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GalleyCat‘s Big Media Weekend

Reporters sought out my commentary on two of last week’s most prominent book deals: I told the New York Times I was “shocked and amazed” by the $300,000 Stuff White People Like deal, while Boston Herald readers learned, in reference to Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick‘s $1.35 million signing, that “books are increasingly seen as the political equivalent of a marketing tool.”

One point I made sure to bring up in both conversations—because both journalists wanted to know how these particular proposals had generated such high bidding among publishers—was that the clarity of a nonfiction book proposal is critical to its successful reception among editors. I haven’t seen what Gov. Patrick and Christian Lander‘s agents sent to publishers, but the articles written about their book deals suggest that their “messages” are well laid-out; Gov. Patrick’s emphasis on “certain realizations and lessons about life” suggests a motivational component that would certainly be considered an attractive way to elevate his profile outside Massachusetts. Of course, platform doesn’t hurt either; the size of the audience Stuff White People Like amassed in just two months, and the promise of being able to deliver a book for publication by the end of the summer, was no doubt one of the main reasons Random House is, in Times reporter Allen Salkin‘s words, “willing to take a chance it will attract attention in the bookstore.”

After all, that’s exactly what drove publishers to take a chance on the I Can Has Cheezburger book and the Go Fug Yourself book, which I see the Times is still bashfully referring to as “a book based on a popular Web site focused on fashion disasters.” (And remember the Flying Spaghetti Monster?)

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