Lena Dunham wowed … well … everyone after sealing a lucrative $3.7 million for her proposed book after a contentious bidding war. Like all things, however, there is a bit of a catch. Dunham’s book has to sell 1 million copies in order for the deal to pay off.
Dunham’s proposed Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned was locked up with publisher Random House for a cool $3.7 million, but the book peddlers are taking a huge risk with the HBO creator’s tome. Dunham is admittedly a bit of a wunderkind, having achieved such unanimous success with her independent film Tiny Furniture and her HBO hit Girls, but she still isn’t quite a household name, and a first book for any author is a calculated risk for a publisher (they usually don’t rake in the big bucks on an author until book three or four).
So why the risk? Memoirs from comic personalities are usually dominated by men like Bill Cosby, Jerry Seinfeld, and Paul Reiser. Though Tina Fey and Chelsea Handler have turned comedic authorship into huge paychecks, they already had the name recognition going in. For example, Fey’s 2011 memoir Bossypants sold 2 million copies well after the success of 30 Rock, the films Date Night and Mean Girls, and a successful run on Saturday Night Live.
MSN notes that Handler might be a fairer comparison, who leveraged her 2005 memoir My Horizontal Life into an E! talk show, following up with 2008’s Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, which sold 2 million copies.
Still, Random House needs to sell at least 1 million books in order to turn around Dunham’s $3.7 million advance. That’s a tall order for anyone to fill. However, Dunham has experienced almost unrivaled success, so maybe she can pull out a win with her book as well? Random House must believe that she can, otherwise how could they fork over $3.7 million on the promise of a book?
Are you a fan of Lena Dunham? Would you buy her comedic memoir?