Thursday, October 02, 2008

Book promotion value of Tina Fey's new project.

There's a lot that I don't understand about politics. But could somebody please explain why the bidding for Tina Fey's new book project is now up to six million dollars? Here's the New York Observer's article on the subject.

Tina has yet to write a book proposal, by the way. Her literary agent, Richard Abate, asked for five million dollars, and -- reportedly -- at least one publisher upped that figure by one million dollars.

Okay, I'll admit that I haven't seen Tina's show, "30 Rock." I have it on the authority of a 22-year-old niece that the show is "amazing." So maybe the show is sensational enough to warrant an equally sensational advance on an as-yet-unwritten book by someone who isn't even an author.

But my hunch is that the seven-figure offer isn't stemming from the "awesome" job Tina is doing on "30 Rock" but, rather, her "Saturday Night Live" impersonation of Sarah Palin. Let's go with my theory, for just a minute. If publishers are enchanted by the fact that Tina's impression of Sarah has been spread, virally, via the Web for the last two weeks, I understand that.

There's just one thing I don't understand. When was the last time you saw Martin Short, as Ed Grimely, bopping around his apartment to express his undying admiration over "Wheel of Fortune" host Pat Sajack? And when was the last time you thought of Eddie Murphy's spookily accurate rendering of "Mister Robinson" (a play on Mr. Rogers, right down to the sweater and sneakers)? Not recently, I'd suppose...and certainly not recently enough for a publisher to presume that, just because Ed Grimely and Mr. Robinson once captivated Americans, either Martin or Eddie's book would be a media sensation.

Hey, we all love to laugh, and satire is a fun and safe outlet for us, especially on a weekend. Tina Fey is funny, and who knows? Her impression of Sarah Palin may already have affected the outcome of the next presidential election. That's huge. it big enough to warrant a 7 million dollar advance on an unwritten book? Is Tina's impression of Sarah going to be grabbing headlines after the election is over and, perhaps, long forgotten (particularly, if "her candidate" doesn't win the election)?

I'm sure that any competent book publicist could promote a book written by Tina Fey in a big way. But...could any book publicist out there promote a book written by Tina Fey (and published in, perhaps, 18 or 24 months) in a big enough way to warrant this kind of book deal?

It hardly seems likely. I have faith that publishers know what they're doing, most of the time, but...perhaps, this once, someone is getting just a tad carried away. If it were up to me, and I were trying to gauge the book promotion value of Tina's forthcoming book, I'd 1) wait for her to write that book, and see how it turns out and 2) I'd see who wins the presidential election. Three: I'd see whether the public's interest in seeing the Tina's "Sarah" impression remains unchanged as the real Sarah (hopefully) gains a bit more experience in handling media interviews and four: I'd see whether Tina can truly keep up the pace of working on two national television shows simultaneously for very much longer.

But that's just me, and what do I know? Perhaps Tina Fey's new book will be worth every penny of the six million dollars that are being talked about. Maybe the bidding will even increase another million or two before the auction is through, and maybe the book will, in fact, earn back its advance in two months.

Anything is possible. But, if I were a betting woman, I wouldn't bet on the long-term book promotion value of this particular book project.