On Nov. 16, Grove/Atlantic will bring out Sterling's Gold: The Wit and Wisdom of an Ad Man. In a recent press release, tongue firmly in cheek, the publisher touted the tome as a recently unearthed relic that "gave readers a unique look at the burgeoning advertising world of the 1960s when it was first published in 1965, and was noted for its unconventional approach to the memoir."
Bringing Fictional Books to Real Bookshelves
In reality, as publisher Morgan Entrekin told New York magazine, the idea came about because of his friendship with Keith Addis, manager of Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner. Bringing the project to fruition, however, required some contractual finessing because of the many different parties that were involved in the book deal, including the publisher, the studio, the production company and the person who actually wrote the book (whose identity remains unknown).
However odd it sounds, that a fictionalized book mentioned on a TV show would become a real book is nothing new for the publishing industry. In fact, tie-ins like Sterling's Gold have proven quite popular. In 2005, The Killing Club, a novel "written" by a character on the soap opera One Life to Live (really penned by onetime head writer and acclaimed novelist Michael Malone), sold more than 100,000 copies and was a New York Times bestseller for publisher Hyperion (DIS).
Bad Twin, ostensibly written by ABC show Lost character Gary Troup (really veteran mystery writer Laurence Shames) sold similarly well in 2006. More recently, ABC has reaped the benefits from two novels "written" by Richard Castle, the mystery-writing hero played by Nathan Fillion on the hit TV show Castle. The pair has sold more than 220,000 copies, according to Nielsen Bookscan, which tracks approximately 75% of total book sales.
The rationale for such tie-ins is simple: The shows have a built-in fan base that often numbers in the millions. Even if only a fraction of a show's loyal followers seek out a book tie-in, that's still a very healthy sales figure for publishers looking for every little drop to squeeze out of revenue. Which brings to mind one of those pithy observations from the mind of Roger Sterling: "You want to be on some people's minds. Some people's you don't."