Saturday, July 19, 2003

The Largest Book Deals Of 2002
Tomas Kellner, 07.18.03, 7:00 AM ET

Brand-name authors still dominate bestseller lists, but the reign of Stephen is over. King's last two books, From Buick 8 and Everything is Eventual, were each off 40% in sales compared with Dreamcatcher, his 2001 release.

Tom Clancy didn't fare much better. Sensing weakness, publishers are betting on new names and developing new brands. A fresh plot twist: Many of the writers lined up to take on Clancy, King, Michael Crichton and John Grisham are women.

Tim Lahaye
$42 million

Riding the surge in Christian-themed books, LaHaye signed a deal with Bantam Books to publish a new four-part Armageddon thriller. LaHaye is co-author of the doomsday series Left Behind, which sold 50 million copies. No surprise here. The religious books market hit $2.4 billion in 2001 and is projected to grow 3.7% annually through 2006. HarperCollins and Doubleday now have Christian book divisions.

Patricia Cornwell
$16 million

Her Portrait of the Killer purports to close the book on the Jack the Ripper case. Unlike her characters, the Cornwell brand is far from dead. The writer signed a two-book deal worth $16 million with PenguinPutnam last year. This fall she will deliver Blow Fly, a new installment in her Scarpetta series, chock-full with crime and corpses.

Charles Frazier
$11 million

The Pulitzer-prize winning author of Cold Mountain, a peripatetic Civil War epic about a Confederate deserter, sold his next book to Random House for $8 million and film rights to Paramount Pictures for $3 million. Miramax's movie adaptation of Cold Mountain is in the works, starring Nicole Kidman and Jude Law.

Diana Gabaldon
$10 million

One of the hottest new brand names in publishing, Gabaldon sold a three-book historical romance series for $10 million to her publishers at Delacorte Press in the U.S. and Doubleday and Random House abroad. Her first book, Outlander, a time-travel romance whose heroine has a husband in one century and a lover in another, got picked up after she posted parts of it on a CompuServe bulletin board. She built it into a best-selling six-book saga over the following decade.

Janet Evanovitch
$10 million

The creator of the Stephanie Plum series, about an intrepid New Jersey bounty hunter, sold the rights for her next two novels to HarperCollins for $10 million. Evanovich made an estimated $4 million for each Plum installment, of which there are nine now. She's branching out into romance, nonfiction and possibly even a TV series.

Alice Sebold
Keep an eye out for Alice Sebold. The Lovely Bones, her novel narrated by a murdered girl, has never been off the Publishers Weekly bestseller list since it came out in June 2002. To date it has sold more than 2.2 million copies. Sebold's publisher, Little, Brown, is postponing the book's paperback release until the strong hardcover sales fall off. Sebold is working on a second book for Little, Brown, and then she will be free to shop for a new contract, potentially worth tens of millions.

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