Woke books that were bought for huge advances by “inexperienced” editors have flopped commercially, insiders say. The Mail has the story.
“Ideological fanatics” allowing their politics to dictate professional decisions have seen profits slump, according to industry experts.
Among the works responsible for huge losses is the once hotly anticipated memoir by the actor Elliot Page about her journey transitioning. Pageboy received a $3 million advance but has sold just 68,000 copies.
Industry standards suggest for publishers paying roughly $7 per book sold is considered a good deal, according to insiders talking to the Free Press.
It means that even books that sell tens of thousands of copies such as Page’s can still tank commercially.
Other recent ‘woke’ flops are Carolyn Ferrell’s Dear Miss Metropolitan described by the New York Times as “a story of three young girls, black and biracial, who are kidnapped and thrown into the basement of a decaying house in Queens”.
The novel was acquired in a deal estimated to be worth more than $250,000, but has shifted just 3,163 copies since it was published in 2021.
Another example is “queer feminist Western” Lucky Red by Claudia Cravens which has sold around 3,500 copies despite commanding a $500,000 advance.
Meanwhile, established white authors have complained that they are facing more barriers to getting published.
Crime novelist James Patterson drew criticism after he likened the situation to “just another form of racism”. He later apologised but a similar point was made by Joyce Carol Oates.
“A friend who is a literary agent told me that he cannot even get editors to read first novels by young white male writers, no matter how good; they are just not interested,” she said.
It is also something editors themselves have acknowledged.
“We flat-out decided we weren’t going to look at certain white male authors, because we didn’t want to be seen as acquiring that stuff,” one senior editor told the Free Press.
When asked whether editors acknowledged they were “discriminating against writers because of their skin colour”, the editor replied: “I don’t think it was worded quite as blatantly as that. It was worded more like, ‘Is this the right time to be championing authors of more traditional backgrounds?’ Often, the language was a bit opaque.”