CES: Wayne uses social media to promo new novel

Author created Twitter account for book's character, Spotify playlist, more

As Hollywood zeroes in on digital distribution, the newest screens being shown off at the Consumer Electronics Show are giving authors like Teddy Wayne some creative ideas of how to promote their novels.

For Wayne’s “The Love Song of Jonny Valentine,” that revolves around a fictional teen pop idol who engages with his fanbase through social media, publisher Simon & Schuster tapped into the popularity of the tools young readers are turning to promote the book that hits bookshelves Feb. 5.

Wayne created a Twitter account for the book’s Justin Bieber-like character Jonny Valentine (@TheRealJonny) with messages about his faux life; a Gmail account that’s mentioned in the novel; and a playlist on Spotify of what’s on Valentine’s iPod. One track is a song mentioned in the book recorded by Wayne.

The strategy was embraced because “the book itself is about marketing and the digital landscape of today,” but at the same time satirizes the role of social media as a promotional vehicle for celebrities, Wayne said. “He’s a young pop star (with a huge Twitter following) who’s exploited on a digital platform like other young pop stars have recently. We thought there were ways to exploit the same platforms the book covers like Twitter and YouTube.”

That tongue-in-cheek marketing approach can also be seen in an online book trailer that mocks other book trailers. Since its launch on AOL.com, the trailer has received over 12,000 views, a large number for a book spot, which normally tend to attract only a few hundred views.

Novel’s cover also features a reflective holographic foil to attract consumer attention while satirizing the book’s theme of the glitzy packaging of art, Wayne said.

Simon and Schuster will also launch a more traditional promotional push for the book’s release with ads, bookstore signings and giveaways. But because of the book’s lead character, publisher also reached out to music and entertainment blogs to feature Valentine’s exploits.

Many of the publications — from Tiger Beat to the New Yorker — featured in the book through a dozen or more fake articles penned by Wayne that report on Valentine’s life, will also roll out reviews and features about the novel around its release.

Wayne embraced technology to launch his first book, “Kapitoil.” published in 2010, which has generated interest from screenwriters to adapt as a film.

Set in 1999, Wayne created a Twitter account for its characters, with posts referencing events that happened around the time. Account lured a couple hundred followers.

“It wasn’t the dark ages then,” said Wayne, a journalist who contributes to the New Yorker and New York Times. “I am doing what authors need to be doing” to promote their books, “We’re just doing it on a much bigger level now. Twitter costs nothing.”

But Wayne cautions that “you don’t want to do too much gimmicky stuff. A little bit to get people excited about this new idea and this new book in a way to reflect the book’s themes” seemed appropriate. “In the end, readers of literary fiction don’t care too much about Twitter stunts. They want to read the book if it’s a good book.”

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