What It Takes to Get Noticed in the Book World

More than 300,000 books are published each year in the U.S. alone. I’m an avid reader and bibliophile (a new book arriving in the mail feels like my birthday—Every. Single. Time.), and I can’t fathom trying to keep up with even a small percentage of the new books being published. As readers, what makes us take notice of a book? And for authors, how do you ensure your book stands out, and is seen and read and talked about?

Think about how you hear about good books: a recommendation from a friend, required reading for a class, a book club, Oprah. What does it take for people to take notice of a book and recommend it to others?

Ask just about any author and they will probably say, “it takes work.” And it takes a strategic public relations and marketing campaign that anchors on content and follow-through. It requires getting your book in front of the right audience groups in as many places as possible: social media campaigns, interviews, book reviews, and more. To accomplish this and build a successful campaign, you must create relevant content and adapt it for a variety of platforms.

Since this week’s news release assignment focused on a book launch, I wanted to share two recent book launch campaigns I’ve been following. Both of these books are from women I follow and admire for how they are leading in their industries. And not only am I excited about their books, but I also love following their launch strategies.

Jaclyn Johnson, the founder of Create & Cultivate, recently launched her first book, WorkParty. The book captures her story and builds on the passion and vision of C&C; she has a built-in audience that is primed and ready to pick up and read this book. Even so, she’s not taking anything for granted and has created a strong strategy that incorporates the best of what she does with her business. From a book tour with special guest speakers to her podcast and social media, she’s getting the word out in a great way. Get a glimpse of her strategy: WorkParty Tour.

Beth Comstock, former vice chair and chief marketing officer at GE, just launched her book, Imagine It Forward: Courage, Creativity, and the Power of Change. She, too, is combining her personal story and more than 30 years of experience to share what she has learned. And similar to Johnson, she’s building a strategic campaign that gets her in front of the right audiences through a variety of platforms, from being interviewed on various podcasts to media interviews, social media, and more. See more of her Imagine It Forward campaign.

Bounce around on their sites and social media to see more of what they are doing. What do you think of these campaigns? Have any book launches caught your attention in the past? What did they do well? What was it about the campaigns that caught your attention?

Also, have any good books to recommend? 😉

 

 

 

 

36 thoughts on “What It Takes to Get Noticed in the Book World

  1. I think Jaclyn Johnson’s campaign for Workparty Tour is poor. After reading her page about the tour was still confused as to what exactly it was about. I felt like I had to search for that information. It should have been very clear what her message was. I wasn’t inspired to learn more about her tour/event or whatever it is.

    Beth Comstock did a better job with her campaign. The first thing you see on the page is a description of the book and the point she is trying to get across with the new book. She even includes a video with her own description of the book and why it is relevant and important for readers. The content on her page was interesting, captivating and told a story. I think she did an excellent job with her campaign.

    I can’t think of one campaign in particular that got my attention, but I recognize that those that paint a picture and tell a story usually do a good job of catching my interest.

    I recommend The Shack by William P. Young.

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    1. I appreciate your candid thoughts, Jessica! Part of your reaction to the WorkParty campaign might be my fault. I linked to only the tour page, not the opening page of the site that gave more context to the book. I agree that campaigns that paint a clear picture of the story they are telling do a better job of grabbing and holding attention.

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  2. I feel like once I got to college, I found it harder to read for leisure because we have a lot of reading assigned to us for classes; I really enjoyed it in high school though! A number of the leisure books that I picked up over the past 3 years have been through my church, Mosaic. Our founding pastor Erwin McManus has written a number of books over the years and we sell them after service and have book clubs throughout the year which motivates me to get them. I think this strategy works well for them because it incorporates community through church and also outside reading and they have easy access to sell the book to us.
    I also love WorkParty and actually attended the book launch this past week! They had a great panel and the whole space was branded and Jacklyn was there signing books which all were great tactics!

