The PR Phenomenon of E. L. James

29 May The PR Phenomenon of E. L. James

You may have heard of E L James recently, author of Fifty Shades of Grey. Branded “Mummy Porn” by her critics, this relatively unknown writer has managed to creep up from self publishing a fan book based on the Twilight series, to landing a 6 figure three book deal, selling the film rights and appearing on the Today Show and featuring in publications like Newsweek and The Sunday Times.

And this is despite having a huge wave of critics saying that she just can’t write.

I’ve recently starting working with the slightly saucy  (but not quite in the same league of sauciness as E. L. James) writer Poppy Malvern, author of Spoiled, available on Kindle, so I have had a bit of a vested interest in finding out how the ebook publicity machine works. I also have my own Start and Grow a PR Company published on Kindle too, and am planning to publish two other books in the the near future.

As far as I can see here is a nice little recipe for creating a best-seller…

  • Pick a genre that sells and sells well. Originally written as a homage to the Twilight series, E. L. James’ book taps into both the current Vampire trend as well as being a traditional bodice ripping romance, one of the biggest genres to sell and keep selling in the US
  • Tap into fan fiction sites like Goodreads. E.L James Fifty Shades of Grey reportedly sold 250,000 copies as an ebook, with more than 11,000 reviews on Goodreads.
  • A bit of controversy always helps. Fifty Shades of Grey was pulled from 17 libraries throughout Florida which did nothing to harm its reputation, and remember the US controversy over Harry Potter and the supernatural? It all creates great publicity. E. L James went onto greet over 500 people at a morning  book signing after the library episode
  • Make sure your book is good value. Fifty Shades of Grey is available for just over £2 and most people are willing to take a punt on an unknown author of a couple of pound or so.

Of course, the reality is that you don’t really have the control over whether your ebook is a best seller or not,  and trying to replicate what someone else has done never quite works, but it’s been an interesting exercise and of course I got to download a copy of the book as research!



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