Trump allies launch publishing house with an eye on upending the book industry

Source: Politico | November 30, 2021 | Meridith McGraw

The former president is trying to circumvent the Big Five, having not inked a deal for a memoir.

Allies of former President Donald Trump are trying to rip up the traditional book publishing paradigm in politics by setting up a publishing house of their own. And they have the ex-president helping them do it.

Trump announced last week that he was publishing a coffee table book of photographs from his time in the White House — just ahead of the holiday gift rush — with Winning Team Publishing. The outfit is a new imprint with a decidedly MAGA flavor, run by former Trump campaign aide Sergio Gor and Trump’s son, Donald Trump Jr.

The book, titled “Our Journey Together,” was marketed at $74.99, or $229.99 for a signed copy. But despite the high price tag, Gor said they already have exceeded sales of 70,000 copies in the first week of the preorder.

Trump has not yet written a post-presidential memoir. And part of the reason, sources in the industry say, is that some of the major publishing houses have recoiled at the prospect of having to fact-check his work or the social backlash that would ensue.

With allies setting up their own publishing house, the president could potentially circumvent those hurdles. It allows Trump confidants to run everything from publishing to marketing in house, while keeping data on purchases. But it also has left the impression in the industry that the former president has given up on trying to score a deal with one of the “Big Five” houses.

“My suspicion is Trump is self-publishing because he doesn’t want the humiliation of getting a smaller advance than he has before or anyone finding out that it is smaller than Obama’s,” said one publishing executive. Former President Barack and former first lady Michelle Obama reportedly sold their book rights to Penguin Random House for over $60 million. “I imagine that’s as big a part of it as anything.”

The foray of Trump Jr. and Gor into the publishing world follows the recent announcement about Trump’s own coming media venture: Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG). TMTG has not launched a single product but is reportedly valued for billions, according to Forbes. A publishing company launched exclusively for Trump and pro-Trump content could be similarly lucrative, according to publishing industry experts.

“There has been a proliferation of imprints and ventures to capitalize on a broader economic trend which is the segmenting of our economy into partisan tribes. Publishing is following that route,” said Keith Urbahn, president and co-founder of Javelin, a literary and creative agency. “It may be the future in terms of post-presidential publishing especially for Republicans who feel persecuted by big media, big tech, and New York publishing houses. This is their way to do it.”


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