Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group began beating the promotional drum early to build interest in Winter, the fifth and final book of Marissa Meyer’s Lunar Chronicles, featuring futuristic retellings of classic fairy tales. The Join the Resistance campaign for Winter – inspired by Snow White’s story – got underway in June, well in advance of its November 10 release by Feiwel and Friends. The campaign’s name plays on the YA series’ story arc, which culminates in the heroines joining forces to attempt to overthrow the nefarious imposter, Queen Levana.

The publisher first conceived of the Join the Resistance tagline to promote Cress, the Lunar Chronicles’ third installment, yet took a firmer grip on this promotional handle for Winter, which has a 500,000-copy first printing. The hub of the Join the Resistance initiative is the series website, where fans can complete digital missions to unlock a Winter excerpt in which Cinder (the heroine of the first book) rallies the Lunar people to help bring down Levana.

At the end of September, Macmillan ramped up the campaign and encouraged readers to bring the online promotion into the real world by downloading Join the Resistance flyers to display in their hometowns. Also added to the website at the time was a map charting Resistance members’ locations, pulled from Instagram photos posted using #JointheResistance; and a chat room where readers can interact with an “Artificial Intelligence bot” that is programmed with prompts. Visitors to the chat room can also talk and character role-play with fellow fans.

In early October, Macmillan did a blogger mailing that included Lunar Chronicles shimmer tattoos and flyers to post. And now, with the pub date nearing, the publisher has escalated its recruitment campaign with renewed Join the Resistance outreach to bloggers, vloggers, and avid fans, affectionately dubbed “Lunartics” by Meyer.

The Resistance Triumphs

Caitlin Sweeny, digital marketing manager at MCPG, observed that the Join the Resistance momentum has been building steadily over time, as have the series’ sales, which have increased exponentially with each title, bringing the in-print Lunar Chronicles tally to more than two million copies in the U.S. alone. She noted seeing so many of Meyer’s fans eagerly embrace the idea of doing their part to champion the cause of dethroning Queen Levana, and becoming “brand ambassadors for Lunar Chronicles, has been very gratifying.

“Every day we see new people sharing photos online of the campaign flyers they’ve printed out and displayed in local bookstores, libraries, or in their homes,” she said. “And every day we add new states to our Join the Resistance map, and it’s very cool to see exactly where Marissa’s fans come from.”

Meyer’s journey to the finale of the Lunar Chronicles took a detour when she put Winter aside to pen last year’s Fairest, in order to flesh out Levana’s backstory. Now, finally wrapping up the series has been a bittersweet experience, she noted. “I’ve been living with these characters for seven years, and I feel as though they are very much a part of my life – and are dear friends,” she said. “We’ve had some great adventures together and it’s hard to leave them behind, but their story has definitely come to a close.”

The author, who launches a 10-city tour on pub date, expressed gratitude to her fans for their enthusiastic backing of the Resistance, as well as to her publisher for pulling together the call-to-action campaign. “I think it is a phenomenal way to expand on the revolution theme that drives Winter,” she said. “But it’s also a brilliant way to build fans’ excitement for the book, and let them become a part of the story rather than just read it. One of my favorite things is looking at the photos they’ve taken of themselves, some in costumes, to show where the Resistance is happening on the map. They are really, really into becoming part of the saga.”

Having launched her career as a creator of fan fiction and fan art, Meyer called the fandom that her series has generated “very surreal and very special. The great thing about being in a fandom is that you’re not alone in your room with books that you love. You have access to the Internet, and you can share and connect with others who feel the same way you do about books, and a great community grows over time.”

Though Winter concludes the Lunar Chronicles, fans of its feisty heroines can catch up with them again next February, when Feiwel and Friends releases Stars Above: A Lunar Chronicles Collection, a roundup of six stories. “I hope the stories offer a little something extra for fans who are distraught about the end of the series,” Meyer said. “In a way, I hope readers will miss the Lunar Chronicle characters, but I also hope they will revisit them and reread the novels. After all, that’s the wonderful thing about books: you never really have to say goodbye.”

The Lunar Chronicles: Winter by Marissa Meyer. Feiwel and Friends, $22.99 Nov. ISBN 978-0-312-64298-3