Clinton to write memoirs for Knopf
(CNN) -- Will former President Clinton reveal the details of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, and how it affected his family?
What about behind-the-scenes revelations about his dealings with Boris Yeltsin, Yasser Arafat, Newt Gingrich and Al Gore? What about his legendary temper? And what about the Whitewater investigation?
Those are some of the questions buzzing through the publishing world Monday after officials with Alfred P. Knopf -- the flagship imprint of the Knopf Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc. -- announced Clinton would write his memoirs for the publishing company. The book, which still must be written, will hit bookshelves some time in 2003.
Terms were not disclosed, but sources report Clinton's advance exceeds $10 million, which would make it a record advance for a nonfiction book. The current record advance for nonfiction was $8.5 million for worldwide rights to a book by Pope John Paul II in 1994.
Clinton's wife, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-New York), received between $7 million and $8.5 million for her memoirs. Her book will be published by Simon & Schuster.
Both Clinton and Knopf were happy with the deal.
"I am very pleased to be associated with the distinguished publishing house of Alfred A. Knopf," Clinton said in a statement issued by the publisher.
"President Clinton is one of the dominant figures on the global stage," Sonny Mehta, Knopf's president and editor in chief, said in a statement. "He has lived an extraordinary life, and he has a great story to tell."
Mehta wouldn't say whether the book would delve into the Lewinsky scandal, which marred much of Clinton's second term and led to his impeachment in December 1998.
"All I know is I came away from my discussions with him feeling it was going to be a pretty thorough and candid telling of his life, and that he was going to talk about all the principal events of his presidency," Mehta told The Associated Press. "The heart of the book is what you'd expect it to be. The heart of it will be his presidency."
Robert Gottlieb will edit the book. He has also worked with Nobel laureate Toni Morrison, the late historian Barbara Tuchman and the late publisher Katharine Graham. Knopf itself is considered one of the industry's most prestigious publishers.
Rival publishers were caught off-guard by the announcement, with an executive at one commenting "it looks like they did an end run around everybody," Reuters reports.
"Knopf is an interesting choice. It's consistent with how Clinton's trying to change his image," Judith Regan, president and publisher of ReganBooks, told The Associated Press. ReganBooks is an imprint of HarperCollins.
Clinton's representative, Washington attorney Robert Barnett, told the AP that Clinton intends to write much of the book himself, aided by researchers, and that he's already worked out much of the work "in his head."
Will the book make back the money? Multimillion-dollar advances are notoriously risky, with a book having to sell hundreds of thousands -- if not millions -- of copies to earn a profit. Those numbers are usually only reached by authors such as Stephen King and John Grisham. Presidential memoirs usually sell far less.
But even rival publishers believe Clinton's book could be very successful.
"Clinton defies all rules; we've learned that," David Rosenthal, Simon & Schuster's publisher, told the AP. "We're disappointed we didn't get him, but I'm sure he will write a good book and I'm sure it will be a very big-selling book."
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