Likelihood of Success

Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog

Vanity press

Posted by Ron Coleman on August 7, 2008

Instapundit links to a Drudge report that no one is buying Nancy Pelosi’s book. That’s hardly surprising; most congressional “leaders” are uninspiring and uninspired. The support of their respective caucuses is in fact a counter-indication of originality or boldness, which are just about the only thing anyone reading a book by a politician can hope for. (Unless he’s really skinny, I guess.)

The sad part for Pelosi is that the practice by which publishers bestow massive donations on their favored politicians via utterly unrecoverable publishing “advances” was barred by the House of Representatives. Therefore she could not get even a fraction of the phenomenal sweetheart advance paid to then Senator-elect Hillary Clinton for her various scribblings — which, while they were bought by many, still did not come close to earning out the advance paid by a publishing industry supposedly beset by economic crisis.

That means Pelosi must have really thought people would want to buy her book.

Chilling. That’s what enough time in Congress does to people.

UPDATE: Left-wing “media monitor” Media Matters insists that the Hillary Clinton book did, in fact, earn out its advance — making it the exception that proves the rule, but an exception nonetheless. Here’s how the New York Press article I quoted explains its conclusion that, nonetheless, her book deal was unusually sweet:

Last reports are that Living History sold 1.2 million copies, and bookstores are reporting that sales in the last couple weeks have dropped way off. It seems she could sell a million and a half by year’s end–-but not much more. There’s really no way they could have expected it to, which means that Simon & Schuster effectively altered the ratio of publisher/author earnings for Clinton. Hillary didn’t get just 15 percent, the maximum percentage that authors earn in royalties; she got a million to a million and a half more than the 15 percent would have yielded.

This is money that, under the standard ratio, Simon & Schuster would have pocketed. At the median 12.5 percent royalty, under which Clinton earns $3.50 per book, her cut is $5,250,000–and the advance of $8 million represents an overpayment of almost $3 million.

Proceeds from sales of foreign rights and paperback rights have also ratcheted up the book’s total earnings, and counted against the advance. Still, it doesn’t add up when Living History is compared to another bestseller by a prominent politico that spent weeks on the New York Times best-seller list a few years back (Living History has been on the list for six weeks). This author didn’t take an advance at all and instead was paid royalties as the sales of the book went through. He was paid, it was assumed, at the same rate as Hillary–15 percent, though his book was a few dollars cheaper–$24, not $28.

But his total take from the book was $2.5 million, according to a source. This is almost a third of Hillary’s eight million. There’s no doubt about it; Simon & Schuster took a pay cut on Hillary Clinton.

Still and all, the Press acknowledged that this was a deal that the Simon & Schuster had every legal and moral right to make, and I certainly wouldn’t suggest otherwise.

What’s cute is how Media Matters gets to this point, and how it deals with its conclusion. Here’s an excerpt from the Media Matters piece:

New York Times staff editor Tobin Harshaw, in an August 7 post on The Opinionator blog, uncritically quoted conservative blogger Ron Coleman’s assertion that Sen. Hillary Clinton has not “come close to earning out the advance paid by” Simon & Schuster for her 2003 autobiography, Living History. But according to the Times‘ own reporting, sales of the book have covered Clinton’s advance.

And so on. Now, I won’t kid you: This blog is not on the Opinionator radar either. This item was linked to by Instapundit, though, and that’s how it got to Media Matters.  In any event, on the right sidebar, there’s a section that says, “TAKE ACTION!” and then sets forth the New York Times‘ contact information. It suggests that readers outraged by this slight to the literary merit of Senator Clinton write directly to Public Editor Clare Hoyt, without explaining why readers don’t contact the author of the Opinionator piece, Tobin Harshaw.

That’s bad enough, but they also don’t suggest contacting the “conservative blogger” who supposedly spum this wicked spin himself! That is probably because in the world of Media Matters, it is the Times that is guilty of political treason — reporting the “wrong side” of a story on which it should, by right, have been on the “right side.” So “TAKE ACTION!” screams Media Matters. Keep fellow travelers in line!

As to the guy who arguably got the story wrong in the first place? Not only is he merely a blogger — he’s a conservative, and like us not even remotely interested in the truth if it contradicts even a subsidiary part of his thesis. Don’t bother with him!


7 Responses to “Vanity press”

  1. baldilocks said

    ‘Know Your Power’ Bombs (UPDATED)…

    When I said that Nancy Pelosi’s book would probably not make any bestseller lists, I was just going by the few posted Amazon ratings. Turns out that the there have been only 2,737 copies of the book sold anywhere. I…

  2. Bob Miller said

    Pelosi needs a catchier title, like “This Very Old House and How I Wrecked It”

  3. JACK RICE said


  4. jaymaster said

    Now she can say, “I’m a speaker AND a writer!”

    I despise her politics, and I’m not upset to see her book flop on that level.

    But still….

    If someone offered me a deal to write a book, covering any topics I desire, with no guarantee of a payment, but at no cost to me, and they threw in a ghost writer or two to help get ‘er done, I’d take them up on it.

    Wouldn’t you?

  5. Phillep Harding said

    So, a business avoids going broke while wasting money like that.

    Or, is it their money? Does someone give them that money to pass on to the liberal author? How would anyone follow the money trail back to the source?

  6. Fred Komarow said

    I wonder how many of the 2,737 books sold (at retail) will actually be read by the purchasers.

  7. oldgoat46 said

    Well the answer is simple. The reason she hasn’t sold many books is that the people who voted her in, the people she wants to give all our hard earned tax dollars to…CAN’T SPEAK ENGLISH!

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