Beckham and Madonna put the 'sell' back into celebrity books

Together, they have made this weekend one of the most sensational in publishing history. With millions of advance orders for each of their books and multiple print runs already planned, Madonna and David Beckham have challenged the widely held belief that celebrity writers don't make a profit.

Now publishers are drawing up wish-lists of the stars they would like to sign up next in an effort to replicate the "Madge and Becks factor". Bill Clinton, Sir Elton John and Alastair Campbell are among the handful of figures believed to have the necessary international appeal.

Though wildly different in nature, both Madonna's children's picture book, The English Roses, and Beckham's ghost-written autobiography, David Beckham: My Side, look certain to ride high in the bestseller charts for months. In a bullish show of confidence, their publishers, Penguin and HarperCollins respectively, paid the stars seven-figure advances and ordered initial print runs of more than a million apiece.

It appears to have paid off. Madonna's children's book, though not even published until tomorrow, is already into its third print run.

Meanwhile, buoyed by its recent serialisation in The Sun and The News of the World, My Side is also having to be hastily reprinted. As a satisfied-looking Beckham clasped a copy at its official launch in Madrid on Friday, queues were already forming at bookstores in cities from London to Tokyo - where he and his wife, Victoria, are idolised.

The phenomenal success of the two titles appears to give the lie, once and for all, to the notion that celebrity books don't sell in their own right.

Only last year, the celebrity autobiography was being roundly written off as a lost cause by the trade press. Scandalous revelations in the memoirs of former Conservative minister Edwina Currie and television presenter Ulrika Jonsson translated into huge sales for the newspapers that serialised them, but the books themselves failed to set the world alight.

To Michael Doggart, publishing director at HarperCollins, the reasons why some celebrities sell and others don't are simple.

Beckham and Madonna are guaranteed to shift copies, he says, because both have international profiles and are widely seen as role models.

"The thing about Beckham is that you have so many potential markets in which he can sell," Mr Doggart said. "You've got the newspaper serialisation and a major market in Japan, where he and Victoria are adored."

For Helen Fraser, managing director of Penguin, the qualities of Madonna's book, inspired by the Hebrew Kabbalah philosophy, were distinct from those of most star-penned titles. She insists the megastar won her over with the strength of her writing and imagination.

"We knew they were stories by Madonna, but we bought them because we thought they were good," she said.

* The Independent on Sunday's literary editor, Suzi Feay, gives her assessment: On David Beckham: My Side, she says: "In the end, the book's about a man who has a supernatural talent for kicking a ball and a woman who has a supernatural talent for wearing a basque. It's one of the charms of this book that after reading it, you can't help but think: God bless 'em."

On the spiritual flavour of The English Roses: "In her latest venture, Madonna is smart enough to align herself alongside WB Yeats, Zadie Smith and Borges, three writers who have found inspiration in this mystical - and fiendishly hard to comprehend - doctrine."

Publishers' VIP dream team

Sir Elton John

Why he's so hot: Has had a colourful career and personal life for 30 years.

What we'd like to read: The truth about his marriage and his spending sprees.

What we'd be likely to read: His celebrity chums and celebrity fancy dress parties.

Tom Cruise

Why he's so hot: At 41, he's still one of Hollywood's most bankable idols.

What we'd like to read: His marriage to Kidman, his fling with Cruz.

What we'd be likely to read: How Scientology saved his life, and how he has no insecurities about his height.

Bill Clinton

Why he's so hot: Still one of the world's most popular public figures.

What we'd like to read: About when Hillary nearly left, and Monica Lewinsky.

What we'd be likely to read: His unbending admiration for Tony Blair, his undying love for Hillary.

Alastair Campbell

Why he's so hot: The row with the BBC has given him a huge profile.

What we'd like to read: What he really thinks about Tony Blair and Cherie.

What we'd be likely to read: He's a pussycat (at heart), he's a socialist (at heart).

Michael Jackson

Why he's so hot: His bizarre private life makes for compulsive gossip.

What we'd like to read: About his marriages, those allegations and that face.

What we'd be likely to read: About skin disease and being deeply misunderstood.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright has won The Apprentice 2014
tvThe Apprentice 2014 final
Arts and Entertainment
X Factor winner Ben Haenow has scored his first Christmas number one
music
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
news
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special
tv
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
News
Claudia Winkleman and co-host Tess Daly at the Strictly Come Dancing final
people
Extras
indybest
News
peopleLiam Williams posted photo of himself dressed as Wilfried Bony
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

Ashdown Group: Analyst Programmer (Filemaker Pro/ SQL) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days, pension, private medical : Ashdown Group: A highly...

Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chessington

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Service Desk Analyst - Chessington, Surrey...

Charter Selection: Graphic Designer, Guildford

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Charter Selection: This renowned and well establish...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick