New York’s political silly season has begun and as always there’s quite a cast of characters.
First, there’s the revelation that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is receiving advances and/or guarantees from Crown Publishing exceeding $5 million for his book, “American Crisis.” That’s an extraordinary amount considering his previous book, “All Things Possible,” sold only 3,500 copies.
It so happens I have experience with publishers, having had 14 books brought out by various houses, including Doubleday and Farrar, Strauss & Giroux.
Typically, an author of non-fiction gets a modest advance—unless the writer is of the stature of David McCullough or Robert Caro.
After the publisher recoups the advance, an author earns, on average, a 10 percent to 15 percent royalty off the cover price of every book sold.
Now Cuomo’s book has a cover price of $30 and sold 50,000 copies.
Assuming a 15 percent royalty, that translates into $4.50 per book. Based on the math, 50,000 times $4.50 equals $225,000 in royalties—a far cry from $5 million.
The argument that Crown Publishing made a bad call and overpaid doesn’t fly, in my judgment. Publishers are not that dumb. Let’s face it, Cuomo is no Barack Obama, who commands large advances because of who he is and his past publishing successes.
Frankly, the Cuomo book deal smells fishy to me.
I’m reminded of the observation of the early 20th century Tammany Hall stalwart and longtime member of the state Legislature, George Washington Plunkit. The cynical pol championed “honest graft” and is best remembered for saying “I’ve seen my opportunities and I took ‘em.”
As for Cuomo finding the time to write the book: My latest work, “Mario Cuomo: The Myth and the Man,” took three years to complete. A year and a half spent researching and a year and a half writing approximately 150,000 words.
I do all my own research and no matter what anyone tells you, at best one can write about 1,500 words a day. Then there’s the time-consuming jobs of revising, proofreading, fact-checking and footnote assembling.
On top of that, I have a day job.
And so does Gov. Cuomo.
For him to research and write an 85,000-word book in six months, he had to have plenty of outside help. The question is: Were his helpers state employees performing book work on government time?
Next, there are the follies of the Democratic candidates for mayor of NYC who live far removed from reality in ideological cocoons or high-rise penthouses.
When candidates were asked the median price for a home in Brooklyn, former Obama Housing Secretary and Bloomberg Commissioner of Housing Shaun Donovan said $80,000.
Candidate Ray McGuire, a wealthy investment banker, guessed between $80,000 and $100,000.
The correct answer: $900,000.
Ronald Reagan was president when the median price was between $80,000 and $100,000.
Then there’s Andrew Giuliani’s surprise announcement that he will seek the Republican nomination for governor.
I find his candidacy incredulous.
His only mark on the political landscape: in 1994, as an 8-year-old, Andrew’s obnoxious behavior during his father’s delivery of his inaugural address at City Hall stole the show.
As a college student, Giuliani’s ambition was to become a professional golfer. Would-be golf pros, I have observed, have ne’er-do-well tendencies and are generally unemployable.
That may help explain why the best Giuliani could get was a political patronage job in the Trump administration as associate director in the White House Office of Public Liaison—whatever that is.
Since the Biden administration did not keep him on, perhaps Giuliani’s campaign slogan will be, “Please elect me, I need a job.”
Another Republican gubernatorial wannabee is Rob Astorino. He happens to be very bright and an articulate spokesman for the conservative principles I hold.
However, Astorino lost to Cuomo in 2014, failed to win election to a third term as Westchester’s county executive and last year lost a state Senate race in his home county. If you can’t win in your political backyard, you can’t win statewide. And for a Republican to be elected governor, carrying Westchester County is the “sine qua non.”
Well, folks, the political Silly Season is in full swing and it’s only June. There will be more to come between now and Election Day and I’ll pen regular updates.