Hoping to build buzz for the concluding volume of Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, Little Brown Books for Young Readers has launched an online reading initiative called “The Great Daughter of Smoke & Bone Re-read.” The promotion encourages fans to re-read the series’s first installments in advance of the final book, Dreams of Gods & Monsters, due April 8 with a 250,000-copy first printing. Hosted on Goodreads, the program was launched last month in partnership with Hodder & Stoughton, the trilogy’s U.K. publisher.
On February 13 and March 13, Taylor answered fans’ questions about each month’s featured title, Daughter of Smoke & Bone (2011) and its follow-up, Days of Blood & Starlight (2012). Scheduled for April 3, the author’s final Goodreads Q&A will focus on Night of Cake & Puppets (2013), an e-book novella revealing two of the trilogy’s supporting characters’ first date.
Other digital and social media components of the promotion include Facebook and Tumblr book giveaways, and a Daughter of Smoke & Bone Tumblr site showcasing fan-art as well as an interactive walking tour map highlighting sites in Prague that appear in the novels. The artwork is also shared via other Little, Brown Books for Young Readers social media networks, including the dedicated Facebook page for the series, which has garnered more than 26,000 “likes.”
On April 8, Taylor embarks on an international tour that will take her to 10 U.S. cities, Toronto, the U.K., and Australia and New Zealand. At each of the U.S. tour events, Little, Brown will provide Daughter of Smoke & Bone-themed props for photo-ops, a selection of framed fan-art, trivia challenges, and series-branded masks as giveaways.
The social media-focused promotion is well suited to the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series, noted Ann Dye, associate director of brand marketing for Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. “Laini’s fans are not casual fans: they are obsessive and fanatic,” she said. “Laini’s passionate online fan base makes the social media realm the perfect spot to spread word of Dreams of Gods & Monsters. We knew the flames of excitement were already out there, and we wanted to find a way to fan them, and get readers fully re-engaged in the series.”
The Goodreads initiative helps expand the reach of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone promotion, explained Dye, who added that the series has a strong international following. “With this re-read project, we’re not just focusing on U.S. readers, but are embracing fans across the globe,” she said. “And bringing Laini in as a touch point with the Q&As is a great way to get her involved in the campaign.”
Chapter One and Beyond
Taylor said she began writing Daughter of Smoke & Bone when she became frustrated with a science fiction novel she was trying to write, which “was not working at all.” Instead, she recalled, “I decided to write something fun, so that I could remember that writing is fun. I had no prompts. I just started writing, and the characters just came to life. That’s never happened to me before. It was the best writing day I’d ever had.”
The author said that her goal was “to write a book that I’d always wanted to read, and that I felt teen girls would respond to.” Mission accomplished: the Daughter of Smoke & Bone series has been published in 33 languages and has 1 million copies in print worldwide. “It was a real validation to see these books received so enthusiastically by so many people,” said Taylor. “It’s what one dreams about as a writer.”
The author, who has been enjoying interacting with fans during her Goodreads Q&As, appreciates the usefulness of such social media for connecting writers and readers. “It still amazes me, and I wonder would it would have been like if I’d had this opportunity as a teenager,” she said. “I would have loved being part of an online community built around books, and finding a tribe of people who share a love of books with me. In the Q&A sessions, I’ve been so impressed with readers’ questions. This world is very real to them, and to see their level of fascination and immersion in the series is so gratifying.”
In addition to wrapping up her series, Taylor has been offering input into a project that will bring new life to her characters. Universal Pictures is making a film based on the Daughter of Smoke & Bone books, with Joe Roth signed on to produce, Stuart Beattie to adapt, and Michael Gracey to direct. “I’ve made many trips to L.A. for meetings,” said the Portland, Ore.-based author. “I’ve had the chance to read scripts and see the preliminary development, and that’s been incredibly exciting. It’s fun to see how they render the characters and the series’ world.”
Right now Taylor is focused on sending Dreams of Gods & Monsters out into the real world, and connecting with her fans while on the road. “Of course I am sad to have finished the trilogy and have left behind my characters and their world, but I did get them to the point I wanted to get them,” she said. “Writing the trilogy has been all-consuming, and it’s been difficult for me to take time out to do events. I look forward to touring and doing some fun conferences like TLA and ALA, and am very excited about at last having some time to talk to readers, librarians, and booksellers.”
Daughter of Smoke & Bone: Dreams of Gods & Monsters by Laini Taylor. Little, Brown, $19 Apr. ISBN 978-0-316-13407-1