For Legacy of Kings, the first book in Eleanor Herman’s new series, Harlequin Teen wanted to engage readers in a creative way. The result is something the publisher has dubbed a “digital oracle” that delivers nuggets of wisdom to readers via Twitter.
Bryn Collier, digital marketing manager at the publisher, said she created the technology with a freelance developer over the course of a few weeks. The “bot,” as Collier referred to the oracle, will respond to the hashtag #asklegacyofkings with one of 100 statements. The idea, she said, is that readers can tweet a question to @HarlequinTeen with the hashtag—sent examples include "Will I achieve my goal of going to college abroad?" and "Will the guy I love ever love me back?"—to receive a “prediction” written by Herman.
The promotion, which launched on Monday, ties into the theme of the historical fantasy series, called Blood of Gods and Royals. One of the main characters in the books, Kat, is on a mission to kill the queen in order to avenge her mother, who was an oracle.
Herman, an adult author who is breaking into the YA space with the series, is also a historian. Collier said that the author relied on her knowledge of Greek history to create a digital oracle that “channels the [Greek] gods and goddesses” as well as “other prolific thinkers.” The responses therefore include tidbits like this one, credited to Athena: 'It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.' There is also this nugget, from Poseiden: 'Journeys that start out rough often end in smooth sailing.'
Legacy of Kings, which went on sale Tuesday, went to press for an announced 100,000 copies. Harlequin Teen has also been promoting the book with a 150-page free e-novella, released on July 15, and a series of trailers—available on YouTube and a landing page for the book—that introduce readers to three of the six main characters from the series.
Collier said the goal of the Twitter promotion—which, to her knowledge, is a first of its kind in the medium—was to find a way to engage fans in a “fun and unique” way. As with all social media pushes, coming up with a metric to measure success is tricky. She said the publisher, so far, is pleased, though, noting that the @HarlequinTeen feed has been “dominated with premonitions” all week.