How photographer Hugo Rittson Thomas used pre-pub sales and publicity to reach Amazon’s top-200 list

By   Hannah Bickerton 3 min read

The challenge

Hugo Rittson Thomas came to whitefox with a project for a photography book about Britain’s Coronation Meadows, hoping to raise awareness about conserving this diminishing feature of the country’s natural landscape. The Coronation Meadows, created by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2013 with the aim of reversing the loss of these naturally occurring meadows, were beautifully captured by Hugo.

Hugo Rittson Thomas is one of the world’s leading portrait photographers. He started his career in the art world, studying at Central St Martins and Goldsmiths, University of London. He photographed Her Majesty the Queen, the Duke of Cambridge, the Duchess of Cornwall and Prime Minister David Cameron for his book The Queen’s People (2016). Other notable portraits include the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, for the Sunday Times. Channelling his expert skills into photographing the flora and fauna of the Coronation Meadows, Hugo captured these breathtaking landscapes to share with readers far and wide.

With aspirations to self-publish and to maintain creative control of the project, Hugo decided to combine forces with whitefox, pairing his marketing ideas and his enormous commitment to the book’s success with whitefox’s expert services in editorial, design, project management, consultancy, sales, print and distribution.

Photo by Hugo Rittson Thomas in Wildflowers for the Queen
Photo by Hugo Rittson Thomas in Wildflowers for the Queen

The solution

whitefox worked closely with Hugo throughout to create this bespoke illustrated project, managing all stages of the publishing process. The team’s editorial and design work made the elegance and artistry that Hugo had envisioned for his book into a reality. And, drawing from their vast pool of professional contacts, the team matched Hugo with an excellent publicist whose expertise was a perfect fit, ensuring the success of Wildflowers’ ambitious publicity plan.

Hugo’s dedicated investment in the project’s publicity enabled a highly strategic, multi-pronged media push. The most effective part of the plan was its timing, set in motion long before the book’s publication date to secure press coverage from numerous media outlets – in print, online and on the airwaves. The aim was to build up an audience of customers ready to pre-order the book as soon as it was made available.

Photo by Hugo Rittson Thomas in Wildflowers for the Queen

The result

Reviews of the book have appeared in several publications including Gardens Illustrated, the Guardian and the Daily Mail, and an extract of the book was published in Country Life, garnering it considerable attention. Post-publication publicity has helped push the book further up the charts. There is also more press coverage to come in numerous media outlets, including the Sunday Times, the Daily Telegraph, the Guardian, BBC Radio 4’s Today, Gardeners’ World, Tatler, Gardens Illustrated and many more.

Wildflowers has received praise from countless prominent figures including actor Richard E. Grant, who said of the book, ‘Anyone with a passion for wildflowers, as do I, will love this astonishing book which beautifully captures the meadows that have survived, been restored and are a template for what can be done to cultivate and ensure their future.’

whitefox’s work in the areas of sales and distribution, combined with the book’s comprehensive publicity plan, led to an exceptionally high pre-order level ranging in the thousands on Amazon. This pushed Wildflowers into the top-200 books across all sections – a rare and extraordinary achievement for any author, whether traditionally or non-traditionally published.

Hugo’s pre-sale success shows the value of utilising professional publishing services for authors who want to create successful, high-quality books while also maintaining creative control of their work. whitefox’s expertise at all stages of the process helped turn Hugo’s vision into a reality.

Also, the investment in the right areas of marketing and publicity from an early stage, as well as a partnership with the right publicist for the job, paid off enormously. This strategy generated readers’ interest and established a solid base of customers who were eager to order the book long before its release. And it helped Hugo achieve something that is highly coveted by authors of all kinds: breaking into Amazon’s top-200 list and becoming a bestseller upon publication.

Country Life's cover featuring Wildflowers for the Queen
Tatler's coverage of Wildflowers for the Queen
The Guardian's coverage of Wildflowers for the Queen
Page from Gardens Illustrated featuring a review of Wildflowers for the Queen
Hannah Bickerton
Hannah Bickerton
Hannah has worked in marketing for nine years, specialising in strategy development for start-ups and EdTech companies. Having recently jumped across industries to join the Whitefox team, Hannah isn’t a complete stranger to the publishing world with previous employment at Macmillan and TES Global. She is now dedicated to ensuring that anyone who has something interesting to say knows all about whitefox.