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  3. Recently, I have not been reading as much as I used to. I agree with Morgan that it can be hard to enjoy reading when there are so many reading assignments due each week. I think the WorkParty campaign was beautifully done. The website and corresponding Instagram page create an inviting atmosphere that make me want to read the book. I think Jacklyn is doing a fantastic job with her campaign.

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  4. Depending on the genre a reader is attracted to, what makes them take notice of a book is always the author. If a certain author is consistent and never fails to lose the attention of their audience, then that reader will always go back. For example, Nicholas Sparks is so consistent that one does not need to read about the book, one simply purchases it. Moreover, for authors if they want their book to stand out it is all about the front cover. As a designer, what catches my eye is color and the intentionality that goes into the foundation of the book. If it looks appealing then I go into reading about the essence of the book. Honestly, it’s the little things. However, with a great campaign and strong foundation with the media, the book will most definitely be in most conversations.

    Once you are familiar with Create & Cultivate, it becomes one of the most identifiable brands. I have always respected this company and the efforts they supply for those in PR. This campaign has an immediate style and they make it very informational for their future audience to get a glimpse of what they’re signing up for.

    Great Book Recommendations: Scary Close by Donald Miller

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    1. You make a great point about consistency, Mekenna. It’s why many of us fall in love with certain authors style and continue to follow them, sometimes even buying the next book without reading it’s description! This can become an essential part of creating a loyal following. I enjoy Donald Miller’s books, but haven’t read Scary Close yet. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  5. Growing up, I’ve always been an avid reader. I remember during the summers my dad would take my brother and me to the library almost every week and we would rent at least 15 books each because of how much we loved to read. Unfortunately, as I got older, my time got consumed with school and work so as of now, I haven’t had time to just read for fun. I mainly hear about good books through my friends since we all have similar taste, so I haven’t really paid attention to any book launches.

    I really did appreciate the aesthetics of the WorkParty Tour website, but it did lack in content. I wasn’t greeted with much information about the book and the main reason for this tour is the book itself. As for the Imagine It Forward campaign, it seemed to be the exact opposite. While the site didn’t lack in content, the aesthetics didn’t draw me in as much as the WorkParty Tour website. I guess every campaign has its strengths and weaknesses.

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    1. I completely agree with this Abi! I had the same thoughts when looking at both websites. The WorkParty Tour website definitely draws you in with its aesthetics, but I felt like I didn’t really see much content. The Imagine It Forward campaign presented more content and info, but the page didn’t draw me in nearly as much. I think both campaigns are strong in their own ways and accomplish different goals, but I think that on first glance, the WorkParty Tour website might be more effective.

      I absolutely loved reading growing up, but like Morgan and others have mentioned, leisurely reading has become more difficult since being in college. I’ve found myself starting books and taking forever to finish them over the past couple years because of the amount of academic reading I am also doing. I’m currently reading two books, Daring Greatly by Brené Brown and Come Matter Here by Hannah Brencher. Both were recommended to me during Walkabout by one of the RDs, as she said they’ll be relevant in my time as a freshman RA. Learning the power of vulnerability in leadership is a challenging pill to swallow, but something that I have already seen the benefits of in the past month or so of being back on campus and in my second year of RezLife.

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    2. You and Jessica both pointed out the lack of information on the WorkParty website, and that was probably my error for posting the tour page as opposed to the opening page of the site. But you both make a good point that you have to have the key information right up front for the audience.

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  6. Testimonials are an easy way for me to spark interest in a book. If someone I know well enough evidently shows the fruit of transformation in their life from the book they are reading, then I may consider looking into it. I tend to focus on books that concentrate on self-motivation, spiritual growth, womanhood, creativity, and purpose. I tend to enjoy the books we read for my PR classes and my psychology textbooks/journals, but I am excited to start reading for my own leisure again after I graduate.

    Jaclyn’s campaign for WorkParty is fantastic. I love the cohesive theme, colors, and intentionality across all of her platforms on her website, social media, and podcast. By scrolling through the instagram, I can get a glimpse of the topics that are/will be covered in the book and on the tour. The website does a great job of luring in the audience (millennial women looking to start their careers) to buy the book by giving just enough information on what the book is about. I love it. Thank you for sharing! I am now following her and will soon look into purchasing the audiobook.

