Trump Jr. gam­bles by opt­ing to self-pub­lish book on Bi­den

Daily Southtown (Sunday) - - BUSINESS - By El­iz­a­beth A. Har­ris and An­nie Karni

There is a lot about Don­ald Trump Jr.’s sec­ond book that is un­usual.

One of his fa­ther’s most ef­fec­tive sur­ro­gates, Trump plans to re­lease “Lib­eral Priv­i­lege: Joe Bi­den and the Democrats’ De­fense of the In­de­fen­si­ble” in early Septem­ber. His last book sold well. The Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee can use the new one for fundrais­ing, as it did with the last.

His plans to self-pub­lish, how­ever, along with the book’s un­con­ven­tional roll­out and dis­tri­bu­tion plan, make it a cu­rios­ity in pub­lish­ing cir­cles.

“It’s a risk,” said Jane Dys­tel, a lit­er­ary agent. “And it’s your time.”

Trump’s first book, “Trig­gered: How the Left Thrives on Hate and Wants to Si­lence Us,” was pub­lished last Novem­ber. It has sold 286,000 copies, ac­cord­ing to NPD BookS­can, and is still sell­ing steadily.

But when the coro­n­avirus pan­demic grounded him in New York in March, he de­cided to write an­other. Ac­cord­ing to some­one fa­mil­iar with the new pro­ject, he hired re­searchers to comb through Bi­den’s record and wrote the book in about three months.

“While I had no plans for a book this year, I was stuck in­doors like the rest of the na­tion dur­ing the pan­demic,” Trump said in an email. “I de­cided to high­light Bi­den’s half cen­tury of be­ing a swamp mon­ster, since the me­dia wouldn’t do it.”

Cen­ter Street, an im­print of Ha­chette, pub­lished his first book, and it made an of­fer on the sec­ond one. Trump turned it down.

There are a few key dif­fer­ences be­tween go­ing through a tra­di­tional pub­lish­ing house and do­ing it your­self.

One of the big ones is money. Au­thors who sign with a pub­lisher typ­i­cally re­ceive an ad­vance pay­ment be­fore the book goes on sale, then about 10% to 15% of hard­cover sales af­ter they earn back their ad­vance.

If the book is self-pub­lished, there is no ad­vance but an au­thor can gen­er­ally walk away with any­where from 35% to as much as 70% of the sales. Be­cause Trump has his own plat­form — and the prom­ise of bulk pur­chases from the RNC — he doesn’t need the pub­lic­ity arm of a ma­jor pub­lisher.

But those big per­cent­ages don’t fac­tor in ex­penses, which add up. There are lawyers to pay, printed copies that need to be de­liv­ered to stores and ware­houses, book jack­ets that need to be de­signed.

There are de­tails, like reg­is­ter­ing an ISBN num­ber, fil­ing for copy­right, proof­read­ing and more proof­read­ing.

In­deed, a typo on the cover of “Lib­eral Priv­i­lege” when Trump first posted it on Twit­ter was met with see-how-it-goes-with­out-us gig­gles in much of the pub­lish­ing world. That typo, an er­rant apos­tro­phe, has been fixed, but an­other re­mained on his per­sonal web­site this week, af­ter a quote about the book from “Laura In­gra­ham, Host of The In­gram An­gle.”

So writ­ing and re­leas­ing a book on your own is not only a gam­ble, it is also an un­wieldy, com­pli­cated pro­ject, which is why the big­gest-name au­thors gen­er­ally don’t bother to do it.

One thing that is guar­an­teed when self-pub­lish­ing is greater au­ton­omy. While there’s no rea­son to think Trump was held back when he wrote “Trig­gered,” self­pub­lished au­thors hire their ed­i­tors and can fire them if they don’t like their ad­vice. This time, Trump can say truly what­ever he wants.

Though the book has yet to be re­leased, the Trump cam­paign and the RNC have al­ready started us­ing it to raise money. The RNC buys copies of the book for less than $20 apiece, and has been of­fer­ing signed copies in ex­change for do­na­tions of $75. It did the same thing with Sean Han­nity’s “Live Free or Die,” which was re­leased this week by Thresh­old Edi­tions, an im­print of Si­mon & Schus­ter.

The RNC said it raised nearly $1 mil­lion from signed copies of “Trig­gered.” The RNC said it has bought sev­eral thou­sand copies of “Lib­eral Priv­i­lege” so far and plans to buy more on a rolling ba­sis.

EVAN VUCCI/AP

Don­ald Trump Jr. is plan­ning to self-pub­lish a book this year af­ter us­ing a tra­di­tional pub­lish­ing house in 2019.

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