Wednesday, February 29, 2012: Dedicated Issue: Macmillan Children's

Click For an ARC of Each Fierce Read!

Farrar Straus Giroux Books for Young Readers: Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

Feiwel & Friends: Of Poseidon by Anna Banks

Feiwel & Friends: Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Henry Holt Books for Young Readers: Shadow and Bone by Leigh Burdugo

Editors' Note

Dedicated Issue: Fierce Reads

In this issue, with the support of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, Shelf Awareness unveils a campaign that will sweep the nation beginning in June: Fierce Reads. The authors of four Fierce debut novels will be traveling the country, infecting teens with the need to read. The interviews are by Jennifer M. Brown.


The Fierce Reads Authors Are Going on Tour!

Books & Authors

Angus Killick: The Fierce Invasion

In a brainstorming session, Angus Killick, newly appointed v-p and associate publisher of Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, had one of those bolts of lightning. He and his colleagues were trying to think of a follow-up to last fall's Pen Fatale campaign. Killick thought: Fierce. "Here's a word teens relate to. If something is fierce, something is really great," he said. "It's edgy, too." A campaign was born: "Fierce Reads."

The Four Books for Fierce Reads
Shadow and Bone
by Leigh Bardugo (Holt)
by Jennifer Bosworth (FSG)
Of Poseidon
by Anna Banks (Feiwel & Friends)
14 by Emily Laybourne (Feiwel & Friends)

The impetus was a tour to take new authors out on the road. "We looked at all these amazing debut novels and came up with a great word that we could hang it all on. There's nothing that says a Fierce Read has to be a new author, though it so happens that all four this spring are new authors." Special guest authors will attend some of the Fierce Reads events, too.

"The ultimate goal," explained Killick, "is to create an online home and a brand where teens can interact with books they love and be a part of the discovery of new books." Fierce Reads will promote books across all imprints, with a mix of debut and well-known authors. Killick sees this as a brand to build on over several seasons, one that he hopes will be embraced by not only teens but also librarians and teachers. "If you look at the logo, it's very hip and cool and a bit urban: 'Be Fierce, Read.' What librarian isn't going to say, 'Right on!'?"

When asked if there was a potential crossover into the adult market, Killick brought the discussion right back to the core teen market. "If it picks up adult readers, that's all well and good, but that's very much a secondary market," he said. However, Marissa Meyer, author of the debut novel Cinder, published in January, gained a large crossover following because of a short story called "Glitches" that she published on "It's our most highly trafficked Web site," explained Killick. "It gets about 1.5 million hits a month. Staggering!" For a short story to be considered, it must be in the science-fiction/fantasy genre, and the author must guarantee that it's exclusive to for a year. A book trailer for Cinder also served as a testing ground for the Fierce Reads YouTube channel. With Marissa Meyer's fan base and some tweeting, the book trailer has already passed 125,000 views since its posting last month.

Killick plans to take authors out twice a year on a Fierce Reads tour. "Here we were wrestling with all these different words, the minute 'Fierce Reads' came up, we thought, "How come no one thought of that before? It's one of those campaigns that was instantly embraced. We're very excited to send it out into the world."


Become a Fane of Our Fierce Reads Facebook Page!

What Makes Your Book So Fierce?

In June, the creators of four fierce heroines will begin a cross-country journey. We posed the same question to each of these four first-time authors: "What makes your book so fierce?" 

"The torque," answered Emmy Laybourne, author of Monument 14. "I tried to make the story full of tension for each character." The author throws together six high school kids and eight grammar school kids in brutal and terrifying conditions. "They must find a way to work together in order to survive and protect the youngest members of the group," Laybourne said. "The way people relate to each other is fascinating, but add some pressure and it really gets interesting."


"Definitely the honey badger battle in chapter 3," said Leigh Bardugo, author of Shadow and Bone. "But I like to think the setting is a close second."
The novel takes place in a country inspired by Tsarist Russia. "It's a world as brutal as it is beautiful," Bardugo continues, "where you have to be clever, resourceful and, yes, fierce to survive."


