As US President Barack Obama’s term at the White House nears an end, multi-million dollar book contracts could await him and wife Michelle Obama, with major publishers predicting post-presidency memoirs penned by the couple will be the “most valuable” ever.
A report in the New York Times said Obama may be the most successful presidential author since Theodore Roosevelt and literary agents and major publishers predict book contracts with the Obamas, once they vacate the White House, could amount to $20 million to $45 million.
“His is going to be easily the most valuable presidential memoir ever,” Raphael Sagalyn of the ICM/Sagalyn Literary Agency said.
“And I think Michelle Obama has the opportunity to sell the most valuable first lady memoir in history,” he said predicting that Obama could earn as much as USD 30 million with a two-or three-book contract.
The multi-million dollar book contracts could also be more than enough to pay the estimated USD 22,000 monthly rent for the nine-bedroom home the Obamas will occupy in the Kalorama neighbourhood of Washington.
White House communications director Jen Psaki said while there will be plenty of time post-presidency to discuss books and book contracts, for now the focus of the president and first lady is “on squeezing every last ounce of progress out of the next five months.
“Obama has so far written three books ‘Dreams From My Father’, ‘The Audacity of Hope’ and ‘Of Thee I Sing’, which have sold more than four million copies, according to publishing lists, and earned him more than USD 10 million, according to financial disclosures.
The report said publishers hope that Obama’s writing ability could make his memoir not only profitable in its firstyears but for decades to come.
New York-based literary agent Georges Borchardt said Obama’s popularity outside of the United States would make the foreign rights to his books more profitable than those for any other former president.
He could also write a book on race relations in the United States, which was the original plan for “Dreams From My Father” before he turned that book into a memoir, the NYT report said.
Writing books and giving paid speeches has become the preferred occupation of former presidents.
Ronald Reagan earned USD 2 million for eight days of speeches in Japan, while Bill and Hillary Clinton earned USD 153 million between 2001 and 2015 from paid speeches.
The report added that memoirs by first ladies have also been profitable.
Clinton, the Democratic presidential frontrunner, earned a USD 8 million advance for “Living History” after she left the White House, and Laura Bush was paid millions for “Spoken From the Heart”.