When planning the publication of Linda Greenlaw's The Lobster Chronicles (July 10), Hyperion didn't want to take for granted the fans who'd made The Hungry Ocean: A Swordboat Captain's Journey a New York Times bestseller in hardcover and paperback. So last April, the house invited booksellers to call a toll-free number and join a group discussion with Greenlaw. Her salty anecdotes about her years as one of the country's top swordfishermen, her role as a technical adviser during the filming of Sebastian Junger's A Perfect Storm, and her new career as a lobsterman provided good material for bookstore newsletters. Meanwhile, marketing director Jane Comins used the opportunity to gather suggestions on how to promote the book, which has 125,000-copy first printing.
One Massachusetts bookseller suggested that the house work with Legal Seafoods, a well-known chain with 26 restaurants from Florida to Maine. So Comins concocted a plan to print up disposable lobster bibs advertising the book, pitched the idea, and found the company willing to take 36,000 of them. "We have a great deal of respect for Linda," said Roger Berkowitz, Legal Seafood's president and CEO, who turned out to have worked with Greenlaw before. "We do a lot of education about the industry, and she's a great role model and speaker for high school students. For us, this is just another part of our continuing partnership." (It may also be good karma for Berkowitz: next year, Doubleday will publish his New Legal Seafoods Cookbook.)
Hyperion will also ship 14,000 bibs to lobster joints recommended by independent booksellers up and down the East Coast. For Betsey Detwiler at Buttonwood Books in Cohassett, Mass., the bib promotion is a clever way to draw local seafood lovers to Greenlaw's afternoon reading, when "most people are at the beach." In exchange for 1,000 bibs, Jake's Restaurant in nearby Hull, Mass., agreed to display posters promoting Greenlaw's bookstore appearance.
Comins also made good on a tip from a Maine bookseller, who suggested that Amtrak's popular Boston to Portsmouth route might offer another promotional opportunity. When Hyperion signed on to advertise the book on trains and in stations, the railroad agreed to host events with Greenlaw on its Downeaster Maine and Boston—New York City Acela trains. Though Amtrak's future is in doubt, Comins said the promotion is still scheduled to run as planned. Hyperion has placed additional ads in the New York Times Book Review, the New Yorker, Down East magazine and smaller newspapers in New York, Massachusetts and Maine that will run the week of July 14.
The indefatigable Greenlaw will launch the book with a July 9 appearance on NBC's Today Show before embarking on a tour with 55 stops in fishing towns from Maryland to Northern Maine, and in California, Oregon and Washington, with stopovers in Chicago and Denver. Meanwhile, interviews will run in USA Today and USA Weekend and a review is set to appear in People. The book will also be the inaugural selection of a new TV book club that will launch on the National Geographic channel this month.
With that media in place, why did Hyperion cast its net wider with the bibs? "It's all in line with Linda," said Comins. "She's a fun person, it's a fun book, and it's a fun promotion. Everyone has taken the bait, so to speak."