In The Observer, literary editor Robert McCrum turns in a long reminiscence of the publishing biz in Britain in the 1980s. In 1979, when McCrum begins his career, “there is virtually no money, especially for writers. Novels are commonly signed up for £500, short-story collections for £200 or £300, or even less. When the hot-shot young agent Ed Victor sold a now-forgotten yarn, The Four Hundred by Stephen Sheppard, for a quake-worthy ‘six-figure advance,’ the shockwaves reverberated from Bloomsbury to Harmondsworth.” How things would change….
Robert McCrum’s look back