The heroine of Struck, Mia Price, possesses a power she doesn't understand and can't control. "Struck is all about pulse-pounding, gut-wrenching, electrifying intensity from start to finish," said author Jennifer Bosworth. A massive earthquake has destroyed much of Los Angeles, and Mia struggles to keep her family safe there in the middle of a disaster zone.
At the same time, two doomsday cults rise to power in L.A., and both see Mia as the key to unlocking their apocalyptic visions. According to Bosworth, at every step of Mia's journey, she asked herself, 'What's the worst that could happen to this character? How much pressure can I put on her before she breaks?' "I took the answers and used them to create a story with relentless conflict, terrifying stakes, and a protagonist who must find the strength within her to do what has to be done," Bosworth explained, "even if it means sacrificing herself. Mia Price is the definition of fierce."


"Of Poseidon is fierce, but not in the traditional sense," cautioned author Anna Banks. Her heroine, Emma, is not a warrior. In fact, she's only dangerous when she tries to run in flip flops. "But Emma has a secret," Banks confessed, "one that sweeps her world out from under her like a violent undertow.
The only way to survive an undertow is to have enough courage not to fight. So, when the riptide that is Emma's life pulls her away from everything she's ever known, she's fierce enough to let it. For now."

Photo credits: Emmy Laybourne by Rod Goodman; Leigh Bardugo by Kevin Rolly; Jennifer Bosworth by Ryan Rogers; Anna Banks by Evaline C Photography

The Fierce Reads Rollout

"It's our first multi-platform, multi-author, multi-city tour," explained Elizabeth Fithian, director of marketing at Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, discussing the Fierce Reads campaign. With its $250,000 budget--and that's in addition to the individual budget for each of the four books--Fithian said they hope to establish the brand and build anticipation for subsequent Fierce Reads lists. "Our national advertising campaign includes branded print, online and movie theater advertising. This will be amplified by exciting Fierce Reads sweepstakes events and third-party promotions paired with enticing teen products for each new season."

A Fierce Sell-In
A prepub buzz campaign will roll out with tiered mailings and a trade ad campaign. Macmillan's network of teens (through its InGroup and MacTeenBooks sites) will be invited to give feedback on and create build-up for the campaign. The blogger the Story Siren, for instance, did the cover reveal for Leigh Bardugo's Shadow and Bone. And temporary tattoos are a key element. "What better way to start branding than tattooing our readers and having them carry the message wherever they go?" said Fithian.

Fierce Social Media
A 30-second Fierce Reads book trailer will introduce all four of the debut titles, and each of the four books will also have its own book trailer. A sampler with chapters of all four books will be available for teens to download to their e-readers or iPads. "We'll be doing promotions on Twitter and on," added Karen Frangipane, director of digital marketing for Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. "We think there's some crossover appeal, and we can leverage the connection." Fierce Reads will also have a dedicated YouTube channel, where teens can view book trailers, author interviews and footage from bookstore events. "Maybe they've heard of one author or one book, but here they can learn about our other great titles," Frangipane said.

The Fierce Reads Facebook page will serve as a way for teens to stay up on the authors' tour, and converse about the books and the authors. "We'll work with booksellers to livestream the events so that other teens can attend virtually," said Frangipane. Someone from Milwaukee watching an event in Chicago can tweet a question, and the author can answer it. The idea is to create a community for teens where they can learn about the books, talk about the books, talk to us and talk to the authors."

A Fierce Party
A two-pronged blog tour will tie in with the Fierce Reads author tour, as Allison Verost, director of publicity for Macmillan Children's Publishing Group, explained. "Each of those authors will do her own blog tour in the weeks leading up to publication," Verost said. That will involve guest posts, giveaways and character blogs. The tour itself will cover 10 cities over two weeks.

A few authors will do some events on their own in their hometowns. Marissa Meyer, author of Cinder, will be joining the authors the first leg of the tour. "This is an ongoing program for us," according to Verost. "We see these four writers on our first Fierce Reads tour becoming future guest stars for our next Fierce Reads tours."

