How much?

For those of use struggling to make it out there in the world of publishing, it’s hard to take a balanced view of the amount paid to Pippa Middleton for her new party planning book. Apparently she received an advance of £400,000 for what has amounted to a critical and commercial flop thus far: Celebrate? I doubt it… Pippa’s party book tumbles down charts.

I’ve always had mixed feelings on this sort of thing, assuming that big celebrity Christmas books somehow raked in the cash that enabled publishers to plough money into real literature. But, according to the follow-up article in today’s Indie, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Penguin, it seems, are hoping that the book might have some legs as a ‘stocking filler’, but otherwise are looking forward to it being a staple of bargain buckets in the post-festive sales. Might not the money have been better spent in development of new talent? Any first-time writer would bite the hand off a publisher that offered one tenth of her advance fee and they’d still have plenty left in the kitty for editing, promotion and marketing etc.

I don’t blame Pippa. Someone waved a cheque under her nose for not very much work, she took it, and who wouldn’t? But for those of us who aspire to something more creative and literary, it makes you wonder if it’s all worth it when you see such a cynical transaction.

The comedian Stewart Lee performed a brilliant analysis of celebrity books on his Comedy Vehicle show a while ago:

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