More than 80 writers will participate in the Tuesday and Wednesday evening author receptions (February 10 and 11). Some will also participate in panels, such as “The Man in Room 441: A Conversation About F. Scott Fitzgerald,” featuring Maureen Corrigan (So We Read On), Stewart O’Nan (West of Sunset), and Erik Larson (Dead Wake).
Several authors who have been active in We Need Diverse Books—v-p of development I.W. Gregorio (None of the Above) and Renée Ahdieh (The Wrath and the Dawn)—will be at the WNDB consultation station. Gregorio and author Pam Muñoz Ryan (Echo) will also be on the ABC Group panel on “Campaigning for Diversity—Expanding Your Inventory and Customer Base.”
Here are a selection of authors to meet at the conference and information on what makes their books notable.
The Wonder Garden
By Lauren Acampora
Grove, May; $24 hardcover
Why the buzz: “[This] is already a sensation among the literary world, with celebrated writers such as Jay McInerney, Joseph O’Neill, and Susan Choi adding their voices to the chorus for this debut writer,” associate publisher Judy Hottensen says. “Brought to Grove Atlantic by Ginger Barber, distinguished agent of Alice Munro, as her first major acquisition as editor-at-large at Grove Atlantic, the book has found a loving home as one of Grove’s prominent debuts in the spring. As Susan Choi so aptly put it, ‘Like the famous opening scene in Blue Velvet, The Wonder Garden pulls us under the surface of that most carefully tended American garden, the prosperous suburb.’ ”
Publicity & marketing plans: Northeast author tour; prepub trade advertising; NEIBA regional e-blast.
Opening: “The new house is a horror. Martin and his wife remark on it each time they turn onto Minuteman Road and are struck by the bald ostentation.” (From the story, “Swarm.”)
Our Only World: Ten Essays
By Wendell Berry
Counterpoint, Feb.; $24 hardcover
First printing: Over 10,000
Why the buzz: Counterpoint editor-in-chief Jack Shoemaker, a longtime friend of Berry’s, calls him “one of America’s most important cultural critics. His new collection contains several of his most riveting critiques of issues of concern to all Americans, from abortion and gay marriage to sustainable landscapes and national security. A centerpiece essay, ‘Our Deserted Country,’ reads like a vigorous updating of his most famous work, The Unsettling of America.”
Publicity & marketing plans: Online campaign targeting literary and poetry websites; promotion through author’s website (wendellberrybooks.com).
Opening: “We need to acknowledge the inherent formlessness by which analytic science divides creatures into organs, cells, and ever smaller parts or particles according to its technological capacities. I recognize the possibility and existence of this knowledge, even its usefulness, but I also recognize the narrowness of its usefulness and the damage it does.”
Did You Ever Have a Family
By Bill Clegg
S&S/Gallery, Sept.; $26 hardcover
First printing: 150,000
Why the buzz: “Bill Clegg’s memoirs (Portrait of an Addict as a Young Man and Ninety Days) were hailed for their heartbreaking honesty and exhilarating narrative. His debut novel is a beautifully written, powerful examination of human connections in the aftermath of tragedy and of rising up when all seems lost. We’ve found it’s a novel readers become personally invested in—they become emotional when talking about it. Early blurbs are already in from Michael Cunningham, Elinor Lipman, and Darin Strauss,” says Jennifer Robinson, v-p and director of publicity.
Publicity & marketing plans: 10-city tour; BEA and regional trade show appearances; prepub bookseller dinners in select markets; national advertising campaign; reading group guide; social media campaign.
Opening: “He wakes to the sound of sirens. Many, loud, and very near.”
