Even for someone as loved as Tina Fey, a reported $6 million advance seemed like a lot of money for a book of essays.
But five years after its publication, “Bossypants” has sold 3.75 million copies, according to Little, Brown and Co. And it confirmed a market for smart, funny nonfiction such as Amy Poehler’s “Yes Please” and Mindy Kaling’s “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?”
In an email interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, Fey discussed “Bossypants” and some books she has enjoyed recently. She also had a few words for author-journalist Gay Talese, who said last weekend that he could think of no women journalists who inspired him when he was young.
Q: When the book was first published, what were your expectations?
A: My goal was just to avoid humiliation. After years of writing character-based comedy in a group process with other writers, a book “about me written by me alone” made me feel panicky and vulnerable. I kept telling my husband, “This is going to ruin me.”
Q: Why do you think it has done so well, beyond, of course, your fame and the quality of the writing?
A: It’s also edible. Well, I guess all books are if you’re hungry enough.
Q: Any books you’d like to recommend that you’ve read lately?
A: I enjoyed Diane Von Furstenberg’s autobiography. I loved “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’m currently reading “Dinosaurs in the Attic” — nonfiction about the American Museum of Natural History. Nothing by Gay Talese has moved me.