Thursday, June 19, 2008

More ARCs

Today we’re going to look at two YA titles.

THE DEVOURING, by Simon Holt, YA horror published by Little Brown. I’ve googled both him and his title and can find very little about either one, except as listed on Alvina Ling’s blog.

The ARC had a very cool little insert that looked like an aged, secret piece of parchment. Very different, very stand out-ish.

Their marketing campaign:
National Print and Online Advertising
National Review Coverage
Review Advertising
Select Author Appearances
Librarian and Educator Outreach
Online Promotions at
Extensive Web Promotions
High Impact Floor Displays
YALSA YA Galley Preview Program

National Print and Online Advertising [They will be investing in national ad buys, both in print and on online sites. While this is always a plum marketing perk and a sure sign the publisher is behind the books, remember that it’s very difficult to gauge whether or not these ads—especially print ads—sell books, whereas an internet ad/paid placement on Amazon does probably affect sales.]

National Review Coverage – Again, we talked about this. Most major publishers do offer all their titles review coverage in the national review journals. I’m guessing this means more aggressively pursuing reviews in major newspapers.

Review Advertising – My understanding of this means that if a publication features a good review, then the publisher will buy an ad in that publication.

Select Author Appearances – This one is wide open to interpretation. It could mean that the author himself is setting up a few appearances, but in this case it more likely means that the publisher will be setting up a few, targeted and focused appearances where sales or reader interest warrants it.

Librarian and Educator Outreach - As we talked about Monday, in it’s simplest form, it can mean a listing in the seasonal newsletter that goes out to schools and libraries, or it could mean a full feature araticle in the same newsletter. It could also mean advertising in periodicals targeted to academia and libraries

Online Promotions at – This means the title will be a featured title on the Little Brown teens website. It looks like they have book trailers and podcasts and video interviews with featured authors.

Extensive Web Promotions – Lots of ARCS going out to high profile bloggers, teen sites, facebook, myspace, in addition to Little Brown’s site. There is also a site, but as of right now, all it has up is a newsletter sign-up. Which is a shame really, because they’re missing following up on any interest generated by the arcs they gave out at BEA.

High Impact Floor Displays – High quality book dump

YALSA YA Galley Preview Program – They will do a big ARC giveaway on the YALSA listserv.

Now we’re going to compare that to THE SUMMONING, another YA paranormal, that happens to be written by a highly popular adult paranormal author, Kelley Armstrong.

Marketing Campaign
Online consumer advertising at
Extensive online promotion
Promotion on
Cross promotion on Harper Teen MySpace Profile
Cross promotion on
First Look reader review program
Featured in HipLit e-newsletter
Featured on romance blogs

Clearly there are a lot of similarities between the two. But one thing that stands out with THE SUMMONING is that they are trying to tap into Armstrong’s existing popularity with adult paranormal readers. I think it’s interesting that that this plan does not mention a library or educator outreach on this title. Does that mean they view it as more of a “direct to teens” sort of book?

But what immediately springs out at me is how extensively this book is being promoted using online venues. is a very sophisticated site with lots of bells and whistles. Furthermore, it directs you to for THE DEVOURING, which is a character-centric website using the main character of THE DEVOURING. Clearly book promotion has fully entered the Age of the Internet. Which suits us introverts just fine, and is good news besides!

And while some might choose to get discouraged because of the difference between marketing plans from book to book (and I have in the past, believe me), I think we can also take heart in the fact that sometimes there really isn't that big a divide. We can duplicate a large portion of these efforts. Most publishers do feature all their titles on their website in some way. And I would think the same would apply to their publisher myspace page. Any savvy author knows to have a website, and it’s within all of our abilities to put up a myspace account of our own, and link to other authors and librarians and book lovers. And for me, it's helpful knowing what exactly the publisher do when they pull out the big guns, because it helps me better understand where I should focus my marketing efforts.


Jennifer R. Hubbard said...

Another good post! You're sending me to read the backs of those ARCs I picked up at ALA.

Anonymous said...

I'm a Harper author, posting anonymously. Just wanted to say that you can't always judge an ARC by its cover--or its cover copy.

The ARC for my last book was beautifully done in full color, with several excellent blurbs from well-known authors. The marketing campaign (which pre-dated the popularity of blogs and social networking sites):

- National print advertising including [names of two major genre magazines]
- Extensive online promotion
- Featured [on imprint website]
- National review attention
- Regional author appearances
- Reader review program

What did this translate into?

- A spot in group ads in the magazines mentioned--and only those magazines.
- A handful of reviews in PW, Booklist, and genre magazines and ezines. (I was able to obtain a number of additional reviews myself.)
- "Extensive online promotion" and "featured on imprint website" translated into one of several secondary listings on the imprint's website during the month of release, a listing in its monthly e-newsletter, and a book giveaway.
- The reader review program generated some nice quotes, which appeared on the publisher's website and in its newsletter in the first month of release, and thereafter vanished.
- "Regional author appearances" translated into "book yourself wherever you can, and then tell us so we can put it on our internal author promotion schedule."

I'm not complaining--it was decent publicity and combined with my own efforts, I got a reasonable amount of exposure. I'm just pointing out that as great as those ARC marketing plans may sound, there is a good deal of wiggle room for the publisher to do less than they appear to be promising.

R.L. LaFevers said...

Dear Anonymous Harper author,

What you've just described confirms what I've heard time and time again, that often these marketing plans are inflated for presentation purposes and never manifest themselves in the full glory that they suggest. In fact, one industry insider told me that print run numbers are almost always inflated, sometimes by as much as half. So your experience reinforces that.

Thanks so much for sharing what you're experiences were!