British author: Prince Harry probably made millions in ‘Spare’ royalties past his advance

I’ve never read a Richard Osman book, but he’s become quite successful in recent years, starting with The Thursday Murders Club. That’s being developed for a film adaptation! Anyway, Osman is a British personality, comedian, writer, etc. Jack of all trades. He’s also sort of a self-styled expert on publishing now that he’s had some big success as a novelist. Osman decided to dip his toe into the British media’s ongoing obsession with the Sussexes’ finances and career successes. The British media loves to claim (without evidence) that the Sussexes are “failing” or that they’re “broke” or that “no one read Harry’s memoir.” Meanwhile, Spare was the biggest publishing success of 2023, selling millions of hardback copies and audiobooks. Well, Osman decided to correct the record and say that, actually, he believes Harry is probably rolling in money because of Spare’s success.

Prince Harry has already made £22million ($27million) from his book Spare despite it only being out in hardback, fellow bestselling author Richard Osman has claimed. The Duke of Sussex’s controversial memoir became the UK’s fastest-selling non-fiction book ever after being published by Penguin Random House in January 2023. Harry was understood to have clinched a £16million ($20million) advance as part of a £32million ($40million) four-book deal in June 2021 following a bidding war.

Now, Osman – author of hit crime novels including The Thursday Murder Club – has used his publishing industry knowledge to estimate Harry’s income from the book. Speaking on his podcast The Rest Is Entertainment, Osman said: ‘The book that Harry wrote, it’s impossible to overestimate how much money that has made. I mean, it’s been one of the most successful books. The fastest selling non-fiction book of all time. I’ve done some back of the envelope calculations because I like to. I know what you get paid per book. Got a $20million advance. Thing with an advance is, you get paid in advance, $20million in that case, you do not make a penny until your publisher makes back their $20million.’

‘And once they’ve made back their $20million, and there’s all sorts of sliding scales about how that works, what they get, what you get, once you’ve made the $20million, then you get your royalties. I think – and his book has not come out in paperback yet. So this book is purely hardback. I reckon he’s made $26, $27million. So he’s earned out an advance of $20million on the hardback of his first book alone. Forget rights to other things and audiobooks and what have you. He has earned that out already. When the paperback comes out, it’s just money rolling into the Sussexes.’

A spokeswoman for Penguin Random House confirmed to MailOnline today that there is still no release date for the paperback version of Spare.

Osman added that Spare had become the ‘biggest hit of the last ten, 20 years’ and had ‘made everybody an enormous amount of money’. He also pointed out that people were wrong to suggest the book was not a success because it was being heavily discounted or on the shelves of charity shops. Osman added: ‘Harry is not making less money if it’s half-price. He makes exactly the same if you charge $28 and if you charge $14. Also, he sells a lot in America. In America the royalties are absolutely insane because they pay a lot of money for books in America. So he has made a huge amount of money out of that book. So he’s got money coming in.’

[From The Daily Mail]

He also mentioned Suits’ streaming success but (correctly) assumes that Meghan probably isn’t seeing much in residuals given streaming services’ dodgy math when it comes to that sort of thing. The point he was making was that Suits-on-streaming was the biggest TV show of 2023 while Harry had the most successful book of 2023. Therefore, the Sussexes are totally fine financially and culturally. I agree, and I think he’s correct with his math on the book sales too. Before Spare was published, industry experts weighed in on how many units would need to be sold to “break even,” i.e. recoup Harry’s reported $20 million advance. All of those experts put the estimates around 3 million units, give or take a hundred thousand. Spare sold that many copies in the first week. Osman is correct – beyond his advance, Harry has easily made millions. And what if he adds some chapters for a paperback release??

Photos and screencaps courtesy of Avalon Red, Cover Images, 60 Minutes/CBS and The Late Show/CBS.

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76 Responses to “British author: Prince Harry probably made millions in ‘Spare’ royalties past his advance”

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  1. seaflower says:

    You go Harry.

  2. Cessily says:

    I am all for bonus chapters 🤗.. what I am curious about since this article was about how publishing contracts work is, if Prince Harry has earned his signing bonus back for the publisher are his next books virtually pure profit for him? I thought I read he signed a multiple book deal somewhere.

