Inside publishing: YOU'RE BOOKED!

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The Independent Online
AS yet, there's no sign of John Major hawking his memoirs around town though, when finally he decides to put pen to paper, an agent is waiting in the wings. Andrew Lownie, who harboured political ambitions of his own before throwing in his lot with the more moral world of publishing, has long represented Mrs M and let it be known that he'd be happy to handle her husband. In due course, no doubt.

However, another former prime minister has just sold his memoirs. Again. Sir Edward Heath long ago succumbed to the blandishments of Lord Weidenfeld but found writing the book rather more difficult than signing the contract. He once rashly vowed to publish ahead of Margaret Thatcher but lost heart and opted instead for the last word. The contract with Weidenfeld has long since lapsed and last week the octogenarian backbencher signed afresh with Hodder & Stoughton, part of Hodder Headline, whose chief executive, Tim Hely Hutchinson, has never been suspected of New Labour tendencies.

It seems that, between hurling brickbats at the organisers of the Tory election campaign and pressing the flesh in his constituency, Heath was auditioning possible publishers, this time with the help of literary agent Michael Sissons. A detailed outline was circulated and various brave publishers put offers on the table.

Whether it was the money or the editorial skills of Roland Philipps, a carriage-trade publisher who has worked with the likes of Lord Jenkins and Baroness Castle, that led him to Hodder isn't clear but it's rumoured that around pounds 300,000 has changed hands. For that, Sir Edward has promised to deliver a lengthy and complete manuscript by early '98, thus enabling Hodder to publish during the conference season.

While Heath will doubtless have his eye on posterity, producing a suitably weighty and serious appraisal of post-war British politics, he's also sure to set the record straight, at least as he sees it. Contrary to public appearances, the old curmudgeon has a great sense of humour and his account of the Thatcher years promises to be lively.

IT'S JUST as well for Sir Edward that Hodder haS stumped up some serious cash. For another of his publishers has just gone into receivership. Scarcely had Pavilion Books published their new edition of Heath's 1976 book, Music: A Joy for Life, when their bankers pulled the plug. Collins & Brown moved swiftly to buy the assets for the knock-down price of pounds 875,000 but that leaves in excess of pounds 4m. Around half of that is owed to printers but Pavilion authors will also lose out. In addition to Heath, a number of glossy names can no longer look forward to a royalty cheque, among them media chef Antonio Carluccio, Classic FM's Michael Barry, model Kate Moss, Sheridan Morley, Terry Jones, Viscount Linley and Lucinda Lambton, whose book, Temples of Convenience, provides an appropriate metaphor for Pavilion's demise. Down the pan, so to speak.

It's a sad end for a company that began 15 years ago, when Michael Parkinson and Sir Tim Rice counted out pounds 35,000 to enable their publisher, Colin Webb - then at Weidenfeld - to set up on his own. Pavilion was aiming for the stock market and a couple of years ago raised an additional pounds 1.7m to fund expansion plans. A victim, then, of the recession and its own ambition.

FOLLOWING Random House's purchase of Reed Consumer Books, authors with non-assignment clauses in their contract - a ruse to stop them being bought and sold like footballers - have to decide whether to stay or go. Lawrence Norfolk, author of Lempriere's Dictionary and The Pope's Rhinoceros, last month quit to follow his editor to Sceptre. Now all the signs are that Michael Ridpath, whose debut, Free to Trade, received an unexpected promotional boost from the collapse of Barings, will follow his editor to Penguin. No one is prepared to say anything just yet but Ridpath's next novel, The Market Maker, is unlikely to bear the Heinemann imprimatur.

INCREDIBLY, August marks the twentieth anniversary of Elvis Presley's death. You'd have thought by now that everyone who knew him, and dozens who didn't, would have had their say. It appears not, for a memoir by Elvis's teenage sweetheart June Juanico has recently been discovered. The couple enjoyed a blissful few months before fame and Colonel Parker drove them apart. Peter Guralnick interviewed her for his study, Last Train to Memphis, and had not a sharp-eyed editor spotted a reference to her unpublished memoir, she might have remained a footnote for ever. It seems Juanico had intended one day to publish it privately, for the benefit of friends and family. Now, her tasteful and touching story, Elvis: In the Twilight of Memory, is due to be published by Little, Brown in August.