Captain Moonlight: Book money

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FINISH this first, of course, but what about that book you were always going to write? I couldn't even manage the exam question, 'Every man has a book in him. Discuss', but I'm having second thoughts. There's good money in books, you know. Look at the Pope, something like pounds 3.8m for a book of essays. Not a particularly snappy title - Crossing the Threshold of Hope - either. And that was only the English-language rights. Let me stimulate your creativity further by providing you with the Captain's Very Rough and Ready Guide to Advances: 1 Tom Clancy, thriller writer, pounds 7.3m for one. 2 Barbara Taylor Bradford, saga- soaps, pounds 20m for three. 3 Stephen King, horror, pounds 20m for four. 4 Lord Archer, snappy titles, pounds 11.2m for three novels. 5 Ken Follett (qv), thinking airport, pounds 6.9m for two. 6 Baroness Thatcher, former prime minister and cigarette saleswoman, pounds 3.5m for memoirs. 7 Joan Collins, sex icon to the elderly, pounds 2m for two novels. 8 Ivana Trump, famous person, pounds 2m for three novels. 9 Michael Holroyd, literary figure, small, pounds 625,000 for Bernard Shaw biography. 10 Peter Ackroyd, literary figure, large, pounds 650,000 for two biographies. 11 Vikram Seth, novelist in need of an edit (Lord Gowrie), pounds 250,000 for A Suitable Boy.

Captain's verb. sap.: strict comparison is difficult because of differing royalty agreements and foreign rights; Mick Jagger started an unfortunate trend by paying back the advance for his memoirs because he couldn't remember anything; Joan Collins is being sued for the return of hers because, allegedly, the books aren't very good; if you're the Pope you're expected to give the money to charity; he has.

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