Fox News’ Megyn Kelly Back in Spotlight as Contract Talks Heat Up, Book Launch Looms

Megyn Kelly Donald Trump
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Megyn Kelly isn’t often linked with big-ticket book authors like Paula Hawkins and Nicholas Sparks, but in just a few weeks, she is likely to have a strong connection with them.

Booksellers believe the Fox News anchor’s new memoir, “Settle for More,” slated for release on Nov. 15, will be an automatic best-seller. “This is going to be one of the biggest books of the year,” said Daisy Kline, VP of books at Barnes & Noble. “We feel enormous confidence in her ability to generate awareness of it,” she added.

The book’s release is likely to draw more attention to Kelly at a time when she already has a surfeit. Contract talks between the anchor and Fox News Channel have become more public after 21st Century Fox executive chairman Rupert Murdoch told the Wall Street Journal on Wednesday that he was eager to keep her on at the cable-news outlet, even as she sought what the newspaper said was an annual salary of more than $20 million. This year, in the final months of her existing contract, Kelly is earning about $15 million.

Kelly was surprised by Murdoch’s comments to the Journal, which she read just before going on air to host Wednesday’s edition of “The Kelly File,” according to a person familiar with Kelly’s thinking. The anchor, this person said, was bemused that the Fox boss would publicly address a private negotiation, but she was not angered to the degree that his comments might influence her decision about whether to remain with Fox News.

The surprise from Murdoch is the latest development in what has been an eventful 16 months for Kelly, ever since she grilled then-candidate Donald Trump about his treatment of women during a Republican primary debate in August 2015. The candidate blasted her via social media, leading to a high level of back and forth between the Trump campaign and Fox News Channel. More recently, Kelly had a combative on-air interview regarding Trump with former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich on her “Kelly File” on Tuesday.

All of this sets the stage for big book numbers. Kelly’s tome was already considered a hot item this year, said Kline. Now the recent news that she has updated the Harper Collins tome with a chapter about this summer’s scandal involving sexual-harassment allegations made against former Fox News chief Roger Ailes will fan anticipation higher. Kelly has not spoken publicly about the matter, but did not join with other employees of the network who defended Ailes as multiple allegations were made – making her words on the matter a must-read in media circles.

And besides, “Settle for More” will arrive in bookstores just as the nation begins to recover from one of the most intense and scrutinized election cycles in recent memory. Kelly’s insight into that process will be welcome, said Jon Purves, director of marketing and publicity at Politics & Prose, a popular Washington, D.C. bookseller that focuses on tomes related to the inner workings of government, business and media. “You are talking about events which are still unfolding,” he said. “There’s certainly anticipation and so much of it is hinges on the election and the events of the next few weeks.”

As for Kelly’s future at Fox News, her current contract runs through the middle of next year. At present, she’s in a window that allows her to engage with other prospective employers. Kelly’s representatives at CAA are in the midst of “due diligence” to get a handle on what her options could be if she left Fox News, but are not expected to make a final decision for some time yet, given that she is working furiously as Election Day approaches, and then has a whirlwind of promotional duties for her book. Kelly, the person said, is generally happy with her role at Fox News but is also aiming to find a way to spend more time with her children. Moreover, she is realistic about the limits of being able to chart her own course at a rival news outlet or pull in the same salary elsewhere that Fox appears prepared to offer.

In November, the book launch is likely to take up more of her time, although she will not do any events before Election Day so as not to give the impression of trying to influence voters. As part of her tour, she is expected to do book-signings at three Barnes & Noble stores in New York and Florida, said Kline. She will also take part in a ticketed event in Washington, D.C. in association with Politics & Prose. Barnes & Noble intends to give “Settle for More” prominent space in its outlets, said Kline, including front-of-store placement.

One promotion for the book has already launched. Fans who pre-order a signed hardcover copy of “Settle for More” during the month of October are eligible to receive a “Settle for More” wristband, so long as supplies last. A publicist assigned to Kelly’s book at Harper Collins, part of News Corp., a Murdoch-controlled sister to 21st Century Fox, did not respond to a query seeking  information on how the publisher intended to market the book.

The top-selling books of 2016 have included Bruce Springsteen’s biography and Jodi Picoult’s novel “Small Great Things.” And also the latest book from a Fox News co-worker: Bill O’Reilly. His “Killing the Rising Sun: How America Vanquished World War II Japan,” has sold more than 485,000 units in 2016, according to Nielsen BookScan. Kelly’s ratings are often compared to those of “The O’Reilly Factor.” Book sales might be next.

Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.