    • Amy Bee says:

      The multiple book deal was never confirmed

    • sevenblue says:

      I thought the multiple book deal rumor is started by the tabloids? The advance was for Spare. Without a book, you can’t get an advance. So, even if he has multiple book deal, he needs to produce something to get some advance. If he writes another one, he is gonna get an advance for it too.

      • Concern Fae says:

        My understanding is that huge advances often include a multi-book portion, because the publisher doesn’t want to do the hard work of building up a new author and then having future books go to a rival house. So the deal was basically for Spare, but there is probably a clause saying they get first look at anything else he may write, like a book about Invictus or Sentebal, or polo.

        I would totally trust Osman’s back of the envelope on this. He’s a TV writer who looked at the money hit books make and decided to write one. Turned me off from reading them. Movie bait books are usually pretty bad. But my book group picked it and I’ve loved them all.

      • sevenblue says:

        @Concern Fae, now thinking about it again, if there is really an exclusivity deal made for the books after Spare, it is only logical that Harry would get some money for that. But, this is separate from the book advance, taken into account for the royalty payments. If he was writing something like a fictional series where the author knows for a fact he is gonna write multiple books, he can present the books’ general story to the publisher to get advance for them too. Apart from that, the advance will be for Spare and he can get another advance if he comes up with another book of course.

      • Shawna says:

        Agree with ConcernFae that there is definitely a first right of refusal, if nothing else.

      • Concern Fae says:

        @sevenblue From my knowledge of publishing deals (as a writer who never got one), the norm is for the advance to be paid up front for the first book and for the earnings of the first book to go towards paying back the advance. There would then be a negotiation for an advance on a second book. My understanding is that there can be all sorts of considerations as to whether to take one. There can be tax implications, as well as the belief that books with bigger advances get more attention from the marketing department.

  3. SussexFan says:

    Ice cream, meet second helpings with toppings

  4. Brassy Rebel says:

    I hope he adds chapters for the paperback. But you just know that once again, he will be accused of betraying his family for money. They don’t stop abusing him and his wife but expect him to never talk about it. Classic abusers.

    • WiththeAmerican says:

      The whole abuser model fits to a t, including cutting him off financially, flying monkeys, and leaking his location.

      This dynamic never changes and abusers don’t change. Charles and William are emotionally sick. (reiterated with emphasis because I’ve seen some people fantasizing that H and M can “ go back” part time.)

  5. equality says:

    So now cue all the pocket watchers who will want to say how much PH should give away of his own earnings while ignoring how much public money the rest of his family keeps.

    • Yes I’m waiting for a nasty article about that. What Harry does with the money he earns is not the gutter presses business. If they want to watch money they should start with their very greedy leftovers.

    • Eurydice says:

      Harry announced that he’d be donating from the proceeds a couple of years ago, didn’t he? I think he’s already given to Sentebale and WellChild.

      • equality says:

        He gave 1.5 mil to Sentebale and 300,000 to WellChild. There are those though who act as if he should give away every penny he makes. I figure those will come out.

  6. Doppelgangers R'Us says:

    I absolutely love the thought of more books. And extra chapters on Spare?
    Hell yes!
    I will be there for Harry to take my money. Lol

  7. Jais says:

    Give me the additional chapters! Lordy, the BM would lose their mind. I’d be willing to just read about their animals in montecito. Tell me about the jam! How Harry’s adapting to Cali. But would also love for the return of petty Virgo Harry. Spotify might better watch out.
    And my mom loves the Thursday night mystery series. I started the first one as an audio book on a car trip but didn’t finish so I’m waiting for my next big trip to finish. Think there’s four? Anyways, love Osman for pointing out that they had the biggest book and the biggest show. But some would have you believe they’re unpopular and failing🙄

    • Lentilcracker says:

      Honestly, anyone lovers of mystery on this thread, read the Thursday Murder Club books, they are delightful!!!! I am re-reading them now. Osman actually mentions Meghan Markle in the fourth one, I suspect he is a fan of hers!

