Obviously, this kind of thing works, because after being out in the UK for two weeks the book is #14 on the bestseller list, Chelsea reports.
And PW said this back in April, "How do you get your author’s ARC to stand out in a stack? Make it look like something other than a book, for starters. This is the tack St. Martin’s Minotaur imprint has taken with Chelsea Cain’s forthcoming serial killer mystery, Heartsick. Four thousand galleys, stuffed in clear “evidence” packets, were mailed to booksellers and the press last week, making the September novel look as if it was culled from the scene of a crime. (Adding to that aesthetic is the title’s plain white cover splashed with red blotches made to look like bloodstained fingerprints.)
"The fancy packaging is costing St. Martin’s a “significant amount of money,” said v-p and director of marketing Matthew Baldacci, but SMP is looking for the ARCs to “make an impact.” The novel, which features a Silence of the Lambs-like scenario—a Portland, Ore., PI is forced to consult a collared murderer, dubbed the Beauty Killer, in order to catch a current perp—is the first in a three-part series featuring the beautiful but lethal serial killer Gretchen Lowell (aka the Beauty Killer). The high-end galleys also feature a companion CD with a video of author Cain showing the areas in Portland that figure in the book, along with an excerpt of actor Dylan Baker reading an excerpt from the title.
"The galleys are part of a much bigger marketing push for Heartsick: a Web site featuring videos of action depicted in the novel will launch this summer, and traditional outreach will be made with co-op buys and an author tour. “We’re creating a whole universe around Gretchen,” Baldacci explained, noting that the Web site will become more robust as each title is published. Minotaur will pass out 4,000 more galleys of the book at BEA, featuring the actual cover art and also including the CD."
That's the kind of thing a publisher will do for you when they are trying to recoup the money they sent on your advance. Chances they will make this kind of effort for just anyone on the list -- you be the judge.