Along with the rest of the world, I understand that you will be coming home from prison soon. And along with the rest of the book-obsessed world, I understand that you are thinking of writing a book about your life.
I think that's a good thing.
And so, apparently, do a lot of publishers. I've heard that just about everybody has expressed interest in the project, and that your people have been quietly meeting with publishers while you've been "away." I heard numbers in the $10-million range, which is more than your friend Hillary got, and nearly as much as Bill. That seems perfectly appropriate to me. Like them, you've got legal bills to pay.
So, obviously, the fact that you haven't yet made a deal has nothing to do with a lack of offers. Just about anybody you'd choose would pony up close to the same number of millions, I bet. But what usually happens when a major public figure like yourself wants to write a book is that publishers line up for what they refer to as a "beauty contest." It's not so much about how much money they're offering; it's more about them convincing you that there's a good fit, that they'll do all the right kind of book production and promotion. And since you are known for being a bit of a stickler about the details, it's probably important that you look closely at their plans.
So let me help, by handicapping the pros and cons of the various houses that are likely to offer up the cost of a waterfront estate just to hear how you rose from middle-class New Jersey girl to decorating doyenne to convicted felon.
First, of course, there's Crown, a house you know well, since its Clarkson Potter division has published your decorating and entertaining books, with great success. To judge from the number of books you've done with them, I'd surmise that you were satisfied with their attention to detail—though of course, editing personal stories demands a different skill set. Six months ago, though, I wouldn't have considered Crown a contender, because of the price tag. But they shelled out $4.5 million to George Tenet, and he wasn't even convicted of anything. You're surely worth twice that.
My guess, too, is that you're wise to the benefits of finding promotional synergy with a house that can help push your book through its other media holdings. Too bad your TV show with Mark Burnett is with NBC: they don't have a publishing arm! As for Time Warner, they're pretty smart about promoting books by stars (think Jon Stewart), and they have all those magazines that review books... except I'm not sure how you get along over there after all that conflict over ownership of your magazine, Martha Stewart Living. And then there's Hyperion: they're Disney-owned, which means, you know, you might end up on 20/20. Think about it?
As a self-made woman with a world of taste who has been persecuted by the (male-dominated?) system, maybe you'd feel more comfortable with a female publisher, preferably someone who knows what it is to fight with the big guys. Lucky for you, there's no shortage of them in the business. Phyllis Grann (now of Doubleday), Jane Friedman (HarperCollins) and the Penguin Group's Susan Petersen Kennedy could all offer you a sense of familiarity and sisterhood. And—don't laugh—there's Judith Regan, who knows a thing or 300 about turning wronged-blonde stories into blockbusters. But do you really want to share the kitchen with the likes of Amber Frey and Jenna Jameson?
Then again, if it's publicity savvy you're after—though you're pretty good at that on your own, I must say—you can't go forward without at least considering Knopf; Sonny Mehta and his team know a lot about how to publish a high-profile book. Just ask Bill.
Heck, Martha, ask your pal Donald Trump. He seems to have become the new King of All Media, and he'd give you some tips. After all, in the past year and a half, the Donald hasn't written one book, he's "written" five—a few of which have actually sold. What's his secret? He publishes with whoever will have him.
The more books, the more publishers, the more chance your books will get noticed—and bought. And this is, as you might say, a very, very good thing.