Thursday 22 March 2018

A lucrative book deal for Michaella? Don't bank on it say publishers

Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

Convicted drug mule Michaela McCollum Connolly can forget any thoughts of making a small fortune from a tell-all story once she is released.

As the 21-year-old Dungannon woman is preparing to be transferred to serve the remainder of her sentence in Belfast, Irish book publishers have poured cold water over such notions.

Speaking this weekend to the Sunday Independent, veteran former publishing director with Gill & Macmillan Fergal Tobin predicted that she could walk away with about €6,500 in hand for re-telling her ordeal.

Calculating the market for such a book and the cost of a ghost writer to help McCollum Connolly, he said the Northern Irish woman should not build her hopes on a big financial windfall.

"She is no good to anyone so long as she is in prison, so until she's out and can do publicity - go on chat shows and so on - publishers will be reluctant to take her on. Until we know the length of the jail term I think everyone will keep their cards close to their chest.

"She is not going to make much of a splash outside Ireland, so if you take the North and the Republic into account there's about a six million market there. Would you sell many copies? I think you'd do well to," he said.

He also said the public perception of Michaela would be a significant influencing factor.

"I don't think there is much sympathy for her. Taking everything into account I think she might sell 8,000 copies. And if I was offering for it I would calculate that you could bank on 5,000 sales, but might get 8,000. If the list price of each book is €12.99, roughly 10pc of that would go to her - making her between €6,500 at a realistic level or €10,400 max.

"And remember, this is all be taxable, plus she will need a ghost writer - which usually comes out of the writer's advance. She won't end up with that much - not to put too fine a point on it."

Bride Purdue from Hachette Publishers also offered Michaela a word of caution.

"The story is really about what has happened to her to date. There are big question marks over why she did it, plus a few grey areas - and they will be interesting.

"She would have to be very honest about whether or not she knew what she was carrying.

"I can't answer whether we would be interested in it or not, but I'll put it this way - I don't think she will see her pension out of it."

Sunday Independent

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