News & Politics

Book Agents: Anonymous Op-Ed Writer Could Get Seven-Figure Deal

"You could be looking at something close to $10 million."

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Sometimes it pays to betray. And in the case of an unnamed senior White House official, it could pay up to the seven figures.

On Wednesday afternoon, the New York Times published an anonymous op-ed from a senior member of the Trump administration who claimed to be part of an internal “resistance” to the president’s worst decisions. Sarah Sanders, Melania Trump, and the President have all demanded the leaker identify him- or herself and resign, but our International Author of Mystery may wish to take some crucial next steps first. We put this question to book agents in DC and New York: Say this person outs themselves and leaves. How much money could they bank off their blab?

Larry Weissman, Larry Weissman Literary:  Weissman tells Washingtonian that the most lucrative deal would likely be struck before Mr. Anonymous’s identity is leaked, intentionally or unintentionally. “This individual would do well for themselves to go off and shop their book before they get outed. There’d be a real premium to it if they could peel back the curtain.” The real golden ticket, Weissman says, would be fly-on-the-wall exclusives surrounding cabinet members discussing the 25th Amendment.  In such a case, Weissman guesses a deal could easily climb into the seven figures, depending on Anonymous’s old job title: “If this were Dan Coates, for example, who had more to say and would be willing to talk honestly, it’d be a money maker. If it’s the DNI Chief of Staff? Maybe not so much.”

Howard Yoon, Ross Yoon: Yoon also suspects a potential payday to be somewhere in the seven-figure ballpark, but stresses that it all comes down to tone. “From reading the New York Times op-ed, it’s certain that this individual seems to be a down-the-line, classic conservative. Is this person willing to dish? Are they able to put salacious details in the open? I’m not so sure. Rumor is that Omarosa shopped around snippets of her tapes to publishers in order to drum up interest. Is there an equivalent here?” Yoon says the individual would have to meet, or surpass, the details in Bob Woodward‘s forthcoming book in order to get a big paycheck. He also says a great sale comes down to a valuable name. “A large advance is definitely feasible. But this author would have to have had incredible access to POTUS to see dollar signs.” What if it’s Mike Pence? “That’s a whole other story,” Yoon adds with a laugh.

Keith Urbahn, Javelin: Urbahn agrees that a significant amount of credibility groundwork must be done before any big bucks come into play. “They will need meticulous documentation and contemporaneous notes of their interactions with the President. They will need to be self-aware. And they will need a smart strategy to come out from behind the veil of anonymity. The big reveal needs to be on their terms, not because it leaks or the White House finds out.” Urbahn adds that the author’s sell won’t be easy: “They’re going to have prove their telling of this story is a vital civic duty, not a payday or an exercise in CYA self-preservation or a vanity project for self-aggrandizement.”

But if all this was to materialize properly, it could be a big payday for the leaker. “This person would be looking at an instant seven-figure book deal. With a really good proposal that took the reader inside the White House with specific, verifiable and shocking revelations—a very high bar in this administration—you could be looking at something close to $10 million.”

Staff Writer

Brittany Shepherd covers the societal and cultural scene in political Washington. Before joining Washingtonian as a staff writer in 2018, Brittany was a White House Correspondent for Independent Journal Review. While she has lived in DC for a number of years now, she still yearns for the fresh Long Island bagels of home. Find her on Twitter, often prattling on about Frasier.