Dropping the royal we for the moment. Hey everybody, it's Jef.
A recurring theme on various left-wing websites and cable news shows is that Sarah Palin's second book, America by Heart, is bombing. Apparently there are literally stacks of it gathering dust on tables across the nation, despite the fact that it hit number 2 on the Best-seller List. Granted, she bought $64,000 worth of them herself (at wholesale price, not retail), but she made the list regardless. Still, various pundits are reporting that the book may be selling as little as 15% of it's run.
Despite those "facts," I for one would like to go on record in total defense of Sarah Palin's work in selling the copies she has sold.
Not that I have any love of her as an author. Personally I think her writings have all the intrigue of a wart removal kit's instruction pamphlet and a point of view so bass-ackwards that I'm surprised you don't need a mirror to read her typing. No, I admire what's she's done to spread the work around...and may even try some of it myself.
I for one have been shilling my own book for almost a year now, appearing in every newspaper, on every radio station, and in every bookstore that'll have me. I've bugged my friends, my enemies, and total strangers to buy copies, and I freely admit that I've extorted promotion of it through some of the bands I've covered over on Rocks Off (Thanks Hyperbubble!). Believe me, if I could get away with political activist groups buying copies of my book to inflate the sales, I would. And if I could buy a bunch of my own books, sign them, and them re-sell them for $100, I would! Maybe these tricks cheapen the book trade, but it's a cutthroat industry, and I can't fault Palin for doing what she can. After all, this is only her second book. It's not like she's some kind of established literary producer or anything. She's got to make those sales go up if she's going to have any future as an author. Sure, it would be nice to succeed on artistic merit and conventional marketing, but would you like to go to your grave knowing you didn't try every trick you could when you had "New York Times Best-selling Author" next to your name?
Besides that, the only reason she's being called a flop is because her book sold "below expectations." Personally, I fail to see how that's her fault. I've read enough of Going Rogue and America By Heart while waiting in line at the grocery store to tell you there's no significant difference in style, tone, or writing ability in the two books. It's not like she said, "OK, this next book is about a demon knight fighting Obama clones in a post-apocalypse where chainsaws grow on trees and run on the tears of immigrants." Though that would have been far superior to the folksy diarrhea that is her combined literary output, she has instead remained very consistent and true to her style.
Maybe America is growing away from hardcore partisan rhetoric. Between the aftermath of Congresswoman Gifford's shooting and the sharp decline in ratings for both Keith Olbermann and Glenn Beck, there's a good indication America may be drawing towards the middle. You can't blame Palin for a shift in public opinion knocking down the numbers of units moved on her product. One day the vampire thing will be over again, and someone who wrote a kick ass vampire novel will be left in the dust simply because the public got sick of it.