The Sunlit Night
By Rebecca Dinerstein
Bloomsbury, June; $26 hardcover
First printing: 65,000
Why the buzz: “Bloomsbury’s love affair with The Sunlit Night kicked off immediately upon submission of the manuscript—which came with wonderful blurbs from Jonathan Safran Foer and Darin Strauss—to editor Lea Beresford, who had already heard some buzz about it from scouts. Internal love escalated as rave reads came in from the editorial, marketing, sales, and publicity departments in Bloomsbury’s offices worldwide. Once we met with Rebecca Dinerstein, it became clear that all the pieces were coming together. We are thrilled to be a part of launching the career of this incredibly talented writer who spent a year after graduating from Yale in Lofoten, Norway (95 miles north of the Arctic Circle), writing a collection of poetry in Norwegian and a draft of her first novel, The Sunlit Night,” says Laura Keefe, director of trade and digital marketing.
Publicity & marketing plans: Six-city author tour; prepub buzz campaign including media and bookseller meet-and-greets with author, and social media promotion using #SunlitNight hashtag; print advertising campaign, book club advertising and outreach; global Bloomsbury social media campaign.
Opening: “In the moment after Robert Mason’s condom broke he rolled off me, propped himself on his elbow, and said, ‘What you do doesn’t help anybody.’ He was a four-time All-American diving champion with political aspirations, Jewish, proficient in Japanese, and a recent head page to the Department of Justice.”
Lesser Beasts: A Snout-to-Tail History of the Humble Pig
By Mark Essig
Basic, May; $27.99 hardcover
Why the buzz: Senior editor Alex Littlefield says, “We don’t seem to know how to think about pigs. They’re dirty. They’re delicious. They’re achingly intelligent. Some of us refuse to eat them for moral or religious reasons; others will eat almost anything that contains them (after curing and cold-smoking, that is). As Mark Essig shows in this elegant, deeply humane biography, our conflicted relationship with these animals and their flesh is as old as civilization itself. This is an enormously important book, for pigs and people alike.”
Publicity & marketing plans: Broadcast and print campaigns; social media campaign focused on the foodie market.
Opening: “On a trip through the North Carolina mountains in 1878, Virginia newspaper editor James Cowardin found himself surrounded by thousands of pigs.”
City on Fire
By Garth Risk Hallberg
Knopf, Oct.; $30 hardcover
First printing: 200,000
Why the buzz: “Probably the most remarkable aspect of City on Fire (among many) is its warmth and generosity, how wide its emotional range is. When you’re reading, you are right there with the characters, and once you’ve stopped reading, you’re still transported. It’s wonderful to see colleagues responding as readers first and foremost, instead of as editors or sales reps or publicists. In addition to a tremendous originality—and it does break boundaries with the fictional form—the novel manages to deliver totally traditional pleasures, that curl-up-by-the-fire kind of old-fashioned storytelling. Set mostly in 1977, City on Fire also taps into an era that acts as a pivot, one that happens to say a lot about the world we’re living in today. This is part of why it doesn’t necessarily feel ‘historical.’ The book is much more about the people who live inside it,” editor Diana Miller says.
Publicity & marketing plans: Author tour; national print advertising; online advertising.
Opening: Not available.
Soil: A Novel
By Jamie Kornegay
Simon & Schuster, March; $26 hardcover
Why the buzz: “Having spent over 15 years as an independent bookseller [founder of Turnrow Book Co.] in the Deep South, Jamie Kornegay knows his way around Southern gothic fiction. It should come as no surprise, then, that Jamie’s debut novel possesses in abundance those qualities that characterize exceptional Southern noir: wry, wicked humor, a spectacularly rendered cast of maniacal characters, and an effortless depiction of the often tense relationship between nature and its human inhabitants. I think it’s no stretch to argue that Kornegay could be the new, bold face of Southern literature,” publicity assistant Grace Stearns says.
Publicity & marketing plans: Southern tour; a 2015 Indies Introduce Debut Author.
Opening: “The drought began in May and lasted three months. It turned the earth to stone and the vegetation to yellow wisps. Then it rained all of August.”
