HarperCollins to publish memoir of Alaska governor

NEW YORK – You knew it was coming: Sarah Palin is ready to tell her side, agreeing to publish a memoir with HarperCollins. The book comes out in Spring 2010 — the year she is up for re-election.

“There’s been so much written about and spoken about in the mainstream media and in the anonymous blogosphere world, that this will be a wonderful, refreshing chance for me to get to tell my story, that a lot of people have asked about, unfiltered,” the Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential candidate said during a brief telephone interview Tuesday with The Associated Press.

Palin’s memoir, currently untitled, will cover her personal and political life, from her childhood in Alaska and last year’s campaign to her political beliefs and her family life, including the pregnancy of her teenage daughter, Bristol Palin, who gave birth in December to a baby boy, Tripp. (She and the baby’s father, Levi Johnston, have since ended their relationship.)

“In fairness to my family, this is going be a good opportunity for them, too, because there have been so many misperceptions out there about who we are and what we believe in, and I’m excited to get to put my journalism degree to work and tell my story as it relates to my family,” said Palin, 45, who in 1987 graduated from the University of Idaho with a degree in journalism.

Palin declined to name any specific misunderstandings and avoided detailed comments about her family, her political aspirations or about the divide in the Republican Party between moderates and conservatives, a divide her vice presidential run helped widen.

A Palin book has been rumored virtually from the time the election ended. Although Republicans Sen. John McCain and Palin were easily beaten by Democrats Barack Obama and Joseph Biden, Palin emerged a favorite among conservatives, an object of tabloid gossip and — as the only candidate in the race who had never written a memoir — a natural for a publishing deal.

The book will be co-released by the HarperCollins imprint Harper and, for the Christian market, by the HarperCollins-owned Zondervan, which publishes “The Purpose Driven Life” author Rick Warren, among others.

A memoir (or two) have become a virtual requirement for White House seekers, especially after Obama’s “The Audacity of Hope” and “Dreams From My Father” established him as a stylist and storyteller with a vast following.

Although Palin denied any presidential ambition during Tuesday’s interview, she did pick the most presidential of literary representatives, Washington attorney Robert Barnett, to handle negotiations. Barnett’s clients include Obama and former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

As he did when arranging a publisher for memoirs by Bush and Clinton, Barnett did not solicit competing bids, but chose to negotiate only with one publisher, HarperCollins, which Barnett praised for being “first and fervent in pursuing this project.” Financial terms were not disclosed, but Palin was widely expected to get a multimillion-dollar contract. Barnett and Harper publisher Jonathan Burnham both declined to offer details.

If terms of the book deal aren’t leaked by next spring, at least some of the details will be revealed in Palin’s next financial disclosure forms with the Alaska Public Offices Commission. Income next must be reported on March 15, 2010. However, if she isn’t paid in full by Dec. 31, some income may fall over to the next year’s report.

Palin’s book will address, and complicate, the push-pull between home and public life. With the release date just one year away, the governor will have to work quickly. Barnett said that the governor has formed an outline in her mind, but has yet to start writing. Burnham said Palin did not submit any writing samples when she met with HarperCollins executives in Washington, earlier this year. She will work with a collaborator, to be determined.

“She’s obviously going to be engaged in the whole process of the book,” said Burnham, adding that the role of the collaborator would depend on who was chosen.

“Every word of the book will be her words,” Barnett said.

Palin and Burnham said the memoir will emphasize Palin’s Alaskan upbringing, and the governor will talk about her “unpretentious” lifestyle. Burnham described the book as the story of an Alaskan encountering a national audience, “the soccer mom and the political operative, and how one became the other.”

Palin has never written a book and her critics, noting her disjointed CBS interviews with Katie Couric, have questioned whether she could. Two years ago, Palin told PBS’ Charlie Rose that her favorite writers were C.S. Lewis (“very, very deep”) and a Runner’s World columnist, Dr. George Sheehan. Asked Tuesday about her reading, Palin mentioned that she “really enjoyed” Katharine Graham’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Personal History” and cited works by Obama, McCain and Bill Clinton, whose “My Life” she read “just recently.”

“Being a voracious reader, I read a lot today and have read a lot growing up. And having that journalism degree, all of that, will be a great assistance for me in writing this book, talking about the challenges and the joys, balancing the work and parenting, and, in my case, work means running the state,” Palin said.

Under the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act, the governor and any head of a state agency are prohibited from having outside employment. But the book deal would fall under another provision of the act outlining outside services for a financial benefit.

Judy Bockmon, an assistant attorney general, said it appears the book deal would be permissible under the act as long it is not incompatible with Palin’s official responsibilities and she doesn’t use state resources, like her staff or her office, for personal gain.

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