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Marketing the Book After the Author’s Death

The New York Times’ David Halfbinger updates the status of Jack Valenti‘s memoir, whose publication came just weeks after the former MPAA boss’s death on April 26. Valenti had arranged most of the marketing and publicity opportunities himself and his passing left his publisher, Harmony Books, in a serious bind. The book was the imprint’s lead summer title, with an initial printing of 100,000 copies, and Harmony had bought front-of-store display space in the major booksellers for the two weeks before Father’s Day. “We had an enormous investment in Jack,” publisher Shaye Areheart said.

An investment that, even with Valenti’s daughter Courtney pitching in on the publicity front, may not pay off. While Bookscan numbers don’t tell the whole story, that only 1,000 copies are reported sold since its May 15 publication date isn’t a positive sign (though some industry insiders speculated to Halfbinger that pub date confusion could have contributed to slow sales.) Areheart said she regretted allowing Valenti to delay publication several times as he dredged up fond memories and thought up new chapters. “I kept saying, ‘Jack, let it go,’” she said. If she’d only stuck to a March date, she said, “he’d have been able to enjoy it.”

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