Megyn Kelly, Fox News star anchor, presidential debate moderator, and Donald Trump antagonist, has reportedly signed a $10 million book deal -- though entertainment industry website Deadline Hollywood is quoting a figure of $11 million.
The release date is strategic, but fast-approaching: this fall, when presidential politics will be reaching a fever pitch. It is not known what Kelly's book will be about, though Deadline Hollywood reporter Mike Fleming Jr. says he has “heard on the circuit all day” that it will be a memoir.
That would likely mean the story of Kelly's rise from her childhood in Delmar, New York, a suburb of Albany, through a brief career as a big-firm lawyer, and a marriage to a doctor that ended in divorce, on to her current status as a cable TV superstar (and married mother of three).
The real story, of course, is how Kelly managed to create the #2 most highly rated show in cable news and to perfect a technique the New York Times has branded “The Megyn Kelly Moment.” As a recent profile explained: “a Megyn moment . . . is when you, a Fox guest . . . are pursuing a line of argument that seems perfectly congruent with the Fox worldview, only to have Kelly seize on some part of it and call it out as nonsense, maybe even turn it back on you.”
Kelly will no doubt devote quite a few pages of her impending book to her rocky relations with Trump, which reached a nadir with his infamous comment that at a debate last summer when she questioned him toughly “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”
Kelly's rumored advance is certainly eye-catching: it is likely more than Amy Schumer’s reported $8-$10 million deal, signed after the success of her movie Trainwreck, or Girls creator Lena Dunham’s reported $3.7 million deal.
Kelly’s book advance will be the latest data point in the ongoing debate about whether mega-advances are worth it for publishers. The answer is not an easy one: as The New Republic observed when Schumer scored her big payday, “Massive book deals have been a fact of life for major publishers since the early 1980s, but they’re still not particularly well understood outside of the publishing industry—in many cases, they aren’t particularly well understood inside it either.”
There have been no end of authors, agents, and journalists who have tried to do the math on big advances like Kelly’s. A few years ago, an analysis in the Daily Beast argued that celebrity book advances of this sort will “surely backfire.”
And HarperCollins Senior Vice President and Executive Editor David Hirshey, who lost out on the Schumer book, was quoted in The New York Times saying: “I was thrilled to cost one of our competitors $9 million. In publishing it sometimes makes more sense to be behind the curve rather than ahead of it.”
Arguing the other side, a bestselling author writing in the Huffington Post did some arcane publishing-revenue calculations and argued that Lena Dunham’s advance made sense
One thing, though, is highly predictable. If Kelly’s book is a success, a certain orange-haired political candidate will no doubt be there to take credit. When he agreed to participate in CNN’s December debate, Donald Trump said that CNN was going to “make a fortune because of me” – and he asked the cable news network to pay $5 million to charity for his participation. So far, on the subject of Kelly's book deal, Trump's Twitter feed has been uncharacteristically silent.