Amy Schumer Sets New Benchmark for Women in Comedy

By Sydney Jean Gottfried

News broke last week that comedian Amy Schumer landed a huge seven-figure book deal with Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books. Although the official figure has not been released, the rights to Schumer’s first book are reported to have gone for between $8-10 million at auction, according to publishing execs.

The book’s working title is The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo and is set to be released in late 2016. Gallery told the Associated Press that the book will “offer personal and observational stories from Schumer that range from the raunchy to the romantic, the heartfelt to the harrowing.”

The famously loquacious comedian said in a statement, “Believe it or not, there’s actually more I have to say. “

The deal was announced on the heels of Schumer’s Emmy win for hit Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer, marking another milestone in what has turned out to be a meteoric year for the star. In July, Schumer made her feature film debut in self-penned Trainwreck, a Judd Apatow-directed comedy that drew in more than $138 million worldwide.

What’s most remarkable about Schumer’s book deal is that she originally sold the rights to her book in 2013 to Harper Collins for a mere $1 million. But in 2014, a year after her show premiered, Schumer decided she did not have enough time to devote to the project and returned the advance plus interest to the publishing house. She also believed the deal might be worth more later, once her career had progressed. In the July issue of GQ, Schumer addressed the cancelled contract saying, “I had a whole deal, but I decided to wait – I thought I would make more money if I waited.”

When she was ready to shop for a publisher again, Schumer hired literary agent David Kuhn. According to The New York Times, Kuhn sent out a detailed proposal of the book to publishing houses with sample essays exploring heavy themes like her father’s illness and alcoholism and a traumatic sexual experience. Upon signing with Gallery Books for $8-10 million, Schumer had in-effect negotiated herself a $7-9 million dollar raise, in the span of only a few years.

The increase is particularly noteworthy in the context of paychecks generated by other female celebrity comedic memoirs. Schumer’s book is more valuable than Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned, which landed the Girls creator a $3.5 million advance. It’s even more valuable than Tina Fey’s Bossypants, for which the star reportedly received a $6 million advance.

So what have we learned? Publishing houses are shelling out serious bucks for seriously funny women—and by staying true to herself and her business intuitions, Amy Schumer slapped a massive new price tag on the humorous female voice.