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“Lives will be lost, love sacrificed, and the whole world will change. Who will survive the explosive sixth and final installment?” Simon & Schuster’s press release for City of Heavenly Fire, Cassandra Clare’s conclusion to her bestselling Mortal Instruments series, strikes the same anticipation-inciting note as its pre-pub promotion for the novel, due May 27 from S&S/Margaret K. McElderry Books with a two million-copy first printing. The interest of her loyal fans has clearly been piqued, and with 34 million copies of her novels in print worldwide, and 26 million for the Mortal Instruments alone, those fans are legion.
After revealing the cover of City of Heavenly Fire on TV’s The Insider in January, S&S launched a social media campaign on April 2, branded “TMI Tuesday” (so named for the series, not the amount of information disclosed, which was tactically meted out). This countdown-to-pub-date promotion involved releasing new content every Tuesday on a website for fans to share through social media.
Weekly disclosures included a video of Clare sharing “three secrets” about City of Heavenly Fire, an announcement of a trivia contest sweepstakes in which three winners won an early copy of the new novel, a peek at new character art by Cliff Nielsen that appears on the inside of the novel’s jacket, and excerpts from the first chapter and the prologue, which introduces characters new to the saga.
“TMI Tuesdays have been a huge success, with us seeing increased traffic to the site on Tuesdays as well as significant bumps in pre-orders each week,” reported Chrissy Noh, associate marketing director at S&S Children’s Publishing. “The most viewed days were when we revealed the trivia contest and exclusive content from the book. Those Tuesdays received over 100,000 views within hours.”
Noh noted that since the 2011 release of the fourth Mortal Instruments title, City of Fallen Angels, the publisher has embargoed the series’ novel, foregoing ARCs to build anticipation. “We have had so much fun creating this current and earlier marketing plans for Cassie’s novels,” she says. “Cassie is such a great promotional partner, since she is so in touch with her fans through social media. As a marketing person, I feel as though it’s a dream come true to have a book property like this, for which we can do such fun promotions to involve so many fans.”
The publisher launches City of Heavenly Fire with an event at Manhattan’s 92nd Street Y, at which Clare will sign copies of her new novel at midnight on May 27. The signing will follow a presentation in which Clare will converse with a quartet of friends – authors who have sizable fan bases of their own: Maureen Johnson, Holly Black, Kelly Link, and Scott Westerfeld.
S&S anticipates an audience of at least 750 at that event, which will be followed by two middle-school events later that week, in suburban Boston and Philadelphia. Clare will also attend BEA, where she’s scheduled for a book signing at BookCon on May 30. S&S invites fans to stop by the Shadowhunter Lounge in the Javits Center, where there will be Mortal Instruments-themed giveaways.
Clare Bids Adieu to This Chapter
The author told PW she has mixed emotions about wrapping up Mortal Instruments. “It is bittersweet,” she said. “I keep likening the experience to raising a child and sending them off to college. You try to do your best job, and then there comes the moment where you have to say ‘OK, go – you belong to the world now.’ That’s how I feel about a finished series. It leaves your hands, your ability to make changes that would affect the outcome, and belongs to readers afterward. I just hope they like it!”
Will fans find any surprises in City of Heavenly Fire? “I know a lot of them are very, very worried!,” she replied. “What with the recent trends in dystopian fiction, there have been a lot of series marked by big deaths and tragedy, so I think there is a sense that wrapping up a series means that’s when you kill everyone. I think there are probably some deaths that will sadden them, but what the book is really about is the cost to good people of winning a war against evil.”
Yet Clare is not completely exiting the Shadowhunter world. Due next year from McElderry is Lady Midnight, the first book in the Dark Artifices trilogy, which shares a setting, but (for the most part) not characters, with Mortal Instruments. “The Dark Artifices moves from New York to Los Angeles and takes place five years after the events of City of Heavenly Fire, she explained. “We do meet many of the characters who are central to Dark Artifices in City of Heavenly Fire, which I hope will pique interest in what will happen to them down the road.”
This week, Clare is in the U.K. researching yet another series with ties to the Shadowhunter world, entitled The Last Hours. “I’ve really enjoyed writing Shadowhunter series set in different locations and time periods,” she said. “The Infernal Devices, which wrapped up last year, was set in Victorian London and York. The Last Hours continues the story of those characters but focuses on their children, 20 years later, in Edwardian London and Cornwall. I’ve been researching what London was like in 1903 and taking part in activities Edwardians might have taken part in. I even taught myself to go boating on the lake in Regents Park!”
City of Heavenly Fire by Cassandra Clare. S&S/McElderry, $24.99 May ISBN 978-1-4424-1689-5