Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snowball!

This is the story of one book that has spawned five other titles and snowballed into an avalanche of media coverage and sales opportunities.

It all started in the fall of 2003, when Voyageur Press introduced The Snowflake: Winter’s Secret Beauty. This $20 full-color photo/science title was an immediate success, generating articles in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Times of London, hundreds of big-city papers, and magazines from the scientific to the photographic. Sales that first year were over 30,000 copies.

In year two, we followed with The Little Book of Snowflakes. Sized at 5″ × 5″ and priced at $7.95, it was designed to be a great impulse gift item. And it was, with first year sales of more than 50,000 copies. Better yet, Snowflake Winter’s Secret Beauty sold another 30,000 units in 2004.

In 2005 we published a small postcard book ($7.95) and a calendar ($12.99) based on the original Snowflake title. And somewhat to our surprise, we kept adding more and more magazines to our growing list of diverse media hits for the Snowflake titles—Nature, Booklist, Cross Country Skier, Museums & More, and Ranger Rick all covered at least one of the titles.

The Stamp of Approval
Although we didn’t know it at the time, The Little Book of Snowflakes was presented at a meeting of the selection committee for 2006 U.S. Postal Service stamps. More than 50,000 ideas are submitted each year. Snowflakes made the cut.

In late summer we were notified that images taken by our snowflake photographer, Dr. Kenneth Libbrecht, had been selected for use on the 2006 holiday season stamps! Arrangements were made with the Postal Service for Ken to attend the unveiling ceremonies at Madison Square Garden in October 2006. Plans were to print 1.5 billion stamps. All press materials would refer to the books. Wire stories across the country talked about the images that had first appeared in a book.

That fall, we asked ourselves a lot of questions. What more could we do? What additional media might we expect? Had we saturated the market for snowflake books? Maybe not. We gave it another shot with Ken Libbrecht’s Field Guide to Snowflakes.

The Latest (Not the Last)
“Dr. Snow,” as he is now referred to in many news articles, gave us a manuscript and photographs that appealed to thousands, and the blizzard continues. Better Homes and Gardens featured the Field Guide in its December 2006 issue, presenting Ken’s picture, the book cover, and the postage stamps to its 8 million readers.

Sales? Field Guide shipped over 20,000. And still the other books continue to sell. We’ve shipped another 25,000 copies of The Snowflake: Winter’s Secret Beauty and another 20,000 of Little Book of Snowflakes plus 10,000 units of a package we created last year comprising The Little Book of Snowflakes and a set of notecards.

This past season, we offered the Field Guide via BookSense and got requests from independent bookstores in more than 20 states. When we sent out the advance reader copies, we also sent an activity sheet and a window display kit. We had several BookSense nominations as a result. B&N used some of Ken’s snowflake images on one of its gift cards; Amazon.com featured an animated version of his snowflakes.

Of course, Voyageur Press featured the books at its site, and we also offered the activity kit. A feature story in The Washington Post led to another wire service story, plus a call from the Martha Stewart Living TV show.

Now airline magazines have joined the party, with Horizon Air and American Airlines both planning stories in their winter issues. The children’s publication My Weekly Reader—with a circulation of 7 million—scheduled a feature story for February. And we’ve just learned that Field Guide to Snowflakes is the 10-page cover story in the February issue of American Scientist; that Ken Libbrecht will appear on Martha Stewart’s show probably that same month, and that Snowflakes will be the lead story in an upcoming New York Times Science Times section.

One by one, as if they were individual snowflakes, sales and media hits have been massing and gaining momentum. And we’re not done. With combined sales of more than 250,000 copies for the Snowflakes titles, we have another one in the works for fall 2007.

Dorothy Molstad is President of Molstad Marketing and PR. She is available for advice and action in all areas of your marketing and public relations campaigns. Contact Dorothy at dendoor (at) aol (dot) com.