In this article we continue our look at this season's major children's book promotions (which began with "Fall's Fanfare" in the September 13 issue), with a focus on major sequels and companion books.
Lemony Snicket may write about dark and somber happenings in his Series of Unfortunate Events books, but the events surrounding the author's own life are much brighter. HarperCollins has set a whopping million-copy first printing for The Grim Grotto, the 11th book in his bestselling series, and the size and scope of the marketing and publicity campaign behind the book is in direct proportion to the number of copies being released.
Buzz for the book began at BEA when the publisher handed out tissue packs with the printed message: "There is plenty to cry about. The Grim Grotto is coming September 21" (the title's laydown date). Various floor displays have been created and a life-size talking Count Olaf standee was sent to bookstores as a teaser (one of his phrases: "Not only am I intelligent, but I am also very smart"). A merchandising kit is also available, containing an activity booklet, flashlights and bookmarks.
The book will also receive an extra marketing boost from Hollywood, as the release of the book is just a few months before the December opening of Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events starring Jim Carrey, which is based on the first three books in the series. Online promotions for the book and the movie are featured on www.unfortunateeventsmovie.com, www.lemonysnicket.com, www.harperchildrens.com and www.rif.org. A national print and broadcast campaign is in place, and there will be consumer advertising as well as regional holiday catalogue advertising. To top it all off, Snicket (that is, his "representative," Daniel Handler), will go on a five-city tour to promote the book as well as do television and radio satellite tours.
The Wrath of Mulgarath, the final book in the Spiderwick Chronicles, featuring the Grace children, hit bookstore shelves on the laydown date of September 7 with a first printing of 250,000 copies and 100,000 boxed sets of the five books in the series. The authors,
Tony DiTerlizzi and
Holly Black, have been promoting the book on The Early Show and Westwood One Radio, and will head out on the road for a 12-city tour. The authors are taking a trunk with them, and event attendees will get to see faerie artifacts from the Grace children such as a unicorn's horn, leprechaun shoes and sprite's clothing.
A $200,000 marketing campaign is supporting the title with extra co-op and floor and counter displays available with free trading cards for those who purchase the book. A contest, which ends May 1, 2005, will award a trip to New York City to meet DiTerlizzi and Black. Contestants are asked to draw a magical creature of their own and submit a description of it in no more than 500 words. Details are available at the newly launched Web site, www.spiderwick.com. As for future Spiderwick plans, fans will be pleased to know that more books based in the same world are in the works.
Last year Hyperion and Miramax copublished the debut title in
Jonathan Stroud's Bartimaeus trilogy, The Amulet of Samarkand. The book went on to become a national bestseller, was a Book Sense 76 pick and a Child magazine book of the year. Stroud's second book in the series, The Golem's Eye, which was released September 1 with a first printing of 200,000 copies, has a fantasy writing contest as the focus of its marketing campaign. Readers are asked to submit a brief essay about the most fantastical creature they can conjure up. The winning character will be developed by the author and will appear in the third book of the trilogy.
Details of the contest can be found at www.bartimaeustrilogy.com, which also has an excerpt from the book, a reference guide, a trivia challenge and more. The contest will be advertised on Radio Disney as well as in Scholastic Teen Network magazines. Additional marketing efforts include a mixed floor display, extra co-op funds and a Book Sense white box mailing.
Stroud began an author tour on September 14 in Bethesda, Md. and will visit seven other cities, including New York, Detroit and San Francisco.
Mark Teague's canine character Ike, made popular in 2002's Dear Mrs. La Rue: Letters from Obedience School (Scholastic Press), is back, and this time he's sporting a sleuth's hat. In Detective La Rue: Letters from the Investigation, released earlier this month with a 125,000-copy first printing, Ike searches for clues to solve the crime of canary burglaries, which he has been accused of. Dear Mrs. La Rue won the 2003 Book Sense Book of the Year award for illustrated children's books and currently has 140,000 copies in print.
Marketing plans for the new title include a life-size easelback standee of Ike sent to accounts; a "Wanted" poster for accounts, conventions and regional shows; and Ike buttons. Scholastic has put up a "Write to Ike" feature on www.scholastic.com, and specially targeted banner ads will also go up on dog enthusiast Web sites.
Teague kicked off The Early Show's Early Reader series on July 23 when he read from Dear Mrs. La Rue and spoke of Detective La Rue. Support for the book continues with a four-city author tour that began Sept. 16 in Denver.
Vivian Walsh and
J. otto Seibold have had eager fans for seven years, but their earnest pup, Olive, from the runaway holiday hit Olive, the Other Reindeer, finally returns in October in the picture book Olive, My Love (Harcourt). This time around, Olive is out to return a one-of-a-kind heart and learns what it truly means to give all of one's love.
Marketing plans for Olive, My Love include an eight-copy display that can be used for both the Christmas and Valentine's Day holidays. Advertisements will run in consumer press and holiday gift catalogues, and with the diverse audience that enjoys Walsh and Seibold's work, publicity will target a wide readership, from Mary Englebreit's Home Companion to Rolling Stone.