    • BeanieBean says:

      @Jais: yes, at this point there are four books in the series. I’ve read the first two already & am pacing myself on the next two, or until I hear there will be a fifth!

  8. sevenblue says:

    For a minute I was scared to find out another british comedian is gonna out himself as an a**hole to the public by going after H&M. Good to know Osman isn’t a deranger. I saw him on a couple panel shows, he sounded smart and nice. Everyone who owns a calculator agrees with him that Spare was a very successful book which will make generational money even for his great great grandchildren. It is the first time a senior british royal member put a honest record of his life into the public with all good and bad.

    On Suits, I know that the actors don’t make money on royalties for streaming. But, doesn’t the first sale contract give some money to the actors? I assumed the netflix contacts are mostly based on one-time-pay during signing, and not much royalties after because of their hidden math.

    • Amy Bee says:

      Osman has been saying similar things on twitter for months.

      • sevenblue says:

        I don’t have twitter, so honestly I had no idea. When they came up on my youtube recommendations talking sh*t about H&M, I found out most of the time who is an a**hole and who isn’t.

  9. Amy Bee says:

    This is what I thought too. I’ve always found it strange when the British press were saying that Harry and Meghan were running out of money. It also makes me think that the reason Harry and Meghan left Spotify was because after the success of Archetypes they knew that they could make more money by not being exclusive to Spotify. Hence Simmons calling them grifters.

    • sevenblue says:

      Simmons attacked them because he expected a royal gossip podcast. That’s why he was vetoing every idea they came up with. A lot of people on record confirmed that their good ideas got vetoed. It is easy to see what kind of working environment Spotify executives are encouraging by giving millions to Joe Rogan.

      • Amy Bee says:

        I doubt he’s interested in royal gossip. It’s clear that he wanted them to remain exclusive to Spotify and that’s why he called them grifters after they chose to leave. Harry and Meghan knew their worth that’s why they left.

      • sevenblue says:

        @Amy Bee, of course he didn’t say that exactly, but some people came out and said on record that H&M provided a lot of podcast ideas and Simmons rejected them. So, what was he expecting from them? He may not be interested in royal gossip, but he knows it sells very well. He wanted them to remain exclusive to Spotify, but also didn’t approve of their ideas, so how can someone produce content under his management? I obviously agree that he didn’t want them to leave, he just had a different idea of the content he can get from them.

  10. Proud Mary says:

    Congratulations H! Hello Derangers, I think, instead of wasting so much energy hating Meghan, try to learn from her about how to meet and marry a good, hardworking man, who loves you. And no, black magic has nothing to do with it. Start by putting good energy out in the world. That is, start by being nice, kind. No decent person wants to live with nasty bitter people who devote every waking moment to frothing over other people’s love.

  11. ML says:

    Richard Osman’s books are a fun read for those of us that don’t like their crime novels to be incredibly creepy. I enjoy crafting me and on the lighter side, and the seniors are fun. As to what RO said about Spare: smirk, smirk, smirkeddy smirk!

    • Danbury says:

      I love his books! The characters are so compelling, they brought me so much joy (and sadness, too!)

    • manda says:

      I love the books so much. I just am so envious of people who can create characters out of types we all know, but I for one struggle to find the words to describe. Like the way Joyce’s character is, I love her! She seems naive but she’s pretty sharp. And I love Ron and Ibrahim’s friendship!

      I’m so happy Osman is not an HM hater, it would have been so disappointing

    • BeanieBean says:

      I love that the seniors are still the same, competent, intelligent people they were in their pre-retirement lives. As I get closer to that age, I’m starting to get irritated at being treated as less than. I walk more slowly but my brain works as fast as it ever did, thank you very much!

  12. Nanea says:

    So good to see someone of Osman’s renown chiming in with facts and numbers.

    That way the hateful BM can’t brush it underneath the carpet and pretend it didn’t happen.

    I’d love for all of the BM to stop pocket-watching the Sussexes though. They are wealthy and self-made, unlike the Welfare royals, who are taxpayer-funded billionaires but have no idea how things work, or how to do any kind of heartfelt, sincere charitable projects.

