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HarperCollins Denies Ghostwriting Claims Surrounding Wilbur Smith’s £15 Million Book Deal

Earlier this month the book publishers HarperCollins announced that Wilbur Smith, author of over thirty novels, had signed a £15 million book deal with them. Smith, who was born in Zimbabwe, had been with Macmillan for the last 45 years. Vicious Cycle, the sequel to Those in Peril, will still be published by Macmillan next year.

Those in PerilThe Sound of ThunderElephant SongThose in PerilAssegai

Tibor Jones & Associates published a press release from HarperCollins that reported on the six-book deal which states that Wilbur will be publishing up to two books a year “some pairing him with carefully selected co-authors”. Smith, who is 79 years old, is quoted as saying that he can’t produce books as fast as his fans would like him to and that he is willing to change his working methods to allow the stories to make it to the page more quickly.

HarperCollins today announced a world English language deal for six books with the prestigious international best-selling thriller writer, Wilbur Smith. The deal was brokered by agent Kevin Conroy Scott of Tibor Jones and Associates, with Daniel Mallory, Vice President and Executive Editor at William Morrow in the US, and Kate Elton, Publisher, and Katie Espiner, Publishing Director at HarperFiction in the UK.

This announcement was met with some skepticism, such as this tongue-in-cheek article from The Guardian that pokes fun at the idea of the co-written books:

Ah, yes – I’ve heard of this guy. He writes novels about people having sex in Africa. Set in the past. Occasionally they escape from jackals between shags. Is that right? No.

Oh. Well, I mean it’s not always jackals. Sometimes it might be pirates or hippos. Look, you’ve got the wrong end of the stick. What I mean is that Smith won’t actually be writing them any more. At least not every word.

The Bookseller then reported that HarperCollins has denied claims that the books will be ghostwritten but confirmed that some of the titles would have co-writers, although the details of how this would work still need to be worked out.

HarperCollins has denied its new deal with Wilbur Smith will see the thriller writer’s next books being ghostwritten, following a report in the Sunday Times which suggested the novelist will “hardly be required to put pen to paper”.
The publisher denied the new Smith novels will be ghostwritten, after HarperCollins signed a six-book deal with the author, who will be 80 next year. The Sunday Times said the deal was worth £15m. HarperCollins said some of the titles will be written with co-authors, and that the mechanics of the process are yet to be decided.

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