Bonnier Books UK imprint Zaffre has launched a new website for brand author Wilbur Smith in a joint venture with his creative team at Wilbur Smith Enterprises.
Following Zaffre's famous eight-figure deal to bring Smith to the list in 2016, and subsequent publication of two new titles by Smith with the imprint, WilburSmithBooks.com will serve as "an international hub" complete with geo-responsive retail links and content "to galvanise the Wilbur Smith brand worldwide".
According to the publisher, the new website is part of the continued rebrand for the author since signing with Zaffre. Earlier this year it relaunched Smith's 34 title backlist with a new, modernised series design, which has been incorporated into the website's aesthetic.
On the site's homepage is a Wilbur Smith quiz, asking fans how well they know the 85-year-old author and his works, and an invitation to sign-up to a "Wilbur Smith official readers' club" for news and updates.
Other features of the site include "real-world backstories" behind the novels, such as tales of piracy on the high seas in the 1600’s, and Africa’s struggle for independence. In addition, a new section of "real-life adventures" will share stories of peril and bravery from personal experience and include content from other adventure writers. "This initiative, as with the work of the Wilbur and Niso Smith Foundation, will preserve and invigorate adventure writing as a genre, and encourage and support future authors," said Zaffre.
Stephen Dumughn, marketing director at Zaffre, paid tribute to Smith's writing as "the benchmark for adventure writing" and shared that the publisher's aim for WilburSmithsBooks.com was for it to become "the gold standard in author websites – an engaging, immersive and content rich destination that will enable millions of readers around the world to discover more about their favourite author and convert a new generation of fans along the way".
The website was developed by Three Key, whose director Jamie Galloway said the concept for the site was to "lead visitors on their own adventure", in the process immersing existing fans whilst also attracting new readers. "We believe there’s a tremendous opportunity for authors and publishers to more deeply engage both new and existing readers via digital, and that the reader’s journey should start with a compelling website experience built around content which offers genuine standalone value," Galloway said.
Smith most recently published with Zaffre the latest in the Courtney Series, a historical fiction epic called Courtney's War, in September 2018 and before that a memoir, On Leopard Rock, in May 2018. To date through Nielsen BookScan Courtney's War has sold 42,124 in hardback and On Leopard Rock is on 36,451 copies across all editions; Smith's bestseller is 2000’s Monsoon, on 293,012 copies sold to date.
Of the new site, Smith said: "I’m tickled that my fans will be able to explore my fictional universe by taking a digital adventure through my new-look website. It’s almost as exciting as being at the Siege of Khartoum itself! My thanks to the dynamic teams at ThreeKey and my splendid publisher, Zaffre."
The website is now live.