Heather Fain

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Launching a book on the coattails of bestseller by the same author isn't as obvious as it might seem, especially when the book isn't page-turning fiction.

Indeed, Malcolm Gladwell's best-selling book, "Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking," explores the power of first impressions, offering real-life examples where gut feelings can lead to swift and accurate judgments. The book builds on Mr. Gladwell's 2000 best seller, "The Tipping Point," in which he explores how trends catch on.

So when Heather Fain, 31, associate director of publicity at Little Brown & Co. set about marketing "Blink," she designed a campaign that seemed to prove his ideas about communication and trend-setting. The executive who marketed the bestselling novel "The Lovely Bones" and her team made use of Mr. Gladwell's recent exposure as a writer and speaker to get people talking about "Blink" months before it was published in January. "Last June, we distributed advance copies at Book Expo to key retailers and members of the media-`connectors' in the book world who would get the excitement started." The book jacket itself used the same typography and design as "The Tipping Point," an effort to quickly appeal to Mr. Gladwell's existing readers. The advance copies primed booksellers and the media for a three-month, 30-city author tour starting in January.

The book's publication date, just after New Year's, came at a time when people are most receptive to ideas about self-help and self-awareness, says Ms. Fain. The publicity push coincided with publication Jan. 12, and within three weeks of publication, several major newspapers, wire services and newsweeklies ran interviews with Mr. Gladwell or reviews of "Blink." Mr. Gladwell also appeared on NBC's "Today" show and National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation." Fast Company put Mr. Gladwell on its January cover.

Print ads for the book, designed in-house and featuring the slogan, "Don't think-blink," appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Time and The New Yorker. Although Little Brown didn't advertise on Web sites, the marketing department reached out to bloggers to offer review copies. Little Brown also participated in the Computer Associates book group, which secured "Blink" exposure in a BusinessWeek ad.

"Blink" made the Times' Non-Fiction Best Seller List on Jan. 30. As of mid-April, it had been on the list for 12 weeks. "The book hit home with a broad demographic, including readers of both sexes who enjoy books about business, psychology, education, relationships and self-help," says Ms. Fain.

Brisk press coverage kept excitement about the book going right through the end of the author tour in late March, Ms. Fain says. The final event of the tour, at the Virginia Festival of the Book, drew 500 people. "Gladwell's events consistently brought in people who were there to buy as well as to listen."