Saturday 21 October 2017

It's a pity we'll never know what kind of book journalist planned

John Spain Books Editor

GHOSTWRITING – especially on behalf of major sports stars – can both be a lucrative and tricky business for journalists.

There are usually two reasons why things go wrong. The first is financial, the money involved for the ghostwriter. In a book for a major sports star there is usually a flat fee for the journalist doing the work.

In the case of a big sports star like Brian O'Driscoll, that is likely to be a significant five-figure sum, paid to the journalist by the publisher.

For the sports star, the rewards are much higher. With the BOD book likely to sell strongly in the much bigger UK market as well as in Ireland, the deal is unlikely to be worth less than a few hundred thousand euro upfront for the star, with the possibility of a lot more based on a percentage of sales.

Penguin Ireland, who will publish the O'Driscoll book later this year, has refused to make any comment. Other publishers, however, said that the departure of Paul Kimmage from the project was very unlikely to be a row about money.

The second reason things can go wrong in a ghostwriting deal is to do with artistic differences.

Some journalists who act as ghostwriters take an accommodating stance when writing a book for a sports star, putting in or, more likely, leaving out material at the request of the star.

Kimmage is not of this persuasion. In fact, he is noted for being very determined to leave no stone unturned.

Last night the journalist revealed that he and O'Driscoll ultimately fell out over the prospect of an exclusive newspaper interview.

The sudden end of their partnership means we may never find out what exactly Kimmage had envisioned for his take on the life of the sporting great.

Was it just to be a book about O'Driscoll's sporting career? Or was the idea to include as much as possible about BOD's personal life, former relationships, marriage and so on? How much was to be revealed, not just about what happened in some crucial matches, but also in some crucial sponsorship deals?

It is highly unlikely that Alan English, the journalistic sub now brought on to the pitch, is going to be any less demanding in wanting the freedom to fully explore the BOD story.

Having already written three bestselling rugby books, he is not going to be happy to do a less than complete job.

Irish Independent

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