HarperCollins proclaimed Saturday, October 22 “Shatterday” in honor of Shatter Me, a dystopian romance that launches a trilogy by newcomer Tahereh Mafi. To build pre-pub buzz for the novel, due out on November 15, the publisher staged a 24-hour online preview event on Facebook featuring chapter reveals and giveaways, plus a Livestream appearance by the author. The story of a teenage girl with the ability to kill people with a single touch, Shatter Me has already garnered considerable attention: foreign rights have been sold in 19 territories, and Twentieth Century Fox has bought film rights.
“We wanted to create an online moment with the maximum amount of reach in order to build excitement for Shatter Me,” says Lauren Flower, director of integrated marketing for HarperCollins Children’s Books, of the Shatterday promotion. “We all loved this book in-house, and the author is very active online and so engaged with fans that we knew that this was a great opportunity to get readers talking about the novel.” Stretching from 12:00 a.m. on October 22 to the following midnight, the promotion included a chapter release every hour, periodic giveaways of ARCs, “check-in posts” from Mafi on the book’s Facebook wall throughout the day, and a Livestream event during which the author talked about Shatter Me and answered fans’ questions.
“The results were fantastic,” reports Flower of the promotion, an unprecedented event for the publisher. “Over the course of 24 hours we gained more than 2,000 ‘likes’ on the book’s Facebook page, bringing us close to 7,000 fans, we reached more than 50,000 unique Facebook users, and had more than 600 interactions, including comments, ‘likes,’ and shares.”
HarperCollins laid the groundwork for Shatterday with targeted Facebook advertising and promotion, custom-built tabs on the Shatter Me Facebook page, a Shatterday e-card sent to publicity and blogger contacts, and postcards distributed at ComicCon NY earlier this month. Mafi promoted the online event on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.
The author also embarked on a recent pre-pub tour to spread word of Shatter Me, which has a first printing of 175,000 copies. She made stops in Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, and Seattle, and attended several regional trade shows. Mafi also appeared on panels and did signings at both ComicCon San Diego and ComicCon NY. And in January, she’ll participate in HarperCollins’s Dark Days group tour with other YA authors.
A 23-year-old resident of Orange County, Mafi was inspired to write Shatter Me while working at her alma mater, Soka University of America, after she graduated. “I had considered starting a PhD program, but I’d spent so many years immersed in schoolwork that I’d burned myself out and needed a break,” she reflects. “I started reading for fun again, and went back to books that I’d enjoyed when I was younger. I read about 100 YA books in one month, and one day—I don’t know where this came from—I decided I’d give writing a novel a shot. I knew I wanted to try YA, since that world gives you the freedom to be inventive, take risks, and connect with youth.”
Shatter Me came to Mafi as a voice. “You always hear about writers hearing voices in their heads, which might sound a bit crazy,” she says. “But for me, it was true. I heard the voice of a girl trapped somewhere in the dark. The more I prodded her along, the more she opened up, and she led the story. This was definitely a character-driven book, and as my character followed her journey of self-discovery, I discovered things along with her.”
Mafi was thrilled to meet fans face-to-face on her pre-pub tour. “I had dinners with booksellers and lunches with bloggers, which was a new thing for me, and it was exciting on every level,” she says. “And meeting kids at an event at Anderson’s in Naperville, Illinois, was the highlight of the entire month.”
The author, an ardent fan of social media platforms, enjoyed her online contact with fans during the Shatterday event. “I was very impressed with the really smart questions readers asked about the novel and its characters,” she says. “I enjoy the chance to interact directly with readers, and am excited that people identify with my protagonist. When I hear that teens empathize with her struggle to find herself, and that it gives them hope to push past their own struggles, it means more to me than anything else.”
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi. Harper, $17.99 Nov. ISBN 978-0-06-208548-1