I Am Radar
By Reif Larsen
Penguin Press, Feb.; $29.95 hardcover
Why the buzz: “Well, the ingredients themselves are buzzworthy: scientists secretly practicing electrotherapy north of the Arctic Circle; a mysterious society of puppeteers performing in besieged Sarajevo; an adopted child who becomes a living science experiment in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge; a literature professor assembling the world’s largest library in the Congo; and in modern-day New Jersey, at the center of it all, a young man named Radar. But the brilliance of Reif Larsen’s [book] is the way he’s able to braid all these disparate threads together into an epic, moving, and completely alive novel. It’s a book that both demands and rewards your attention, a book that you’ll want to discuss, debate, fight about, and above all share with your friends,” marketing director Matthew Boyd says.
Publicity & marketing plans: Author tour; national advertising; online, blog, and social network campaign; Indie Next pick.
Opening: “It was just after midnight in birthing room 4C and Dr. Sherman, the mustached obstetrician presiding over the delivery, was sweating lightly into his cotton underwear, holding out his hands like a beggar, ready to receive the imminent cranium.”
Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
By Erik Larson
Crown, Mar.; $28 hardcover
First printing: 500,000
Why the buzz: “Erik Larson is the master of narrative nonfiction, and we’re publishing his enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania just before the 100th anniversary of the disaster. It’s a story that many of us think we know, but don’t, and as always, Erik tells it thrillingly. Dead Wake captures the sheer drama and emotional power of a disaster whose intimate details and true meaning have long been obscured by history,” says Amanda Cook, v-p, executive editor.
Publicity & marketing plans: 22-city tour; print, radio, and online advertising; social media campaign (@ExLarson); “This Day in History” live tweet campaign #DeadWake; digital book club kit; preorder campaign; promotional items.
Opening: “On the night of May 6, 1915, as his ship approached the coast of Ireland, Capt. William Thomas Turner left the bridge and made his way to the first-class lounge, where passengers were taking part in a concert and talent show, a customary feature of Cunard crossings.”
Get in Trouble: Stories
By Kelly Link
Random House, Feb.; $25 hardcover
Why the buzz: Senior editor Noah Eaker says, “Get in Trouble is the first collection for adults in 10 years from the celebrated author of Magic for Beginners. Kelly Link’s stories blur the line between realist fiction and the fantastic, but her outrageous premises are always anchored by a deep emotional undercurrent and wonderful characters. This is why she has won such a devoted readership among authors as diverse as Lev Grossman, Karen Russell, and Michael Chabon. Independent booksellers have been instrumental in building her considerable word-of-mouth reputation from the beginning and Kelly is herself a former independent bookseller, so Winter Institute has the feel of a family reunion for her.”
Publicity & marketing plans: Eight-city author tour; prepub media and bookseller events; online advertising and blogger outreach; teaser campaign with serial releases of short story via social media; back ad in Magic for Beginners trade paperback and e-book editions; targeted e-blasts.
Opening: “Fran’s daddy woke her up wielding a mister. ‘Fran,’ he said, spritzing her like a wilted houseplant.”
The Story of My Teeth
By Valeria Luiselli
Coffee House, Sept.; $15.95 trade paper
First printing: 7,500
Why the buzz: “[The Story of My Teeth] follows the success of Valeria’s debut novel and essay collection, which earned her a National Book Award Five Under 35 nod. The Story of My Teeth builds on that momentum, introducing readers to Highway, a world-famous auctioneer with a collection of celebrity teeth, including the pearly whites of Plato, Petrarch, and Marilyn Monroe. It’s brilliant, and also has a great story: it began as a commissioned work written in collaboration with workers at a Jumex juice factory in Mexico,” says Luiselli’s editor, Coffee House publisher Chris Fischbach.
Publicity & marketing plans: Author tour, including featured author at London Book Fair.
Opening: “I’m the best auctioneer in the world, but no one knows it because I’m a discreet sort of man. My name is Gustavo Sánchez Sánchez, though people call me Highway, I believe with affection.”
