Inflated & talentless (not you, Jordan, you're worth it)

Publishers regret big-name signings whose books are expensive flops

As the publishers waved their chequebooks, the line-up of actors, pop stars, sportsmen and politicians must have seemed irresistibly bankable. Now they are counting the cost after this summer's push of celebrity stories turned into some of publishing's most expensive flops.

After shelling out for deals worth up to £1m to buy into the celebrity memoir market, many have seen little more than a trickle of sales. Among the disasters is former Home Secretary David Blunkett, who has shifted little over 1,000 copies of his book in the three weeks since publication, despite a deal worth £400,000.

The actor Rupert Everett, whose book had a £1m price tag, has sold only 15,000 copies of his memoir, Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins. Ashley Cole's book, My Defence, has shifted only about 4,000 copies in the six weeks since it was published, in a deal worth £250,000. It makes the 37,000 sales of Wayne Rooney's book look like a triumph - until you bear in mind his deal is worth in the region of £4m for five books over the next 12 years.

The industry is desperately trying to plug into the appetite for celebrity memoirs after the unlikely publishing phenomenon of Jordan who sold 900,000 copies of her book, Being Jordan. Her publisher offered a £10,000 deal after other firms turned it down, but it is now a saturated market with about 60 new titles battling for a share of the market.

"The problem is over-publishing. Across the board, books are suffering," said David Wilson, editorial director of Headline, which published Cole's book. "They are not getting the shelf space in the shops. There are just too many celebrity books out there - and a lot of the major sports memoirs are basically celebrity books too. A few rise to the top, but you can never predict which they will be."

England's quarter-final departure from the World Cup was partly to blame for Rooney's poor showing, according to his publisher Michael Doggart of HarperSport, said: "When Wayne's book came out, people were still very disappointed with how England had played. If we'd have done well they would have been more likely to buy a book about it."

The biggest success in the football world is currently Steven Gerrard, who has now shifted 90,000 copies, in half the time that Rooney achieved his sales.

Publishing commentator Danuta Kean said that for many publishers, celebrity memoirs were something of a loss leader; it was important to show they were in the market for such books when other authors come along. "When HarperCollins paid huge amounts to Jade Goody it put down a marker to show that it would be interested in these celebrities," she said. "With Blunkett, it showed that Bloomsbury is in the market for big political books."

To earn back a £1m advance, publishers would need to sell at least 300,000 copies of a £20 hardback. But many publishers can take comfort from the money they make from the serialisation of bigger books. Ms Kean said: "Publishers may make some dodgy judgements but they can do the maths and know how to operate in a tough market."

THE FLOPS

Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney: My Story So Far

DEAL: £4m for five books

SALES: 35,000 (published 27 July)

EXTRACT: "I was aware that my foot had landed between his legs... but it was an accident. I'll go to my grave and still maintain it was a complete accident."

David Blunkett

The Blunkett Tapes

DEAL: £400,000

SALES: 1,000 (published 16 Oct)

EXTRACT: "The reader will make his or her judgement regarding the part I played in my own downfall - and also... regarding my contribution to making a difference."

Ashley Cole

My Defence

DEAL: £250,000

SALES: 4,000 (published 21 Sept)

EXTRACT: "My love for Arsenal was soured by what I see as neglect and resentment... The truth is, I felt that Arsenal had done jack-shit... to hold on to me."

Chantelle

Living the Dream

DEAL: £300,000

SALES: 4,000 (published 26 Oct)

EXTRACT: "I paused at the top of the steps... Behind me was an eerie quietness, a deserted house, which for three weeks had been home."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Madame Vastra and Jenny Flint kiss in Doctor Who episode 'Deep Breath'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Steve Carell in the poster for new film 'Foxcatcher'
filmExclusive: First look at comic actor in first major serious role
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Kingston Road in Stockton is being filmed for the second series of Benefits Street
arts + entsFilming for Channel 4 has begun despite local complaints
Arts and Entertainment
Led Zeppelin

music
Arts and Entertainment
Radio presenter Scott Mills will be hitting the Strictly Come Dancing ballroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce performs in front of a Feminist sign at the MTV VMAs 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus has taken home the prize for Video of the Year at the MTV Video Music Awards 2014

music
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Paige and Scott Lowell in Queer as Folk (Season 5)
tvA batch of shows that 'wouldn't get past a US network' could give tofu sales an unexpected lift
Arts and Entertainment
books... but seller will be hoping for more
Arts and Entertainment
John Kearns winner of the Foster's Edinburgh Comedy Award with last years winners: Bridget Christie and Frank Skinner
comedyJohn Kearns becomes the first Free Fringe act to win the top prize
Arts and Entertainment
Professor Sue Vice
booksAcademic says we should not disregard books because they unexpectedly change genre
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Muscato performs as Michael Crawford in Stars in Their Eyes

TV
Arts and Entertainment
‘Game of Thrones’

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Miley Cyrus brought her Bangerz tour to London's O2 Arena last night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
film
Arts and Entertainment
Novelist Martin Amis at The Times Cheltenham Literature Festival

books
Arts and Entertainment
Alfred Molina, left, and John Lithgow in a scene from 'Love Is Strange'

After giving gay film R-rating despite no sex or violence

film
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
    Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

    How bosses are making us work harder

    As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
    Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

    Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

    As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
    Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

    A tale of two writers

    Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
    Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

    Should pupils get a lie in?

    Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
    Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

    Prepare for Jewish jokes...

    ... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    10 best cycling bags for commuters

    Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
    Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

    Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

    A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
    Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

    The science of herding is cracked

    Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
    Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

    This tyrant doesn’t rule

    It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
    Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

    From strung out to playing strings

    Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
    The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

    A big fat surprise about nutrition?

    The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
    Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

    Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

    The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins