As part of its 1979 launch for Flowers in the Attic—the first book by a then-unknown author named V.C. Andrews—Pocket Books took a full page ad in PW touting the novel as its November “Total Release” selection, a program Pocket used to promote what it believed were “highly salable” books. The marketing effort for the $2.50 mass market paperback featured a network radio campaign plus 36-copy floor displays highlighting the book’s “striking cover art.” Flowers in the Attic did indeed prove to be highly salable, and there are now 3.3 million copies in circulation (including print copies and e-book sales), S&S said.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the publication of the book, Gallery Books, which took over publication of the Andrews franchise from sister company Pocket, employed a 2019-style campaign that doesn’t seem to have radio or PW ads but does feature a heavy dose of social media promotions, including ads on Facebook and Goodreads; posts on Gallery’s Bookstagram ambassador program, which S&S said reaches more than one million people; and a dedicated e-blast. Jennifer Long, v-p and associate publisher of Gallery Books Group, said S&S will declare the Flowers pub date of November 12 “V.C. Andrews Day,” which it will mark with a Facebook Live campaign.
The first printing of the reissue is a modest 13,500 copies, but Long is confident the company will be going back to press. The entire Andrews franchise has been a steady seller. Since Andrews’s death in 1986, Andrew Neiderman has been ghostwriting the series and has now written more than 80 books. The series received a huge boost in 2014 when the Lifetime Movie Network began airing an adaptation of Andrews’s books, beginning with a remake of the 1987 Flowers in the Attic movie. Five Lifetime movies aired in summer 2019, and the network is planning to run an Andrews marathon on November 10.
Long has no doubt that the Lifetime movies have played an important part in introducing the series to new readers. But even before Lifetime began showing movies, Andrews had a solid, loyal audience—there are now more than 146 million copies of books in the series in circulation (print copies plus e-book sales).
When it debuted in 1979, Flowers in the Attic was considered racy—particularly as it appealed to teenagers, which contributed to making it one of the most banned books in its early days. Today’s readership of the Andrews franchise consists of longtime fans who, Long said, “are addicted” to the books, plus younger fans drawn by the unique storytelling. To reach all their readers, most Andrews titles are first released as trade paperbacks and e-books, followed in many cases by a mass market paperback. The 40th anniversary edition is a $16 trade paperback with a foreword by Gillian Flynn, who admits to sneak-reading Flowers when she was 13.
Another part of the 40th anniversary celebration is a new trilogy by Neiderman that he calls the Attic novels, which extends the Dollanger Family series that began with Flowers in the Attic. The first title, Beneath the Attic, was released in August, and two more are due out in 2020: Out of the Attic (Feb.) and Shadows of Foxworth (June). With plenty of backlist titles in print and Lifetime likely to do more Andrews movies, Long believes the Andrews franchise still has many more years to run.