So Shelf Life asked major players in the New York publishing world about the desirability of an Amanda Knox book. Although some of the editors and agents we reached out to were unwilling to comment out of fear of jeopardizing current or future book deals, the impression we got is something that’s been obvious all along: Pretty much every agent and publisher in town would love to make an Amanda Knox book happen.
Especially attractive to publishers is that Knox is a sympathetic figure without the “ick factor” of Casey Anthony, the other major headline-maker this year. It makes all the difference in the world to publishers that the public believes Knox is innocent. “People vote at the bookstore when it comes to any big case,” said a prominent editor. “You need to ask, ‘Where is the court of public opinion on this?’ That’s who’s going to buy the account.”
One tip-top New York literary agent, who didn’t want to be named in any article that even mentions Casey Anthony — since the court of public opinion has clearly sided against the Florida mother — said that publishers became interested in the Knox case “within the last several months, once the DNA evidence became suspect and there was a general mood in the air that a verdict might go her way.”
While there has already been a major international book about Knox — Take Me with You: Conversations with Amanda Knox in Prison by Rocco Girlanda, written in 2010 about her life behind bars — a first-person, post-acquittal account would be in a different league entirely. “It wasn’t until fairly recently that Americans decided it was time to care about this young woman, and I think they came to care about her very deeply,” said the agent, who is certainly interested in adding her to his client list. “I think her experience in her own voice, that includes the verdict, that includes coming home, that includes reintegration into American society, and what she thinks of her future as a free person and what she’s going to do with herself, is an important part of the last act of this story.”
An editor I spoke to doesn’t believe Amanda Knox would “hold a candle to Jaycee Dugard” in terms of publishing world interest, because Dugard was a victim in a “longer, more calculated, heinous” ordeal. But the agent I spoke to, however, disagrees, citing Knox’s overseas sales potential. “This story was bigger in Europe than it was here. It’s a big, big book for publishers all around the world.”
The agent, who’s no stranger to hotly contested book auctions and high advance figures, asked me to guess what Amanda Knox’s book rights would go for. “Two million?” I offered, to which he responded, “At least.” He guesses the amount will probably be more than what Dugard received. No editors wanted to speculate on a number.
While the publishing world is avidly interested in an Amanda Knox book, not everyone would be willing to push for it at Knox’s personal expense. “What Amanda Knox needs to do right now is get her life together, not make a book deal,” said an editor. “She’s lost four key years of her life. She’s got hugging and kissing and family time to do.”