The Literator; INSIDE PUBLISHING

God - or to be more accurate, the Bible - has competition: the blockbuster author Sidney Sheldon was last week inducted in to The Guinness Book of World Records as the world's most translated author. Fortunately, HarperCollins publish both, as its chief executive, Eddie Bell, pointed out over champagne and canapes at the Dorchester, where the music was provided by a string quartet with dodgy intonation and, later, a Paraguayan trio - a form of music for which Sheldon and his wife, Alexandra, have a particular penchant.

Sheldon - a winner of an Oscar, a Tony and an Edgar (the latter from the Mystery Writers of America) - began his writing career in the screen trade, working first at Universal for $17 a week. After doing his patriotic duty in the USAF, he quit Hollywood for New York, where, aged 25, he had three musicals playing simultaneously and gave Kirk Douglas his break in Alice in Arms. Back on the Coast, he wrote 25 films, including Easter Parade, Annie Get Your Gun and Anything Goes, before joining the fledgling television industry.

Books didn't beckon until the 1970s, and despite his multimedia successes five publishers turned down his debut novel, The Naked Face, later named by the New York Times as the year's best first mystery. Each of his 13 subsequent novels has been a bestseller and it's estimated that Sheldon has sold 275 million books in 180 countries in 56 languages, including Russian, Turkish, Korean, Greek, Hebrew and Indonesian. Eat your heart out, Jeffrey Archer.

Is Marcella Bernstein setting an unwelcome - unwelcome for publishers, that is - precedent? The author of Body and Soul, published by Mandarin, is suing Reed for alleged "lost" royalties. She claims that Reed, which owned Mandarin (and a host of other imprints) until earlier this year, when they sold to Random House, failed to promote the television tie-in of the book "well enough". Reed denies the charge, which could lead to an interesting court case hinging on the issue of what constitutes "well enough". Since publishers rarely bother to sell any book "well enough", a win for Bernstein would see the courts jammed for years.

my attention is drawn to two forthcoming forums hosted by the Society of Authors. On 1 July, a rerun of a discussion that was a sell-out last year. The subject? "The Incompetence of Publishers." At the Royal Society on 16 September, another thorny question: "How much of your soul should you sell?" The discussion is followed by a "fork buffet". What - no knives?

Gone With the Wind, Rebecca, Dr Zhivago, The Forsyte Saga, Pride and Prejudice, Emma ... all have spawned sequels, with Scarlet, the sequel to Margaret Mitchell's classic, itself spawning a sequel and Emma prompting two rather different sequels.

Now news that Michael Walsh, a Time contributor and author of several music books, including a biography of Lord Lloyd-Webber, is at work on a sequel to Casablanca, the 1942 film classic based on a Murray Burnett/Joan Alison play, Everybody Comes to Rick's. The Walsh opus has been commissioned by Warner Books in New York, part of the Time-Warner media giant, which made it nice and easy for publisher Maureen Egen to acquire rights in a sequel from the studio. Indeed, the novel is likely to become the basis for another Warner Bros movie, or at least a TV mini-series. No word yet on a British publisher, but As Time Goes By, as it will be titled, is scheduled in the US for next year. Play it again, Sam.

Bookish surfers of the Internet might like to check out two new Websites. Poems on the Underground, one of the decade's most successful "brands" - the Cassell anthology has sold more than 200,000 copies and is in its sixth edition - now has its own site at www.netpoems.com.

And doughty independent publisher Serpent's Tail, whose list includes Bill Clinton's favourite crime writer, Walter Mosley, has launched a "Lonely Heads" page. Just answer a few simple questions and Serpent's Tail will match you up with your ideal bedtime partner ... a book. Among the features: literary gossip, a book of the month feature, prize draws and a catalogue database. "Reading - it's the new sex" the publisher claims. Try it and see on www.Serpentstail.comn

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Fans line up at the AVNs, straining to capture a photo of their favourite star
life Tim Walker asks how much longer it can flesh out an existence
Life and Style
Every minute of every day, Twitter is awash with anger as we seek to let these organisations know precisely what we think of them
techWhen it comes to vitriol, no one on attracts our ire more than big businesses offering bad service
News
Professor David Nutt wants to change the way gravely ill patients are treated in Britain
people Why does a former Government tsar believe that mind-altering drugs have a place on prescription?
News
Norway’s ‘The Nordland Line – Minute by Minute, Season by Season’ continues the trend of slow TV
television
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
art
Sport
Jonny Evans has pleaded not guilty to an FA charge for spitting at Papiss Cisse
football
Life and Style
Kate Moss will make a cameo appearance in David Walliams' The Boy in the Dress
fashion
News
The image released by the Salvation Army, using 'The Dress'
news
Sport
Liverpool defender Kolo Toure
football Defender could make history in the FA Cup, but African Cup of Nations win means he's already content
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: Digital Marketing Executive - West London - £35,000

£28000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A luxury fashion retailer based in W...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer / Front-End Designer - City of London

£27000 - £33000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End Devel...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger & Credit Control Assistant

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Ledger & Credit Control...

Recruitment Genius: Junior PHP Web Developer

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable