Publishers are lining up to reveal the six-figure advances they are giving hot new authors.
Sunday June 15 2008
EVERY book published these days has to come with a story to attract fickle readers' attention: 'International Bestseller' flashed across the front cover, or, "Soon to be a major motion picture". Now, in a market which has increasingly come to resemble the Premiership, the advance which a publisher has paid for a book has become an integral part of the story.
Once, advances were cloaked in secrecy, whispered about in the trade papers only, but now publishers are queuing up to tell us just how much they paid for their latest new find, particularly if they can say the magic words "substantial six-figure sum." But what lies behind the headlines of a big advance? Is it a carefully calibrated sales forecast that will bring the publisher and author untold riches, or a mad gamble of the kind you would normally only see in Las Vegas? And what exactly are publishers paying all that money for?
The latest deal to make the headlines is that of newcomer Matt Hilton, plucked from obscurity as a bobby in Cumbria, England, to secure a whopping £800,000 advance on the strength of his crime novel, Dead Man's Dust. This advance attracted plenty of media interest, and came with the usual good story: Hilton's agent, Luigi Bonomi of LBA, admitted that the novel had been rescued from the slush pile -- the rather undignified name for unsolicited manuscripts -- by his wife.