  13. Tina says:

    I am just here waiting for the day when the global sales numbers are released. We only know the first week numbers from 4 countries. But it was a best seller all over the world. I think it will end up being the best seller of all time or at least close second to Michelle Obamas excellent memoir.

    • Polo says:

      He’s already over 6 million books sold. There just hasn’t been lots of articles written about it but there was one from a few weeks ago. It’s officially over 6 million.

  14. Tarte au Citron says:

    Osman was a highly successful TV executive for years before he ended up in front of the camera. I recently discovered his behind-the-scenes media studies podcast with Marina Hyde called “The Rest is Entertainment” and I’m enjoying it so far.

    • Digital Unicorn says:

      I love Osman – haven’t started reading The Thursday Murder Club yet but I plan too (have other books to finish off). I was quite sad when he left his role on Pointless 🙁 His brother is the bassist from the band Suede.

      • Tarte au Citron says:

        He is one of those celebrities where I would be GUTTED if it turned out he was an a-hole. :))

      • BlueSky says:

        I have read all 4 of his TMC books and they are fantastic. Really funny. I would recommend getting the audio books. I believe he is currently working on the 5th book in the series.

  15. Mads says:

    He made a fortune from Spare and Osman’s rough calculations do not include e-book or audio versions -where the royalties are much higher (around 20-25% compared to 10-15% for hardback). In addition, he probably gets an extra percentage for being the narrator. When you consider the worldwide sales for the hardback hit around 6 million and the e-book and audio probably between 1.5 to 2 million, I guesstimate the publishers made over £126 million and Harry earned royalties on a sales value of about £100 million, and that’s not including his advance. I imagine his royalties increased every time a sales volume was hit. He made bank and I suspect there’s not going to be a paperback release.

    • Snaggletooth says:

      It’s not hard for people to imagine other best selling authors as having money. But for some reason when it comes to Harry, everyone’s brain is broken. Your math is obviously much closer to reality than “they’re broke” and yet people get sooooo confused about how they are supporting themselves.

      • aftershocks says:

        Interesting calculations @MADS. But what about Harry’s ghostwriter, J.R. Moehringer? Did he get an outright payment advance, too? And, was his contract with or without royalties? Does anyone know how that works for a ghostwriter? 🤔

    • Christine says:

      You seem like you understand the publishing industry, and I’ve got a question! How much time generally passes between hardback to paperback?

      • Mads says:

        The timing is anywhere between 6 – 12 months; if the hardback is still moving decent sales volumes the publisher may hold off on a paperback release as profit margins are higher on the hardback. I’m not sure it will have a paperback version.

    • Isabella says:

      In the U.S., authors get the advance upfront, hence the term advance. They keep that money whether they earn out their advances or not. So Harry probably got the $20 million upon signing. He is now earning royalties and cleaning up. He did not have to wait until the royalty stagecbefore he got the millions, as Osman implies.

      Many authors do not earn out their advances, If the book flops, that is on the publisher.

      • aftershocks says:

        Hmm, if many authors do not earn out their advance, I would imagine there are few who are able to get such huge advances in the first place. Such largesse without sufficient return on investment seems hugely detrimental for the publishing industry, in general.

        BTW, I am not surprised by Harry’s sales stats for Spare. In what universe would his book not be a huge draw? The icing-on-the-cake, of course, is that it’s so beautifully written, honest, heart-breaking, and uplifting! 🥹 👏🏽

      • aftershocks says:

        Something I read recently by scholar, John Truby, in his book, ‘The Anatomy of Genres: How Story Forms Explain the Way the World Works.’

        “Memoir is not about the past; it’s about creating your future.”

        Yep, yep! 🥳 Sounds exactly on-point, especially in Harry’s case! 🌄

  16. Mimi says:

    We know this is true because people used to question how Pres Obama was always a millionaire on tax disclosures when worked for the government. The answer was his books. Writing a successful book is a great way to make passive income into relative perpetuity.

