Less than one month after leaving office, the Obamas have signed Washington, D.C., attorneys Robert Barnett and Deneen Howell to “manage contract negotiations with potential publishers for the former president and Mrs. Obama’s respective books,” Kevin Lewis, a spokesman for the former president, says in a statement to PEOPLE.
With an eye on the equally lucrative speakers’ circuit, the Obamas also announced on Friday that they have selected the Harry Walker Agency to coordinate speaking engagements. The heavyweight agency also manages Bill Clinton, Dick Cheney, Al Gore and Barbara Walters.
There are not yet any dates set for the speaking opportunities or the book releases, says a source close to the Obamas. As another person involved in the process put it, “We are just launching on the adventure.”
These two new ventures come on top of the work the former First Couple are expected to pursue at the Obama Foundation. As the former president put it at the end of last year: “With respect to my priorities when I leave, it is to build that next generation of leadership; organizers, journalists, politicians. I see them in America, I see them around the world, 20-year-olds, 30-year-olds who are just full of talent, full of idealism. And the question is how do we link them up? How do we give them the tools for them to bring about progressive change? And I want to use my presidential center as a mechanism for developing that next generation of talent.”
In Barnett the Obamas are getting a super-lawyer with a long record of landing big book deals for the biggest authors, especially in politics. Former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, former first ladies Laura Bush and Hillary Clinton, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and the late Sen. Edward M. Kennedy are just a few of the names in Barnett’s portfolio.
Both of the Obamas’ books are expected to be very successful. While this will be Mrs. Obama’s first time writing a memoir, former President Obama already has two bestselling books under his belt: 1995’s Dreams from My Father and 2006’s The Audacity of Hope.
The news comes just one week after the Obamas returned home from vacation to settle in to their new rental mansion in Washington, D.C. They had spent 10 days at Virgin Group founder Sir Richard Branson’s private island retreat, where Obama reveled in kitesurfing and beach time.