On Hurricane Island
By Ellen Meeropol
Red Hen, Mar.; $16.95 trade paper
Why the buzz: “This fast-paced literary novel is about the ‘enhanced interrogation’ of math professor Gandalf Cohen, kidnapped from a U.S. airport and taken to a civilian detention center on an island off the coast of Maine. In the wake of the Senate report on torture, this is a hot topic. Meeropol’s novel, narrated by multiple characters on both sides of the political divide, takes the reader into the heads of both tortured and torturer to explore the complexities of our contemporary crisis in civil liberties and national security,” publicity and events coordinator Esther Manilla Sawyer says.
Publicity & marketing plans: Six-state author tour; online publicity campaign; promotion through author’s social media (@EllenMeeropol) and website (ellenmeeropol.com).
Opening: “The wee-hours explosion rattled the bed. Margaret was still awake, matching her breathing to her sister’s soft snores, hoping to quiet her internal battle of grief and blame. At the blast, she threw off the covers and ran to the open window.”
Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen
By Mary Norris
Norton, April; $24.95 hardcover
First printing: 100,000
Why the buzz: “This book originated from a handful of wildly popular posts about language on the New Yorker’s website. Now, Mary Norris, a 30-year veteran of the New Yorker, has written the most irreverent and helpful book on language since the #1 bestseller Eats, Shoots & Leaves,” says publicity director Erin Lovett.
Publicity & marketing plans: Eight-plus-city author tour; will launch with an interview on the weekend edition of NBC’s Today show and an interview with Scott Simon on NPR’s Weekend Edition; excerpt in the February 23 issue of the New Yorker.
Opening: “Let’s get one thing straight right from the beginning: I didn’t set out to be a comma queen.”
By Aline Ohanesian
Algonquin, Apr.; $25.95 hardcover
First printing: 30,000
Why the buzz: “Every year there’s an exceptional debut novel that catches everyone’s attention. I’m thinking of debuts like The Kite Runner, The Tiger’s Wife, The Orphan Master’s Son, and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. After reading Orhan’s Inheritance, I’m pretty convinced that Aline Ohanesian must share the same literary DNA with these accomplished writers. What Ohanesian accomplishes with this debut is, simply, a minor miracle—creating a vibrant tapestry of the Armenian people, as well as telling the story of two young lovers separated by the march of history,” says marketing and sales director Craig Popelars.
Publicity & marketing plans: Seven-city tour; national advertising; newsletter allowance; online marketing and advertising campaign; signed and numbered broadsides; online reading group guide.
Opening: “They found him inside one of the 17 cauldrons in the courtyard, steeping in an indigo dye two shades darker than the summer sky. His arms and chin were propped over the copper edge, but the rest of Kemal Turkoglu, age 93, had turned a pretty pale blue.”
Cat Out of Hell
By Lynne Truss
Melville House, Mar.; $24.95 hardcover
First printing: 50,000
Why the buzz: “This is one of the ‘buzziest’ books we’ve published in a while,” says cofounder and copublisher Dennis Johnson. “Booksellers, critics, and librarians have been alive on social media with excitement about it. Eats, Shoots & Leaves did so well for them all, and early readers are saying this one has the same level of smart humor they’ve missed since then.”
Publicity & marketing plans: Seven-city tour; March Indie Next pick.
Opening: “The following story, which is absolutely true, was brought to my attention when I was holidaying recently on the coast of North Norfolk. The month was January. I was in search of silence and tranquility.”
By Sarai Walker
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, May; $26 hardcover
First printing: 40,000
Why the buzz: “Dietland is a powder-keg of a novel that starts out a little bit Bridget Jones and soon becomes a little bit Fight Club. It’s the story of a quiet loner named Plum Kettle who is saving up for weight-loss surgery, when she is tapped for an underground guerrilla group called ‘Jennifer,’ which avenges predatory acts against women. What I love is that Dietland doesn’t follow any of the rules of chick lit or literary fiction, whatever those distinctions mean. Part consciousness-raising novel, part revenge fantasy, it does its own provocative thing. And with it, Sarai Walker uses her own distinctive voice to push the cultural conversation forward, alongside writers like Roxane Gay, Lena Dunham, and Caitlin Moran,” says Lauren Wein, editor.
