Handling High-Profile Book Deals: Q&A with Kate Jackson, Senior Vice President, Associate Publisher and Editor-In-Chief, HarperCollins Children’s Books
Celebrity book deals appear to be more popular and sought after than ever by publishers. At the end of July, a bidding war broke out between publishers over Keith Richards’ autobiography, with Little, Brown and Company gaining the rights. Around the same time, it was announced that Martha Stewart had signed a 10-book deal with her longtime publisher, Clarkson Potter. The Viking Press was awarded the rights to the biography of the late comedian Chris Farley, which will be written by his brother, Tom Farley, Jr.
Within days of Karl Rove resigning from his position as presidential advisor, reports surfaced of his plans for writing a book, sending publishers back to the bidding tables.
HarperCollins Publishers recently announced that first lady Laura Bush and her daughter Jenna Bush will be writing a children’s book to be published by HarperCollins Children’s Books.
Kate Jackson, senior vice president, associate publisher and editor-in-chief of HarperCollins Children’s Books, negotiated the deal for world rights from Washington D.C. attorney Robert B. Barnett. She had also previously worked with Jenna Bush on her book titled “Ana’s Story: A Journey of Hope.”
Book Business Extra spoke with Jackson for insight on signing high-profile celebrity authors.
EXTRA: What are some of the high-profile author book deals you have worked on during your career?
KATE JACKSON: In addition to Jenna Bush’s forthcoming title “Ana’s Story,” I have also worked directly and with our editors on such high-profile and celebrity authors as: Lemony Snicket, Julie Andrews, Emeril Lagasse, Dr. Laura Schlessinger, Judge Judy Sheindlin, Alex Rodriguez, Mary Engelbreit, John Grogan and the late Shel Silverstein.
EXTRA: What would you say are some of the challenges when dealing with a high-profile author?
JACKSON: Celebrity authors often have challenging schedules with many other obligations in addition to their books, so getting concentrated time to work with them on editing can be complicated. There are also expectations for celebrity titles that tend to be different than for other authors, and this needs to be strategically managed.