Wednesday, February 27, 2013

How much will Hillary get for her memoir?

Ruby Cramer writes that Hillary Clinton's second memoir might start a historic bidding war, and as one editor says, "the more intimate she is willing to go, the higher the advance."

Estimates for Clinton's advance — the amount of money an author is paid before the book goes on the shelves — ranged from $5 million to $14 million. Her husband got $15 million for his 2004 autobiography, My Life, but as the publishing industry adapts to the digital age, seven- and eight-figure advances are hard to come by.

"The '90s especially was a time of crazy-big advances," said Sarah Weinmann, an editor at Publishers Marketplace, a widely read publishing news site and job board. "But some of them still persist."

"Hillary is much more popular now than she ever was, and that will drive the advance up," said Jessica Case, senior editor at Pegasus Books. "If Lena Dunham got $3.7 million, then Hillary should expect at least that. With all the rumors flying around about her 2016 campaign, she can expect something like $5 million from one of the big corporate houses. People can still throw money around."

Boog guessed $6 million. "I don't think it would go much higher than that," he said, "but she's the kind of writer that publishers are looking for: a recognizable name and a track record of solid sales."

And some threw around even higher figures. Ryan Harbage, of the Fischer-Harbage Agency, said $14 million would be "a safe bet" if Clinton decides to "hold nothing back."

"It's definitely an eight-figure advance," said Harbage. "The more intimate she is willing to go, the higher the advance."

The buzzkill is that Hillary has sights on 2016, and those ambitions might push her toward literary safety. No one wants to read glorified press releases and chapters of Oscar acceptance speeches.