Abi Morgan is a BAFTA and Emmy award-winning playwright and screenwriter whose credits include The Iron Lady, Suffragette, Sex Traffic, The Hour, Brick Lane and Shame. She is the creator and writer of the BBC drama, The Split. This is Not a Pity Memoir is Abi’s first book.
During the writing of the second series of The Split, scriptwriter Abi’s partner Jacob collapsed on their bathroom floor, spending months in a coma, before eventually waking with no awareness of who Abi was. Just months later, Abi was diagnosed with breast cancer. Their lives, and those of their two teenage children, would never be the same again.
However, as the title suggests, this isn’t a ‘pity memoir’. Beautifully written with mind-blowing honesty, humour and hope, the book held the power to connect with a broad audience including families and fans of Abi’s work, but particularly with women juggling careers and family life. Abi’s story shows that despite award-winning success, nothing matters more than love and family.
A devastatingly honest and personal book, This Is Not A Pity Memoir needed a sensitive and impactful campaign that would make the most of Abi’s incredible storytelling skills and contacts. We wanted to create a Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller but not at the expense of Abi and her family’s wellbeing, so throughout, we only worked with trusted interviewers and experienced, empathetic journalists to ensure her story would be treated with care.
The campaign launched six months ahead of publication with early quotes secured from Meryl Streep, Carey Mulligan, David Nicholls, Pandora Sykes, Caitlin Moran and Kit de Waal amongst others. This helped reinforce Abi’s unique voice and drive initial interest and retail support. The book featured in multiple ‘Books to Look out for in 2023’ lists across national print media, and on BBC online, activating pre-orders and additional Waterstones retail support.
Raising awareness of the work of the National Brain Appeal, the charity central to Jacob’s continued recovery, was also key and we supported their work with a public-facing launch event at the Royal Court. We saw an opportunity to use Abi’s TV connections to attract non-traditional readers and key coverage included mention of The Split but remained focused on Abi and her story. We liaised with the production team’s PR company to involve the show’s talent in promoting the book, with Fiona Button reading extracts at the Royal Court event and Nicola Walker reading the audio for BBC Sounds.
Securing the right media coverage was essential to creating a bestseller. We sold first serialization rights to the Sunday Times Magazine, with first interview appearing in The Observer and additional features and interviews appearing in Red, Good Housekeeping, Radio Times, Big Issue, iWeekend and the Irish Independent Magazine. Broadcast interviews included BBC Breakfast, R4 Woman’s Hour, R5 Nihal Arthanayake, Graham Norton on Virgin Radio, Bryony Gordon’s Mad World, Dermot O’Leary’s ‘People’ podcast and Sam Baker’s ‘The Shift’ amongst others, with a BBC Sounds serialization at publication and R4 Book of the Week two months later.
RESULTS: The book spiked on Amazon as each piece of coverage hit, with No.1 flags across multiple categories and a No.3 across all books on the eve of publication. We secured a Sunday Times Top 10 bestseller position in the week of publication and our campaign was shortlisted for the Publishers’ Publicity Circle Awards Non-Fiction Campaign of the Year 2023.
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