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The Dollars-Per-Word Pay Decoder

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What’s a word worth in the topsy-turvy economics of today’s content-providing business? Inspired by a University of Minnesota researcher who applied that metric to Sarah Palin’s three-year stint as a Fox News commentator (which paid her $15.85 for every utterance, it turns out), we did some math of our own. Here, our best estimates* of the rates other notables have collected for putting syllables together.


Robert Caro: $.015 per word for the original manuscript of The Power Broker.

Dave Eggers: $.77 per word for A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.

Stephenie Meyer: $2 per word for the three Twilight books.

Ira Glass: $3 per word for an episode of “This American Life.”

Jonathan Safran Foer: $5 per word for Everything Is Illuminated.

Stephen Colbert: $16 per word for a 2013 episode of The Colbert Report.

Malcolm Gladwell: $19 per word for The Tipping Point.

Bill Clinton: $33 per word for My Life.

Hillary Clinton: $38 per word for ­Living History.

J.K. Rowling: $50 per word for The Casual Vacancy.

Jon Stewart: $63 per word for a 2013 episode of The Daily Show

David Letterman: $111 per word for a 2013 episode of The Late Show

Charlie Sheen: $679 per word for a tweet endorsing Internships.com.

Julia Roberts: $12,000 per word for a cameo in Valentine's Day

*Rates for authors do not include royalties. Words per book are based on the average number of words in a sampling of pages. Spoken words were estimated using averages from sample episodes.

Have good intel? Send tips to intel@nymag.com.


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