    Beth’s campaign is professional and not as “loud” as Jaclyn’s campaign. I like it. It seems as though this audience is more broad and can speak to both young women and women who have traveled further into their careers. Personal stories and experiences are a great way to get one to reflect on what they would do in the same situation and foresee possibilities that they may not have considered otherwise. Both campaigns are empowering and motivational, but Beth’s does not seem as entrepreneurial.

    If you haven’t already read it, I highly suggest the Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. It has had a huge impact on my Christian worldview and faith.

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  7. I really can’t imagine what it must take for your book to become noticeable and to even be impactful. The fact that there are over 300,000 books published in the US alone every year is so crazy. Growing up I would read all the time, so I really relate to the amazing feeling of receiving a new book! It is so so so exciting!

    Jaclyn Johnson’s Work Party campaign is incredible. The campaign is so clearly developed and implemented, and does an amazing job at reaching such a direct, focused audience. This campaign is great for many reasons, but to me it really stands out amongst others because of their strong visual appeal, the incorporation of influencers and celebrities, and the relatable, relevant content being put out. This campaign is so visually enticing, and is also very cohesive with other Create & Cultivate events and branding details.

    Good Books: Everything Harry Potter (duh!!), Way of Abundance by Ann Voskamp, Love Lives Here by Maria Goff, and Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller.

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  8. As a college student who has to constantly read for various classes, I have not been able to read for leisure. When I did use to read books for myself, the first thing that would gain my attention is either the book title or the cover of the book; this would then lead me to the book summary/ about the author section. I also would take into consideration the author of the book, once I read an author that I like I tend to like all of his/her books. For example, I used to read all types of romantic/love books. One author in particular that I like is Gayle Forman; she wrote “If I Stay” and “Where She Went.” Her books make you want to continue reading. Its like binge-watching a tv show; every time you are left on a cliffhanger, you HAVE to watch the next episode. Each of her chapters ends with cliffhangers and they cause you to read the next chapter… and eventually the whole book. Once her book “If I Stay” was created into a movie and was shown in her theaters, she gained more readers (this is usually the case with authors who decide to make their books into movies).
    I think Jaclyn’s book campaign is great and I love how her book/website is designed. I think it is great that she is actively using the media to promote her book and Create&Cultivate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When it comes down to it, we really do judge a book by its cover! But it’s what’s inside that keeps us hooked, and like you mentioned with the example of Gayle Forman, coming back for more. You can have a great campaign, but if the content doesn’t back it up, you won’t maintain a loyal following.

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  9. Even though I’m a writer, I’ve never been much of a reader. In high school I never enjoyed reading the books we were required to read. However, now in college I end up reading books that are more tailored towards my major so I find them more interesting. It’s hard to find time to read books for fun in college, but I still find time to look into recommendations from friends. I think what catches someone’s attention is the title and if they relate to the title. When I read a title that totally sticks out to me as something I can relate with, I put it on my list of books to read.

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    1. Titles are so important! I think that’s also why subject lines and headlines are so important. We want to appeal to our audience and hook them in right off the bat.

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  10. To be honest, I have never really had free time to read and have never been a huge reader. The only reading I ever do now is for class, and it’s embarrassing to say but I cannot remember the last time that I read for leisure! Being in Public Relations, I find our required textbooks a lot more interesting though. These are books that I find fun and they never feel like homework to me.Whenever I walk in a bookstore, the first thing I look at is the cover and what it contains. I feel as if ALL covers should be eye catching at first glance and make you want to read the title and description, maybe even purchase it. I tend to like books with graphic design on the front instead of real life pictures with people on them.

    To me they are doing the best they can at strategizing their campaigns. By covering as many social media platforms as they can, they are also covering many different demographics. I also enjoyed how their websites were clean and had a good design layout, I feel as if little things like that make the biggest difference!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You make a great point, Jordan. The visual components are as key to a book launch as the writing it, especially since we live in such a visually-driven society.

