Debut novelist nets $2 million advance in publishers bidding war

Book publishing

Some major publishers found themselves in a bidding war over the weekend to purchase a novel that is over 900 pages in length.  The winner, Knopf, reportedly paid the author a nearly $2 million advance. The novel could be considered “highly anticipated” – the film rights to the book were snapped up last month.

But the author of the novel? It’s not Stephen King or James Patterson or even J.K. Rowling. His name is Garth Risk Hallberg and “City on Fire” is his debut novel.

He must have a great agent says Peter Hildick-Smith, CEO of Codex, a publishing analyst group. But beyond Hallberg’s success as a newcomer, Hildick-Smith isn’t surprised at the hefty price-tag for the hefty tome. In fact he says, it’s probably backlash to publishing’s focus on digital and e-books.

“We’re seeing maybe a back to basics here where the publishers are seeing it’s all about content and they’re willing to pay for great content. “

He says most publishing houses  have made big investments in digital over the last few years.

About the author

Lizzie O'Leary is the new host of Marketplace Weekend.

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