Behold the cover of "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck." It is lime green. It features Wimpy Kid Greg Heffley being tormented by eight balls. It's the eighth book in Jeff Kinney's bestselling series, and it's coming to shelves in November.
And yet, in an unusual move, the "Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck" book tour starts Thursday.
Usually a book tour starts only after a book is on sale. That makes sense: Readers don't know much about what's inside a novel before they can open it. In the case of Kinney's books, however, readers already know about the Wimpy Kid's travails, and they're enthusiastic about getting their hands on more.
It's also a business decision: Online bestseller lists, Amazon's in particular, now include advance sales. "The Inferno" by Dan Brown leapt into Amazon's top 10 months before it was available.
The book tour for "Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck" seems designed to take advantage of that. It's going to be massive -- 150 stops in 50 cities in three months -- and will feature the Hard Luck Truck passing out Wimpy Kid goodies. The Hard Luck Truck tour won't include appearances by Kinney himself, but on its long route it will encourage fans to preorder the book.
"I'm incredibly excited about Hard Luck. I think the cover is our strongest yet, and the book has been a ton of fun to write," Kinney said in a release. "As a writer, there's something wickedly satisfying about putting Greg Heffley under duress, and in the eighth book, Greg suffers a multitude of indignities. But this time around he has a secret weapon against the slings and arrows of middle school."
Here's what happens in the book, in publisher Amulet Books' words: "In 'Hard Luck,' Greg Heffley's on a losing streak. His best friend, Rowley Jefferson, has abandoned him, and finding new friends in middle school is proving to be a tough task. To change his fortunes, Greg decides to take a leap of faith and turn his decisions over to chance. Will a roll of the dice turn things around, or is Greg's life destined to be just another hard-luck story?"
[For The Record: 7:15 a.m. PDT Aug. 10: An earlier version of this post stated that Jeff Kinney will accompany the Hard Luck Truck tour. Unless announced, he will not. It also described the balls on the book's cover as "Magic 8 Balls"; they are eight balls.]