Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Millionaire Authors' Club

You think writers live in garrets? Think again. Carl Wilkinson introduces the Millionaire’s Club, an exclusive band of authors whose books have sold more than a million copies.

JK Rowling
Rowling has signed a deal with Little, Brown to release her first novel for adults Photo: Christopher Pledger

In Martin Amis’s short story “Career Move”, Alistair, a screenwriter, has just finished his latest script and is sending it off to the Little Magazine with the slim hope that he’ll get it published. Meanwhile, Luke, a poet, has just dashed off a sonnet – called “Sonnet” – that he’s faxed to his agent before hitting the gym. By the time he returns, major producers have already started calling with offers.
Finally, Luke is flown to LA for talks about the development of his poem and naturally, in this skewed world, he’s flying first class: “In poetry,” we’re told, “first class was something you didn’t need to think about. It wasn’t discussed. It was statutory. First class was just business as usual.”
The joke is in the absurdity of it all: everyone knows poets don’t make money. And aside from one or two publishing stars who sell stacks of copies, authors generally earn little from their work. Business as usual in the literary world is about as far from the first-class lounge at Heathrow as one can get. But there are those rare writers who manage to either sell a lot of books or make rather a lot of money and for whom first class has become statutory.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that Joanne Harris’s bestselling novel Chocolat (1999) had officially passed the one million copies mark, placing her in what The Bookseller called the “Millionaire’s Club”. Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper (2003) followed suit, as did John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2006).
Astonishingly, according to Nielsen BookScan figures, the Harris, Picoult and Boyne novels joined the ranks of just 68 books (some of them non-fiction) that have sold more than one million copies since records began in 1998. Harris became only the fourth British female novelist to top one million copies, after J K Rowling (Harry Potter), Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones) and Kate Mosse (Labyrinth).
Read the rest at The Telegraph

How many NZ authors have sold a million copies of one title? Keri Hulme and Lloyd Jones certainly. Anyone else? Alan Duff?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Probably Essie Summers, the romance writer.