Milo Yiannopoulos, the former Breitbart tech editor and self-styled conservative provocateur whose public battle with Simon & Schuster following the publisher's decision to cancel his book deal and its reported $250,000 advance dominated the publishing news cycle earlier this year, has kept his promise to self-publish his book, Dangerous, in spite of the setback—and to continue to cause problems for S&S. Following the book's release on July 4, Yiannopoulos held a rally and protest outside the S&S offices on July 7, where he announced a $10 million lawsuit against the publisher for "breach of contract."
Dangerous was the #1 bestseller and #1 new release on Amazon immediately following its July 4 publication; Yiannopoulos's outside PR firm, AMW Public Relations, told PW that "100,000 copies were delivered to Amazon and sold out in the first day of release," although "a large number of them were on pre-order." (A source familiar with the activity of the book indicated that the 100,000 sales number sold through Amazon was too high.) A publicist at the firm said that hard copies are being distributed through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, adding that "100,000 more copies are being printed now and will be distributed to Amazon [and] B&N as well as some other outlets."
As of the time of this article's publication, the book was #3 in overall book sales on the Amazon site despite being out of stock for more than two days. The book was also out of stock on BN.com—it wasn't clear if B&N is selling Dangerous through its stores.
At a rain-soaked rally on July 7 in Midtown Manhattan, about 100-150 fans and a large contingent of police lined the sidewalk by S&S's offices. There, just after noon, Yiannopoulos announced that he had filed a lawsuit against Simon & Schuster with the Supreme Court of the State of New York earlier that morning. S&S, he said, let him keep $80,000 of the advance he had been paid. He is seeking damages of "at least" $10 million. "They have to pay for silencing conservatives and libertarians," he said at the rally. "How many more books could I have sold...with their marketing muscle?"
Reached for comment, an S&S spokesperson issued the following statement to PW: "Although we have not been officially served, we believe that Yiannopoulos's lawsuit is publicity-driven and entirely without merit. Simon & Schuster will vigorously defend itself against any such action, and fully expects to prevail in court."
The night before the rally, to give a boost to the book, Yiannopoulos held a launch party at the DL on New York's Lower East Side, where supporters—mostly young, many wearing Make America Great Again hats—gathered to buy books and eagerly await the provocateur. The event was thrown by Milo Inc., Yiannopoulos's company, which AMW said received $12 million in funding from private investors.
The atmosphere was a far cry from that of the average Manhattan book launch. At 10:30, Yiannopoulos stormed the stage in a karategi, the traditional Japanese karate uniform, and engaged in stage combat with a number of actors, dressed in burkas and pink hats that have become a symbol of the Women's March on Washington, held the day after President Donald Trump's inauguration; prior to Yiannopoulos's appearance, a Hillary Clinton impersonator clad in an orange prison jumpsuit occupied a jail-like dunk tank on the third floor patio. A .38 pistol was used as a prop in the performance, and an NYPD officer on premises—there were upwards of 20 stationed outside the event—confirmed that it had been cleared with the department prior to the event.
AMW said there were 450 in attendance; when Yiannopoulos appeared on stage, the room was busy but had not yet filled to capacity. In addition to the party, publicity for the book will include signings in a number of cities across the country, the firm said, including at the Luxe Hotel Horowitz Freedom Center in Los Angeles on July 14.
In an interview with PW, at the launch party, Yiannopoulos spoke to his feud with Simon & Schuster and what he sees as a major success for the book.
"It's a nice fuck you," Yiannopoulos said. "Their shareholders should be pretty angry right now, because it isn't going to stop at 100,000. We're seeing everything pick up and continuing to pick up. Orders from distributors and retailers are getting bigger, not smaller. I think I can sell half a million copies without breaking a sweat. Simon & Schuster's shareholders should be really, really pissed. And I'm really pissed at them—which is why I'm suing them."
Questioned about the "at will" clause included in most publishing contracts, Yiannopoulos said: "The reason they gave for termination was that the manuscript was unfit for publication. It's different from their texts and emails from two days before—and that is their problem.... It is, in my view, a clear-cut breach of contract. You can't send people texts and emails and say 'you done good' and that you're happy with the manuscript and looking forward to publishing it, full steam ahead, and then two days later say the manuscript is unfit for publication. Clearly, this is not the real reason. I think it's up to a jury to decide what the real reason was and to award me the damages that I'm owed for the reputational damage and how much it set my career back."
S&S, Yiannopoulos said, gave "extensive, exhaustive reviews" of his manuscript before terminating the agreement. Consequently, Yiannopoulos's former agent, Tom Flannery, who wrote an op-ed for PW in February defending Yiannopoulos's deal with S&S, edited the book for self-publication. Yiannopoulos told PW that he thinks "we're distributing with Salem, and I think Thomson Shore, split between the two because we have so many orders, we couldn't fill them all with one supplier. I think those two. Ingram's been buying from us, Amazon obviously putting in tens of thousands [of orders] at once."
Yiannopoulos added: "What Simon and Schuster did suggested to people that I was unfit to be published by a major publishing house. Clearly, based on sales, that is not true. Clearly, based on the reviews that are coming in, that is not true. And clearly from reading the book that's not true. I'm not Richard Spencer. I don't have any opinions that stretch wildly out of the conservative mainstream. I just say them in a provocative way, and I tell jokes that left-wingers don't like. And Simon & Schuster knew that, because in the contract I signed with them, it specifically calls me a provocateur. It calls me controversial. That's why they gave me the deal. Because I could sell books. And I'm demonstrating that I can."
This story has been updated with new information.