This autumn, more than any I can remember before, the book market seems to be dominated by television spin offs. This photo shows the promotional titles at W.H.Smith in High Wycombe. Look very carefully (the photo is compressed) and you’ll see a few novels — Dan Brown, Stig Larsson, Patricia Cornwell. However, virtually everything else is promoting a TV programme or personality: Jamie Oliver, Delia, Peter Kay, Ozzy Osborne, Jack Dee, Ant and Dec, Chris Evans, John Barrowman, Hairy Bikers, Leona Lewis, Al Murray, Harry Hill, Gordon Ramsay, Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond — AND James May has a book out. It’s a relief to get one by a sports personality whose TV connection is almost incidental — the legendary Freddie Flintoff. I couldn’t begudge Jo Brand’s place on the shelf with her book having the title — ‘Look Back in Hunger’ — much wittier than Dawn French’s ‘Dear Fatty’.
So the advice in terms of getting a book published is obvious — just get yourself a hit TV series first. That might be slightly preferable to the route favoured by the highly naturally talented author of Standing Out , which will no doubt be a huge blockbuster this year.