    • Snaggletooth says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if H is also earning 7 figures in consulting fees from betterup and travelyst. That kind of money also generates a lot of investment income. It’s really not as hard as the DM make it out to be to comprehend how Meghan affords her Hermes blankets.

  17. Becks1 says:

    Yeah, Harry made millions in royalties. I love how the British press basically refuses to admit that. And that’s just from the hardback! As others have said, the audiobook and ebook were big bestsellers as well – I mean audible crashed the day Spare came out!

    I think part of what made Suits’ resurgence so significant in the H&M story is that it reminded people that Meghan WAS someone before Harry. She was in a successful show that ran for multiple seasons, and she was good in that show. She did not need to marry Harry to be successful and to have money, she was already there on her own. And while longstanding Sussex/Meghan fans knew that, a lot of casual gossip followers (not even royal followers) didn’t so I think the reminder was important.

    • aftershocks says:

      Exactly @Becks1. There was a small group of people who knew Meg pre-Harry because they were Suits fans and some of them followed Meg on social media. At the time, Meg was becoming better known and well-respected within the entertainment industry. But most of the world did not know her back in 2016. I didn’t. When I first heard her name, ‘Meghan Markle,’ I thought it sounded like a made-up stage name, very alliterative and too good to be true. Of course, it was true. And, her first name I learned was the same as the character she played on Suits, ‘Rachel.’ 😯 Once again, pretty amazing.

      I watched DVDs of Suits during 2017, and I was impressed. I also learned who Meg was by avoiding the tabloids and researching pre-Harry articles, her Instagram, Twitter, and Tig blog, as well as YouTube clips of interviews, Today Show features, and her modeling stints, etc. I was blown away by her 2015 interview on Larry King’s show, plus her amazing speech to the U.N. I discovered and began to respect the real Meghan. This is why KP and courtiers had Meg do away with her Tig blog, and her original Instagram and Twitter accounts. They tried to erase her past.

      I first set eyes on Meghan, the day after the U.S. presidential election, a depressing time. That evening, Entertainment Tonight reported on Prince Harry’s latest girlfriend. I was mildly interested. I remember thinking, ‘How nice for Harry.’ ET used footage from Meghan’s early 2016 trip to Rwanda. The camera went in close-up on her face, and I did a double-take after I noticed the darkness of her eyes. I immediately checked her background, and there it was, her mother is African-American. 👀 Plus, Prince Harry had just confirmed he was dating her via a press release in which he demanded the British media back off their harassment of her. “This is … her life, and [mine].” Knowing that such a press release by Harry was unprecedented for a British royal, I had an inkling that this was a serious relationship. I said to myself, ‘This is gonna be huge.’ I closely followed their relationship as best I could from that moment forward.

  18. Sue says:

    I once made the mistake of trying to explain to a hater that (a) yes Spare was a best seller and it wasn’t fake news and (b) Harry makes the same amount per book regardless of the cover price. They were gloating because they thought book stores not selling it at cover price meant it had tanked. Sigh. Waste of time. Never try to reason with a deranger!

    • Snaggletooth says:

      No because people really become stupid when HM are involved, as in they just forget reality. Has your friend ever seen a book by, say, Dan Brown discounted? Colleen Hoover? JK Rowling ever show up in the free bin? And I bet your friend would have zero difficulty comprehending these authors are extremely wealthy.

    • BlueNailsBetty says:

      Haha, see also: library reads. Authors get paid for library reads. So I always giggle a bit when someone is huffy and says they will read it from the library so the author “doesn’t get my money”. Like, no. The author is still getting paid for that.

      • BeanieBean says:

        Well now that is interesting. I didn’t know that!

      • aftershocks says:

        Yep. Libraries actually purchase bestsellers, perhaps at a discount. But they still have to pay money for their book inventory.

  19. Jay says:

    Sidenote, I love Richard Osman’s mystery series, and he’s telling no lies here!

    I love how he’s correcting the tabloid misconception that Harry’s books haven’t done well and that seeing them “on sale” is somehow proof of this. Same as the ridiculous stories right at the beginning of the book’s release that nobody was lining up or buying in store. Or that not yet being out in paperback is a bad thing!

