Friday, November 14, 2014

Why Autobiographies sell like hotcakes

Every career has its own lifespan, the most common being the life of a corporate (white / blue collar) with retirement age from 60-65 onwards. If you are a sportsperson in Cricket / Football / Basketball / Baseball, you are part of the high earning category but your career span as a player is short. You earn lots of money in a limited span and once you retire / are replaced by the younger lot, you are left with fewer options to earn an income you were previously earning. You are left with getting into the administration of your respective sport / coaching / training assignments – a natural extension but with relatively lesser paychecks and lesser scope for revenue from other areas like advertising. 

So what to do? How to make sure you earn something beyond the administration or coaching assignments? 

Enter autobiographies! 

Every player remains in the spotlight for things he’s proud of and for things he would like to forget. As a player, you make a decision to keep mum about certain aspects of your life as it can harm your career graph. And then, you wait till your retirement to say it all in your “autobiography”. Some call it sensationalism. Some call it opportunism – something that was a hindrance in your playing career will now be an opportunity to earn extra bucks. And then there are some who would like to remove that “monkey” from their back and start a new phase with a clean slate. 

Why Autobiography sells like hotcake cartoon image

Your autobiography will sell like hotcakes if you are part of at least one of the following – 
  1. Extremely popular: This is the easiest. If you are treated like the best in the world, your book will sell, no matter what the critics say. The best example of this is “Playing It My Way” by Sachin Tendulkar. If you have read the book or read the reviews, you will realize it’s a book you would like to read if you want to know the small nit-bits of Sachin’s life. No controversy whatsoever. And the book is now breaking all records in the non-fiction category. Typical Sachin – records keep tumbling everywhere!
  2. Popular + Controversial: These are players who are popular in their sport yet include controversial elements to sell their book. One example of this would be Andre Agassi. I used to be a huge fan of Agassi during his playing days. He then decided to release his autobiography aptly titled “Open” disclosing that he used a wig and a performance depreciating drug while playing. And the book succeeded in the market-place. Add Roy Keane and Kevin Pieterson in this category.
  3. Controversial: If you are popular only among niche audience / only in your space, you can still sell your autobiography. How? Just be controversial in your life. Do stuff what most people in your stream won’t do. Move against the wind – rightly or wrongly. Take Herschelle Gibbs for example. World knows him as a great cricketer who unfortunately was involved in match-fixing. You would expect his book to describe that episode in detail rather than his cricketing life wouldn’t you? Another example would be Greg Chappell’s book – “Fierce Focus: Greg Chappell”
  4. Memoir: These are the no controversial types. Sports-stars release their autobiography only for their fans to read and keep the book as a souvenir. Many legends fall in this category like Sunil Gavaskar, Richie Benaud and Michael Holding. Yuvraj Singh’s book, which describes his fight against cancer, will also be part of this. These are usually intended to be motivational. Their books may not sell the way their publishers would like to, but it’s something that will be high up in their marketing portfolio of books published. 

Whichever way we look at it, autobiographies allows us fans to relive the days of our stars in their own words post their retirement. Whether we read it or keep it in our mini-library (assuming we have one) is for us to decide. What’s next after autobiography, you may ask. Books to be converted to movies, of course!


All yours..

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