Paying Hillary Clinton a $14 million advance for a badly ghostwritten book about the time she did nothing as Secretary of State proved to be a really bad choice.
Publishing sources said that Clinton has sold 177,236 hardcovers. E-book sales aren’t available, but her numbers are very low, said the sources. Even at 200,000 total sales, simple math finds that for Simon & Schuster to cover the $14 million advance, each book would have had to sell for about $70. Amazon offers it for $20.94, about $14 off the $35 list price. It has dropped to 103rd in Amazon sales, compared to 10th for Blood Feud.
Of course authors don’t receive more than a fraction of their sales anyway. No matter what eBook sales are, publishers don’t currently make much money off them.
Hillary Clinton’s $14 million advance has to come out of book sales. Forget Amazon’s discounting of the books, let’s call it $7,000,000 in sales. Only a fraction of that goes to the author. Even assuming that Hillary has some crazy Stephen King, Grisham size royalties, that still means something between $1 and $2 million.
To make back her advance, Hard Choices would have to sell over two million copies. Living History, which was a success, only sold 1.1 million copies. And that was for an $8 million advance.
Hard Choices clearly won’t be going there. CBS made a bad bet by betting that a second biography by a politician would sell as well, if not better, than a first biography. Or they simply decided to give her a campaign contribution.
Obviously Hillary won’t be returning her advance. Considering the promotional costs of Hard Choices, CBS has lost more than $10 million on it, but we can safely peg it at that.