The Last Word on Opal Mehta
Look, it's bad enough that I've got to walk my dogs past a water-logged David Blaine five times today, but are we still beating up on that 17 year old with the unfortunately large book deal? All the browbeating is extraneous. Let the numbers tell the tale, simply:
Age of Kaavya Viswanathan when deal was made: 17
Age of person old enough to sign a legally binding contract: 18
Percentage of book completed at the time of the deal: 34, approximately
Dollars in advance: almost 500,000
Average dollars in first-time fiction advance: 15,000, maybe.
Number of William Morris agents involved: at least 4
Figures in Dreamworks deal: 6, at least
People involved in "packaging" book at 17th Street/Alloy Entertainment: uncounted.
Alloy Entertainment average percentage of advance: 30-50
Agent's percentage: 15-20
Kaavya's actual advance in dollars: 150,000 to 275,000
Date of deal: February 2005
Print run (number of books printed): 100,000
Copies shipped to bookstores: 55,000
Copies sold: 15,000 or less
Date of scandal: April 2006
Number of passages that are reportedly plagarized: 40 (some say 50)
Number of sources of plagiarism: at least 4
Publisher's loss, in dollars: 485,000 + publicity outlay, recall costs, productions costs, value of publishing reputation, smear on publishing as a whole)
Alloy's gain, in dollars: 150,000 to 250,000 (minus value of souls sold to Lucifer & Co.,)
Book deal Kaavya has now: 0
Film deal Kaavya has now: 0
Years of school she has left at Harvard: 3
Kaavya's current age: 19
Years left to live with this: 60-70, approximately.
Ebay average price for hardcover copy of discontinued book: $30.00
Number of people who have asked my dad about his daughter, Kaavya: 4
Number of people who have said to him that "She looks just like you": 2
Number of times my father wanted to say "My daughter, who goes to Harvard...": innumerable
Amount of money that I would have to be paid to make up for never be taken seriously as a writer: 7 figures, at least, and the promise that I could write privately.
Privilege of having a future as an author: priceless.