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Friday, October 9, 2015
Publishing Overpayment For Comedian Amy Schumer Memoir No Joke
Amy Schumer, a relative of United States Senator Charles Schumer, inked a deal
with Simon & Schuster to publish her memoir for $8 million. The deal is controversial for a number of
reasons, and leaves people scratching their heads. Does this indicate publishing is so strong
that it can throw big money at arguably a B+ talent? Or does it show that publishing has no clue
and continues to invest only in its big list – and ignores the rest?
look at this closely. Who normally gets
eight million dollars? People like Bill
Clinton or someone of that caliber. Not
a Comedy Central comedian with a movie or two under her belt. She’s never written a book before and no one
wonders if her presumably young, female fans will jump at the chance to spend
beyond a few bucks for an e-book? How
will the publisher make this back?
it banking on foreign rights sales and audiobook sales? Does it hope the story
of her abbreviated life will be turned into a movie? Does it really think it’ll sell enough books
to make back such an obscene advance? Or
does Simon & Schuster see this as a moment to get publicity for itself?
in my mind, would be better off taking $8 million and dividing it into 80
advances of $100,000 or 160 advances of $50,000 each and seeing these authors
develop. Why gamble that a single book
will take you to the promised land? Why
would you believe that Schumer has enough fans to begin with? Then, why would you believe a high percentage
of them will buy her book?
there’s some bombshell in the book, but short of that, I think the investment
won’t pay off in a way that will benefit the publisher more than if it used
that money to land other talent.
watch Schumer's show – and love it. My wife
feels the same way. We won’t be buying
her book. She’s just not that good or
socially significant. Jon Stewart’s
memoir? I’d consider that. But Amy Schumer? I’d save the money to pay to see her perform,
which I did earlier this year.
thing is, memoirs don’t sell. Why?
Because people get bored by the usual stories of childhood abuse,
addiction, broken marriages, etc. It is
so formulaic! Besides, memoirs end up
getting talked about in the media, and after a number of author interviews and
book reviews, you feel you absorbed what you needed and move on.
Harper Collins paid her a million bucks for a book of essays in 2013. The book never materialized and she returned
the seven-figure pay day. But now
S&S is shelling out eight times that.
you wonder if Schumer is worth it, look at Lena Dunham, the lead actress and
writer of Girls, a hit HBO show. She got $3.5 million for her book, Not That
Kind of Girl, and she has a bigger fan base.
It sold 525,000 copies. I don’t
see Schumer doubling the sales for more than double the advance.
much does a publisher make from a book sale?
How many sales are needed to break even?
If the publisher netted $8 a copy, it would have to sell a million
copies to break even. But the publisher
likely doesn’t profit that much per book - -nor will it sell that many copies.
ratings have declined. Her first show got 1.6 million viewers. The season 2 premier netted 1.3 million, and
last season’s opener generated 1.0 million views. This means every single viewer would need to
buy the book and the publisher may still not be profitable on this deal.
has 2.13 million Twitter followers.
Dunham has 2.86 million – and sold books equal to 20% of her following.
If that holds for Schumer, she’ll sell roughly 400,000 books and prove to be a
publishing needs to stop bidding on the perceived big books and instead, turn a
manuscript into a big book. If a
publisher invested $50,000 for an acquisitions editor, it can hire 160 people
to extract some really good books from the slush pile or from finding some
social media stars. Think of that!
cut that in half – hire an army of 80 people and arm them with $50,000 advances
for the 80 books they’ll sign. Each
title, if it sells 25,000 copies, will do better collectively and financially
for the publisher than for it to bank on just one book to lift its fortunes.
is very funny and I hope it all works out.
She wins no matter hat – as do her fans.
But for the publisher, and many other authors, the jury’s out.