Deadline New York reports that Stephanie Plum-creator Janet Evanovich is leaving longtime publisher St. Martin's Press after 15 years because it won't (or can't) advance $50 million for her next four books.
The hefty price tag may sound crazy, but let's look at Evanovich's side: There are some 20 million copies of her books in print. She's one of the 10 richest authors in the world. She turns out a new romcom-thriller-mystery starring bounty hunter Stephanie Plum every year--which always rockets to the top of bestseller lists. The latest, Sizzling Sixteen, reportedly had an initial print run of 2.5 million copies. And Grey's Anatomy star Katherine Heigl is dying her hair to play the character on the big screen.
As Forbes points out: "Evanovich's selling power is comparable to a Ken Follett or James Patterson. Just two years ago, Follett reportedly signed a three-book-deal for $50 million. Last fall Patterson signed a 17-book contract with Hachette worth over $100 million. Both deals, at the time, were termed a 'bargain."
On the other hand, let's look at St. Martin's case: That's a LOT of money. And the publishing business is hurting in a big way. And, yes, her books are as good a gamble as any ... but cash flow can only handle so much going out at one time.
If this doesn't turn out to be some enormous misunderstanding, then it's going to be interesting to see how each side moves on from here.
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STEPHANIE PLUM by Janet Evanovich