Will we see a Laura Bush memoir before one from her husband?
Laura Bush today confirmed a long-gestating rumor that she is planning a memoir and has met with publishers.
“I’ve been talking to some publishers, but nothing has happened yet — just a few visits,” she told the AP.
As the AP points out, it could be the “political version of ‘Garbo Speaks,’ given that the First Lady has said so little about herself.
What is left unsaid, however, is the more obvious memoir, from President Bush himself.
I’ve talked to a number of those in the publishing business, and the consensus seems to be that the president, unlike his wife, would do better to wait a few years than to shop a proposal around now.
The reason is Bush fatigue.
With the publishing business in the doldrums, the conventional wisdom is that few big houses would shell out the multi-million dollar advance Bush could get after some distance from his tenure. The exception would be for Bush to go with a conservative publishing house, although that may not have the same impact.
“I actually think something fascinating could come with the passage of time,” says one figure well known in publishing circles. “I think that is the right model here.”
Some observers point to what happened with Donald Rumsfeld. Last April, he sold his memoirs to Sentinel, the conservative imprint of Penguin, and did not take an advance. Competitors scoffed that he wasn’t able to drum up the interest that had been expected.
Whenever his memoir is published, the challenge for Bush to offer some introspection, to come clean about mistakes or to offer new information about some of his controversial decisions that the public was unaware of.
Even then, others were skeptical: Bush will be up against suspicions of just who wrote his memoir, unlike say, Richard Nixon, who also waited to come out with his tome. “RN: The Memoirs of Richard Nixon” came out in 1978, four years after he left office.
A model for Bush could be to foster a co-author, just as his father did when he wrote “A World Transformed” with Brent Scowcroft.
(Bill Clinton’s memoirsold quickly after he left office to the Knopf division of Random House, which paid the record advance sum of $10 million. But it was not published until 2004, largely because Clinton too longer than expected to complete it.)
Many believe that Washington attorney Robert Barnett would represent Bush in going out with a proposal, as he is said to be handling his wife’s book deal. Barnett declined to comment when asked about such a book last week.