Hitting the Southern California Indie Bestseller List

When Kristen Kittscher launched her second middle-grade mystery, The Tiara on the Terrace, our team had terrific fun working on out-of-the-box promotions!

First, Books Forward organized a special mailing to booksellers and librarians nationwide. Our box included some usual goodies–a copy of the book and swag like bookmarks, stickers, etc.–but we wanted to go bigger. Kristen’s mystery relies on code-breaking tween sleuths, so we designed and produced an interactive scavenger hunt game, complete with a decoding activity to solve the final puzzle. Needless to say, it was a huge hit with libraries! 

Second, we coordinated her national book tour with over a dozen events at prestigious bookstores, including Warwicks, Chevaliers, RJ Julia and a massive NYC launch party at Mysterious Bookshop. We also organized school visits for Kristen, so she could connect with her favorite audience–her middle school readers! 

Last but not least, we organized great media coverage for her with School Library Journal’s Fuse #8, a Publisher’s Weekly Photo of the Day and a book trailer feature in Shelf Awareness

We’re pleased to say that The Tiara on the Terrace hit the SoCal Indie bestseller list. It was a royal win!

Organizing the World’s Longest Book Tour

A book tour can be a great way to make a splash, and when you’re working with an author as great as Jenny Milchman — it’s an opportunity to create a tsunami! 

Books Forward helped Jenny launch her highly anticipated thriller, Cover of Snow (Ballantine Books), at the venerable Mysterious Bookshop in Manhattan. Next, we arranged for her to speak to hundreds of bookstore owners and booksellers at the Southern Independent Booksellers Association trade show. Jenny and her novel made a lasting impression; more than a dozen bookstores requested her for events! Although Cover of Snow takes place in upstate New York, the SIBA booksellers fell in love and hand-sold the thriller so that it hit the SIBA bestseller list right out of the gate. 

And that was just the beginning; Jenny is an all-star networker, and she ultimately received 300 bookstore event invitations thanks to her extensive list of contacts that she cultivated in the book industry. She partnered with us on what Shelf Awareness dubbed the “World’s Longest Book Tour,” as she and her family hit the road for an epic cross-country tour over nine months. Our team worked tirelessly alongside Jenny to garner local media attention in every city and town she visited.

After her first epic trip, we teamed up again for the launch of her second book and a brand new tour opportunity: “100 Events in 100 Days.” We assisted with event organization, coordinating private book parties and dinners for her in multiple cities. We also secured reviews and media coverage for Jenny’s amazing efforts. Not only did she get to make new connections and meet tons of her reader fans, but it was like a homecoming when she returned to the independent bookstores who supported her from the start. 

Today Jenny is a USA Today-bestselling and Edgar Award-winning author. We’re thrilled to report that her current publisher has recognized the value of her book-touring skills and sponsored an extensive national tour for her latest novel! 

These days, writing an incredible book is only the first step; authors must also be willing to throw as much energy into promoting a book as writing it in order to be successful. When you make the effort to personally connect with readers and booksellers, and grow your network, the results can be amazing!

Creating an International Bestseller

The book market is crowded with memoirs every year. But when Books Forward first encountered Barbara Donsky’s incredible true story of her mother’s disappearance, we knew we were onto something special, and the media agreed!

Barbara’s memoir, Veronica’s Grave, caused something of a media frenzy (with a little help from our team!). Books Forward carefully crafted the press materials to emphasize the book’s unusual story and narrative strengths. We also strategically pitched her story as a Mother’s Day feature to a targeted number of Bronx and Manhattan media outlets (Barbara’s home and the setting for her book), emphasizing the book’s local connections.

And the hook worked. The New York Post, New York Magazine and NY1 News all ran features on Barbara’s book. In fact, the story started trending on The New York Post, becoming the outlet’s most viewed story of the day and landing on the home page. From there, Barbara’s story was shared by Bravo TV Online, Yahoo News, Gannett News and the Independent Journal Review.

Coupled with a national radio tour and features on Shelf Pleasure, Women Writers, Women’s Books and Book Pleasures — the fusion of unusual, gripping storytelling, great timing and targeted outreach made Veronica’s Grave a success. The international rights were ultimately purchased by a traditional publisher, and this small press winner received a second life as a traditionally published book!

Becoming a New York Times Bestseller

Andrew Maraniss’ debut Strong Inside (Vanderbilt University Press) powerfully told the true story of Perry Wallace, the first African American basketball player in the SEC. Our team was honored to represent such an inspirational book, and we wanted to help make the launch an epic success. 

Andrew coordinated a launch party at the legendary Parnassus Books (owned by bestselling author Anne Patchett) in the story’s birthplace of Nashville, Tennessee, featuring an author Q&A led by Nashville Mayor Karl Dean. It was a sold-out success! And he went on to celebrate with widely attended events at Politics & Prose in Washington, D.C. (where The Washington Post heralded the book) and at several other venues across the country.

Books Forward targeted national media, from snagging a “Book of the Month” pick in Southern Living, to organizing national television interviews with Meet the Press and The Keith Olbermann Show. We also arranged features for Andrew in book industry publications like Shelf Awareness and Writers Digest

The buzz around such an important book elevated its status, and we were so proud when Strong Inside landed on the New York Times bestsellers list!

We were just as thrilled when Andrew returned to Books Forward for the promotion of his second book, Games of Deception (Philomel Books), his YA nonfiction about the first U.S. Olympic basketball team. We secured literary and local media coverage in outlets nationwide, including Book Riot, BookPage, Read Brightly and more. 

To this day, Andrew’s work continues to be a slam dunk!