Donald Trump is writing a book. And, as with all things Donald Trump does, he is already marketing it with a combination of hyperbole and outright lies. Although the former president has boasted that rights to a memoir about his political career—the “book of all books”—are being fought over by major publishers, and that he has already turned down “very substantial offers” from “two of the biggest and most prestigious publishing houses,” reporters have uncovered zero evidence to substantiate his claims. According to Politico, none of the editors and publishers contacted at the Big Five publishing houses—Penguin Random House, Hachette Book Group, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers, and Simon & Schuster—said they were aware of any such offer. One source was openly “skeptical” of his claims. “He’s screwed over so many publishers that before he ran for president, none of the big 5 would work with [him] anymore,” the source told Politico.
Among other things, fact-checking challenges loom large over the prospect of publishing Trump, given “he can’t even admit that he lost the election,” as one industry figure pointed out to Politico. Moreover, “An exodus of other authors, and a staff uprising in the unlikely event they strike a deal with the former president” are among the host of issues that publishing houses may have to contend with if they choose to acquire a Trump memoir, Javelin’s Keith Urbahn pointed out.
Already, the business of publishing Trumpworld authors has become a public-relations juggling act. Simon & Schuster’s multimillion-dollar book deal with Mike Pence drove hundreds of staffers and thousands of outside supporters, including well-known authors, to circulate a petition demanding the publisher drop the former vice president’s forthcoming book and stop cutting deals with authors tied to the Trump administration. The company rejected those calls, and Pence’s deal, along with the contract for former White House counselor Kellyanne Conway’s forthcoming book, is said to be a go.
Other ex-administration members are also reportedly cashing in with major publishing deals, including former attorney general William Barr, former first son-in-law Jared Kushner, and former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. But 45 himself may simply be too radioactive. The former president’s predicament is unusual to say the least, given there was a bidding war over books by his predecessors, Barack and Michelle Obama, shortly after they left office—a package deal that reportedly went for a record $65 million. The fate of Trump’s memoir aside, there will be no shortage of accounts about his unprecedented tenure; the coming deluge includes titles from the New York Times reporters Maggie Haberman and Jeremy Peters, the Wall Street Journal’s Michael Bender, and Washington Post journalists Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig, all of whom were said to have Trump interviews lined up.
Meanwhile, Trump, who says he’s been “writing like crazy”—a surprise, given that (a) many of his past works were ghostwritten, and (b) his own literary inclinations are somewhat in doubt—may end up self-publishing his book, like his son before him. Not that he’d admit it. Just because he hasn’t accepted one of his many offers yet, he told Politico, “doesn’t mean I won’t accept them sometime in the future”—assuming they exist.
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