Thursday, March 12, 2009

Calling On The Violet Collective

Long time blog reader Celise Downs posted an interesting question in response to my post on marketing co-ops last week. She asked:

Book One of my YA series comes out in Oct and I'd like to plan both an offline and an online book release. How far in advance should I plan these? Should I give something away every day during release week? What about at the physical party? Any ideas/suggestions/advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

Mary and I thought it would be fun if the Violet Collective stepped in and did some brainstorming with Celise to help her design a terrific book release and launch party.

So first things first, here’s a description of Celise’s upcoming book from her website:

Draven Atreides, Teenage FBI Series


Hey. My name is Draven Atreides, I’m 16-yrs-old. And I’m a spy. Yeah, okay, not really. I’m more of a snitch. I mean, I dont travel to exotic places, I don’t wear disguises, I don’t handle or carry weapons (unless you count my Canon AE1), and I don’t work for a top secret agency. Well, three out of four isn’t bad. Let me explain.
You see, I was abandoned by my biological parents as a baby and I’ve spent all my life in the foster care system. I graduated from high school at the age of 13 (Yay for homeschooling). At 15, I ended up with the Foster Couple From Hell. I discovered their dirty little secret–the bastards–so I called them out to the local authorities. Lucky me, when I decided to play tattletale, an agency with three letters had been investigating the FCFH for years. So, being the good citizen that I am, I decided to help them out. The agency with the three letters, that is. I cashed in my Get Out of Hell Free card. Three months later, I got a new name, a new life…and a paying gig as an informant for that agency with the three letters. Book One is called A Royale Pain and it's her first assignment: stop a mad french chemist from peddling is deadly product line to upscale spas. His target is a spa in Paradise Valley, AZ called The Royale Treatment Day Spa.

She also adds: One of my ideas was having a spa-themed party with spa-themed goodie bags, door prizes, chair massages and mani stations. But then I thought, what about the guys? I'm looking for online release giveaway ideas, too. The official release date is Oct 23rd, which happens to be during Teen Read Week. Should I stick with giving books away, spa-themed goodies or both? Looking forward to the feedback. Thanks so much.

First of all, Celise, you should definitely start planning the marketing and publicity for your October release right about now. At least the planning and brainstorming part. (Also, if you are the one responsible for getting ARCs out to reviewers, then you should start that NOW. Many of the mainstream review publications have quite a lead time involved, so you don’t want to fall behind on that.)

Secondly you have already sown the seeds for a terrific web presence and done a lot of online preparation for this upcoming release. It’s mentioned on your website, Celise already has an ongoing author blog, and she even has a blog for her main character! Great work, Celise!

Now, about that release event, both online and in real life . . .

I think the idea of having a launch week event on your blog or website it a great one. I also think giving away copies of the book is a terrific tool. As Susan Wiggs said a few weeks ago, “I think the most direct way to win over a reader is to give her a book. If she loves it, she'll look for more, tell her friends, pass the book around to friends, family and co-workers.” But I think it might add another layer of fun to toss in some other prizes.

Your idea about a spa related theme is a fun one, but it does make me pause, if only because your book is about a girl who is a SPY rather than runs a spa. I get that a spa figures in the first book, but I wonder if it might be better to try to tie the launch into the more central premise of the book? That’s the hook of the series—her being a spy—and it won’t change from book to book, so maybe it’s more effective to start that branding now.

Definitely real life invitations could be marked TOP SECRET. Does Draven have a badge? An identity card that she uses when she needs to make contact? Are there any spy elements that you could use for invitations, tattoos, swag? Violets, what do you think? Do you have any fun spy ideas?


Anonymous said...

To answer your questions: Draven does not have a badge or an identity card. HOWEVER, she does have gadgets: lipstick mace, lipstick knife, taser gun, audio/visual debugger, a writing pen that records audio/visual, and an encrypted phone.

For the record: that book cover is just a mock-up. It's not going to be the actual cover.

And I LOVE the idea of the "Top Secret" invitations. Thanks for the ideas so far.

Anonymous said...

I also plan to have a website created just for the series sometime in May.

Maria Zannini said...

I agree that the spa idea is too limited. I would stick with the spy concept.

I would also use dark sunglasses, (a la Men In Black, Ray-Bans) as the central icon and/or swag.

Dharma Kelleher said...

I think it's also important to focus on the target market which I'm guessing is girls between the ages of 11-15, based on the age of your protagonist.

Are they going to be the ones attending the release party or is it going to be adults? I'm new at this, so I was just wondering.

If girls will be attending, maybe the spy shades should be less "Men in Black" Ray-Bans and more Paris Hilton-style bug-eye shades (that's what I call them, anyway)?

Also, where does one host release parties? At a bookstore or a private venue? I'm curious.

Anonymous said...

I write for young adults, so the age range is 13-18. I'm hoping that both teens and adults will attend.

Anonymous said...

I think the spy gadgets are the obvious choice for swag--and may also suggest launch party giveaways/decorations!

Anonymous said...

The series sounds fabulous. Congratulations.

Our family was in D.C. for a vacation last year & we loved the shop at the Spy Museum, opposite the National Portrait Gallery. The Spy Museum website might give you some ideas.

Depending where you live, your local police agency might co-host a launch to benefit one of their youth-oriented causes. Where we are, the police dept. in the past has donated books through its community policing program to local neighborhood youth centers.

It might be fun to think of groups that would co-host a launch that is a benefit. Support groups for teens, like girls & boys clubs, youth community centers, maybe the Police Explorers in your area, etc. etc.

Wonderful phase to be in. Good Luck!

Mary Hershey said...

Celise, you series sounds like great fun! What a terrific premise! Thanks for letting us use your launch as a avenue for exploring some of the issues around promotion and swag. And, yeah, the spy theme is definitely the wagon to jump on here. 8-]

Best of luck to you with all of this. And, thanks to all the Violets that posted their great ideas here!

Mary Hershey

Anonymous said...

Celise, why don’t you wear a trench coat, hat and sunglasses to the event? I plan to dress in a costume when I promote one of my manuscripts—if and when it gets published . . .

Everyone at the event would have a blast getting their picture taken with you. It would be great for publicity too! Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Thanks everyone--and Robin and Mary--for all the great ideas.

R.L. LaFevers said...

Oh I love the sunglasses and trench coat idea! And the Spy Museum is a great resource--Brilliant!

And I love the practice of tying book launches into a worthy cause, JG. Great suggestion.

Our thanks to everyone who participated!