March 15, 2006

Who Actually Reads This Stuff?

The NYTimes published an article today entitled “Religious Broadcaster Gets Rich Contract for Next Book” while I think that’s a bit of an unfair headline, what do you expect from the Times?
Multimillion-dollar book deals are usually the realm of presidents, popes and Federal Reserve chairmen, plus the occasional mega-best-selling novelist like James Patterson or Michael Crichton.

Add to that list Joel Osteen, the pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, one of the nation's largest congregations, and the author of "Your Best Life Now: 7 Steps to Living at Your Full Potential."
I have to say I personally dislike Osteen, perhaps its his twangy accent, his shockingly white teeth, or his bland message, but I just don’t like the guy much.
Mr. Osteen, a television evangelist, has signed a book deal with Free Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster, that publishing insiders say is potentially one of the richest for a nonfiction book and could bring the author more than $10 million.

The contract does not adhere to usual format, with the author receiving an advance on future royalties and the royalty rate set at 15 percent of the cover price of each book sold. Rather, the Osteen contract is known in the industry as a co-publishing agreement, with the author receiving a smaller advance — perhaps $1 million to $2 million — but then being entitled to receive 50 percent of the publisher's profit on sales.
It seems that the $10 million number is pretty guestimated, but even so is appropriate for a pastor do make that much money off a book deal? I suppose his sales impact his deal (and his sales were quite good) but of course Rick Warren (who has yet to write a new book) has sold many, many more books then Osteen. It would be interesting to see how much Warren would be offered, and how much he’d take.

There is a slight glimmer of hope here (if you ignore the ‘prosperity Gospel’ part of it) ...
Given the success of "Your Best Life," Mr. Osteen last year gave up his $200,000 salary from his church. His teachings emphasize that consistent tithing — the giving of 10 percent of a person's income to the church — brings even greater rewards, both spiritual and otherwise.
Of course again, Rick Warren gives away something like 90% of his income and calls himself a ‘reverse tither.’ One wonders how much Osteen plans to give away and what his plans for this book deal will be. I’ll reserve my judgment for the future.


At March 16, 2006 8:09 PM, Blogger Isaac said...

You asked "It would be interesting to see how much Warren would be offered, and how much he’d take." I'm sure RW would be in that $10m range. but would it be responsible not to negotiate the most profitable contract? even if he took as much as he could from the publisher so he could give it away. And if he did get $10m or whatever, is it right to announce that he's giving some, or all, of it away? should he just let everyone assume he kept it (it's his to do what he likes with) and give away what he feels called to?

At March 17, 2006 6:46 PM, Blogger Justin Jenkins said...

There is nothing at all wrong with getting the most money you can ... within reason. I’m not saying Joel shouldn’t accept 10 million if that’s what they want to pay him, like I said, I’ll reserve my judgment.

But I think the reality is yes, it may be the right thing to do announce you’re giving it away. You don’t need to say to whom, or how much exactly --- but frankly as an example he should make it known, and encourage others to follow his act. Especially when you consider it’s not really his money, its God’s.

On a personal level in our everyday lives it makes sense to follow the ‘let your left hand know what your right hand is doing’ idea --- but when you’re in the lime light like Rick or Joel its very important to set a good example (to Christians and non-Christians alike,) and do conduct yourself in a manner above reproach.


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