Sunday, November 09, 2008

“Fire” Up the Publicity Machine

I was pleased to learn that Quercus Publishing in the UK will be giving a big push to the second volume of Stieg Larsson’s “Millennium Trilogy,” The Girl Who Played with Fire, which is due out on this side of the Atlantic in January. I consider this follow-up to Larsson’s first, award-winning novel, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, to be the best book I’ve read this year. (I actually read Tattoo in 2006, before its release.) I’ll be putting together a detailed review of the novel soon, along with the results of my interview with the late author Larsson’s father, Erland. But in the meantime, let’s look at how Quercus plans to roll out this potential second best-seller.

The Bookseller reports that
The promotions will focus on the trilogy’s heroine, Lisbeth Salander, aiming to “widen the existing fan-base by targeting a younger female audience”, as European and U.S. territories have already done.

In January, Quercus will give away 75,000 paperback copies of Tattoo free with the Evening Standard to create “a word-of-mouth buzz” to “dramatically increase” hardback sales of the sequel. The hardback campaign will feature radio and digital advertising, and an “innovative” website by marketing agency Tangent Labs.

The firm is also planning its paperback campaign for July 2009, which will include adverts in major newspapers and magazines, nationwide consumer print advertising and “proximity ads”, to appear near major supermarket and book retailers.

Mark Smith, Quercus’s chief executive, said the aim was to sell one million copies across the trilogy. “With more than eight million copies of the Millennium Trilogy sold throughout Europe, and the incredible reception the first title has received in English-speaking countries, we really feel it is time to raise the profile of these amazing books and we look forward to building on the success of our European colleagues,” he said.

Tattoo has already sold 70,726 in the UK across hard and paperback editions, according to Nielsen BookScan, making it Quercus’s bestselling title for last year. The hardback edition of The Girl Who Played with Fire will carry an r.r.p [recommended retail price] of £16.99, and goes on sale from 8th January.
And it can only help the publicity for Larsson’s second novel, that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has us just captured another international award, this one given out in South Africa. According to a Quercus press release,
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo[’s] Scandinavian author, Stieg Larsson, was named as the winner of the 2008 Exclusive Books Boeke Prize on 7 October 2008 at a party held at the Westwood Mall in Durban to celebrate the opening of Exclusive Books’ newest and 48th store in South Africa.

The guests of honour were Vikas Swarup, the Deputy High Commissioner of India to South Africa (and a former Boeke Prize-winner himself) and Barry Ronge, renowned film and book critic.

Larsson’s debut novel is an epic tale of serial murder and corporate trickery spanning several continents and taking in complicated international financial fraud and the buried evil past of a wealthy Swedish industrial family. It won Sweden’s Glass Key Award in 2005 for best crime novel of the year.

Stieg Larsson was a campaigning journalist. He dedicated his life to opposing racism and was a leading expert on anti-democratic, right-wing extremist organisations. His other great preoccupation was violence against women. This is reflected in the novel’s original Swedish title, Men Who Hated Women.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (published by Book Promotions) is the first volume in the Millennium Trilogy, named after the magazine where the main character, journalist-hero Mikael Blomkvist works. Tragically, Stieg Larsson did not live to enjoy the enormous success of the first volume; he died in 2004 of a heart attack, aged 50, soon after delivering the text of the novels that make up the Millennium Trilogy--before The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was published.

Larsson’s award marks the 10th time in the 14-year history of the Boeke Prize that a debut novel has scooped the award. In 2004, two debut novels were joint winners of the Prize, making a total of 11 debut novel-winners in 14 years.

The Boeke Prize promotes the enjoyment of discovering books that compel, that are fresh, original and captivating good reads. The judges’ panel comprised 40 book critics across South Africa. They had to choose “the ultimate page turner” from a shortlist of eight titles. The other titles were:

Shatter, Michael Robotham (Penguin Books)
The Blood of Flowers, Anita Amirresvani (Jonathan Ball)
Bright Shiny Morning, James Frey (Jonathan Ball)
Lullabies for Little Criminals, Heather O’Neill (Book Promotions)
The Behaviour of Moths, Poppy Adams (Penguin Books)
Night Train to Lisbon, Pascal Mercier (Penguin Books)
Things I Want My Daughters to Know, Elizabeth Noble (Penguin Books)
To read more about this award, click here and here.

Although British readers can buy The Girl Who Played with Fire in January, it’s U.S. publication won’t come until the fall of 2009.

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