How Amanda Knox and a top attorney won a $4m book deal
Legal and character questions can't stop New York publishers offering top dollar for Knox's story
AMANDA KNOX needed to get a good publishing deal for her memoirs in order to help her family pay off the huge costs they incurred in their four-year battle to win her freedom – and she went about it the right way.
She chose no ordinary agent to negotiate her deal, but the Washington lawyer Robert Barnett, who has handled publishing negotiations for American presidents (Obama, Bush and Clinton), one wannabe president (Sarah Palin) and one British prime minister so far (Tony Blair).
The size of her deal with HarperCollins – those in the know say it was $4m – may have shocked many in the press, who had been expecting something in the region of $1m. But it will have come as no surprise to Barnett who managed to get seven top publishing houses to submit bids. They included all the major New York publishing houses - Random House, Simon & Schuster and Penguin USA as well as Rupert Murdoch's HarperCollins.
Barnett had two things going for him – the story itself, of an angelic young American's nightmare experience in the Italian judicial and penal system, after her British flatmate, Meredith Kercher, was found dead in a pool of blood in November 2007. And the girl herself who, according to all accounts, knocked the socks off the publishers she met – "everyone fell in love with her" one anonymous executive said - and had been astute enough to keep journals during her years in jail in Perugia.
The Media Decoder column in the New York Times claims some people in publishing held back because they questioned the prospects of a book written by Knox, "who is not viewed sympathetically by some members of the public".
There will be others, too, concerned that the legal saga is not yet over – that the courts could still challenge her innocence. As we reported earlier this week, both the Italian prosecutors and lawyers representing the Kercher family have filed a petition to Italy's Supreme Court demanding that the successful appeal that saw the release of Knox and her co-defendant Raffaele Sollecito last October should be overturned on various legal points.
But all these nay-sayers were clearly outnumbered by those convinced that the 24-year-old from Seattle can, with the help of a co-writer, produce a best-seller.
Jonathan Burnham, the boss at HarperCollins, said: "It is a story that everyone else seems to have told except for the person at the centre of it all. There has been plenty of rumour and conjecture about her personality, the role she played in events, and speculation about what happened. This book will tell the full story from her point of view for the very first time, and it will be told in her own words."
The Daily Mail predicts the family of Meredith Kercher will be angered by the news of Amanda Knox's deal. They have in the past urged Knox not to write a book and, as their legal petition indicates, they remain unconvinced that Knox and Sollecito did not at least play a part in Meredith's death.
However, Meredith's father, John Kercher, has his own book about his daughter's life and death coming out in April. He wasn't paid a fraction of Amanda Knox's $4m, but it makes it a little harder to argue that Knox should not be publishing. ·