It had been gossiped about as a potential mother of all book deals, with a $6 million advance being bandied about. Yet when Monica Lewinsky finally agreed to pen Monica’s Story, with the help of Princess Diana biographer Andrew Morton, St. Martin’s Press managed to acquire the U.S. rights for a mere $600,000.
Given the relatively small investment — and Morton’s skill at playing the victim card — Time Warner Publishing chairman Laurence Kirshbaum predicts, ”at that price, [the book] seems like a slam dunk. And Morton changes the equation. He’s a superb journalist for this type of book.”
But where Diana: Her True Story rocked the House of Windsor with shocking disclosures, the good stuff about Monica ”is already a matter of public record,” counters Simon & Schuster president Jack Romanos, who met with Morton and Lewinsky and remains skeptical of the book’s chances. ”I didn’t think she could sell herself as a sympathetic character,” says Romanos, ”and there’s a long history of ‘other woman’ books not working.” Paula Barbieri, for example, got $3 million for her O.J. book, but it was a publishing dud.
The ongoing impeachment trial is another obstacle. Even the book’s February publication is up in the air, because of Monica’s immunity agreement with Ken Starr. ”We’re watching the Senate,” says St. Martin’s publisher Sally Richardson.
It becomes a best-seller and Monica gets her wish — a job where she doesn’t have to answer phones.
The tome ends up in the clearance pile at Buck-A-Book, and Monica at the Krispy Kreme.