Okay, I’m not really bitter. I’m actually quite sweet (I’d offer to let you suck me and see, but I’m sure it would be misconstrued by the filthy-minded among us — of which there are many ) I have not a bitter bone in my body. I’m happy for the success of other people, I like to see them get on and make a good life for themselves — and I certainly don’t hate people for succeeding where I have, thus far, failed.
But what in the name of all that’s sacred is this about?!
“Film and TV actor Simon Pegg has signed a publishing deal worth seven figures to write three non-fiction books.”
My own personal impression of this gentleman aside (I think he’s about as funny as a colostomy), this still rubs me up the wrong way. I can’t blame him for biting their hands off, who the hell wouldn’t? And, yes, it’s nothing really new. Publishing has liked celebrity for quite a long time. But as I have said before, these guys probably don’t have longevity where writing (if it can be called that) is concerned. The third book in the three book deal is intended to be “a highly illustrated, lavishly-produced title”, which is probably publisherspeak for “something with which the ‘author’ doesn’t have to be too involved”. This suggests to me quite strongly that they realise this is possibly a short-term scenario, that Mr Pegg is already running out of material.
Which is fine. They’ll make the advance back and possibly a huge chunk of profit to boot, and then move onto the next questionable “big thing”. I don’t really mind except for one thing…
Noncelebrity authors in the current climate — hell, in any climate — seldom command these kind of seven-figure deals. And I don’t just mean first time authors. Many well-established literary figures (and I include genre writers in this) could never dream of demanding such sums, even though they could probably, with the right marketing, achieve equally impressive or even superior sales figures — especially in the long term. They don’t command these figures and, more to the point, the vast majority don’t even come close! I have no solid idea of what the average advance might be, and I certainly don’t want to guess, but I would be surprised if the average, based on writers I know, was even into five figures.
That’s a huge difference. The real “professionals” within the industry, the people who write as a job rather than a sideline, are being well and truly shafted, in my opinion. I don’t think it’s even good enough to say, “Well, yes, but the celebrities guarantee a quick big profit.” It’s true. They do. But let the book prove its worth before throwing ridiculous advances against royalties at celebrity authors. Drop the advances of these books and show a little more commitment to the writers who go down to the coalface every day by upping their advances somewhat.
I mean, for crying out loud, he hasn’t even got a title for his memoir, yet!
© 2008 Gary William Murning