News & Politics

Marketing the Next Anonymous Presidential Novel

Simon & Schuster tries to build buzz around a novel about the Obama administration

Simon & Schuster eager to stoke speculation about the identity of the anonymous author of O, a novel about the Obama administration that aspires to be Primary Colors for a new generation. So eager, in fact, that publicist Jonathan Karp sent this email to a blind-copied group of Washington luminaries, including Chuck Todd:

On January 25, we'll be publishing a secret novel simply titled O, about President Obama's campaign for re-election in 2012. The author of the novel wishes to remain anonymous. You may be asked to comment on whether or not you are the author. If so, it would be great if you refrained from commenting, in solidarity with the principle that a book should be judged on its content and not on the perceived ideology of its author.

The author, an individual with integrity and talent, is someone who has been in the room with Barack Obama and knows the political world intimately. In fact, you may know this person, or know of this person — if you are not in fact the author yourself.

Thanks in advance for your consideration. I apologize for the impersonality of this blind group email, but this seems like the best way to protect the author's identity. I hope you enjoy the book. It's terrific.

There's no question that the speculation is good for business. But given this excerpt, the author might not be eager to claim the prose as his (the pronoun the publishers have used at least one to refer to the author) or hers. Rumors that the president takes some time off aren't exactly the equivalent of behind-the-scenes accounts of sex scandals.

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