Publicity & marketing plans: Author tour; print and online advertising, including Entertainment Weekly, the Hairpin, and Jezebel; online promotion; and a downloadable excerpt.
Opening: “It was late in the spring when I noticed that a girl was following me, nearly the end of May, a month that means perhaps or might be.”
By David Arnold
Viking Children’s Books, March; $17.99 hardcover
YA; ages 12 and up
First printing: 50,000
Why the buzz: “David is a writer like no other: sharp, confident and endlessly surprising. We were so impressed by this compelling debut that we acquired it as a preempt, disappointing many other publishers. Mary Iris ‘Mim’ Malone is the unforgettable, kaleidoscopic star of Mosquitoland, and she’s been gaining fans from all corners, with starred reviews, raves from Ruta Sepetys and John Corey Whaley, and tremendous bookseller feedback. It’s testament to Arnold’s talent that, though you won’t know exactly where you stand with Mim until the very last page, you still won’t be able to look away. I’m certain that she will steal your heart just as she stole mine,” v-p and publisher Ken Wright says.
Publicity & marketing plans: Author tour; prepub bookseller dinner tour (recreating Mim’s roadtrip) with stops in Nashville, Lexington, Cleveland, and Cincinnati; consumer advertising campaign that will leverage the book trailer across social media.
Opening: “I am Mary Iris Malone, and I am not okay.”
By Victoria Aveyard
HarperTeen, February; $17.99 hardcover
First printing: 150,000
Why the buzz: “I am incredibly excited that readers everywhere will soon take the intensely cinematic, high-stakes, hair-raising ride that is Red Queen. The story takes place in a world divided by blood. Common red bloods serve the silver-blooded elite, who are gifted with rare, superhuman abilities. Our main character, Mare, a Red with surprising Silver powers, is caught between the two worlds, and must navigate a rat’s nest of secrets, lies, and hidden enemies to rival Game of Thrones. At age 24, Victoria lives and breathes the same pop culture soaked existence as her audience. I’m looking forward to watching her body of work grow. And, of course, to discovering what happens to Mare,” says executive editor Kristen Pettit.
Publicity & marketing plans: 11-city author tour; national radio satellite tour; blog tour; print and online advertising; prepub trade and consumer buzz campaign; trailers; social media outreach across all HarperTeen and Epic Reads profiles; book rights sold to 21 countries; film rights to Universal with Gennifer Hutchinson (Breaking Bad) to write the script; an Indies Introduce pick.
Opening: “I hate First Friday.”
Bad Kitty: Puppy’s Big Day
By Nick Bruel,
Roaring Brook, Avail.; $13.99 paper over board
Middle grade; ages 7–10
First printing: 500,000
Why the buzz: “Nick Bruel’s Bad Kitty series turns 10 in 2015, and MCPG plans to celebrate this anniversary throughout the year. We’re kicking off with [a] new chapter book, which puts Kitty’s nemesis, Puppy, in the spotlight for some wacky adventures of his own. Puppy is a fan favorite. This book embodies everything that has made the series so popular—it’s zany, hilarious, and populated with characters that you can’t help but love, no matter how badly they behave,” says Molly Brouillette, associate director of publicity, Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group.
Publicity & marketing plans: Three-week tour, including school visits.
Opening: “In case it’s not obvious, Kitty is in a very, very, VERY bad mood today. And nobody knows why. It’s worse than the day someone said Kitty needed a bath.”
