11 of The Richest Book Deals of All Time

FUN FACTS December 21, 2017 By Vincent

There's no money in literature. That is to say, there is very little money in it, and it is extremely rare that you should make anything out of it if you do ever release a book. However, sometimes an established celeb or well-known writer may be able to cash-in on their previous successes and make some serious cash out of it. Here we look at the richest book deals ever and see how they came about.

11. Life by Keith Richards - $7.3m ($8.8m Today)

The Rolling Stones are one of the biggest, most famous bands known to humankind and have lived the ultimate in rock n' roll lifestyles, some public knowledge, much not. Needless to say, when Keith offered up a tell-all book, publishers fell over themselves to offer him money just to hear about the catalog of drugs he has taken.


A surprisingly literary piece that was far better in tone than one might have expected, Richards shows off his wit and intelligence, and it has sold more than a million copies so far. Richards has also co-written a children's book but with far less...err...vicarious thrills in it.

10. The Casual Vacancy by J.K Rowling - Approx $8m

Rowling had just finished off the immensely popular Harry Potter series (if you haven't heard of them, have you been living under a rock?) and people were extremely curious about her first non-magical outing as a writer, so much so that this was guaranteed to be a best-seller.

Shutterstock/ s_bukley

Aimed at adults rather than for children, it had far saltier language than her other work, something the critics duly and dully picked up on, and it had a mixed critical response but still smashed sales charts to pieces.

9. The Girl With The Lower Back Tattoo - $9m

Although a best-seller, some may be surprised at the cost garnered for the comedian's book that involved musings on both serious and silly topics where she delivered laughs and food for thought in a collection of essays that were snapped up by publisher Simon & Schuster.


Making the New York Times bestseller list, it is not clear whether the publisher ever made their money back on the book.

8. The Downing Street Years and The Path To Power by Margaret Thatcher - $3.5m for 2 Books ($11.3m Today)

Britain's first female Prime Minister was an incredibly divisive politician and, as such, her accounts of her time in power were highly sort-after with her son Mark, securing the book deal for her but hoping for much more than what they were finally sold for.

Dutourdumonde Photography/Shutterstock.com

The media mogul, and friend to the Thatcher's, Rupert Murdoch bought them with his company HarperCollins for a still pretty sizable amount of money.

7. Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen - $10m

Thought to be the biggest advance for a musician’s memoir, for whatever reason, people love The Boss, and so his autobiography was always going to sell well. Springsteen actually wrote surprisingly candidly about his poor relationship with his father and his struggles with depression.


However, some may argue the writing wasn't great with such lines as “My depression was spewing like an oil spill over the beautiful turquoise green gulf of my carefully planned existence.” But with $10m in his pocket, we doubt Bruce worried too much about the critical response.

6. Hard Choices by Hilary Rodham Clinton - $14m

This was Hilary's second memoir and was widely perceived as little more than an advert for her 2016 Presidential campaign which, ultimately, ended in a contentious defeat to Donald Trump. In any case, it was thought that publishers were hoping for some scintillating gossip about what happened behind the scenes of the Obama administration.


They also probably wanted more on her reaction to losing to Barack Obama in her campaign to be the 2012 Democratic nominee for President. In any case, not much of this happened, and sales dropped off dramatically after the second week of its release, and it is believed the publisher did not make back their deposit.

5. My Life by Bill Clinton - $15m (19m Today)

A memoir of the former President's from his childhood right through his time in office, there is perhaps one incident that happened whilst in the White House that his publishers were hoping for more sordid details on but, unfortunately for them, they were not forthcoming.

Everett Collection/Shutterstock.com

A slight mention of an 'immoral' and 'foolish' decision is in there but little more.

4. Crossing The Threshold of Hope by Pope John Paul II - $8.5m ($21m Today)

Gentle theological musings from the head of the Catholic church may not seem like a barn-stormingly brilliant read but what do you expect from a Pope? You're not going to get sword and sorcery or a saucy love affair. In any case, there are a lot of Catholics in the world, and so the book was translated into over 40 languages.

Alessia Pierdomenico/Shutterstock.comcredit

Selling more than 1m copies in Italy alone, we can only imagine what a Pope needed that much money for. Perhaps he has to pay for his own robes?

3. Century Trilogy by Ken Follett - $50m

When he was offered this deal, Follett had already written four bestselling historical novels, which all had the potential for a Hollywood makeover, so when he was offered $50m for three books, he set about writing his century trilogy.

Markus Wissmann/Shutterstock.com

The first of which, Fall of Giants, sold 2m copies in 10 weeks and was 1,000 pages long so the publishers may actually have got their money's worth out of him.

2. 17 Books by James Patterson - $150m

James Patterson used to bash out serviceable thrillers that sold around 20m copies a year, making him around $400m a year and thus, this was an incredibly good deal for publishers who bought 11 books for adults and 6 for children with his name on.

Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock.com

And it is important we say 'with his name on' rather than by him as he now runs a system where younger writers will write books which he can then put his name on. It is incredibly cynical but it works, and he is an incredibly rich man because of it.

1. 2 Books by The Obamas - $60m

Having signed the deal with Penguin to publish through their imprints, former President, Barack Obama and his wife and first lady, Michelle Obama pulled off an incredible sales pitch by selling their book rights as a package. Barack has some literary prowess and has written before in a well mannered and entertaining way, and it is his previous books that are thought to have helped his presidential campaign.

John Gress Media Inc/Shutterstock.com

Michelle has only written about growing vegetables so far, but whereas Mr. Obama's book is thought to focus on his time in office, details are a little less clear on what hers will involve.

© 2019 OMGLane.com