In book publishing the publishers generally pay the author an advance against royalties—meaning, the author gets some money up front, and if the book earns back that amount plus other expenses, the author will start getting more money. Most authors get relatively small advances that aren’t enough to live on, but some celebrities and major public officials get pretty fabulous amounts. Stewie Griffin of the hit television show Family Guy is reputed to have gotten 5 million for his tell-all. Former President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton snagged 10 and 8 million dollars respectively for their memoirs, as befits their stature—literally. Bill negotiated the amounts, saying, “I want a stack of Benjamin Franklins as tall as I am, and the same for Hillary!” little realizing that he was shorting his wife out of millions, no pun intended.
The company I work for, HarperCollins, recently signed up Sarah Palin up for her memoir. I am not at liberty to divulge the amount because I don’t know the amount, but I can say with confidence that it was a lot of cabbage. The funny thing about these books is that they are generally neither informative nor all that much fun to read, but we keep publishing them, because that’s how we roll.