After 18 years, best-selling crime novelist Patricia Cornwell is leaving Penguin for HarperCollins, making her the first major writer to jump ship since Penguin and Random House merged last month. Cornwell, best known for her crime novels based on medical examiner Kay Scarpetta, signed on for an eight figure, two-book deal with the HarperCollins' William Morris imprint. Penguin's Putnam imprint will release Dust, the 21st Scarpetta book in November, and William Morris will print the following one in the fall of 2014.
To put this deal in perspective, note that Lena Dunham got $3.5 million for her upcoming book and J.K. Rowling's advance for The Casual Vacancy was $8 million. Both are a mere pittance in comparison to whatever Cornwell will now make. And then, of course, there's the $51 million settlement she won against her former financial management team.
With this move, Cornwell will also "have a global English-language publisher for the first time," according to Brian Murray, chief executive of HarperCollins Publishers. That's because in the United Kingdom, she'll be switching from Little, Brown to HarperCollins UK.
This move also makes Cornwell the first big author to leave Penguin since its merger with Random House. Cornwell's agent, however, "played down the impact of the merger on Ms. Cornwell's decision to leave Putnam, adding, 'She'll be the biggest writer Morrow has. It's energizing,'" according to The Wall Street Journal.
In addition to her Scarpetta novels, Cornwell has drew up some controversy when she argued that famous British painter Walter Sickert may have been the actual Jack the Ripper. She also released two cookbooks, one of which was called Food to Die For.