Anywhere but Paradise
By Anne Bustard
Egmont USA, Apr.; $16.99 hardcover
Middle grade; ages 10 and up
First printing: 8,000
Why the buzz: “Many independent booksellers will remember Bustard as the former co-owner of Toad Hall Children’s Bookstore in Austin, Tex. She is also an accomplished author with an M.F.A. degree from Vermont College of Fine Arts. [Anywhere but Paradise] is her first novel. (She previously penned a picture book, Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly, for S&S.) Set in the 1960s when Hawaii has just become a state, the book captures the loneliness and trauma of being uprooted to a new location, bullied as an outsider, and eventually finding a place to fit in a strange culture,” says sales and marketing director Margaret Coffee.
Publicity & marketing plans: Although Egmont USA closed January 31, all its titles, including Anywhere but Paradise, will continue to be distributed by Penguin Random House.
Opening: “Best I can figure, Hanu, Oahu, is almost four thousand miles from home. And my cat, sweet Howdy, hasn’t purred in days. Hasn’t since we arrived all the way from Gladiola, Texas.”
Embassy Row #1: All Fall Down
By Ally Carter
Scholastic Press, Avail.; $17.99 hardcover
YA; ages 12 and up
First printing: 200,000
Why the buzz: “I think that both history and current events show us how often global shifts can hinge on the actions of individual people—some of whom don’t even know the reverberations their actions can have. Now, imagine if conflicts between countries could be amplified by the actions of a single teenage girl who may or may not be crazy. That’s the premise of Ally Carter’s Embassy Row series, and what I think Ally’s done so expertly is show how the inner demons we face can often mirror the more treacherous aspects of the outside world, the hope being that if we can fix what’s broken in ourselves, then maybe there’s a chance of saving the world. Ally Carter is the tops when it comes to YA suspense, and in this new series, she’s at the top of her game,” says David Levithan, v-p, publisher, and editorial director.
Publicity & marketing plans: Author tour; events in conjunction with Justine magazine; dedicated online series hub at embassyrowbooks.tumblr; digital advertising; prepub #AllyAmbassador buzz campaign—Ally Ambassadors received link to a bonus prequel scene and in January began helping spread the word using dedicated hashtags for the chance to win prizes.
Opening: “‘When I was twelve, I broke my leg jumping off the wall between Canada and Germany,’ I say, but the woman across from me doesn’t even blink. I don’t ask whether or not she has even heard the story. I’m pretty sure she probably has, but I keep talking anyway.”
By Carson Ellis
Candlewick, Feb.; $16.99 hardcover
Why the buzz: “The concept of ‘home’ is quintessential to all of us, children and adults alike,” says Liz Bicknell, executive editorial director and associate publisher. “Carson’s striking paintings invite us to dwell on a bus, in a shoe—even in a biosphere—and to find the beauty and safety of home in each.”
Publicity & marketing plans: 10-city tour; advertising; book trailer.
Opening: “Home is a house in the country. Or home is an apartment.”
Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11
By N. Griffin
Candlewick, Feb.; $15.99 hardcover
Middle grade; ages 7–10
Why the buzz: “Nicole Griffin, a 2013 PW Flying Starts [author], makes her middle-grade debut with a zany, hilarious classroom mystery featuring the irrepressible and ever-resourceful Smashie and best friend Dontel, who are forced to the limits of their parlor-room detecting to find the missing class pet and set things right in Room 11. The first book in a projected series, Smashie is a pure delight with pitch-perfect kid dialogue, humor, and appeal—case closed,” says Tracy Miracle, publicity and marketing campaigns director.
Publicity & marketing plans: Regional author tour; Kidsreads.com promotion; advertising; back-to-school publicity campaign; online discussion guide.
Opening: “The day Patches was stolen from Smashie McPerter’s class started out like any other day. Well, except for the fact that her teacher was out sick and Smashie’s class was stuck with the worst substitute in the world.”
