Penguin Young Readers Group has big crossover hopes for The 5th Wave, Rick Yancey’s new YA science fiction thriller about a teenage girl on the run from alien killers while searching out Earth’s last survivors. The publisher’s expectations for the book, due from Putnam May 7, are reflected in its marketing campaign, which entails four different book trailers, far-reaching advertising, social media outreach, and a national author tour.
The 5th Wave, which has an announced first printing of 500,000 copies, generated in-house excitement early on, says Emily Romero, v-p of marketing for PYRG. “From the very beginning, this has been a special project,” she says. “Publishing, sales, and marketing came together to get word of the book out as early and widely as we could.”
To that end, the publisher sent partial manuscripts of the novel to select booksellers and librarians in early July, scheduled a bookseller dinner tour for Yancey, and sent him to ABA Winter Institute. “A groundswell of anticipation has grown over subsequent months, and we’re thrilled that booksellers, librarians, bloggers, and reviewers seem to be as passionate as we are about the book,” Romero adds. The novel’s pre-pub accolades include three starred reviews, including one from PW. And to date, more than 8,400 people have added The 5th Wave to their “to read” lists on Goodreads.com.
In keeping with its mission to, in Romero’s words, “do something different and make the biggest statement possible,” the publisher created four book trailers, each aimed at a separate market and demographic, an unprecedented move for PYRG. The first trailer has been released on EW.com, the second on science fiction-centric io9.com, and the third on MTV.com; the fourth will be released on USAToday.com on May 2.
The trailers will also be used in Penguin’s in-theater advertising campaign. “We know the release of The 5th Wave dovetails nicely with the start of the summer movie season, and we have multiple flights of movie theater ads planned, beginning at the on-sale date and running through summer,” Romero says. Additional advertising, also aimed at a broad audience, includes ads in such weekly magazines as People and EW, various sci-fi outlets, and both trade and consumer Web sites.
Tumblr will serve as the hub for Penguin’s social media campaign to promote the novel. Visitors to the site can view the trailers, download an excerpt from the book, see images based on the world of the novel, and join the book’s Facebook page and Twitter feed. The site is designed so that all content is easily sharable via multiple social media platforms, and is currently featured on Tumblr Explore, which highlights popular, trending blogs.
Yancey has written several novels for adults in addition to his YA offerings, which include The Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp and the Printz Honor book The Monstrumologist, and he hopes that his latest novel will strike a chord with both audiences. “I never try to focus on demographics when I write. I just try to write the best story I can,” he says. “Then I hope everyone will read it. A good story is a good story, and there have been really spectacular books in the past few years that have attracted readers of all ages. I would love for The 5th Wave to be in that august company.”
Eventually, Yancey’s novel may well gain additional fans through a big-screen adaptation. Film rights have been preempted by Tobey McGuire and producer Graham King of GK Films, and the author reports that a screenwriter is currently being lined up to write the adaptation.
In the meantime, Yancey is busy writing the second book in his trilogy, which he notes is progressing nicely – if not always as anticipated. “I do have a general idea where the story is going,” he says. “But I leave myself open to unexpected twists and turns. Sometimes – well, a lot of the time – I plan for a zig and hit a zag. I don’t consider that a bad or scary thing. It’s one of the great joys of writing.”
The author will take a break from writing when he tours to promote The 5th Wave in early May, an excursion he’s very much looking forward to. “Touring is one of the best things about my job, especially when I get to meet young readers,” he says. “Their enthusiasm and unalloyed love of books is inspiring and humbling. They become, like me, invested in the characters, their struggles and triumphs, their loves and their lives. Meeting readers reminds me of why I write, and makes all the long, lonely hours and knuckle-gnawing angst worth it.”
The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey. Putnam, $18.99 May ISBN 978-0-399-16241-1
To read PW's review, click here.