Heather Brewer with a fan at Barnes and Noble in Flint. Mich.
As loyal fans (affectionately called Minions) of Heather Brewer’s series The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod (Dutton) well know, school sucks—literally for Vlad. That’s because he’s a vampire (well, technically a half-vampire). What Brewer’s Minions also know is that Vlad’s humorous, Every-guy-centric take on blood-sucking legend is something fresh in the currently crowded vampire lit genre. Tenth Grade Bleeds, the third volume in the series, hit stores June 25 and according to Lauri Hornik, president and publisher of Dial and Dutton Children’s Books, it has already shipped “nearly twice as many copies” as its predecessor, Ninth Grade Slays (April 2008), representing a significant build since Vlad’s 2007 debut in Eighth Grade Bites. There are currently more than 235,000 Chronicles of Vladimir Tod books in print, across all formats.
For book three, Dutton set about increasing the Vlad Tod “Minion Horde” by making Tenth Grade Bleeds a lead title in its “Darken Your Summer Days” campaign, which spotlights several of the publisher’s paranormal YA titles. The online arm of this promotion included the creation of an official Web site, which contains excerpts, author Q&As and book trailers; a banner ad on Alloy.com and a video ad on Teen.com TV. Another major online effort includes running an author video and a video book trailer as well as t-shirt giveaways on addictinggames.com, which is expected to deliver over one million impressions.
Brewer (who refers to herself as Auntie Heather in her communications with Minions) has been on the road over the past several months promoting Vlad, making stops in Arizona, Michigan, Texas, Kansas City and at several spots in her hometown of St. Louis. Vicki Erwin, owner of Main Street Books in St. Charles, Mo., has hosted the increasingly popular local author three times since the series launched. “The kids just love Heather and she’s terrific with them,” says Erwin. “It’s like she’s a rock star and it’s nice that the kids respond to her that way.” Erwin believes that the Vlad Tod titles have a fairly broad appeal. “The characters have real teen problems, but Heather uses humor to introduce that. And lots of readers like her different spin—a boy vampire’s point of view,” she notes. “I think it might have been Heather who has said that the books are for people who don’t like Twilight because they aren’t real romantic, and that they’re also for people who do like Twilight because they have the whole vampire thing going on.”
Maureen Sullivan, executive editor at Dutton Children’s Books, edits the Vlad Tod series. “In most novels, vampires are wealthy and good-looking, and they live in beautiful homes,” she says. “I think the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod books appeal to kids because Vlad is just like them. He deals with bullies, has girl troubles, friend troubles, and homework... but all that is coupled with the mystique and draw of the unknown, that strange, mysterious allure of being a vampire.”
No matter why teens are choosing to visit with Vlad, more and more of them are doing so, much to Brewer’s and Dutton’s delight. The publisher has signed up the last two books of the five-title series. Eleventh Grade Burns will go on sale February 4, 2010; Twelfth Grade Kills is in the works and yet to be scheduled.
Tenth Grade Bleeds (Chronicles of Vladimir Tod) by Heather Brewer. Dutton, $16.99 ISBN 978-0-525-42135-1
Ninth Grade Slays (Chronicles of Vladimir Tod) by Heather Brewer. Speak, paper $7.99 ISBN 978-0-14-241342-5
Eighth Grade Bites (Chronicles of Vladimir Tod) by Heather Brewer. Speak, paper $7.99 ISBN 978-0-14-241187-2