P.S. I Still Love You
By Jenny Han
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, May; $17.99 hardcover
YA; ages 12 and up
First printing: 400,000
Why the buzz: “P.S. I Still Love You grabs the reader by the heart from the very first line, ‘Dear Peter.’ [In] the continuation of the story that began in the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, our heroine Lara Jean is still a little bit innocent, but fighting hard to be brave enough to understand her real feelings about romance, friendship, and what being a ‘good girl’ means. Everyone in Lara Jean’s life seem to be moving forward, including her beloved sisters and father. And she is not sure she is ready for all these changes. Reading P.S. I Still Love You takes you right back to those uncertain teenage years, when you were simultaneously full of longing to be a grownup, and nostalgia for your childhood,” says executive editor Zareen Jaffery.
Publicity & marketing plans: Author appearances, including Los Angeles Times Festival of Books; radio satellite tour; prepub buzz campaign starting in February; preorder campaign; advertising.
Opening: “Dear Peter, I miss you.”
Nowhere but Here
By Katie McGarry
Harlequin Teen, June; $17.99 hardcover
YA; ages 16 and up
First printing: 100,000
Why the buzz: “Katie McGarry established herself as a go-to for realistic YA fiction that offers an unflinching exploration of timely issues with her acclaimed debut, Pushing the Limits, in 2012. This year Harlequin Teen is thrilled to be publishing the first in Katie’s powerful new Thunder Road series focusing on a group of teens raised in the exhilarating and dangerous world of a motorcycle club. Nowhere but Here tells the compelling, dual-point-of-view stories of Emily, a sheltered high school senior who reluctantly spends the summer getting to know her biological father—a high-ranking member of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club—and Oz, the prospective new club member who’s assigned to shadow her during her visit,” says senior editor Margo Lipschultz.
Publicity & marketing plans: Author tour; advertising; in-book advertising; multilayered online advertising and partnership campaign; dedicated Harlequin Teen social media; featured title on harlequinteen.com.
Opening: “Top three awful moments of my life: Meeting my biological father at ten. Breaking my arm in three spots at nine. Falling into a hole and being trapped there overnight with a dead body at eight.”
The Tapper Twins Go to War (With Each Other)
By Geoff Rodkey
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Apr.; $13.99 paper over board
Middle grade; ages 8–12
First printing: 150,000
Why the buzz: “You know how some books just brilliantly capture a cultural moment in time in a way that hits home so hard that everyone starts sharing it and talking about it? Adult lit has everything from The Great Gatsby and Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance to Generation X and Less Than Zero. Most heralded kids’ lit tends to skew safely classic and timeless, though—gatekeepers love that—but occasionally we’re blessed with characters like those in Harriet the Spy, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, and The Outsiders, who dared to honestly reflect who we really are. And while The Tapper Twins Go to War is without a doubt the funniest middle-grade book I’ve read in years—and that may be the main reason it flies off the shelves—it’s seriously got the potential to become a true zeitgeist book and series. Yes, other kids’ books use texts, emails and the like as enhancements, but Geoff Rodkey hilariously satirizes our digitally saturated world—exposing how parents are willingly absorbed by the digital culture they often pretend to eschew, with their children’s infighting culminating on a multiplayer-gaming battlefield reminiscent of the online world of Minecraft in which so many kids live today. It’s War and Peace in 240 pages with iPhone photos—and, we’ll admit, a fart joke or two,” says v-p and editorial director Andrea Spooner.
Publicity & marketing plans: Six-figure budget; author tour; prepub buzz campaign and author events; trade and consumer advertising and review advertising; nine-copy floor display; branded Tapper Twins website; promotional video; YouTube video series campaign; 2015 Buzz Books: Young Adult Spring sampler; social media campaign; featured on hachettebookgroup.com/kids.
Opening: “Wars are terrible things. I know this because I’ve read about a lot of them on Wikipedia. And also because I was just in one. It was me against my brother, Reese.”
