Bloomsbury and Weidenfeld & Nicolson are tipped as the front-runners to win the autobiography of Sir Roger Moore, with eight imprints from five different groups already in the running for the book.
Hachette Livre, the Random House Group, Penguin, Simon & Schuster and Bloomsbury are all understood to have expressed their interest in My Word is My Bond, which Lesley Pollinger is
touting for a minimum price of £1m for world rights.
Pollinger plans to show material to publishers next Friday and will take bids in the first week of November. The Bond actor will meet with the leading publishers when he visits London to appear on the "Paul O'Grady Show" in December.
"It's already approaching a beauty contest shortlist," Pollinger said. "I've got one publisher a yard up in front." She would not reveal who are the favourites to win, but the buzz in the aisles at Frankfurt points to W&N and Bloomsbury.
Bids are expected to reach £2m, but some publishers are grizzling that the book is overpriced: "There's a market value and then there's the value that these people put on themselves," said the m.d. of one major trade publisher. "The two are often quite different." Another leading industry figure added: "It's worth £100,000, not £1m, but [Moore] is used to dealing in millions."
Despite the sum involved, the industry is still rubbing its hands at the prospect of a major book to plug the gaps in next year's Christmas schedules. "[Pollinger] is a clever agent to bring it out to Frankfurt, because everyone still has a hole in their budgets for next autumn," said the head of
another leading house. "Someone will pay and worry about the royalty write-off later . . . we've been offered it formally, so we're talking to the US to see if the numbers stack up."
Pollinger added: "All but one of these guys is not going to get [Tony] Blair, so they really want this." The book has also attracted approaches from foreign-language publishers, including a five-figure (sterling) pre-emptive offer from Annika Bladh at the Swedish publisher, Norstedts Forlag.