October 5, 2012

Lena Dunham’s advice is selling for millions of dollars


Melville House books behind Lena Dunham, as seen on Girls.

There are a number of factors that might catapult an author into million-dollar book deal territory, but it-girl Lena Dunham is in a league of her own with a first book at auction that is reportedly in the 3.6 million dollar range. Some are calling her the “voice of a generation,” while others are wondering if anyone has heard of her outside of New York.

Slate’s Browbeat got hold of the proposal on Monday and gives a rundown of the topics she plans to cover in the book, which include …

… losing her virginity, trying to eat well (detailed diet journal included), obsessing about death, and so on, along with tips about how to stay focused on work, how not to ruin a potential relationship… One section will recount various ways in which older men continue to be condescending and sexist, and will describe “the most awkward date ever with an older director.” Another will describe travel to various places, including Israel and Japan.

Twenty-six year old Dunham is appropriately represented by literary agent Kim Witherspoon, who started her own literary agency at the age of twenty-six. The book is being pitched as a collection of advice essays along the lines of Cosmopolitan editor Helen Gurly Brown’s Having It All and is and is tentatively titled “Not That Kind of Girl: Advice by Lena Dunham.”

Based on her characters in Tiny Furniture and Girls, there’s probably a self-deprecating tone to the advice in this book, but we know that Lena really does value female advice from her heartfelt tribute to Nora Ephron in The New Yorker.

We also know that Lena Dunham is a lover of indie presses—in the first episode of Girls, Dunham’s character interns for a publisher that looks suspiciously like Melville House, judging by the books lining the walls—but alas, she has weaknesses like anyone else, and she tweeted and instagramed just this week about receiving a box of books from Amazon.

Based on the books she ordered (Heartburn by Nora Ephron, Dear Jenny, We are All Find by Jenny Zhang, Hell Hath No Fury: Women’s Letters from the End of the Affair edited by Anna Holmes and Healing Back Pain by John E. Sarno, MD) perhaps we can speculate she is doing book research to give advice about getting over a break up, the angst of being a writer, and how to deal with back pain.

The New York Post has reported that editors who still in the auction at this level will meet with Lena Dunham today and she will pick a publisher.



Claire Kelley is a the former Director of Library and Academic Marketing.