By Pam Muñoz Ryan
Scholastic Press, Feb.; $19.99 hardcover
Middle grade; ages 10–14
First printing: 50,000
Why the buzz: “It’s a rare opportunity to publish a breakout book in an already stellar career, but Echo is that special book. In her highly anticipated new novel, Ryan pushes the boundaries of form to create a moving, mesmerizing, and wholly original reading experience that is, quite simply, her masterwork. A single harmonica journeys into the lives of three children—Friedrich in Hitler’s Germany, Mike in Depression-era Philadelphia, and Ivy in WWII California—and ultimately connects them through the mysterious thread of destiny. What I love most about Echo is its stylistic innovation, scintillating prose, real characters, and lush themes. While I’ve come to anticipate all of these things from any book Pam writes, they all reach virtuosic heights here. Most resonant for me is the joy and power of music to transcend differences and connect us to one another through our common humanity. I hope Echo will excite and ignite the industry, and give kids something thrilling—and different—to sink their hearts into,” says executive editor Tracy Mack.
Publicity & marketing plans: Author tour; print, radio, and blog advertising; promotional giveaways; reading group guide; Pam Muñoz Ryan video clip; Echo audio clip; display.
Opening sentence: “Fifty years before the war to end all wars, a boy played hide-and-seek with his friends in a pear orchard bordered by a dark forest. Mathilde, who was ‘it,’ sat on a boulder, buried her head against her knees, and began to count to 100.”
The Walls Around Us
By Nova Ren Suma
Algonquin Young Readers, Mar.; $17.95 hardcover
Ages 14 and up
First printing: 30,000
Why the buzz: “From the very first page, Nova Ren Suma seduced me with her fierce, lush prose. She held my attention with a twisty, turny plot that unfolds as two narrators tell and retell us their version of events; magnificent characters like aching Amber, heartless, haunted Violet, and much too loving Orianna; and the shocking consequences of the story’s layered magical realism. The Walls Around Us delivers complex heroes and villains, not one but two murder mysteries, and the heightened sense of drama, emotion, and right and wrong that defines adolescence,” editor and publisher Elise Howard says.
Publicity & marketing plans: Author appearances; extensive prepub campaign; #1 on spring Kids’ Indie Next List; MTV News to feature exclusive cinemagraphs (still photos with slight animation) of scenes from the book; national advertising; social media campaigns (#OrangeIsTheNewBlackSwan).
Opening: “We went wild that hot night. We howled, we raged, we screamed. We were girls—some of us fourteen and fifteen; some sixteen, seventeen—but when the locks came undone, the doors of our cells gaping open and no one to shove us back in, we made the noise of savage animals, of men.”
An Ember in the Ashes
By Sabaa Tahir
Razorbill, Apr.; $19.95 hardcover
YA; ages 14 and up
First printing: 250,000
Why the buzz: “[This] is a thought-provoking, pulse-pounding, page-turner—part heartbreaking romance, part survival story. It is also an exploration of a culture of violence and oppression—what contributes to it, perpetuates it, and how it claims victims on both sides—and begs the question, what does it mean to be free? And what is the cost? With interlocking themes of love, family, political conflict, rebellion, slavery, and female oppression (and set in a rich fantasy world) An Ember in the Ashes will appeal to a broad range of readers, from teens to adult men and women, to readers of speculative fiction. Sabaa Tahir is a self-proclaimed nerd at heart who started writing [the book] when she was a newspaper editor,” executive director of publicity Shanta Newlin says.
Publicity & marketing plans: Author tour; prepub author tour; prepub blogger campaign; coordinated release of visual assets highlighting each of the four central characters; national print, online, and movie theater ad campaign; publicity campaign targeting adult and teen readers with two cinematic book trailers; countdown standees, chapter samplers, displays, and T-shirts for retail; advertising, promotion, and author appearances will extend through the summer and fall; Paramount acquired film rights in a seven-figure deal; foreign rights sold in 22 countries; prepublication coverage includes an interview with the Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog and coverage on Nerdist.com, Huffington Post, and Hypable.
Opening: “My big brother reaches home in the dark hours before dawn, when even ghosts take their rest. He smells of steel and coal and forge. He smells of the enemy.”