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  11. I had followed Jaclyn’s WorkParty campaign for quite some time because I am subscribed to the Create & Cultivate emails. Every time I received an email from C&C during this campaign time, I was impressed and excited to see what new and creative ways WorkParty would be promoted. Her tour idea was such a great idea because it attracted her target audience by featuring empowering, female entrepreneurs as guest speakers. Some of these women who attend may never have heard of WorkParty, but because of speakers like Kendra Scott who they know and love, they will be exposed to Jaclyn and her message.

    Reading about Beth’s book launch was also quite inspiring. I had not heard of her before this post, but after reading her extensive resume, I’m starting to wonder what rock I’ve been living under! It’s interesting to me how both ladies used podcasts to hype up their book release. It’s also interesting how essential visual media is to a book launch; the book only being words on a blank page.

    Currently, I have a friend named Kristen Dalton who is a former Miss USA and is launching her book, “The Sparkle Effect,” in just a few weeks! I’ve been able to follow and support her book campaign through social media. She has created a new account specifically for her book, and has also filmed and voiced over “audio declarations.” This is a neat spin on A/V that I really enjoyed!

    Some of my favorite books are Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, the Christy Miller series, and Love Does.

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  12. I used to read for fun all the time growing up. It was at some point between high school junior and senior year when the amount of readings I had to do for AP classes canceled out any fun reading. Despite my interest being put on the back burner, I have been lucky that all the readings for PR have been good reads and somehow replaced my fun reading. I would say the things that would pull me in to read books were recommendations from friends that were bookworms or teachers that I trusted for good reads. Personally I would also subtly judge book covers and titles as well.

    When looking at both of the book campaigns it was pretty cool to see this approach. I have been aware of book tours but I never really grasped all that was involved with it and what consisted of them besides book singings and making an appearance at a bookstore. I liked how different both campaigns/tours were and the personal sleek style they had.

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  13. I cannot imagine my life without books. Both of my parents love reading, so naturally I grew up constantly reading all kinds of books. As many of you have already mentioned, I read much less for leisure now that I am in college. I do try to make an effort to read for fun during breaks. I read many books this summer, which was so refreshing!

    I love the WorkParty website! I think that it is perfectly tailored to her audience, even down to the use of “millennial pink.” It has fun and engaging graphics and is very user-friendly. It does seem to be much more about everything surrounding the book, rather than the book itself. It seems as though her goal is to inspire a movement more than just sell her book. On the other hand, Beth Comstock’s website looks nice but is very traditional. I wish that there was more information provided.

    To be honest, I have never tried to keep up with book launches other than when the book would be available so that I can read it. This is a whole new world to me, and a very interesting one! It makes me want to follow actual book releases instead of just finding older books to read.

    I love fiction books, so some of my favorites include the Inheritance Cycle and anything by J.R.R. Tolkien! I am currently reading Love Does.

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  14. When I’m not in school I have always loved to read, because I actually had enough time in my day to pick up a book and get lost in it. I really like the social media instagram page for Create & Cultivate. I think it attracts the young generation of women that are breaking into the working world, and uses great colors and graphics. For me and my personal interests, it attracts me much more so than Beth Comstock’s instagram page. This page seems geared toward an older generation, and doesn’t have a curated feed as the other one does.I think that authors really focus on what types of audiences that they will attract, and go after that.

    Typically for me, I am drawn to a book not because of the author but because it has been suggested to me by someone that knows me very well, or I have heard buzz about it on social media in some form. I have never actually gone to a book signing or been involved with a book tour, and they typically don’t entice me in any way. My favorite thing to read is poetry, aside from a few good books I have come across. My personal favorites in the past were Where the Red Fern Grows and also The Giver. These both happened to be school books but I loved them for their story lines and the movies that went along with them that made the books come to life. Recently, my favorite book that I am slowly making my way through is Uninvited. It is specifically for women and ties in religion with super tough subjects such as jealousy and fear that I think every woman struggles with at one time or another. It is a truly great read so far!