Heart-shaped cookie cutters have been sent to retail accounts and will also be used as giveaways at conferences and trade shows. Walsh will attend some local events in the San Francisco Bay Area to promote the book.
Dragonology, edited by Dugald A. Steer, is a Candlewick title that has been a bestselling phenomenon since its November 2003 release, with its unique mix of dragon lore, tips for dragon keepers, dragon language and spells. Egyptology by
Emily Sands, illustrated by
Ian Andrew and
Helen Ward, is the latest "discovery" by the publisher, which will release the title in November. The first printing was set at 100,000 copies, but based on response, Candlewick has gone back to press for another 60,000.
Following in the footsteps of the publicity campaign for Dragonology, Candlewick is giving Egyptology an extensive media push. The new book is being teased on the back of all reprints of Dragonology; teaser advertising has been placed in Boys' Life magazine; and national print advertising will also be done. Press-on hieroglyphic tattoos are available to accounts and will be distributed at trade shows.
Clive Barker keeps himself busy with painting, directing and producing, not to mention writing bestselling books. Abarat, the first book in a planned quartet called the Books of Abarat was released in 2002 by the Joanna Cotler imprint at HarperCollins Children's Books has sold 250,000 copies to date. Next month, the second book in the series, Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War, will be released with a first printing of 200,000 copies. The books were inspired by paintings Barker had been working on for a few years, which became the world of Abarat, and the first two books include more than 100 of these full-color paintings.
HarperCollins is promoting the title at www.harperteen.com and www.harperchildrens.com; national print advertising will run in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Rue Morgue magazine, Clive Barker Fan Club magazine and Bookselling This Week. The Web site www.thebooksofabarat.com contains information on the books, details of its world and an interview with the author and more. Barker began a three-city author tour on September 21 and will do radio and print satellite tours as well.
Fans won't have to wait too much longer to see the world of Abarat on the big screen, as Disney bought movie rights to the series; a film based on the books is tentatively scheduled for release in 2005.
The first two titles in the Edge Chronicles series by Paul Stewart and
Chris Riddell, a U.K. import, were released with much fanfare in June with a combined first printing of 140,000, and the third title, Midnight Over Sanctaphrax (Random/Fickling), went on sale September 14 with 75,000 copies. Marketing plans for the third title include a distribution of 3,000 galleys to booksellers, educators and media. Both Stewart and Riddell appeared at BEA, bookmarks were created for consumer giveaway and a feature was posted on the Web site www.edgechronicles.com and in Random House Children's Books Strange Lands SF/fantasy newsletter. The author and illustrator will come to the States next month for an eight-city tour.
G.P. Taylor's first book, Shadowmancer, was a success with both critics and readers when it was released in the U.K. in 2003. By the time Putnam brought it to the States in April of this year, word of the first book in the trilogy was being passed along in every avenue available. Articles in Britain compared Shadowmancer to Harry Potter, and Putnam paid half a million dollars to publish the book in the U.S.
Putnam has high hopes for Taylor's second book in the series, Wormwood, if the first printing is any indication: 300,000 copies have been released, a 50,000-copy increase over Shadowmancer's 250,000-copy debut. A floor display has been created for the new book, advertising is planned for People magazine, Christianity Today and Realms of Fantasy. The author began touring September 14 and will hit seven cities in 10 days to promote the book.
Further news includes a seven-figure deal with Universal Studios to adapt Shadowmancer into a feature film, and a rock opera of Wormwood is in the initial planning stages.
The bestselling author-illustrator duo of
Jon Scieszka and
Lane Smith return this month with a follow-up to their 1995 book Math Curse. Viking will release Science Verse with a 150,000-copy first printing and a 12-city tour.
Almost a decade ago, Math Curse was an ABBY Honor book, an ALA Notable Book, and was named one of PW and School Library Journal's Best Books of 1995. Science Verse is similar to its predecessor in that a phrase spoken at school sets a curse in action, but this time the main character sees the "poetry of science" in everything and can't stop thinking of his science lessons in rhyme.
The new book comes with a CD of Scieszka and Smith reading the book, as well as bonus material. A shorter version of the CD was sent out to promote the book; other marketing materials include a poster and a floor display with signed copies of the book and a pocket for Math Curse.
The author and illustrator will hit the road on September 27, beginning with Children's Book World in Haverford, Pa.
Zizou Corder is the name used by Louisa Young and her preteen daughter, Isabel Adomakoh Young, for their coauthoring of the Lionboy trilogy. The series, originally published in the U.K., was bought by Dial and the first book, Lionboy, was published here in late 2003.
The second title, Lionboy: The Chase was released in September with a30,000-copyfirst printing. A mixed floor display was created to hold both the new hardcover and the first book, now out in paperback. The mother-daughter team will tour six cities to promote the book, starting September 29.