Tuesday, May 21, 2013
How to craft a bestseller
By OFW Editor:
Carlos J Cortes
Published: September 04, 2012
When the first whiff of “No Easy Day” hit the grapevine, most people in the know suspected it would share the fate of the several accounts about the Bin Laden operation to have surfaced after last year's raid: It would sell a few thousand copies to cover costs and turn a reasonable profit for author and publisher.
But this time, the marketing machine has ground into gear.
Over the past few weeks we’ve had tantalizing snippets leaked here and there in the world press, hinting at juicy bits such as how the SEALs shot the bastard like a rabid dog without bothering to check if the man was armed or not, or even if he posed a threat.
Naturally, the eternal do-gooders cried foul and contended that good old Bin Laden should have been treated with kid’s gloves, apprehended and brought to trial. As I write, just revisiting the images of people jumping off the doomed skyscrapers makes my otherwise tame blood boil. Of course he should have been shot on sight, in the gut.
After stirring the pot a little more, the guys from Penguin decided on a 300,000-copy first printing.
Then, on August 30, the
reported that the Pentagon general counsel threatened legal action against Matt Bissonnette—the author writing under the pen name of “Mark Owen.”
General Counsel Jeh Charles Johnson wrote the Pentagon is considering pursuing "all remedies legally available" against the former SEAL and his publisher, Penguin Putnam.
"In the judgment of the Department of Defense, you are in material breach and violation of the nondisclosure agreements you signed. Further public dissemination of your book will aggravate your breach and violation of your agreements," Johnson wrote.
Great stuff (for selling books), to which Bissonnette’s (Owen’s) lawyers replied:
"As you are well aware, the Classified Information Non-Disclosure Agreement, which you attached to your letter, invites, but by no means requires Mr. Owen to submit materials for pre-publication review. Although the Sensitive Compartmented Information Nondisclosure Statement does require pre-publication security review under certain circumstances, that obligation is expressly limited to specifically identified Special Access Programs. That agreement was executed in January 2007, and the Special Access Programs to which it applies were identified on that date. Accordingly, it is difficult to understand how the matter that is the subject of Mr. Owen’s book could conceivably be encompassed by the non-disclosure agreement that you have identified."
The CNN article closes with:
The first printing of the book, already an Amazon best seller, is now 575,000 copies, according to Dutton.
Over half-a-million copies of “No Easy Day” almost double the original first printing figures. In addition, the book was slatted for release on September 11 but the publishers have brought the date forward to September 4, apparently on account of “overwhelming excitement in the marketplace.” Rather, I suspect someone has had the decency not to use a date of mourning as another marketing gimmick.
There, that’s how bestsellers are made.
And now for something more palatable.
On September 2,
released an interesting wire about the Bertelsmann group—the owners of Random House and many others.
Bertelsmann said in March it was looking into taking the company public while preserving the Mohn family's control.
The unlisted company said it would change its legal form from a joint stock company to a so-called SE & CO KGaA, allowing its owner to control strategic decisions and name top managers while shareholders would have little say.
Chief Executive Thomas Rabe said this would allow for an IPO to potentially fund major growth projects while keeping the Mohn family in control.
Over the past months there’s been much gossip about the German behemoth going public; an unlikely proposition since the Mohn family traditionally abhors having to share power with outsiders.
But we shouldn’t have worried. Their proposed new corporate structure would welcome outside capital, thank you very much, as long as investors don’t interfere.
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