Oprah Winfrey has cut a deal to publish a “memoir” and have her own imprint with MacMillan Publishers. It’s being done under Flatiron Books, a so-so publisher that is not really equipped to deal with big celebrities. No money is being discussed. It sounds like a co-venture to me, with Oprah funding it herself. We’ll see. And we’ll see how much of a “memoir” it is.
It’s surprising that Oprah went this way. She was supposed to publish a memoir back in September 1993 with Knopf. She had a $3 million advance. Three months out, she cancelled the book. It was all written and ready to go. She said at the time the book didn’t have “heart.” There was a lot of outrage in the book community. (That just means people sighed and went back to work.)
Flatiron itsself is an odd choice. Their “Carly Simon” autobiography Boys in the Trees has just hit the bestseller list despite all their efforts (it wasn’t featured on the Flatiron website until yesterday). They also published a memoir last month by actress Illeana Douglas that was more or less hidden until I found it the other day buried on their website. Oprah had better bring in her own marketing team.
Book publishing is by and large a dead animal. It’s like one of the carcasses in “The Revenant.” Nothing’s changed in the three decades since I was a book publicist at Ballantine/Random House. Hardly any of them are pro-active. All authors still have the same complaints about lack of communication, no budgets etc. Very very frustrating.