In November 2008, when Radar floated the imaginary news that failed Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin was on the brink of a $7 million book deal, we predicted: “Palin’s best chance for a book deal might come from the Christian publishing market, which would no doubt welcome a memoir about how [her] faith and family led her to[,] and guided her through[,] her historic moment in the spotlight… but we can’t remember when any publisher there paid that much money for a single book.”
Palin and her literary representative, Robert Barnett, may have found a neat solution, though, as it was reported earlier today by the Associated Press that she had sold a memoir to HarperCollins that would be released by two of the publishing congolomerate’s divisions simultaneously: the main Harper imprint here in New York, and Michigan-based Christian house Zondervan. We do not know, at the moment of writing, which editors at either house are attached to the project, nor do we know how much HarperCollins paid for the memoir—although we did predict, once Barnett became officially involved, “the deal will be comfortable enough when it happens.” And we stand by that.
So it is complete and utter speculation on our part—and we invite you to knock this hypothesis down—but it would make sense to us if a Christian publisher, arguably best poised to engage Palin’s likeliest core audience, didn’t necessarily have the funds that would be needed to pin her down, especially given Barnett’s track record in getting money out of publishing companies on behalf of politicians… But what if that Christian publisher had backing from a huge publishing conglomerate that did have that kind of money to spend? As we say, it’s a hypothesis, and it might be completely wrong. But, however it happened, here’s a more interesting question: Who gets the credit if the book’s a hit—and who gets stuck with the blame if it’s a flop?
UPDATE: Publishers Lunch now identifies HarperCollins CEO Brian Murray as the decision-maker on this deal, with the actual editorial duties being handled by Adam Bellow, one of the executive editors who survived February’s Collins purge and is noted for his track record with conservative authors.