Alicia Keys would like to transform her diary entries into a full-fledged book, but there’s trouble brewing behind the scenes.
Two literary agents are vying for the right to represent the singer’s publishing deal, with one claiming the deal has already been made, causing uncertainty about whether her book would actually hit shelves as planned or could be tied up in possible litigation.
Keys first made the rounds to shop her book with literary agent Noah Lukeman, who took a series of meetings with New York publishers earlier this year and then conducted an auction, with Bantam reportedly coming out on top with a bid of $1.15 million. But in an unusual move, a second agent, David Vigliano, started telling publishers that he represented the rights to the singer’s journal. He’s since been conducting his own set of publisher meetings, as if the book had never been sold.
“The situation is simple,” Lukeman said. “I was fully authorized by Alicia’s management company to represent this book. I did so, and brought them a substantial offer. … They suddenly, without cause, decided not to honor their commitment to me. Apparently, they are now engaging someone else to be the agent, presumably to try to find more money.”
But how much money can Keys realistically expect from the book? Not much more, said publishers who took meetings with the singer’s respective agents, neither of whom provided a written proposal from the singer, beyond the diary she’s been keeping since she was 14 (sections of which can be read at www.aliciakeys.net).
“I can’t see her getting a lot more money,” said one publishing source who took a meeting during the second go-round. “Anyone can say they want to do a book, and people will take meetings because it’s Alicia Keys, but how will it work? She hasn’t lived long enough for a memoir or a history. She doesn’t have a plethora of literary ideas to flesh out.”
“There’s no material,” said another publishing source who took a meeting during the first go-round. “She said her inspiration was coming from [Nick Bantock’s] ’Griffin & Sabine’ books, but how do you do that? She said she wanted to be like Jewel, although have writing that’s more personal and not just poetry.”
For his part, Vigliano said, “I’m really not interested in discussing Noah Lukeman or his ideas about whether he was representing Alicia.” Keys’ publicist and Bantam Books didn’t return calls for comment.