Saturday, December 29, 2007

Book Publishing for Dummies

Kelly Powers of Obie Joe Media forwarded me an article by Howard Kurtz in today's Washington Post that had me shaking my head in disbelief/dismay:

Dennis Kucinich has an autobiography out, but very few people know about it.

That's because the Democratic presidential candidate has barely mentioned the book. In fact, he never signed a contract with his publisher....

"I've been exceptionally disappointed in the man," says Michael Viner, chief executive of Phoenix Books. After printing 20,000 copies and spending more than $100,000 on promotion, he says, he has seen the book sell 500 copies in two months.
Seems that the Ohio Congressman didn't like the contract because it--gasp!--required that he give Phoenix an option on his next book, and that he "would receive no profits until the company had recouped its expenses." (House rules prevent him from receiving an advance.)

It gets even better.

Kucinich also didn't deliver the book that the publisher expected. THE COURAGE TO SURVIVE only covers his life till age 21, and has nothing about his recent career (nor his gorgeous young redheaded Amazon wife, which is what we really want to read about). Nevertheless Viner rushed it into print for a November 1 pub date and paid for an outside publicist, who said that Kucinich had "recently apologized to her for his lack of effort."

The money quote is from Los Angeles agent Mike Hamilburg, who once represented Kucinich :
"I've been in the business a long time, and I just couldn't believe this was the case and why the publisher went ahead without a contract."
Which brings to mind the old joke:

Q: How do you make a small fortune in publishing?
A: Start with a large fortune!

And look at the cover:

I can't tell what the book's about--an interracial friendship maybe? (Is that little Barack Obama on the right? At least he knows to look at the camera.)

Somehow I don't think that John or Jane Q. Public, who may have had An American Tragedy shoved down their youthful throats, will be attracted by this blurb:
"Beautifully written, hypnotically good as Theodore Dreiser."--Gore Vidal

Nor by PW's summation on Amazon:
"This view on youth in the 1950s and the making of a conscientious leader should be of interest to a wide audience, regardless of personal politics."

Oy vey iz mir.


Carleen Brice said...

Wow...that is some cover. How do you pub a book without a signed contract??

Carleen Brice said...

Oh...and good luck with your surgery!

Sam said...

Happy New Year!
May it be filled with peace and prosperity! (and lots of good books!)(And good health!!!!)