Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Book Publicity 102: Another Wave

In late January, we wrote about an interesting press package that had appeared in the midst of the scads we receive every day. The book was a title to be published by Vintage in June called Taipei. As we pointed out in that piece, gifts and their books are soon separated and don’t add anything to the way we treat the book or how -- and even if --  it will ultimately be reviewed.

As much as we like presents, their inclusion will not buy a would-be reviewee any traction. In fact, if you send stupid gifts, it might lodge you in our memories in ways you had not desired. And what’s “stupid”? Like everything to do with this process, that’s pretty subjective. But walk cautiously and err on the side of lean. In general, the only way to get a great review is to start out with a great book. All the rest? It’s just icing on the cake, and you know what Marie Antionette had to say about that.

So, again: though gifts are not invited or even desired, every now and again one makes us stop and blink. Such was the case recently, when a press kit for a young adult novel called The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey rolled into the January offices. It was immediately apparent from the package we got that there’s something post-Apocalyptic going on with this one. A tiny first aid kit. A compass. A tampon. A tiny notebook and a tiny pencil. A pack of Welch's Fruit Snacks. All in a clear plastic bag labeled “The Fifth Wave Survival Kit”. There was also an ARC of the book with a simple one page press release.

What works about this package is that it’s the opposite of stupid. None of these things are costly or rare and very few of them are actually needed by a book review editor, and certainly not from one source. Together they tell a story about the book. Without cracking the cover you get a sense of danger and disconnection (the first aid kit, the compass, the notebook) you have the idea a girl will be involved (the tampon) and that survival will require the use of all available resources (those fruit snacks).

The package, while inexpensive to put together, gives the idea of the kind of journey is in store. The fact that the ARC also tells us that the books has a $750,000 marketing campaign is a big clue that the publisher has a pretty big steak in the success of the book. (And even inexpensive notebooks and tampons don’t grow on trees.)

A lot of YA hopes are riding on this one, which said press release makes pretty clear: “With the Solitary heartbreak of I Am Legend, the literary caliber of The Passage, the epic good vs. evil drama of The Stand, and the adrenaline of The Hunger Games,” and Booklist got on the bus with, “part War of the Worlds, part Starship Troopers, part Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and part The Stand.” Others go further for comparisons, but you get the idea: think big, think edge-of-your-seat, think mega-seller. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, the film rights were dealt with long before the book came out, as reported by Collider in March of 2012:
GK Films has pre-emptively acquired the feature rights to The 5th Wave, a sci-fi trilogy that young adult novelist Rick Yancey is planning. Variety provides the logline: “Series follows a teenage girl who survives an alien invasion only to then search for her brother, who may or may not have been abducted by human-looking extra-terrestrials.”  Naturally, romance is involved, as a cute* boy helps our heroine in her search.  But there’s a twist: he may be an alien in disguise.
Will The 5th Wave survive the hype? A week after the book came out, sales look strong and reviews are pretty glowing. This is definitely one to watch.

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