An extensive Facebook campaign, promotion on Tor.com, an exclusive pre-publication excerpt on USAToday.com, and a “Hollywood-style” book trailer are among the highlights of the marketing campaign launching Cinder, a debut novel by 26-year-old Marissa Meyer. Scheduled for release by Feiwel and Friends January 3, the novel offers a Cinderella story set in a futuristic New Beijing, where humans and androids coexist in a society ravaged by plague. The heroine, a teenage cyborg, is shunned by many, but has a unique talent: her computer brain interface makes her a crackerjack mechanic, which comes in handy when the prince needs his android fixed before the royal ball.
Due out with an announced 250,000-copy print run, Cinder is the first of four titles in the Lunar Chronicles, a quartet acquired by senior v-p and publisher Jean Feiwel, in an auction conducted by Jill Grinberg of Jill Grinberg Literary Management. Feiwel notes that the manuscript immediately captured the attention of staffers throughout the Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group. “Everyone who read it loved it, including publicity, sales, and marketing people,” she says. “Over the two-day auction, people kept coming into my office to say, ‘Make sure you get this book.’ There would have been a lot of disappointed people if I hadn’t managed to acquire it.”
What makes Cinder stand out, Feiwel says, is its “rich concept and fresh take on a known tale.” She adds that the novel also had a very different sensibility than much of what she was seeing at the time it was submitted. “The manuscript came in during the heart of dystopia, in the Hunger Games afterglow,” she recalls. “I’d spent a lot of reading time in that dark place of the future. Cinder offers a bright, fresh, and funny vision of a future that is quite different—though of course there is still tension and drama and some darkness. It truly was a refreshing find.”
Angus Killick, who arrived at Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group as v-p and associate publisher in mid-November, notes that he was thrilled to “jump right in” to fine-tune the marketing efforts for Cinder. “I was very impressed with the marketing campaign that was in place, but realized that the book trailer had to be done on a much bigger scale,” he says. “We worked with MK Media Marketing to make a 30-second trailer that is television-ready, and has more the feel of a movie trailer than a book trailer. That’s what teens are looking for and getting excited about.”
Live-action trailers for all four installments of the Lunar Chronicles were shot in Manhattan last week in a single session, to ensure continuity in the depiction of the characters. Meyer provided the publisher with detailed synopses of each of the books and descriptions of their key characters to help casting agents find actors for the shoot who “really fit the billing,” Killick says. He adds that the shoot also included “still photography as well as behind-the-scenes footage of the actors, to give us additional content to release online to fans bit by bit, to give them sneak peeks of the books.”
Cinder’s Facebook page offers readers a chance to interact with Meyer, and features Cinder “badges” for fans to share with one another. In addition to the pre-publication release of the first five chapters of the novel on USA Today’s Web site, readers can access Meyer’s original prequel story, entitled “Glitches,” on Tor.com, a social community of fans of science fiction and fantasy. “It was great to be able to release this separate story that tells a bit about the lead-up to Cinder,” Killick says. “The prequel also works independently—one doesn’t have to have read the initial five chapters of the novel beforehand.”
Meyer, who has participated in pre-pub lunches with booksellers and librarians, kicks off a nine-city tour on January 3, and will appear at book festivals and bookstore events throughout 2012.
Due out in 2013, 2014, and 2015, respectively, are the subsequent novels in the Lunar Chronicles, which also present futuristic sci-fi twists on fairytales: Scarlet is inspired by Little Red Riding Hood, Cress is a take on Rapunzel, and Winter offers a spin on Snow White and the Seven Dwarves. “Launching the first book well is so critical when you’re planning four,” Killick says. “We want the marketing campaign for Cinder to show how seriously committed we are to this series.”
Cinder by Marissa Meyer. Feiwel and Friends, $17.99 Jan. ISBN 978-0-312-64189-4