Sunday Times ‘cuts Darling memoir fee massively’
Leak of book has ‘decimated’ the value of extracts from Alistair Darling’s new book
FORMER Labour chancellor Alistair Darling and his publishers are thought to have lost virtually all the fee paid by the Sunday Times for the serialisation of his memoirs following the leak of an early version of the book.
The Guardian's Nicholas Watt reveals that the Sunday Times "massively reduced" Darling's fee after the leak of an early version of Back From the Brink: 1,000 Days at Number 11 to the blog Labour Uncut.
It is not known how the leak came about, but it has led to a feeding frenzy in the media, with Darling's attacks on bankers and his old ally Gordon Brown being printed across the UK press.
How much have Darling and his publisher Atlantic Books lost? "I am told that the use of the word decimated, which is invariably misused by journalists, is correct in this instance," writes Watt.
Watt presumably means that the fee has been cut by 90 per cent. A publishing source told The First Post that when expensive political memoirs deals are made with newspapers, security is paramount. A leak like this would be expected to be severely punished.
What does it mean to Darling's coffers? Unless the former chancellor's deal with his publishers and the Sunday Times was particularly arcane, it does not actually mean that he 'loses' any money. What it does mean is that it will be a lot longer before he makes any money above his advance.
As an example, let's imagine Atlantic Books gave Darling an advance of £100,000 for his memoirs. And let's imagine the Sunday Times paid £100,000 for serialisation rights.
Typically, the publisher would keep a cut of 10 per cent and the other £90,000 would go towards Darling's account, leaving only £10,000 of his original advance to be earned through book sales before he could start collecting royalties.
But if that Sunday Times fee has been cut 'massively' to, say £10,000, then only £9,000 would have gone into Darling's account. This would mean Darling flogging an awful lot of books before he can make any profit above his advance, requiring it to become a massive bestseller, which is unlikely.
Also, Atlantic would face the prospect of never recovering its investment in Darling. While the book might be on everyone's lips right now, it could end up proving a financial nightmare.
With this bad news in the air, Darling might be hoping another rumour turns out to be true. Apparently, Conservative chancellor George Osborne is considering putting Darling forward to head up the IMF in the event that the incumbent, Christine Lagarde, is forced to step down due to a corruption trial.
The theory is that Osborne would consider this a humiliation for the Labour big beast he really despises, Gordon Brown. ·
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