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