Sunday, December 31, 2006


Here's some interesting figures I picked up. The first figure is the advance paid out, the second is the number of books each sleb has actually sold:

Dave Blunkett -- £400,000 -- 2,000
Gary Barlow -- £1,000,000 -- 50,000
Johnson Beharry -- £1,000,000 -- 20,000
Rupert Everett -- £1,000,000 -- 20,000
Ashley Cole -- £250,000 -- 4,000
Michael Barrymore -- £300,000 -- 5,000
Chantelle -- £400,000 -- under 5,000
Shayne Ward -- £200,000 -- under 5,000

I'm sure with a little more digging I could unearth some more emabarrassingly huge advance/book sales gaps. Whilst there's little doubt that the British public have an insatiable appetite for sleb biogs and magazine-styled tittle-tattle, it's getting very clear that publishers are more often than not losing money - hand over fist - on a lot of these high-profile deals.

Whilst I'm unlikely to mourn for publishers- after all, they're grown ups, they know what they're doing - it does annoy me that they can allow themselves to be fleeced so obviously. I have visions of some naive, vulnerable young schoolboy being mugged for his lunch money when I hear of yet another superheated auction over some Big Brother contestant's biography.

It annoys me because the huge dent that a really duff sleb biography deal puts in a publishers' profit curve can mean a tightening of belts; less money to spend on finding new talent, less money available to market midlist authors.

Yes...I'm biased, I have an agenda, of course I do. I'm a new author. The future of my career is as uncertain as anything - depending pretty much on the sales of my debut novel. Luckily the early signs are good, thus far. But life as a writer would be far less uncertain if huge wads of cash weren't being haemoraged on flavour-of-the-month sleb biography deals.

I could moan all day on this subject you know. I could whinge about how a bubble-headed sleb's passing whim to write one of those 'book thingys' means food taken from a dedicated writer's plate. I could jibber on about the insatiable greed of celebs, having made their millions acting, singing, dancing or whatever - seeking to squeeze another trunkful of easy-money out of the book world...but I'll refrain.

Just say this though. It's sort of reassuring to know that so far my debut hardback has outsold five names on that list above; and that's without any poster campaign, front of store promotion, three-for-two deals, or anyone even knowing my name.

I say that not to sound cocky, (ahem...actually, reading that back to myself, it does sound a little cocky) but to help illustrate the point that a humble unknown writer like me can be a far better return on investment to a publisher than some dittohead sleb taking a final bite at the apple on their way down to z-list status, and eventual anonymity.


Anonymous said...

Oh how true, Alex. Those books are written for idiots, and commissioned by bigger idiots who think the name on the cover will guarantee sales.

parmenion said...

I dont think its cocky, i'd be going ape too if i were you.

How can the publisher get away with paying this much money for books that dont sell, are they not accountable to anyone??

AndyC said...

they must be accountable but probably not to the other authors on their books (pardon the pun).

There is one major difference on the sales gap front......Talent! Maybe Al has sold much more cause he more talented???? hehe

sleb biogs dont interest me, specially the ones who do a book, cause the were a footballer, so bl**dy what!
I'd rather read the biogs from the likes of Spike Milligan, Pythons, etc etc, ground breaking people. not a bunch of Z-listers who have no place filling up the shelves with books that would be worth more recycled!

mike chester said...

The big problem came with Katie Price's book - Being Jordan.

She received a 10K advance for this yet it sold over a million. There's gold in dem dere hills if you get the right sleb with the right amount of revelations to make.

parmenion said...

there were 1 million idiots willing to buy that!!

Dad said...

quite right Al (see I didn't call you Ralph), virtually all the sleb books are really boring junk. Why not publish really interesting lives such as "Fine Things to be Seen'?