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One highly opinionated feminist YA nerd's twisted, snarky and informative journey through the genre's perils, pitfalls and sparkles.

When lycanthropy goes viral...

So it's been a long, tiresome and very stressful week and what better way to calm down and relax from that all than with some YA discussion?

We know the YA publishing industry has come leaps and bounds in the past couple of years, and a not insignificant portion of that has come from the Twilight sparked paranormal craze. There's certainly a demand for this sort of material and now with the internet playing such a big part in promotion, criticism and readers' daily lives with sites like GoodReads and blogs like this (although I highly doubt I'm influential in this field, I'm just a ranter.) With so many copycats in the field right now, as covered by the Project, you really need to go that extra mile to make your book stand out, and the busy bees at Penguin have gone all out in their promotion of the upcoming werewolf romance YA trilogy, Nightshade by Andrea Cremer.

The promotional campaign for this book (as detailed in this post at ONTD) has included a massive multi-platform viral campaign, including the author having a Facebook page for the love interest of her book so she can reply to fans (are they really fans if they've never even read the book yet?) in character and an actor playing said role on YouTube videos inviting viewers to participate in a sort of mystery game. I have to say I'm very surprised that Penguin have gone to all this effort over this particular series. From the sounds of the synopsis on GoodReads, it's very derivative sounding material. Even the cover, while being quite pretty, feels very familiar in a Wicked Lovely sense. I obviously can't judge the book because I haven't read it but if I was to take the book based solely on that synopsis it wouldn't interest me.

There's also the question of how much influence can a marketing campaign have in this field. Most popular trends come out of nowhere and grow organically based on word of mouth, then there's a media urge to latch onto it and compare it to something else and seek out similar stuff to easily categorise as the next [insert popular thing here.] right now YA is hugely popular and people are looking for the next Twilight or the next Hunger Games (look at how much Matched by Ally Condie has been buzzed about - the author got a 7 figure 3 book deal for the series). Do readers really want the next big thing forced upon them or do they really want to willingly accept what publishers tell them to accept? Nowadays publishers need to work hard to make their work stand out - look how many books are getting YouTube trailers, something that wouldn't have been common a few years ago outside of James Paterson novels or something - but can a flashy campaign create enough window dressing to cover up the more derivative elements?

So dear readers of books and other shiny things, what do you think of this ad campaign? Has it made you interested in reading Nightshade, and is it for all the right reasons? Are you influenced by stuff like this? Can a trend really be created? Does this post have a point? Why do other brands of baked beans never taste as good as Heinz? The rest is up to you.

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Pherin said...

I think the campaign is a unique approach to getting people to acknowledge the book and interested enough in it to find out more. Personally, however, it doesn't really spark any interest for me because it doesn't change the fact that the material sounds contrived. I can go to the book store and find a number of YA novels with the same basic plot. This isn't to say that Nightshade can't possibly be a good book, but with almost every YA author writing about the same thing over and over again, I can't get too excited or interested.

fromthisgirl said...

I've heard about Nightshade from people who've tried reading it and I heard it was downright awful. This coming from someone who at least slightly enjoyed Twilight. I'm not necessarily bothered with viral marketing, in fact I love it at times, but the way this is being done sounds.. meh. Like you said, can they really be fans if they haven't read the book yet?

I also have to admit that it already makes me want to take a step away from it all because of the fact that they chose a male character who is not the narrator to focus on for their marketing. He's presumably the male lead, which leads me to assume that the author probably focuses way too much on him and not necessarily on the main girl, or on something like world-building.

Ronni said...

I would love, love, love to be a lead author, to have the publishers back me up this much. In this way, I feel like best-sellers are often made, though. I see so many authors who are super talented simply fall by the wayside because so many people focus on the one or two lead titles that get all the buzz.

Maybe it's because the publisher put so much into the advance that they want to be darn sure they're going to get something out of it.

Hmm. I am definitely torn.

Anonymous said...

Honestly, that media campaign sounds like way too much saturation, especially for a book no one has read yet. I would abhor it; my "comrades" in PR would adore it and make it their mission. (My disdain for public relations is best left for another post.)

I admit the cover looks kind of nice, but that's about it. I'm not interested in reading it. The tagline is cheesy.

I agree that some marketing campaigns happen organically. Someone reads a good book, tells someone, that someone tells someone else, etc. No need for silly Facebook shenanigans and Youtube actors.

As for baked beans, Boston baked beans are the best.

Anonymous said...

I'm one of those readers who gets turned off by hype from the publishing companies. When it comes to trying books by a new author, I tend to trust reviewers whose tastes I trust far more than any marketing campaign.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if a huge campaign for a debut author is a good idea. Just because it's similar to *insertYAtrend* doesn't mean it'll strike the same chord or do just as well. If it's something like character blogs/twitters, I think it's interesting so long as they don't turn it into an ARG where you have to subscribe to this feed and watch all of these videos to get the WHOLE story. I'm already putting aside time to read a book; if I don't like it, why should I waste more time on it?

On the other hand, I've found home-grown character blogs, like Maureen Johnson's character twitter feeds, that still manage to be interesting and add to an already established story. Heck, I've even debated making character feeds, despite the fact that I don't have any inkling of a publishing contract, just because it seems fun to do. They don't have to be an integral part of the story (unless we're talking about Cathy's Book or the 39 Clues series, where the viral aspect was intended), more like the author's public fanfiction.

Anonymous said...

I'm really turned off by campaigns like this. I'd much rather read a book that the public chose to love rather than the publishers deciding that this is the next big thing and that I must love it. The fact that all this campaign was executed before the book came out is really dumb. People want instant gratification. I don't want to hear about some book that's not out yet, by the time it's out I will have already forgotten about it. Right now the book is #1300 on amazon's best seller list. i guess that's good but i have a feeling they were hopping for top of the charts.

Also, the cover does not really cream werewolf at me. I see a flower fairy.

Anonymous said...

I haven't even heard of this MEGA VIRAL CAMPAIGN. Then again, I guess I don't hang around the right parts of the internet.

As for my opinion, It's kind of gimmicky. I seriously, you need this to sell a book? That's not even out yet? Bull crap.

Anonymous said...

I think that this sort of advertising works to an extent. It does grab people's interest, but in the end I think what keeps reader's attention is a book with new and therefore interesting ideas. The three most popular series atm are Harry Potter, Twilight and The Hunger Games as far as I can tell, and they aren't much alike plot, character or genre wise. What they do have in common is that they all put forward some sort of new twist on things. For all Twilight's flaws, I have to at least admit that it doesn't stike me as derivative.

The most popular derivative series I've seen is the Eragon/Inheritance one. I think that was fairly popular because 1)It rode on the coattails of the LotR films and 2)Many younger readers were unaware of how much it "borrowed" from LotR, Star Wars, etc. It has since seen something of a decline in popularity, what with the widespread criticism of its plagiaristic nature, the fail of the movie, and the long waiting periods between books.

What bothers me most is that many in the publishing industry seem to be turning a blind eye to blatantly derivative material. But I guess no one has gotten sued yet over it, so they feel they can still make a buck off this sort of stuff. But in a few years, I don't think these post-Twilight paranormal romances will be so popular anymore. I hope I'm right.

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