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  15. As a (homeschooled) child, my mother took my brothers and I to the Library frequently. I remember brining home a whole bag of books each time we visited. I wouldn’t call my childhood self a book worm, but I did enjoy reading a book here and there for fun. Now a days, the books I read are all academic; pertaining to the classes I take. I’m not a fan of many academic reading materials for several reasons (which I can complain about another time). There are several books on my shelf that I have been eager to read, but can never find the free-time to read them; I will share these titles down below. The reasons why I have been intrigued to read these is mostly recommendations from friends, hearing a speaker or pastor promote their own product, or my mom gifted me with it. I am currently interested in books that promote spiritual growth & creativity. I would like to find more reads about entertainment industry and my career interests to find motivation, inspiration, and truth/real life stories.

    I only just recently heard of WorkParty (because Morgan went to the book launch tour and I saw her instaposts about it). I really enjoy the aesthetic of the website and the message of business in women. I am actually interested in learning more about this campaign and possibly borrowing or purchasing the book one day! Seems like a great read and a motivationally driven message!

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  16. Whoops forgot to add my books!
    Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge (currently working on this amazing read), Artisan Soul by Erwin McManus (10/10 recommend- creative inspiration & written by my Pastor at Mosaic Church), CrazyLove by Francis Chan & Selfless by Megan Fate-Marshman (need to finish this I’m half way through)

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  17. I feel that in this day in age, it is really difficult to hear about new books. The most recent book that I have heard about be a huge success is “To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before”, and the only reason for this was because it became a successful Netflix Original Film. Other than books that have been made into movies, it has been really hard for me to hear about a book, pick it up, and read it for my own pleasure.

    I think that it is especially competitive for books to market to college students because they are having to compete with textbooks and reading assignments that are required for a course.

    I love what Create & Cultivate are doing and what they stand for, but when it comes to WorkParty, although I love the aesthetics, I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for, or what anything meant. If I had not already known that it was a book tour, I don’t think that I would have easily been able to understand what was going on.

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  18. I am going to agree with a couple of other commenters, it has been hard to read for pleasure with so much assigned course reading. If I read something, it has to be extremely relevant to me to keep me interested, otherwise I won’t find time for it. I really liked the imagine it forward campaign. I thought Beth did a really great job tailoring her campaign and making it relevant for her audience. Her page is very cohesive and easy to navigate.

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  19. I really liked Jaclyn Johnson’s WorkParty campaign. I thought she did a great job at creating a website and a tour that was in line with her mission and her book. She is really tailoring everything to her audience well and is making her tour sound very interesting and exciting. I also liked the Imagine Forward campaign. They did a great job at putting the most important content at the top of the page. They really enforced the mission behind the book all throughout the website. I also really liked the blog included on the website.

    Like everyone else, I wish I had more time to read for pleasure in college. I always loved reading growing up and I love finding new bookstores, I could look through books for hours! I can’t think of any specific book launch that has caught my attention, but the one’s that grab my attention the most are the one’s that are promoted on tv or by other celebrities or influencers on social media.

    One of my favorite books has always been Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close so if you haven’t read that, you definitely should!

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  20. When introducing myself to a new book or a new series, I am always skeptical. it really helps to have more background information on these books. I often find myself turning to social media mainly twitter and instagram for the author to see how they are helping their story come more to life and become a reality. I am an avid book reader and am currently going through Harry Potter again as I wait for the next book from my favorite author to drop in october. It can be really difficult because if the book is good I find myself getting swept up in it and avoiding other responsibilities and if its bad it takes me a long time to trust new books again. I usually find my books by going to book stores and finding topics that are of interest and reading the first chapter. If I’m not hooked by then I don’t continue. Currently my favorite author is Sarah J Maas and she has 2 series out right now if anyone is interested in fantasy books.

