From The Wall Street Journal:
One of the biggest books of the year was written on spec.
Instead of signing a contract and getting an advance beforehand,Bruce Springsteen worked on the manuscript of his autobiography “Born to Run” for seven years—by himself—before it was shown to a publisher. The book, which has been held tightly under wraps, will debut in a coordinated, global release on Sept. 27. In all, it is set to be published in 22 countries.
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The project began when Mr. Springsteen penned a first-person account for his website describing his experience on stage at the 2009 Super Bowl. He wrote the piece in stream-of-consciousness style, sprinkled with all-caps. Mr. Springsteen, who is often described as a control freak, wrote that he’d been worried that he would feel “‘out’ of myself and not in the moment.”
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After posting his account, Mr. Springsteen quietly kept going. “I felt like I found a good voice to write in,” he recalled in a video released earlier this month by his publisher. “I said, maybe I’ll try to write a little more and see where it takes me.”
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In 2014, Simon & Schuster published Mr. Springsteen’s “Outlaw Pete,” an illustrated book for adults based on his song about a bank-robbing baby. The book sold modestly—about 12,000 print copies, according to Nielsen BookScan—but the experience was apparently positive for Mr. Springsteen; less than two years later, his legal representatives, Allen Grubman and Jonathan Ehrlich, brought the manuscript exclusively to Simon & Schuster publisher Jonathan Karp.
“This is the book we’ve been hoping for,” Mr. Karp said in a February news release announcing the book. Mr. Karp declined an interview request, as did Mr. Springsteen’s attorneys.
It’s rare for a celebrity to write an autobiography on spec, Simon & Schuster spokesman Cary Goldstein said: “I can’t think of anyone of Bruce’s stature who has done it this way.”
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While news of the book was still closely guarded, Marie Florio, the company’s director of subsidiary rights, began approaching pre-selected foreign publishers, rather than holding auctions. She invited each to make an offer. At least one European publisher made an offer on the book sight-unseen.
“In France, Bruce Springsteen is more than a music legend,” Anne Michel, foreign department director of the French publisher Éditions Albin Michel, said in a news release when the book was announced on Feb. 11. “He has become, over time, the incarnation of a certain idea of America.”
Publishers then commissioned quick-turn-around translations. Mr. Springsteen revised the manuscript between concerts on tour this summer, as translators across Europe worked simultaneously to update their versions with his latest changes.
“It was more or less a real-time operation,” saidEduard Richter, senior publisher at Spectrum in the Netherlands, who supervised the process there.
Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire) and thanks to Dave for the tip.