1. Identify an author with no previous writing experience whom you assume will appeal to a particular buying demographic.

2. Make sure that said novice author does not actually appeal to that demographic (or, alternatively, that the demographic simply doesn't exist).

3. Give author a seven-figure advance.

4. Sell fewer copies of the book than one can fit in the trunk of a 1992 Geo Storm.

5. Clean out desk.

She has more in common with Phillipe Petain than just the haircut

I'm not really sure why the folks at Threshold (a Simon and Schuster company) thought that a Mary Cheney biography would appeal to gay consumers. It's sort of like expecting a book about Vichy France to go over well with the French. Now my finger may not be perfectly on the pulse of the gay community, but I'm fairly certain they weren't beating down the door to hear the story of the spineless, closeted, apologist daughter of the Bush administration's architect.

The sales figures back me up. Nielsen Bookscan says: about 5500 copies in four weeks (barely 2500 in its release week). And here's the kicker. They paid her $1 million up front to share her amazing tale of equivocation. That's $181 for every book sold thus far.

Ouch. This book makes the Edsel look like a rampant success.

As the sales have tapered off (less than 600 last week) and will hit rock bottom pretty soon, we can't expect Simon & Schuster's investment to look any better as time goes on. Young publishing magnates take note – such catastrophes can be avoided in the future by asking simple questions like "Am I being unrealistic about this project's sales potential?" and "Is this the dumbest fucking idea in the history of mankind?"

If you answer either question affirmatively, maybe it's best to pass.

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  1. Samantha Says:

    Spineless, closeted, apologist. All great modifiers. Mary Cheney had an unprecedented opportunity to make a difference to so many people…and she blew it – no doubt about it.

    But, let's think about this. Maybe she's just a private, shy person who prefers to keep to herself, uncomfortable in the limilight and not wanting to use her personal experience and insanely influential position as a bully pulpit…maybe?

    I'd like to think I'd have made a better selfless, non-profit spokesmodel for whatever cause I would later accept a million dollar advance to further – notably unsuccessfully, I might add – but who are we to judge?