By James Hibberd
February 21, 2017 at 06:56 PM EST
Credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/Getty Images

Milo Yiannopoulos lost his lucrative book deal. But will Dangerous somehow see the light of day anyway?

The publishing industry is abuzz about Simon & Schuster dumping Yiannopoulos’ upcoming title from its Threshold imprint following the self-styled provocateur’s much-condemned comments about pedophilia, which also led to Yiannopoulos’s resignation from Breitbart on Tuesday. Reports say Dangerous was charting strongly on Amazon’s pre-order list before Simon & Schuster pulled the plug, leading to an extremely unusual situation: a potential bestseller that’s also considered untouchable.

Only a few times in recent memory have authors been in a remotely similar situation. One was O.J. Simpson, with his infamous 2007 book If I Did It — a hypothetical confessional to a double murder. Another was Bret Easton Ellis with his 1991 serial killer classic American Psycho — which was also originally going to be published by Simon & Schuster before it was dropped due to outrage over its extremely violent content. (Vintage Books picked it up.)

Which leads to the question: Will anyone make a play for Yiannopoulos’s book?

“Never say never; I’d be shocked if the book doesn’t come out in one way or another in the next six months,” said Jason Pinter, publisher of Polis Books (who, for the record, is not interested). “When the O.J. book was canceled, it was largely assumed nobody would touch it. … But a small publisher picked it up, and it actually sold pretty well — over 100,000 copies in hardcover, which, for a small publisher, is a pretty big deal. I don’t think any of the major publishers would touch it. But given that it has such a political bent and there are conservative publishers out there that don’t have the corporate oversight of a Simon & Schuster, it wouldn’t surprise me if one of them picked it up. Somebody is going to say, ‘There’s still money to be had by publishing this.'”

Another potential route for Yiannopoulos is self-publishing, which has greater royalty margins than going through a traditional publisher — though the book’s path to distribution has likely narrowed. “The fact it had pre-sold so well means there would have been a lot of copies in bookstores,” he said. “But if he wasn’t radioactive before, he’s now Homer Simpson in the nuclear reactor-level radioactive. I think it’s going to be a situation like with the O.J. book, where even if somebody publishes it, a lot of bookstores will refuse to carry it. Also, a large avenue would be speaking engagements, and I’d be shocked with any college continues with his speaking tour schedule. He would have been able to sell tons of copies of his book at colleges all over the country.”

One major industry publishing house veteran suggested Yiannopoulos will likely have to self-publish. “I don’t know if somebody will publish it — there are publishers springing up every day,” she said. “But I think in the climate today which allows for self-publishing to be done very easily, and with the hoopla around this book that might frighten a traditional publisher, I think if he wants it out, he’ll have to do it himself. He’s a marketing machine, albeit a negative publicity machine. But the question is: Will booksellers carry it.” (Amazon and Yiannopoulos’s literary agent did not respond to a request for comment).

A third industry insider called Dangerous “even more toxic than the O.J. book” and says it’s unlikely any publisher will pick it back up… yet won’t entirely rule it out, either. “There might be some rubbernecker who could see a way forward, but I doubt it,” the insider said. “The pedophilia comments really disgusted what was left of Milo’s base, and he has reached the nadir of outrage levels where more people scurry away rather than get drawn in. But I suspect Milo will find a way to reinvent himself. ‘Provocateurs’ like him always do.”

It’s a fair point as even before the most recent controversy, some conservative imprints were shying away from the title. Last month, Marji Ross, the president of conservative publisher Regnery, told The New York Times her audience would have been too polarized by Dangerous. (“Some of our market would have loved it, and some of our market would have been very uncomfortable with it,” Ross said.)

But despite the nature of Dangerous and Yianopoulous at the moment, the 33-year-old promised his reinvention is well underway.

“This week, for political gain, the media and the Republican establishment accused a child abuse victim of enabling child abuse. It’s sick. But they have not killed me. They have only made me stronger,” Yiannopoulous wrote Tuesday on his Facebook page . “Thank you for the support. You guys have kept me sane. In a few months, this will be a distant memory. I’ll be back with details of my new publisher, my new media venture, and my new tour.”