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.