Election 2016 Memoirs: Which campaign characters could publish memoirs?
Double Down: Game Change 2012
No matter if you’re with her or you’re looking to make America great again, there’s no question that the 2016 presidential election is like none other in U.S. history—from candidates who could be characters on a Gilligan’s Island reboot (The First Lady! The billionaire!) to that damning Access Hollywood tape. Indeed, the unpredictable nature of the campaign and the colorful supporting players on both sides have publishers predicting a boom in political reads in the months to come. “There will be several books to emerge from this election cycle,” says literary agent Richard Pine. “Staffers’ inside looks, embedded-journalist narratives, Republican politicians hating on Trump, Ann Coulter’s Hillary takedown, the Trump brothers’ business-advice book, and Mike Pence’s premature 2020 campaign memoir.”
Whose stories are readers most hungry for? Bernie Sanders’, for one. The senator’s devoted following all but guarantees huge sales for his Nov. 15 release, Our Revolution. Meanwhile, Jennifer Enderlin, publisher of St. Martin’s, thinks Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway could pen an interesting chronicle of her time with the Donald: “She was on the front lines of one of the most volatile campaigns in the history of American politics.” Enderlin also mentions Huma Abedin, vice-chair of Clinton’s campaign, as a possibility. “After Hillary’s out of office, I’d love to know her take on working so closely with the first woman president,” she says—noting that it likely won’t be written anytime soon, given the “personal turmoil” surrounding Abedin’s separation from husband Anthony Weiner.
Enderlin cautions that “the key to any memoir, whether it’s political or not, is honesty,” which makes the prospect of books by Trump’s children or Chelsea Clinton a bit tricky (presuming they would need to maintain a certain level of discretion about their candidate parents). However, Paul Bogaards, vice president of publicity at Knopf, acknowledges that there is a market for a Melania Trump memoir: “A book like Melania’s would probably find a readership among the Breitbart, Fox News crowd.”
Experts can’t quite agree on the amount these would-be authors could fetch from publishers, as the potential for revelations varies so widely. But it’s fair to assume Chelsea could earn seven figures, and Melania may be looking at six…if her future somehow becomes Donald-less.
They do agree, however, on the bankability of a fly-on-the-wall account—even if it’s anonymously written—from either party’s camp. “Frankly, the only book I’d be interested in is one like Game Change, a deeply researched and reported chronicle by reporters embedded in the Trump or Clinton campaign,” says an executive director at a major publishing house. “Especially with the Trump campaign, which has hired and fired like mad, there must be disaffected staffers willing to talk. But is there a reporter with the chops to do that in the Trump press pool? I don’t know.” We may be in luck: Rumor has it that Mark Halperin and John Heilemann—the authors of 2010’s Game Change and its 2013 followup, Double Down—are already at work on a book laying bare this polarizing election.
Of course, there’s one more thing to remember: It’s only October. “We don’t know what bombshells are yet to come in the next few weeks,” Bogaards says. “Suppose there are more leaks…and then there’s reporting that unearths who’s been responsible for the leaks. Then that becomes an interesting narrative: If somebody’s out there breaking news to influence an American election, absolutely people would read that book.” Your move, Marla Maples.
This article originally appears in the October 21, 2016 issue of Entertainment Weekly. Pick it up on stands Friday, or subscribe online at ew.com/allaccess.