To promote Run Fast. Eat Slow: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes (Aug. 9) by elite runner Shalane Flanagan and her former cross-country teammate and whole foods chef Elyse Kopecky, Rodale has taken advice from David Mamet’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Glengarry Glen Ross to heart: “always be selling.” It began pre-selling cookbooks as early as four months before pub date.
As a result of Rodale’s aggressive marketing and strong package, the cookbook, which is aimed at runners and other athletes, as well as novice cooks, hit the Publishers Weekly Hardcover Nonfiction bestsellers list at #13 August 22 and stayed on the list for two more weeks. Rodale has gone back to press for 20,000 copies which will bring the in-print total to 50,000.
Rodale began building momentum before last month’s Rio Olympics, where Flanagan placed sixth in the marathon (the first U.S. finisher). In April, it held a pre-launch event in partnership with Harvard Book Store in Cambridge, Mass., to take advantage of the Boston Marathon, where Flanagan set a record for American women in 2014.
“We didn’t know what to expect,” said Alex Meriwether, marketing and events manager a Harvard Book Store, of the book-and-premarathon run packages. “We sell tickets for events all the time. But nothing quite like this.” Within 24 hours the bookstore had pre-sold 300 copies of the book through their web site, with another 100 people on the waiting list.
Rodale also generated early excitement through their recipe testers for Run Fast. Eat Slow. Six hundred potential testers responded on social media to Flanagan and Kopecky’s request. They chose a dozen, who went on to become some of the book’s biggest fans, said Kopecky.
Part of the appeal beyond the Superhero Muffins filled with oats and veggies recipe, which Flanagan and Kopecky say is the biggest fan favorite, is that this book is about eating healthy fat and eating healthy whole foods. Kopecky and Flanagan both changed their eating style and want to help other female athletes who suffer from amenorrhea (not having a period). On this diet, Flanagan was able to maintain her speed and stop counting calories.
For Rodale senior editor Dervla Kelly, who finds Flanagan’s achievements “inspiring,” that whole foods approach was one of the reasons that she wanted the book. Although there are some meat and fish recipes in the cookbook, Flanagan and Kopecky emphasize that you can be a vegetarian and still be a successful athlete by eating fats and protein.
As for maintaining the book’s sales pace, West Coast communications director Aly Mostel is working on it. She capitalized on coverage of the Olympics by placing stories on what an elite athlete eats, including a segment on Good Morning America and a cover feature and seven-page excerpt from the book in Runner’s World. The book tour kicked off in Bend, Ore., at the end of August and will include stops and fun runs in Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Charlotte, and Chapel Hill, where Kopecky and Flanagan first met as college track teammates at University of North Carolina.