All you aspiring non-fiction writers out there may want to forget everything you’ve ever read about coming up with the perfect book proposal and concentrate on becoming famous, because Arianna Huffington’s just revealed an insider’s secret: “I’ve written 10 books and I have found there is a simple rule: the bigger the advance, the less there is on paper before a deal is struck.”*
That’s part of her justification for sticking by her earlier claim that Judith Miller has a $1.2 million deal with Simon & Schuster, despite a fairly strong denial by Miller’s agent and, as reported by Publishers Lunch, S&S prez Carolyn Reidy, who tells Michael Cader she told Huffington there was “no proposal, no discussions about a book, no discussion about money, no p&l created, no offer made, no signed deal.” But, Huffington insists (turning to Lloyd Grove for backup), if your profile is high enough, you don’t need any of that–and she’s convinced not only that Miller qualifies, but that she’s been talking this hypothetical book up amongst her friends.
Let’s say you’re a publishing insider, or maybe an agent with a high-profile client. Can you tell me about a deal you made for an author with no pages but plenty of snappy patter? You can go off the record if necessary…
*This must not apply for fiction, since Vikram Chandra had to turn in all 1,225 pages of his novel to collect his million dollars…On the other hand, they say Charles Frazier got $8 million for the follow-up to Cold Mountain on the strength of a one-page proposal.