David of the Bible had Bathsheba. David of the U.S. Army (Petraeus) acknowledged having an affair with Paula Broadwell. In between, countless public figures have had mistresses both infamous and famous, some of whom, after the sheets cooled, put pen to paper and dished the delicious details of their sin.
Monica Lewinsky reportedly got a $600,000 advance for her 1999 account of having shared a cigar with President Bill Clinton. In addition, she reportedly got 10 percent of the royalties from her $24 book. According to the Washington Post, she earned hundreds of thousands of dollars more from giving interviews to news organizations. "Monica's Story," according to USA Today, was one of the biggest sellers in the history of St. Martin's Press, with an initial printing of 400,000 copies.
Lewinski did okay. But Reille Hunter, memoirist and mistress of one-time presidential candidate John Edwards, did not. Her "What Really Happened: John Edwards, Our Daughter, and Me," released in June, had by July sold only 6,000 copies, according to Bookscan and the New York Post. It currently ranks number 22,533 among Amazon.com best sellers. Hunter got what the New Republic called "a paltry $12,000 advance" for the 256-page doorstop-to-be.
And so, on to Paula Broadwell: She already is a published author with a gift for titles ("All In: The Education of General David Petraeus").
Did she keep a diary of their alleged affair? Is she working on a memoir? No one says she did, or that she is. To date she has given no interviews to the press, including to ABC News.
If, however, she were to write her story, how much might she get?
Peter Bernstein of the Peter W. Bernstein Literary Agency in New York City thinks Broadwell could get "a sizeable six-figure advance." The exact amount, he says, would depend on what sort of outline she submitted, and on the particulars of her story. "It depends on what the story really is—how broad and how wide-ranging. At the moment, we don't know the answers to those questions."
New chapters of her story appear daily in the news—most recently, her being stripped of her security clearances in the wake of the still developing scandal.
A Broadwell memoir could, like Lewinski's, be a smash; or, like Hunter's, a dud. Observes Bernstein, "The whole mistress memoir category--from Judith Exner to Fanny Foxe to Donna Rice to Monica Lewinsky to Rielle Hunter--has had a pretty mixed to mediocre track record, in terms of actual book sales.
"Mimi Alford's recent JFK memoir, which was a best seller, may be the exception that proves the rule. That doesn't mean that some publisher wouldn't offer [Broadwell] a big advance, or that the book, depending on the revelations it has to offer, wouldn't generate a lot of publicity."
"Of course," adds the agent tongue-in-cheek, if Broadwell with her well-developed biceps combined her memoir with a fitness guide on how to do the perfect push-up, "it really might sell well."