for customers to tote the freebies home. Through these digital and brick-and-mortar initiatives, Cain notes. “We hope to give everyone a good taste of the story, to let them know in advance how intriguing it is.”
The next marketing push for Witch & Wizard will occur around the novel’s pub date. Scheduled are national TV commercials, most notably on the iCarly series and other Nickelodeon properties; print advertising in teen magazines, including Justine and Twist; radio promotion featuring such personalities as Ryan Seacrest and Rosie O’Donnell; and what Cain describes as “massive online promotion jointly developed with Nickelodeon.com.”
Witch & Wizard by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet. Little, Brown, $17.99 ISBN 978-0-316-03624-5