By Ingrid Süßmann
Several Bonnier-owned publishing houses in Germany (Carlsen, Piper, and Ullstein) recently hosted an online romance festival for young adult readers called Herzenstage (literal translation: Days of the Heart). This virtual festival, June 27 and 28, took place across social media platforms under the hashtag #herzenstage and included author chats on Twitter, book giveaways, blog campaigns, and even playlists of romantic songs.
The festival focused love, romance, and everything the heart desires: from #hotdudesreading to ideas for a first date. What made the festival so appealing to young adult readers was that it didn’t just focus on books and authors, but on romance fans — and what romance, as a broader concept, means to them.
Selected bloggers were invited beforehand with a little parcel containing a personal letter and a carefully chosen selection of romance novels. These bloggers were asked to spread the word and also answer a set of “Herzensfragen” (questions of the heart) on their blogs, such as “What’s your personal “Herzensbuch?” or “Since when is writing a matter of the heart for you?” or “What’s the perfect place for a first kiss?”
The festival itself offered an impressive program of readings, live chats and Q&As with authors, consultation hours for marketing and editorial, as well as playlists with romantic love songs, tours to romantic hotspots in Berlin, and hit lists of romantic movies.
The heart-warming reception this online romance festival got was absolutely overwhelming. The hashtag trended on Twitter all day long, and long discussions took place on Facebook. As this and other virtual literary festivals have shown, being where your target group is and catering to their interests is a successful way to promote your books and engage your readers.