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  21. I have been following the WorkParty Instagram for a while! The overall theme caught my eye initially when the SocietyGal’s Instagram shared information on Jaclyn Johnson’s book. I initially followed the account to remind myself to order the book because their Instagram and message caught my attention. However, as a lot of my other classmates have already noted, it’s difficult to read strictly for pleasure anymore. WorkParty still sits in my Amazon cart to this day because I’m trying to finish other reads before I order any more books. Come Matter Here by Hannah Brencher is what I’m currently attempting to read during my free time per a recommendation by Morgan.

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  22. I absolutely adore reading! I was an avid reader in high school, but since starting college my time for reading for fun has decreased significantly. I still love getting my hands on a good book whenever I can, though!

    I recently discovered Create & Cultivate, and I love their articles. It is really inspiring to read advice from young professional women. They offer great advice and their site looks so beautiful 😍. I wish I had known about Johnson’s book tour before reading this post. I would have loved to attend the LA launch. Plus, Justina Blakeney was there, and I’m obsessed with her work! Having local guest speakers attend along the way is a great idea because Johnson is able to attract their audiences as well.

    I think that using podcasts and social media to get the word out are both great tactics. The company I’m working for is launching on Saturday, and my boss has guest-starred in a podcast and heavily promoted on social media. Using influencers (such as the guest speakers mentioned above) to promote a book or company is also an extremely helpful tactic. People are much more likely to trust a recommendation from someone they already follow!

    I usually don’t follow book tours, but one writer I follow is Janne Robinson, an author who writes poetry which is very personal, often controversial, and sometimes racy. She is a big advocate of women’s rights (really for rights of all people), and she is not afraid to say what she thinks. She is right in the middle of a book tour, and she has an extremely active presence on social media. I actually think she could have done a bit more to promote the tour, but one thing she has in her favor is shock factor; the name of her book is This is for the Woman Who Don’t Give a F***. Although there are things she writes that I don’t agree with, I find many of her pieces inspiring.

    Book Recommendations: I’ve always leaned towards fictional works, and a few of my favorites are The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I am in the middle of reading a few nonfiction books (which I can never seem to finish): Tales of A Female Nomad by Rita Golden Gelman (so good!), Callings: Finding and Following an Authentic Life by Gregg Levoy, and Home Sweet Maison: The French Art of Making a Home by Danielle Postel-Vinay (because I have to fit in my love of home decor somehow!). A few books on my to-read list are Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey and Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan.

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  23. I love getting to read for leisure, however as I’ve gotten older it has become harder with school and finding time in general to just sit and enjoy a good book. During the summer is when I try to get back into the swing of reading for fun. In regards to the two book campaigns, I really liked WorkParty. I think she did a great job at creating an image for her brand, and creating a book tour that draws people to it. Jaclyn didn’t just go on tour by herself, but rather invited other people who she would have a conversation with at her different tours. I haven’t noticed a ton of book campaigns myself, because I tend to look at books that are going to become movies, or ones that are on the New York best sellers list. I also look at books from influencers that I follow. I think a lot of the book campaigns I have seen really focus on the social media aspect of promoting the book. If there is enough buzz on social media, it can help the book to get to the point where it could become a movie, or on a best sellers list. Two books I read this summer that I enjoyed and are becoming a movie are, the sun is also a star and all the bright places.

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  24. Like many of my peers, I unfortunately never really had the time to sit down and read many books. I cannot say that I do not admire good writing though. Often times, I take interest in books, but never really get the chance to read them. I find that I am particularly drawn to “featured” books on the entry display tables at Barnes & Noble. That is actually where I have heard of many books as well. Another primary source for book recommendations have come from school. For this reason, I think that a lot of authors target the teen-to-young adult age range. It is easy for word to circulate. Take the Twilight series for example. This book-turned-movie franchise was like an epidemic. There was a very wide-spread craze for these novels. A main reason behind that can dwindle down to the social interactions and word-of-mouth hype that was seen in schools.

    Similar to the Twilight Saga campaign, the Work Party campaign is very much geared towards a particular audience. I am big fan of the website. It is very detailed. Even the language used is very precise in regards to audience choice.

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