'Splain it to me, Lucy (Niffenegger gets $5 mill for second novel)

Next time I hear an agent or editor tell me how the faltering economy means authors have to accept smaller advances, I'm going to whip out a copy of yesterday's New York Times. Word has it, Audrey Niffenegger, author of The Time Traveler's Wife, has signed a "close to $5 million" deal for her second novel.

So they say:
After a fiercely contested auction, Scribner, a unit of Simon & Schuster, bought the rights to publish the new novel, "Her Fearful Symmetry," in the United States this fall. The book is a supernatural story about twins who inherit an apartment near a London cemetery and become embroiled in the lives of the building’s other residents and the ghost of their aunt, who left them the flat.

The auction for Ms. Niffenegger’s second novel involved several large New York publishing houses, as well as the original hardcover publisher of “The Time Traveler’s Wife,” MacAdam/Cage, the San Francisco-based independent, and the publisher that holds paperback rights to the first novel, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Read the article in full here.

I can't decide if I envy Niffenegger or not. She's an amazing writer who completely deserves her great success, and five million bucks is great, of course, but that's a lot of barge to pull. I'm reminded of the vociferous attacks on Alice Seybold's breathlessly anticipated second novel. And the resounding thud of Charles Frazier's. Even Audrey's agent Joe Regal had to acknowledge, “There are going to be people coming to the book with claws out. That’s just reality."

On the other hand...five million samoleans. Sheesh.

What we the unanointed must remember is that every one of the publishers in that conversation must have been prepared to fork over millions, which means, my darlings, they have it. I'm not listening to one more bullshit claim that this money doesn't exist. For the right project, the money will materialize. Hold fast, me hearties.


Holy cow! Five million. I wonder if she sold a proposal, a paragraph, or a completed manuscript. (Love that title, btw.) For her sake, I hope it was the latter because the sheer weight of expectation would make the completion of an partial incredibly difficult. Sophomore efforts are notoriously tough, esp. in the shadow of a runaway success. (My husband would say, Who cares if this kills her career? She's got five million smackers. But then, my husband Doesn't Get It, lord love him.)

As I turn back to working for my comparatively paltry advance ("With the current economic climate, we can't possibly..." yada-yada" lol) I wish Niffenegger all the best.
Joni Rodgers said…
It's hard to imagine where you go with your third book after that, but she's a big girl. And she's an artist who really seems to know what she's about. She's been given the gift of fire before and did well with it.

In the big picture, it is reassuring. If this book had gone for $120K, it would have been time to be scared about the state of the industry.
Jen Singer said…
Pilot Sully Sullenberger got $3 mil for a memoir of sorts and a "book of poetry."

Wow, Jen. There's somebody who's ably cashing in on his fifteen minutes (while acclaimed poets labor at their day jobs).

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