How Publishers Are Marketing Their Big Fall Books Online

In the marketing campaign for one much-anticipated book being published this month, dogs are able to ask experts questions on Facebook. In another, the publisher will be offering via an app 14 additional “episodes” of the book over three months that include maps, videos and other materials that draw on the book’s main storyline.

Book publishers often release their buzziest titles in the fall in hopes of catching the holiday sales wave, and this year is no different. Among the books stirring up excitement this fall are a novel by a first-time author that’s been compared to Harry Potter, and a new young-adult series by a bestselling children’s book author who used to design games. In an effort to help these books take off in an increasingly digital world, publishers are trying some new marketing tricks. Here’s a sampling of what they’re doing.

Title: Dark Eden
Author: Patrick Carman
Author Factoid: Before becoming a NYT bestselling young-adult and children’s author, Carman worked as a game designer. And he “visits” hundreds of classrooms a year using a web cam and Skype.
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: November 1
What it’s about: Seven teenagers who suffer from “crippling secrets and phobias” are sent to Fort Eden, where they’re supposed to be cured by confronting their worst nightmares in mysterious fear chambers. Not surprisingly, things don’t go as planned.
Highlights of digital strategy: The print book’s accompanying mobile app, released in August, transmits new “episodes” of the story that draw on the main storyline and include supplementary maps, videos, audio diaries and journal entries. The first episode, “Arrival,” is available now for free download; the following thirteen episodes, which will be released on a set schedule through December, will go for $0.99 each.

Title: The Night Circus
Author: Erin Morgenstern
Author Factoid: The Night Circus is Morganstern’s first book, and received a seven-figure advance, with rights sold in over 25 countries and film rights optioned by Twilight producer Summit.
Publisher: Doubleday/Random House
Release Date: September 13
What it’s about: Two acrobats compete in an age-old rivalry at the mysterious Cirque des Reves. The book has been likened to Harry Potter.
Highlights of digital strategy: The Night Circus was the first e-book selected for Starbucks’ Pick of the Week program; cards in Starbucks (NSDQ: SBUX) stores gave users a download code for 300 of the book’s 330 pages on iTunes. In the UK, Random House launched a Night Circus interactive game where players gather mementoes like circus invitations and “preserved snowflakes” to advance to the next level.

Title: Love at First Bark
Author: Julie Klam
Author Factoid: Klam has three dogs.
Publisher: Riverhead/Penguin.
Release Date: October 18
What it’s about: A memoir about rescue dogs and the people who love them.
Highlights of digital strategy: Klam launched a marketing campaign called “Dogs Write In,” in which she answers questions from dogs on her Facebook author page: ” I’ll post a new topic weekly, & after collecting questions I’ll answer via video. To kick it off, I want to hear questions on size. Has your big dog ever wondered why small dogs are so loud? Or has your teacup thought a large dog pompous? Share your ?’s here & I’ll choose a few to answer next week!” (Sample question received: “Dear Julie, My mom says I weigh 10 pounds, which I can only assume is the maximum weight for a dog because I am huge and bigger than every other dog in my neighborhood. Why are big dogs so awesome?”) book trailer in which Klam discusses Love at First Bark with Timothy Hutton (who stars as a more annoying version of himself) made it onto New York Magazine’s Vulture blog, which called it “Entourage meets publishing.”

Title: 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, full-color edition
Author: Patricia Schultz
Author Factoid: Forbes named Schultz one of the 25 most influential women in travel.
Publisher: Workman
Release Date: November 15
What it’s about: Updated edition of the bestselling book, with photos and 200 new locations added.
Highlights of digital strategy: Companion “1,000 Places to See Before You Die” iPad app is free with the purchase of the book, and $9.99 for non-book-buyers. The app has an interactive map and lets users mark off the “1,000 places” they’ve already been and those they want to visit. They can also upload their own photos, see where their friends have visited, and get tips.

Title: The Dovekeepers
Author: Alice Hoffman
Author Factoid: Hoffman’s Here on Earth, a modern reworking of Wuthering Heights, was an Oprah’s Book Club selection.
Publisher: Scribner/Simon & Schuster
Release Date: October 4
What it’s about: In the year 70 CE, four strong women hold out against Roman armies in the Judean desert Masada.
Highlights of digital strategy: Featured October book in Simon & Schuster’s just-launched Facebook book club, “Something to Read About.” Those who “like” the page can get an excerpt of the book and download reading guides and a letter from Alice Hoffman, and readers can participate in moderated book club discussions.