The Literator: Inside Publishing

Beginners' luck

Does size count? We are talking advances here. The year is not yet a quarter done and the list of authors whose first novels have been sold for the proverbial "good six figures" is growing apace. The most recent recipient of a publisher's largesse is 20-year-old Richard Mason, whose first two novels last week went to Tom Weldon at Michael Joseph for a cool pounds 250,000. Publication of the first, The Drowning People has to be carefully scheduled for the Easter vacation because it is assumed that Craig Raine, his Oxford tutor, would not take kindly to time out for promotion work.

Mason is not the youngest young novelist to hit it rich: a couple of years back, Jenn Crowell, 17, and then still at high school in Virginia, saw her debut, Necessary Madness fought over by publishers in Britain and America. Most critics agreed that Crowell lived up to the hype.

Such high-price acquisitions also carry with them a high risk for, if the book fails, the publisher loses money and an author's career is a failure before it's begun. However creative the accounting, a pounds 250,000 book needs to sell a great many copies if anyone is to make any money. As with houses prices, an author and his book are, broadly speaking, worth whatever a literary agent on 10 per cent decides they're worth and, if the market is currently overheating part of the problem is a publishers' desire to have some of what a rival house is doing so well with. Thus, back in January, Random House paid pounds 270,000 for Come Together, a collaborative novel by Emlyn Rees and Josie Lloyd largely on the grounds that it could be summed up as "Bridget Jones meets Nick Hornby at a party given by the cast of This Life". Derivative or what?

Time will tell. In the meantime, we can see whether Irish author Cathy Kelly's Headline debut with Woman to Woman, due next month, emulates the success of her Penguin compatriot, Marian Keyes (both deals were for more than pounds 250,000) and whether Robert Mawson's The Lazarus Child (cost: pounds 420,000), due from Bantam Press in May, lives up to the hype - not to mention the size of their advances.

Stuart Proffitt - An Apology

In the Literator (2 March) we reported a number of critical suggestions about Stuart Proffitt, until recently Publisher of HarperCollins' Trade Division, which we now acknowledge are untrue. It was suggested that Stuart Proffitt "had to be placated with a similar title" after Malcolm Edwards was given additional management responsibilities, whereas in fact Mr Proffitt neither demanded nor received any new title as a result of Malcolm Edwards' change of duties. Far from objecting to the promotion of Nick Sayers as we reported, Mr Proffitt had vigorously and wholeheartedly argued for it. We apologise unreservedly to Mr Proffitt and to his friends.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Guru Careers: Senior Account Manager / SAM

£30 - 35k: Guru Careers: A Senior Account Manager / SAM is needed to join the ...

Guru Careers: Management Accountant

£27 - 35k + Bonus + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Management Accountant is needed ...

Guru Careers: Recruitment Resourcer / Recruitment Account Manager

£20 - 25k + Bonus: Guru Careers: Are you a Recruitment Consultant looking to m...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power