06 February 2010

Oh boy, Campbell is back

Alastair Campbell is obviously taking his role advising Brown seriously, because he is reading the Daily Mail.  Apart from the usual book promotion stuff (he is on both Marr and Bolton this Sunday), he takes aim at Amanda Platell:

Today it is another downmarket Mail hackette having a popette, in the form of Amanda Platell, whose main contribution to media life was to help Piers Morgan work out how not to do television.

Is this the same Piers Morgan that will be interviewing Gordon Brown next week?

Next up.  Campbell’s slogan for Labour’s election campaign:

All our yesterdays under the wrong leader.

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  1. Campbell's book promotion will be at the instigation of the publishers Hutchinson, part of whatever package he has. Hutchinson is an imprint of Random House, in turn run by Labour luvvie Gail Rebuk...missus of Philip Gould. My, how the Golden Pheasants live....

    Following the law of diminishing returns, any deal will be far less than the Diaries deal...particularly as these have fizzled, usually found in the "remainder" bin. Political novels are rarely successful in the mainstream and Campbell is not even a political author, rather some sort of combination of a media village celebrity and political hack. His first novel is not selling well (96,000 in Amazon rankings equivalent to a book sold every 4-5 days) and it attracted poor reviews.

    Advances in general have plummeted and even celebrity memoirs and novels are suffering badly. Publishers expect their authors to work hard now.

    Part of the deal will be a schedule of media and promotional appearances. So, Campbell will be doing what he is told to earn his pennies. He has a limited shelf life and his punditry will be obsolete by the time of the summer, even before any reputational damage arising from Chilcot.

  2. The world of publishing is not my scene, so this is all very interesting. Thanks.

  3. I'm no expert either. I just know a bit from book festivals and what publishers say. I forgot about the All In The Mind paperback, 9,600 on the Amazon list, published in Spring 2009. That's shifting around 5 to 15 copies per week at that rate.

    His latest, Maya (panned by the critics) is at 6,885 in the Amazon lists. For a new release with significant media coverage, that is crap.

    I'll pick a couple of comparators, books or authors which I've read:

    Gone by Mo Hayder, released on the same day as Campbell's Maya (4 Feb 10). Hayder is quite a good crime writer, sitting somewhere between police-procedural and serial-killer-torture-porn sub genres. Not quite up there with the Ian Rankins, but not a great distance behind. Her latest offering is no 39 on the Amazon rankings...with a fraction of the media time that Campbell will be getting.

    The Secret Speech by Tom Rob Smith, been out for about a year, paperback release imminent. Good thriller in the Martin Cruz Smith tradition, once more not quite up there with Dan Brown etc but a dependable offering. 2,035 in Amazon rankings.

    Latest Bernard Cornwell (6 months old) is at 448 in the rankings.

    Michael Dobbs (maybe comparable to Campbell as moving to writing from politics) is at 3,682 for The Edge of Madness (paperback 1 Jun 2009) and at 609 for The Reluctant Hero (paperback 4 Feb 2010).

    Campbell probably makes 50p a book before tax, after everything else is taken off...not a likely to be a fortune at this rate.

  4. Again, most interesting. You should post a blog on this.

    I read many political bibliographies. For all the effort the authors put in, these books don't sell well, but for the historical record they are important.

    I have always wondered who finances them. Any ideas?

  5. Of course, he might have a wider deal with Random based upon the next diaries instalment, hence their interest in publishing his other books. The value of the diaries diminishes with every day.

    Campbell can certainly write. He churned out soft porn as the Riviera Gigolo for Forum magazine, copy for Captain Bob, and whatever he did as a spin doctor for Blair. So, he can get words down on paper. But he is not a novelist, and is probably too stubborn to learn the craft. He seems to flit between genres, usually the preserve of literary fiction, a writer of which he is emphatically not. In fact, the Maya book appears to be a hybrid of chick-lit and a celebrity ghost-novel.