Prince Harry increases his millions with his autobiography. Many have tried it, but only one worked as well as it did for him. What Angela Merkel can learn from Harry – and why Boris Becker should do it a third time.
There are good reasons to write an autobiography. Apart from the fact that many people in public life not only like to talk about themselves but also to write, most authors would like to increase their popularity. In a book, celebrities gain the power to interpret what others think of them. Or at least they hope for this effect.
That hasn’t quite worked out for Prince Harry (38) so far: The opinion research institute Yougov published a brand-new survey on Monday, according to which the younger son of British King Charles III. is more unpopular than ever after the reports about the content of his autobiography: 64 percent of his compatriots surveyed now have a negative opinion of him. Only a quarter find it good. In November it was still 40 percent.
More on the subject: “Spare” revelations – the silence of the royals is deceptive – their lawyers are on the lookout
Harry’s autobiography is entitled “Spare”, which means something like “superfluous” or “spare part”. The German edition makes it easier for readers with the title “Reserve”. The advance payment by the publisher for the biography, known in the technical jargon as an “advance”, is said to amount to the equivalent of 20 million euros. Which brings us to another good reason to write an autobiography. You can get really rich with it. Although Harry has announced that he will donate part of it – which always makes one suspicious as long as you don’t know the percentage someone means by “part of it”.
What can be taken for granted is that this advance will not stop there. Harry has given some interviews and has been paid handsomely for them. He also earns money from every book sold. Most recently, the astonishingly round sum of 100 million euros that Harry is supposed to earn from the book haunted the media. Partly speculation, of course. But let’s put it this way: Writing didn’t make him poorer.
Word has long got around from Buckingham Palace to Wimbledon. After all, Boris Becker has already published two autobiographies: in 2003 his work was published with the title “Moment, stay” – Goethe’s “Faust” says hello, after all you have to put yourself on the same level as some writer. Ten years later, the Wimbledon star tried to work through the War of the Roses between him and his first wife in “Life is not a game”. Both books are said to have earned him around 500,000 euros. As we now know, it wasn’t enough. A third book may soon follow. Maybe about his time in prison – you never know.
Hansi Flick’s autobiography was published just before the soccer World Cup. That may not have helped the national coach at the tournament in Qatar, but you learn that no matter how famous you are, biographies don’t sell without drama. In the book, which is well worth reading, Flick talks about his leadership philosophy. Yawn, you could say. This is something for enthusiastic Bayern fans who want to experience the triple 2021 again and again – but not for the big boulevard. Millions in revenue cannot be obtained in this way.
Also read: New details from “Spare” – laughing gas and chicken: This happened at the births of Harry’s kids
Ten years ago, Demi Moore proved how to do it better. The US actress took an advance of 1.6 million alone because everyone wanted to know how her marriage to Ashton Kutcher was really going. Alcohol in large quantities and cocaine addiction also have a stimulating effect on sales. Angela Merkel can’t help with that – if she did, that would be very surprising. The political memoirs of the former Chancellor, which she is currently writing together with her long-standing advisor Beate Baumann, will be published in autumn 2024. According to the announcement, the work will offer exclusive and personal insights into the political life and work of Angela Merkel. “The chancellor doesn’t want to retell her entire life. She would like to explain her key political decisions in her own words,” says Beate Baumann. Has anyone here not understood the principle? Political work is one thing, but it needs a few scandals that only real life offers – right?
The Obamas, quasi the mother and father of all those who write about themselves, hope that things can be done differently. The former US President was already a successful author before he wrote his autobiography: According to Forbes, he earned a good 7.5 million dollars with his non-fiction books (“Dreams From My Father”, “Audacity of Hope”, “A Letter To My Daughters”) . The presidency itself is said to have earned him a salary of around three million. We’ll never know if the idea came from him or his wife Michelle — but it was brilliant: they both wrote an autobiography and marketed it as a package. According to media reports, the publisher shelled out up to 65 million dollars for it.
The Obamas, you guessed it, donate “a larger portion” of that. The sum overshadowed the previous record holders: The Clintons. In 2004, his predecessor Bill Clinton received 15 million dollars for his autobiography “My Life”, the Republican George W. Bush around 10 million dollars for “Decision Points”. Clever was Bill’s wife Hillary: She didn’t publish her autobiography after the presidency – which didn’t come to anything – but in good time before. In 2014, the book entitled “Decisions” looked more like a letter of application to be allowed to run for office. end is known.
Now one must not forget that the proceeds from an autobiography are often only the start. The media trappings help to increase the daily rates for lectures. Former presidents, athletes, just about every public figure makes good money from guest appearances at events. Her sometimes more and sometimes less meaningful speeches bring in five to six-digit sums for a few hours of work. Bill Clinton raked in $200,000 for a decade — not per year, mind you, but per appearance. Bush junior was between $100,000 and $175,000. The Obamas can only smile about that, Barack is supposed to take up to $400,000 to torture himself onto the stage. And Michelle, who, as a reminder, wasn’t president, comes to $200,000.
And for those who can write, the path to podcasts and streaming documentaries is not far: in 2018 Netflix announced a deal with the Obamas: the former first couple would be happy to work on series, documentaries and films. Totals were not known, but the five-part nature park documentary was released in spring 2022 and delighted most critics. Barefoot on the beach, instead of walking through the rose garden in patent leather shoes.
What do we learn from this? As a married couple – or former – it writes financially more successful. From a German point of view, whether Angela Merkel’s husband Joachim Sauer will now also take up pen is just as exciting as the question of whether Boris Becker’s ex-boyfriends will ever get together. But the British are now paying attention to Meghan Markle. Has Harry left his wife with a few enlightening insights? She is even less popular with the British than her husband, as the current survey also shows. Maybe someone will come up with the idea of putting the actress on the screen especially for the British. It cannot be ruled out that she suffers an unpleasant film death to appease the audience.