woke books
Woke books that were bought for huge advances by 'inexperienced' editors have flopped commercially, insiders say.

'Ideological fanatics' allowing their politics to dictate professional decisions have seen profits slump, according to industry experts.

Among the works responsible for huge losses is the once hotly anticipated memoir by the actor Elliot Page about his journey transitioning. 'Pageboy' received a $3 million advance but has sold just 68,000 copies.

Industry standards suggest for publishers paying roughly $7 per book sold is considered a good deal, according to insiders talking to The Free Press.

It means that even books that sell tens of thousands of copies such as Page's can still tank commercially.

elliot page
Other recent 'woke' flops are Carolyn Ferrell's 'Dear Miss Metropolitan' described by the New York Times as 'a story of three young girls, Black and biracial, who are kidnapped and thrown into the basement of a decaying house in Queens.'

The novel was acquired in a deal estimated to be worth more than $250,000, but has shifted just 3,163 copies since it was published in 2021.

Another example is 'queer feminist Western' 'Lucky Red' by Claudia Cravens which has sold around 3,500 copies despite commanding a $500,000 advance.

Meanwhile, established white authors have complained that they are facing more barriers to getting published.

Crime novelist James Patterson drew criticism after he likened the situation to 'just another form of racism.' He later apologized but a similar point was made by Joyce Carol Oates.
james patterson
Some white authors have complained that they are facing more barriers to getting published. Crime novelist James Patterson drew criticism after he likened the situation to 'just another form of racism'
'A friend who is a literary agent told me that he cannot even get editors to read first novels by young white male writers, no matter how good; they are just not interested,' she said.

It is also something editors themselves have acknowledged.

'We flat-out decided we weren't going to look at certain white male authors, because we didn't want to be seen as acquiring that stuff,' one senior editor told The Free Press.

When asked whether editors acknowledged they were 'discriminating against writers because of their skin color', the editor replied: 'I don't think it was worded quite as blatantly as that. It was worded more like, "Is this the right time to be championing authors of more traditional backgrounds?" Often, the language was a bit opaque.'

Another editor at a major publishing house admitted to the outlet that those seeking to pursue more conservative works must be 'willing to deal with interpersonal discomfort, being treated as marginal or looked on with suspicion by their colleagues'.

Several industry experts noted a trend towards hiring editors of color in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and the wave of antiracist protests that followed, a move they described as 'overtly political'.

Among them was Nadxieli Nieto hired by Flatiron, who bought Rasheed Newson's 'My Government Means to Kill Me' for for $250,000.

So far, according to the sales tracker BookScan, it has sold nearly 4,500 copies. However, the platform does not monitor digital downloads.

Nieto joined the publishing house in the wake of the uproar over the novel American Dirt, a book about the Mexican immigrant experience written by non-Mexican author Jeanine Cummins.
jemele hill a memoir
© Shondaland
Other newcomer editors include stand-up comedian Phoebe Robinson who oversees the Penguin imprint Tiny Reparations Books and Adenike Olanrewaju, who has secured one deal since becoming editor of HarperCollins in 2021, the Free Press reports.

Olanrewaju was a publicist at Penguin and a newsroom contributor a the New York Times prior the move.

But even those with a prior profile are not immune to a commercial flop. Former television host Jemele Hill spent months promoting her memoir 'Uphill' across various networks.

But despite a media blitz, the book sold just 5,034 copies in a few months, and failed to crack the top 200 on Apple Books, USA Today or the New York Times, despite glowing reviews by the outlet.

Former HarperCollins and St Martin's Press editor chalked the flops up to 'generational change'.

'It just so happens that, in this case, the new generation is a generation of ideological fanatics,' Bellow told The Free Press.