After watching Williams & Connolly partner Robert Barnett do multimillion-dollar deals for such clients as Bill Clinton and Alan Greenspan, rival book agents hoped he would take a rest.
It is not to be. Barnett has agreed to represent former British prime minister Tony Blair on a memoir deal that is likely to eclipse Greenspan’s $8.5 million and may rival the $12 million Barnett negotiated for Clinton.
By billing clients by the hour, Barnett stirs up resentment among traditional literary agents, who take 15 to 20 percent of an author’s advance. That would be a very nice payment for a big book if Barnett were not undercutting them, even with his nearly $1,000-an-hour fee.
At least half a dozen publishers, some in England, are thirsting to get their hands on Blair’s take—and the war in Iraq and his friendships with Presidents Clinton and Bush are the least of it.
Sources say what may vault Blair’s book into the sales stratosphere will be his account of the days and weeks following the death of Princess Diana.
Barnett plans to pitch the book to publishers this month.