As copies of Disloyal: The True Story of the Former Personal Attorney to President Donald J. Trump by Michael Cohen make their way to stores and online outlets ahead of the September 8 pub date, Skyhorse Publishing publisher Tony Lyons said he believes the book could be the bestselling title in the company's 14-year history—and that it will certainly be one of the biggest books for the fall.
Lyons said he is somewhat surprised to find himself as the publisher of Disloyal, telling PW he was shocked that the bigger New York houses couldn't work out a deal with Cohen. "[Cohen] has so much to say. This book will make an impact," Lyons said. "it is also a really terrific read."
The history of how Cohen wrote the book is well known. Authorities returned Cohen to prison from home confinement in an effort, a judge agreed, to prevent him from finishing the book, a violation of his First Amendment rights.
Lyons said he contacted Cohen when he learned he was planning to self-publish the title. "I had to talk him out of it," he said. Lyons declined to disclose the size of the advance, but did say that he agreed to a "nontraditional contract" with Cohen. One of the stipulations Cohen had was for Lyons and Skyhorse editorial director Mark Gompertz to read the manuscript in front of him in order to avoid leaks. “We have been really, really careful about keeping the manuscript under our control,” Lyons said.
In addition to wanting a quick turnaround, Cohen also wanted to oversee and control the rollout of the marketing campaign. And when the book hits shelves, the author is scheduled for a quick media strike. Cohen is set for a Today Show interview with Lester Holt on September 8, and will appear that night with Holt on the NBC Nightly News. He will also appear on the Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC the same night. A September 9 CNN interview is planned with Don Lemon, followed by a Late Night interview with Seth Myers on September 10. A September 14 trip to the View is also planned.
Lyons said there are plenty of “bombshell revelations” in the book that could generate some controversy. At present, Lyons said he has not been contacted by the White House or other Trump associates to try to stop publication of the book, as had happened in the cases of books from John Bolton and Mary J. Trump.
Preparations for shipping the book, though, did cause a dust-up last week among independent booksellers, as reports spread that Amazon was getting the full first printing of the book. Lyons denied those reports and said he has no idea where they came from. He did allow that getting the book printed has had its challenges. “There is no printer capacity in this country now,” he said.
Lyons said Skyhorse has plenty of experience doing quick turnarounds, but this has been different: “We had the Mueller Report printed on Easter Sunday, but nothing like that can happen now.” Still, Lyons is confident all accounts will get a healthy shipment before pub date. His goal is for the entire 500,000-copy first printing to be in the market within two weeks of the book’s release.
Cohen sees the publication of Disloyal as in keeping with his philosophy of being what he calls “a free speech publisher. We publish books on both sides of an issue.” To illustrate his point, Lyons pointed to the July release of The Case Against Masks and the forthcoming The Case for Masks.
In March, Lyons acquired Woody Allen’s memoir after it had been dropped by Hachette Book Group, following protests by scores of HBG employees and some authors who were upset the publisher had signed the book, given the accusations that the comedian and film director had sexually assault his adoptive daughter, Dylan Farrow. (Allen has denied those allegations.) Publishing this type of controversial book, Lyons said, is a role that an independent publisher is in a good position to fill: “We can make quick decisions and not get caught up in corporate bureaucracy.”
He acknowledged that not all Skyhorse employees agree with every book the company publishers, but “they understand what we are trying to do." He added that "it seems odd that in the United States you need to defend yourself for standing up for free speech.”