WhereWereYouThen.com: Mining the memories of Ken Follett's readers

WhereWereYouThen.com: Mining the memories of Ken Follett's readers

Do you remember the fall of the Berlin Wall? The inauguration of President Obama? The assassination of JFK?

Bestselling author Ken Follett is well-known, and well-loved, for his historical fiction but his new Cold War novel, Edge of Eternity,is particularly special because the history it recounts takes place within living memory of many of his readers.

To promote the book, deepen engagement with Ken and this series – The Century Trilogy -- and to build on our dedicated email database, Pan Macmillan has launched WhereWereYouThen.com, a major digital memory-sharing project which puts Ken’s readers at the heart of his publication.

The timeline-based site pulls out key historical events featured in the book and asks fans from all over the world to post their recollections of where they were and what they were doing when the event took place. The result will be a real-life tapestry of how historical events in the late 20th Century affected the real people who lived through them, mirroring what happens to the fictional characters in the book.

Ken Follett
Ken Follett

We’ll then make great use of these fan contributions by publishing a selection of them in the paperback and second edition ebook next year.

Ken is a master at weaving his characters’ personal experiences into a compelling narrative of huge historical events and this is a central premise of Edge of Eternity. Our aim with this project is to amplify that aspect of the book, as well as the particular period in which it takes place.

Having readers post their own everyday account of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Watergate scandal or the Lebanon hostage crisis does both.  Readers will also be able to explore each other’s memories, increasing the connection between members of the global community of Ken Follett readers.

“Readers at the heart of all activity”

The project continues our strategy of building fan engagement and brand loyalty by putting readers at the heart of all activity to promote Ken Follett’s novels. The personal nature of the memories submitted will help readers forge a closer emotional connection with the action described in the book, and the author brand.

Edge of Eternity - Ken FollettWe want readers to feel that Ken’s writing really is for and about them.

And Ken is reciprocating. The site features a number of his own memories of growing up in the 1960s and ‘70s, all pieces written exclusively for this site. The project also provides a strong opportunity for data capture, growing our Ken Follett database and the number of people who receive his popular monthly newsletter.

WhereWereYouThen.com forms a core part of the general marketing campaign for Edge of Eternity.

Its direct, personal message is a powerful advertising tool, and will be featured, together with specific events that appear on the timeline, in animated London Underground escalator panels; a BBC History magazines and websites package; and the enormous Motion Screen at Waterloo station. Plus, the project gives an exciting extra angle for the publicists working on the book, particularly useful when working with such a busy author.

So if you’re feeling nostalgic, why not cast your memory back, and tell us where you were when some of the biggest events of the last sixty years took place.

Jodie Mullish is head of fiction marketing for Pan Macmillan.

Join us Friday, 12th September, when publishing innovation -- including marketing, as in this Pan Macmillan project -- is our #FutureChat topic of the week. The Bookseller’s FutureBook community will be live on Twitter, at 4 p.m. London time, 11 a.m. New York time, 8 a.m. Los Angeles, 5 p.m. Berlin, 3 p.m. GMT. 

Main image - Shutterstock: Heiko Kueverling