When it comes to promoting her fifth novel in the Twilight Saga, Midnight Sun (Little, Brown, Aug. 4) during the ongoing pandemic, Stephenie Meyer might wish for a vampire’s supernatural powers to connect safely with her fans. She will have to do the next best thing on her upcoming tour, however: an in-person appearance to launch the book and three subsequent virtual events to reach readers elsewhere.
Midnight Sun is a retelling of the love story between vampire Edward Cullen and human teen Bella Swan—told from Edward’s perspective. The Twilight Saga—Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn, as well as a related novella, an illustrated guide, and, in 2016, a reimagining of Twilight entitled Life and Death, which featured a reversal in gender roles (Beau and Edythe)—has sold nearly 160 million copies worldwide since the first book in the series, Twilight, which told the story from Bella’s perspective, was published in 2005. Midnight Sun's initial print run is one million copies in hardcover. And Thursday, in remarks pertaining to the company's first-half results, Hachette CEO Michael Pietsch disclosed that pre-orders for Midnight Sun were the largest in HBG's history.
Meyer put a positive spin on the timing of Midnight Sun’s release, saying in a statement that she realizes how much she herself “needs distractions now, how much [she] needs something to look forward to, how much [she] needs more books to read” during the pandemic. Thus, she adds, “I hope this book gives my readers a little pleasure to anticipate, and after it arrives, a chance to live in an imaginary world for a while.”
While the book lands on August 4, the tour will kick off on that Friday in Shelton, Wash. at the Skyline Drive-In Theatre there in partnership with Ballast Book Company, an indie store in Bremerton, Wash. After a socially distanced q&a with Meyer on stage, audience members—who will remain in their vehicles throughout—will be treated to a screening of the first Twilight movie.
“If all goes as planned, you’ll be able to ask me questions from your car and we can share some safe and masked fun,” Meyer wrote on her blog, asking her fans to follow safety guidelines set by participating bookstores and theaters on her tour circuit.
“Follow your state’s rules about travel and crossing state lines,” she wrote. “You should skip this if it would require you to stay overnight away from home. Do not attend the event with people outside of your household—wave to your friends from the safety of your car! Wear a mask if you have to leave your car. Be patient and courteous to the wonderful staff who will be running the events. Basically, let’s not any of us be Typhoid Mary, please!”
The book launch will cost $62 (plus fees) per vehicle with up to four occupants, and will include a copy of Midnight Sun with a signed bookplate, plus three additional bookplates and a Twilight-themed face mask (while supplies last). The drive-in holds 300 vehicles and, as of Thursday morning, is sold out. Suzanne Droppert, owner of Ballast Book Co., told PW that a wait list maintained by the store is forming.
There will be two lines for cars to enter the premises, with masked and gloved booksellers on each side scanning tickets and handing off a bag with the book, bookplates, and mask. This is the first time that Ballast Book Co. has hosted Meyer.
Droppert says that preorders have been steady, despite an economic downturn in the Bremerton area and Shelton’s distance from the Seattle metro area (80 miles) having a possible impact. Ballast has sold more than 300 books as of midday Thursday, and expects to sell at least 350 copies total by publication day.
“Some people in their cars are getting multiple copies, and other people just want the book in the store,” she told PW on Wednesday. “I’m sure it’ll sell out; I am seeing orders come in as I talk with you on the phone.”
The following evening, Meyer will appear on screen on the other side of the country, at the Rustic Tri View Drive-In in North Smithfield, R.I., in a collaboration between that theater and An Unlikely Story bookstore in Plainville, Mass., owned by Jeff Kinney, who is embarking on his own tour for the latest Wimpy Kid book, Rowley Jefferson’s Awesome Friendly Adventure (Abrams/Amulet). The original plan was for Meyer and Kinney to engage in a socially distanced conversation on stage, but due to the recent surge in coronavirus cases, that had to be scrapped.
“I really wanted to be there in person, but travel restrictions are keeping me from attending,” Meyer, who lives in the Pacific Northwest, wrote on her blog. “However, I will be there with you virtually and you’ll be able to ask all your Midnight Sun questions in real time via Instagram Live, and then watch the movie. Make sure you have Instagram on your phones! Technology Disclaimer: I’m told that the tech side of these events will be ‘easy’ and that ‘even a child can do it,’ but I’m making no promises other than I WILL TRY.”
Similar to the earlier event in Washington State, tickets are $60 (plus fees) per car, and include a copy of Midnight Sun with a signed bookplate, three additional bookplates, a Twilight-themed face mask, and viewing of the movie for up to four people. Participants will receive a special code from An Unlikely Story allowing them to interact with Meyer via Instagram Live.
Kym Havens, An Unlikely Story’s events manager, told PW that, despite travel advisories throughout New England, sales have been steady; the event is limited to 100 vehicles. While there were no more tickets for cars as of Thursday morning, there were at midday 10 SUV tickets still remaining. Havens explained also that "a lot of people can’t come, but they want the signed bookplates and the facemask so they’re buying [the package].” The store has ordered 350 copies to date, and has sold approximately 300 copies as of today. Little Brown sent An Unlikely Story 750 signed bookplates.
The last two virtual stops on the tour will be open to a national audience: Books-A-Million will sponsor a virtual event on Aug. 10, which costs $32 and includes a copy of the book with a signed bookplate that will be shipped to participants. Barnes & Noble will sponsor a free virtual event that will be accessible on their social media platforms on August 14.
Fortunately for Meyer's fans, this short tour will not be the only opportunity to meet Meyer—albeit virtually. One lucky fan in the U.S. will be invited along with 20 of their friends to a virtual hangout with Meyer on a date to be determined; all will also receive personalized bookplates. This prize will be given to the winner of the best 500-word essay on why they love their local bookstore, a contest that Meyer announced earlier this month; submissions are now closed. The winner's local bookstore will also receive 50 signed bookplates. Meyer is currently judging entries and plans on making an announcement next week.