From PR experimenting to published author

Fourteen Forty consultant Gareth Streeter began blogging just to get a feel for how PRs interact with influencers.  He ended up with 60,000 followers and a publishing contract. Here’s how it happened.

It all started with a blog.

Throughout most of the 2000s, PR agencies did their best to ignore the rise of social media.  But by about 2010, we seemed to collectively decide that it was time to take it seriously.

By this stage, I was 28 years old.  Positively middle-aged by agency standards.  Older colleagues were looking to me and my peers to help create a step-change in our digital know-how.   But I was already concerned that I was too old a dog to learn a new trick.

Like so many, I learn best by doing.  I decided that if I was going to have a crack at reaching bloggers (did we call them ‘influencers’ back then?) I would need to dip my toe in the water.  So I decided to have a crack at launching my own blog.

My first attempt was too niche to attract a substantial audience.  My second was too broad.  But as I started to get tapped up by PR people for book reviews and the occasional event invite, I was finally getting a taste for the ‘influencer experience.’  And more than anything, I realised just how much I enjoyed projecting my thoughts out onto the blogsphere.

Several years later, I decided it was time to really make a go of it.  I launched ‘Royal History Geeks’ in 2016, a blog and ‘social media experience’ that focused on one of my major passions: the Kings and Queens of England and Britain.

I quickly gained thousands of followers.  While I believed at first that I would run a blog amplified by social media, it soon became clear that this was an old-fashioned mindset.  A more fruitful approach was to think of it as a social media experience supplemented with the occasional blog post.

Royal History Geeks trickled along for a few years.  But I was preoccupied with work and other activities.  Rarely could I give it the attention it deserved.  And then the pandemic happened. 

With my friends and family denied my company, I found extra time to put digital pen to paper.  Global social distancing measures grew more stringent.  Social media engagement went through the roof.  Within a couple of months my thousands of followers had morphed into tens of thousands.  Today, I can boast over 60,000 followers across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

The surge in interest took me by surprise.  But it was nothing compared to my shock when an email appeared in my inbox in March 2021.  It contained an approach from a commissioning editor Pen&Sword.  This is a publishing house known for producing a decent range of history titles.  It said that they were looking for an author to write a book about Arthur, Prince of Wales – the oft-forgotten older brother of the infamous Tudor King, Henry VIII.  Was I interested?  I was.

To many, Arthur Tudor is an entirely lost Prince.  Many have never heard of him.  Those with a little more knowledge of the Tudors will know that it was Arthur, not Henry, who was the eldest son.  Had it not been for the boy’s premature death at the age of 15, Henry VIII would never have become King, changing the course of European history forever.  A major cause of the English reformation was Henry’s decision to divorce his first wife and marry Anne Boleyn.  So had Arthur lived, England may never have broken with Rome.  Or if it did, the circumstances would have been markedly different.

When approaching this book, I wanted to treat Arthur as more than a “what if”.  As I started to delve into his story, a serious, determined boy emerged.  Though sent away from his family at a young age, he seems to have enjoyed a more intimate relationship with his parents than I initially suspected.  As he grew, there are signs that he attempted to assert his own influence on affairs and was petitioned by courtiers for his influence and patronage. 

This whole experiment began as a piece of continued professional development.  It ended up with a book commission.  And it is also my PR career – or the current expression of it – that gave me the flexibility to make it happen.  As a freelance Fourteen Forty consultant, I was able to introduce some flexibility into my working week.  This enables me to spend some time writing, without having to quit my day job.  While not impossible in a traditional agency set up, this would have felt like a bigger obstacle to climb.  In that context, I may never have taken the step. 

Arthur, Prince of Wales: Henry VIII’s lost brother, was released in May.  I’ve managed to hit the top spot on a few of the Amazon book charts.  I’m now busy working on my second book, which should be out in 2025.

If you would like to pick up a copy, you can do so on Amazon, direct from Pen&Sword or wherever you buy your books.

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