Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony are home from the hospital with their newborn twins, and chances are you'll be seeing them on the cover of People magazine.
Managing editor Larry Hackett is "confident" his magazine will be showcasing the infants, born Feb. 22. "We're the biggest, we've been around the longest, we're the top in our field," he says. "If someone of equal wattage has been there, they (celebrities) want to be there too."
And plenty of wattage has come before: Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Britney Spears and Gwyneth Paltrow, to name just a few.
But People isn't the only game in town. Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise revealed daughter Suri on the cover of Vanity Fair, Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale picked OK! to showcase son Kingston, and Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott's son, Liam, was featured in Us Weekly.
"In the old days, there was just People magazine and the tabloids," Hackett says. "There's simply more and more celebrity media."
So celebs have more and more options. Publications sometimes compete, resulting in photos going for large sums, money that sometimes goes to charity, sometimes not.
"Celebrities are in the business of making money," says Janice Min, editor of Us Weekly. "They have their image, which they use to make money on almost every aspect of their life. … This is just another revenue stream for them."
Even before the Lopez-Anthony twins were born, reports surfaced of offers for photos in the $4 million to $6 million range.
Hackett won't discuss actual figures but says, "These numbers are grossly inaccurate" and often "come from competitors who wanted the pictures and didn't get them. You can almost set your watch to 'I heard you paid …' "
For Christina Aguilera and son Max, the figure that popped up was $1.5 million, and People was scrutinized in reports that said the issue, dated Feb. 25, undersold. Hackett counters: "I am thrilled with Christina. It was a solid performer and not under expectations. I would buy Christina's pictures again in a second."
But landing baby photos is about more than sales, he says. "The biggest factor is reader satisfaction and reader enjoyment. Celebrities want to be in your magazine, and readers expect them to be."
With so many outlets in the game, sometimes a third party brokers the deal.
Getty Images brought Jolie and Pitt together with People in June 2006 after Shiloh Nouvel was born.
Roxanne Motamedi, who heads up Getty's entertainment content, has acted as a negotiator of sorts between publications and celebrity camps and calls the process "nerve-racking."
A list of possible outlets is drawn up, figures are discussed, and the bidding begins.
"We try to just make sure that (the celebs) are comfortable with the list of magazines," she says, declining to name specifics. One rule: no tabloids.
Though rumors of high-dollar deals often begin to circulate during a pregnancy, Hackett says, "nothing serious takes place until a baby is born."
Securing an agreement can take weeks or days. "It depends on the urgency." Hackett says the photos of Shiloh were negotiated over a weekend.
With so many stars shopping baby shots, a sort of protocol has evolved. Here's how celebs make the most of their newborn's moment:
1. Keep the baby under wraps.
Once a celebrity gives birth, it's key to keep the child in hiding until the big reveal.
"If it's going to be an exclusive, they have to be cautious not to go out with the child," Motamedi says. "The baby's face shouldn't be seen."
Aguilera and husband Jordan Bratman and Spears and then-husband Kevin Federline were vigilant about keeping their newborns undercover until showcasing them in People.
But magazines don't hold them hostage. "If we have the pictures, we run them as soon as possible," Hackett says. "There's no upside to sitting on a set of baby pictures. Your competitor is going to try to get a picture of their own through the paparazzi."
2. Get out there yourself.
A Mommy's or Daddy's day out, one public enough to ensure post-pregnancy pictures in the weeklies, helps keep public interest high.
Aguilera showed off her curvy postpartum figure at a DVD signing less than a month after giving birth; her photos were published the following week. Nicole Richie hit the Grammy Awards party circuit a month after daughter Harlow was born; her People exclusive hits stands Friday.
3. Make a perfect picture.
The photos almost always show happy baby and the great-looking new mom on the cover, and the inside pages show a blissful home life.
The ideal location: the celebrity's home, Motamedi says. The situation is "controlled, at their own time, and the celebrity looks good."
The perfect picture can take time. It all depends on "how comfortable they are to allow the photographer to get the right shot," Motamedi says.