The second component of the blog tour will be bloggers interacting with the actual Fierce Reads author tour. "Each bookstore will have a designated blogger," Verost explained. The blogger will get a half-hour meet-and-greet with the authors before the event. The Fierce Reads bloggers will be a mix of teens and those who blog about teen fiction. During the event, the bloggers will tweet live, shoot video and livestream the event, when possible. After the event, they'll post the details. "The genesis for this tour is that teens want their events to be more like parties," said Verost, "so it's a party for everyone involved, including fans that can't be there."

The Fierce Tour Schedule:
June 5, 7 p.m.: Mrs. Nelson's Toy and Bookshop (LaVerne, Calif.)
June 6, 7 p.m.: Mysterious Galaxy (San Diego, Calif.)
June 7, 7 p.m.: Books, Inc. (Opera Plaza, San Francisco, Calif.)
June 8, 3 p.m.: Copperfields (Petaluma, Calif.)
June 8, 7 p.m.: Kepler's Books (Menlo Park, Calif.)
June 9, 6:30 p.m.: Third Place Books (Lake Forest Park, Wash.)
June 10, 4 p.m.: Village Books (Bellingham, Wash.)
June 11, 7 p.m.: Kings English (Salt Lake City, Utah)
June 12, 7 p.m.: Provo Library (Provo, Utah)
June 13, 7 p.m.: Blue Willow (Houston, Tex.)
June 14, 7 p.m.: Anderson's Bookstore (Naperville, Ill.)
June 15, 6 p.m.: Schuler Books & Music (Lansing, Mich.)
June 16: Time TBD: Barnes & Noble (Pensacola, Fla.)
June 17, 4 p.m.: Oblong Books (Rhinebeck, N.Y.)
June 18, 6 p.m.: Books of Wonder (New York City)

Photo: Marissa Meyer by Julia Scott

Book Brahmin: Leigh Bardugo, author of Shadow & Bone

On your nightstand now:

A collection of children's stories called You Read to Me, I'll Read to You. W.F. Ryan's The Bathhouse at Midnight (which sounds dirty, but is actually a book on Russian magic and divination). Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects (which I suspect is a crazy piece of feminist fiction masquerading as mom-core). Among Others by Jo Walton, The Rook by Daniel O'Malley, a pile of ephemera topped by a postcard from David Malki's Wondermark, and a little cluster of Herman Inclusus icons by Stuart Kolakovic, given to me by my editor. Also, lip balm.

Favorite book when you were a child:

Many Moons by James Thurber. It taught me the word "surfeit" and to beware of bureaucrats.

Your top five authors:

I'm very fickle, but today we'll go with Diana Wynne Jones, Maurice Sendak, George R.R. Martin, John Irving and Neil Gaiman.

Book you've faked reading:

I've never read anything by Jonathan Franzen, but I've nodded through plenty of brunches pretending that I have.

Book you are an evangelist for:

Most of my recommendations come with caveats, but Carter Beats the Devil is an exception. It's a charming, magical, perfectly plotted book. I also like to foist the Gebhard & Winter Architectural Guide to Los Angeles on people. People who knock this city haven't bothered to get to know it.

Book you've bought for the cover:

The Mirror of Her Dreams by Stephen R. Donaldson. (Oddly enough, I Googled it, and it's nothing like I remember.)

Book that changed your life:

Frank Herbert's Dune. It was the first book that I was sorry to finish because I was so reluctant to leave the world. To this day, I can recite the first 25 lines of The Canterbury Tales and the Bene Gesserit litany against fear. Maybe I should write a book of nerd party tricks.

Favorite line from a book:

I'm constantly dog-earing pages, but I'm partial to muttering these lines from Auden: "After the kiss comes the impulse to throttle / Break the embraces, dance while you can."

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

This is such a tough question. A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'Engle comes to mind, but do I get to read it as a kid? That book was so dire, so epic. It made me feel like absolutely anything (good or bad) was possible. I'd hate to mess with that. So, I'm going to stick with Rachel Cusk's The Country Life. I read it on a plane, and there's a certain line (if you've read it, you know which one) that actually made me shout, "HA!" Then I laughed for a solid 10 minutes. It's an amazing moment that makes you question everything you think you know about the protagonist. I'd love to experience that again.

photo by Teness Herman

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