The details of a book contract are rarely known. (Example: Whether or not a writer will get a certain sum in advance of publication; how much of the royalties will they get after it’s published; what extra perks will be thrown in.) But when it comes to celebrities, these things rarely remain a secret. That’s why we’re exposing the top eight latest celebrity book deals, and more specifically, which stars got the biggest advances.
You might be wondering how advances work. Simply put – it’s an amount of money given to a writer by a publisher with the assumption they would make it back (and then some, hopefully). In the majority of cases (though it can vary by contract), a writer wouldn’t have to pay back an advance on a commercially unsuccessful book; the punishment is just simply having a really hard time getting a book deal in the future. A good example of a successful advance was Sarah Palin’s memoir Going Rogue.
Back in 2009, Palin received $1.25 million (a relatively low advance compared to those on our list) but earned it back and then some. She sold over 2.7 million copies in the first month alone, reaching no. 1 on The New York Times Best Seller List. They even bumped up the print run from 1.5 million to 2.8! When it came to the content though, it got some mixed reviews.
We’ve put together some of the biggest celebrity advances for the newest book deals – including a few books that haven’t even been released yet. From funny girl Tina Fey to novelist JK Rowling to politician Hilary Clinton, our list includes a slew of different types of celebs. The lowest advance was a whopping $2 million. Check out the rest of the list and see who took home a big payday.
8. Demi Moore, Untitled Memoir – $2 Million
Release Date: Unknown
Former husband Ashton Kutcher has undoubtedly moved on from ex Demi, his wife of 7 years, having been seen out and about with new leading ladies since they separated two years ago. However since last spring, Ashton’s heart has belonged to former That 70s Show flame Mila Kunis. And the latest rumor is he has proposed to the brunette beauty! No doubt that will certainly get Moore typing; Demi’s penning a tell-all memoir (sold to HarperCollins) about her marriage to the Jobs actor.
Inside her memoir, you’ll find Demi’s truth about Ashton’s cheating rumors plus details on her eating disorder and substance abuse scandals. One problem that’s popped up is that Demi’s refused a ghostwriter to meld her stories into something brilliant. Right now, reports say she hasn’t got much down.
What’s more, Demi hasn’t taken the divorce as well as her much younger ex, with reports surfacing that she had a falling out with daughter Rumer who refused to stop speaking to her ex-step father. Though they’ve apparently patched things up now, who knows how long it’ll last. All three of her daughters “hate” the book because they don’t want the public to know their lives. It could be an empowering tale or a bitter downward spiral – we’ll just have to wait and see!
7. Lena Dunham, Not That Kind of Girl – $3.7 Million
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Unlike Hannah Horvath (who Lena plays on the hit show she created called Girls on HBO), this funny young actress will see her writing in print – and soon! Coming out later this year, Lena shares stories from her life and advice for her peers in her memoir. Random House is probably hoping the book is garners as much success as her show, as they’ve given her a $3.7 million advance.
Already there’s been critics ragging on the book, though. They question just how much experienced this 27-year-old could have to be able to pen a memoir. (And the backlash doesn’t end there: “I hate Lena Dunham” brings up over a million results in Google search.) It’s clearly a love or hate relationship with Lena, so we’ll see if she’s got enough supporters to make this book fly off the shelves.
6. Hillary Clinton Untitled Memoir – $8 Million
Release Date: June 1, 2014
Hillary Clinton‘s new memoir comes out from Simon & Schuster in just a few months time. The former First Lady will reflect on her time as Secretary of the State and her other political endeavors. It doesn’t simply look back, but also forward, ideas on how to improve the USA, which many consider as an indicator that Hillary may run for President once again.
Hilary’s first memoir, Living History, received an $8 million advance back in 2003; this time, she’s getting nearly double, but still $1 million less than husband Bill Clinton received for My Life, published in June 2004. Her first book sold well; in the first month, one million copies were purchased, and within four years, she made over $10 million off it. It was a big success since some critics speculated she was overpaid.
5. Amanda Knox, Waiting to be Heard– $4 Million
Release Date: April 30, 2013
Seems like every had an opinion on whether Amanda Knox was guilty of murdering her roommate Meredith Kercher while studying abroad in Italy; they even made a Lifetime movie about it starring Hayden Panettiere. Knox, who spent four years behind bars, was finally acquitted in 2011 by an appeals court.
Returning to Seattle, Knox decided it was finally time to tell her side of the story. She sold her harrowing version to HarperCollins. In it includes commentary from her journals while abroad as well. Most importantly, the book asserts her innocence and the injustice by the legal system in her case. Although critics charged her with “cashing in” on her book, she’s apparently broke, having spent all the money on legal fees and taxes.
Knox was found guilty again in a retrial in January 2014, but thanks to double jeopardy laws in the US, she won’t be sent to Italy to serve time.
4. Tom Wolfe, Back to Blood – $7 million
Release Date: November 13, 2012
Tom Wolfe’s fourth novel is a prime example of what happens when a publisher overpays. The acclaimed journalist and author was paid $7 million for this piece of fiction that takes an honest look at modern American set in Miami.
In just four months, it sold a little over 60,000 copies, meaning that Little Brown & Co. shelled out more than $100 per copy. It was only on the best seller list for a mere three weeks, and to make matters worse, got mixed reviews. It was a big disappointment since his first novel, The Bonfire of the Vanities, not only sold well but garnered positive reviews.
If nothing else, Wolfe satisfied his own personal desire to write a book about US immigration; he mentioned in interviews that he had been eager to document the topic for several years.
3. JK Rowling, The Casual Vacancy – $8 million
Release Date: September 27, 2012
The creator of the magical Harry Potter series went from broke and struggling to a best-selling billionaire. She’s sold 400-450 million copies of the series, so that’s why when she pitched her first adult novel, Little Brown & Co. was eager to have her get started. They paid her $8 million up front.
The book reached no. 1 on Amazon with just hours of being released. The provocative novel sold of a million copies in just three weeks. Despite success in sales, critics were very harsh, advising Rowling to stick to what she knows. It was no surprise then that Rowling released her next book under a pen name, to which it went on to garner positive attention. Her cover was blown though eventually, and that book (The Cuckoo’s Calling) flew off the shelves too. In Rowling-like style, she’s turning her Robert Galbraith novels into a seven-book series.
2. Dick Cheney, In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir – $2 Million
Release Date: August 30, 2011
The 46th Vice President of the United States received $2 million to share secrets and private details from his long career in politics with the public. While the book touches on everything from meeting his wife to his start as an intern for a congressman, there’s a heavy focus on the War on Terrorism and 9/11. He recounts policies of national security and positive and negative interactions with colleagues throughout it all. The book was released to good sales, though average reviews. While readers get a glimpse into his life, the biggest criticisms were his lack of details and selective commentary.
1. Tina Fey, Bossypants – $6 million
Release Date: April 5, 2011
Back in 2008, Tina Fey’s popularity was skyrocketing. From her infamous impersonation of Sarah Palin on SNL to her new hit show 30 Rock to exciting new movie roles, Fey was turning into one of the most sought after female comedians of all time. And that’s just what happened with her book. In the same year, publishers entered a bidding war for Fey’s memoir, with Little Brown & Co. eventually winning out. As part of her contract, they made a major donation to Books for Kids Foundation.
Fey’s deal followed in the footsteps of other great comedians. Sarah Silverman got $2.5 million in advance of The Bedwetter (April 2010) while Jerry Seinfeld scored $7 million for Seinlanguage (1993). Both books were huge successes and would fall under the top 20 highest advances of all time, so it’s no surprise publishers thought they’d have another best seller on their hands with Fey’s book.
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