  20. Miranda says:

    British panel shows are my jam (I often lament that we don’t really have them here in the US, and I’m eternally annoyed because instead of fun things like that, BBC America is mostly reruns of American shows that just happen to have, like, one British cast member. If that! Last time I looked, they were airing blocks of multiple variations of Law & Order 🙄🙄), but knowing how many British celebs seem to randomly talk shit about Harry and Meghan, I often worry if many of the people whom I enjoy on those shows are in fact hateful assholes. I’ve always quite liked Richard Osman, so it’s pleasing to hear this coming from him in particular. And I didn’t even know that he’s an author as well, so figuring out what to read on the beach during my vacation next month is just a bonus!

  21. Digital Unicorn says:

    The RR’s (and the RF) are just crying because H&M are not only making their own money they are RAKING it in while continuing to do good things. Meanwhile we keep getting stories about how the Middleton’s keep stiffing people and have yet to still pay off their creditors – this must really burn the lot of them as they thought they would be raking it in.

  22. Mary Pester says:

    Hold on, hold on, give me a minute, no make that 20, OK ugh ouch ugh, here we go. YES I’m up of the floor now, a fellow Brit, a comedian and a damn good writer to boot, actually told the truth about Harry’s book and Harry’s profit from it!
    Please Harry, pretty please, release that paperback as soon as you possibly can and think the times right,and include those extra pages. You owe your family NOTHING. You have told your father no on several occasions now (👏) and have proved that you and Megan are masters of your own destiny. So DO IT, I just want to still be around when you do and watch your brothers head explode

    • LRB says:

      Mary… I want that other 400 pages…he owes his ‘family’ nothing… given their treatment of him.

      Off topic… I am going to Windsor Castle on Wednesday. My wonderful brother is being given an MBE… not a royalist but extremely proud of my brother. The interesting thing is we still do not know who will be giving out the gongs…I am really hoping for Willi.

      • Mary Pester says:

        @,LRB, congratulations to your brother lovey. If it’s Willie I hope he’s sober and has a very large retainer on those teeth, and for gods sake wear sunglasses incase the light reflects from the chandelier onto his dome lol. Enjoy your day, and sorry but I hope it’s Anne doing the honours

      • BeanieBean says:

        Oooh, congrats to your brother! And please do report back on who gave you the ‘gong’ (love that expression!). If you’re comfortable with that.

  23. Rnot says:

    If Charles is really terminal then I expect the paperback version will be delayed until several months after he passes. Harry won’t be the spare any more at that point and it would be a natural closing place for the story of his relationship with his birth family.

  24. QuiteContrary says:

    I just ordered the three-book Osman bundle to add to my summer reading stash. Thanks for the recommendation!

    And I will totally buy the paperback version of “Spare.”

    • LRB says:

      For me the audio book is the best.. I have the hardback… but hearing Harry is the way to do it. IMO.

  25. Beech says:

    Some time back, last year I reckon, I saw Spare in paperback on HellMart book shelves. In Spanish. Not kosher, should have taken a pic. Does the publishing house know?

    • windyriver says:

      Possibly you saw a large print version? In the US, the large print English version came out in paperback at the same time as everything else in January 2023. It was available at B&N like the rest of the formats..

  26. GTwiecz says:

    Imagine how much more money they can make when Meghan decides to write her book…oh….millions will want to read it, and she is a great story teller. The RF are lucky she hasn’t yet.

    • Christine says:

      Truth. Meghan is smart to wait, what with the entire monarchy teetering on the edge of a cliff.

  27. Advisor2u says:

    Harry gave a statement saying that he was writhing only one book.

    If their is a multiple books deal, the rest concerns Meghan. She wrote one allready, the Bench, which was a bestseller as well, in 12 languages I think (the last one was in Turkish). The rest of her books might be cookbooks, a wellness book, etc.

    And since Prince Harry’s memoir has passed the inadvaced received millions (whatever that amount was) ánd the publisher’s equal millions cut, than – if Meghan’s deal was part of that inadvance payment – her books will be pure profit for the Sussexes, without her even have written a word yet.