On Foiled and Promotional Pieces
When Mike sent me the above art for a Foiled promotional board game, "Candy Land, but evil," was the general office verdict. (Not that the art is all that dark -- it's just that the skulls with bat wings give it this indescribable aura of menace that Candy Land just doesn't have! Possibly 'Candy Land, but slightly evil' would've been a better descriptor?)
One of the more interesting (and frustrating) parts of the marketing M.O. is thinking up new ways to get peoples' attention. Why is it necessary to think up new ways to get peoples' attention? Well, the last UNESCO survey (2005) put the number of books published in the United States per year at 172,000. That many books (assuming a standard width of about half an inch) would make a stack about 7,166 feet high. And you know what? There are some people who I send things to (think: The New York Times, Barnes and Noble, etc.) who probably receive every single one of those books. 471 books a day.
Now, there are a number of things that First Second does as a matter of course to get these peoples' attention. We consistently publish great books that are well edited (yay Mark and Calista!) and well designed (yay Colleen!). We work within the hierarchy of Macmillan (now the #5 largest publisher in the US). We establish personal relationships with the people whose attention we want.
But we're always looking for ways to go above and beyond those basics. After all, we don't have the only excellent cover designer and editors in the United States. And even if only a tenth of that daily stack of books is worth looking at, that's still 47 books a day!
Therefore: the sublime and insidious tactic of the board game. I'm not sure who came up with this idea (it might've been me, though if anyone wants to call me on it, you're more than welcome), but I know the reasoning behind it. Anyone who sees the art of this book (you can read an excerpt here) thinks that it is charming, adorable, and we thought: we have to get this art in front of peoples' eyes -- and not just in that daily stack that arrives in the mail.
So Mike was kind and gracious and made for us a board game that's based on the plot of the book (and, okay, a little on Candy Land, too). And we've been sending it out to booksellers far and wide. (I think Bergen Street Comics is actually going to organize a game-playing session on FCBD, which is super-exciting! Possibly there will be a follow-up post to this, with pictures.)
We'll see how well we do with this new attention getting tactic (#59328653: The Adorable Board Game).