Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Real Story: How Jonathon Moseley Got the Blockbuster Book "Unfit for Command" Published in 2004

One of my political treasures is an autographed copy of the smash 2004 book Unfit for Command -- autographed by co-authors Jerry (Jerome) Corsi and John O'Neill as well as Rear Admiral Roy Francis Hoffmann.

In my autographed copy of the blockbuster book, both of the authors thank me, Jon Moseley, in their own handwriting for making the book possible, right above each of their signatures on the book.  

Now, I believe in giving credit where it is due:  Jerry Corsi and John O'Neill did the impossible.  When Regnery said "yes" to the book on May 31, 2004, the book was not written yet !!!

John O'Neill and Jerry Corsi wrote this book in 1 month.  I don't mean draft.  I mean FINAL, FINAL manuscript ready to go to the printers.

And this was not opinion, but dense, fact-based, research-based writing that we all knew would be attacked and nitpicked.  So John O'Neill and Jerry Corsi did the impossible by a factor of 10.  Fortunately they had the bits and pieces of the research ready, but the book still had to be written.

Regnery Publishing did the impossible. From a manuscript delivered at the end of June, Regnery had actual books ready for the shelves in book stores rolling out the loading dock, boxed up for shipping, by the end of August.   This was an extraordinary effort by everyone involved.

Admiral Hoffman spear-haded and organized 'Swift Boat Veterans for Truth' which was headed by John O'Neill.  In the Vietnam War, John O'Neill was the captain of John Kerry's 'swift boat.'  A 'swift boat" was a fresh water river patrol and fast attack armored boat.  John O'Neill was on the same boat on the same patrol routes immediately after John Kerry faked three purple hearts and got sent home to the USA after only a few months in Vietnam.   John O'Neill served out a full term, taking over for John Kerry's few months of service.  John Kerry claimed to have seen -- along the very same patrol route and with the same personnel -- military atrocities.   But John O'Neill was on the same patrol route working with the same people and saw it wasn't true.  So John O'Neill called John Kerry out on Kerry's lies.

So I was shocked to hear the other day a tea party leader say that heard doubts about my role in getting Unfit for Command published.  I have the hard proof:  First, his signed "confession" that I got the book published in his own handwriting and over his own signature, written on a copy of the book.  Second, I have dozens of emails documenting what happened -- including emails from him admitting the whole series of events.

So how is it that people can refuse to give credit where credit is due?  Now, I have to say, that I am taking a leap here.  Maybe the tea party leader misunderstood.  Maybe he did not remember clearly what the conversation was.  Maybe the person was in a hurry or thinking about something else or didn't hear the question.  Maybe if we put it to this person clearly and directly he would cheerfully agree:  "Of course, Jon Moseley was responsible for getting Unfit for Command published."

Yet there are so many people who will not share credit for those who have helped them along the way.  Why would anyone help you in the future if you never give credit for how people have helped you?    Such people burn more and more bridges.  While they think they are lifting themselves up by taking from others while giving nothing back, in reality they are flying like a rock -- about to fall back down again.  As the list of people angry at them gets longer and longer, they mortgage their future for a quick flash in the present.  They may burn more brightly for a brief moment, but then come crashing down once and for all.

So, I don't know who is right in this situation.  And I should give a person every chance to explain and or make things right.

But for the sake of posterity, here is the truth, as documented in dozens of emails from the authors of Unfit for Command.

On Friday, May 27, 2004, I was driving through the part of McLean, Virginia, that borders on Great Falls, in the bumpy hills and sharp turns through faux horse farms and mansions.  I remember the terrain because I was worried the cell phone call would drop the signal.  And I was having an extremely bad day.  I had plenty of reason to feel sorry for myself and feel that I was being wronged.  Why should I give a darn about anybody else's problems?

It was radio talk show host Paul Schiffer, a long time friend of mine.  

Starting in February 2004, Paul Schiffer had spearheaded the public presenation of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.  John O'Neill and Admiral Hoffman had referred some Swift Boaters to Paul Schiffer's radio talk show broadcasting from Canton, Ohio, on a mega super-station.  Paul Schiffer's talk show could be heard across 6 States, even reaching just inside the Northern border of Virginia.  I could hear his show near the river in Great Falls, Sterling, or Ashburn, but no father South.

As the Swift Boaters talked on Paul Schiffer's show "The Schiffer Report," they kept connecting in more and more of the veterans from the Vietnam War.  People who had not spoken to each other in over 30 years were reconnecting on Paul Schiffer's radio program.  Paul Schiffer's radio show turned into a class reunion.

So by May 27, Paul Schiffer called me and said that some of the Swift Boat Veterans wanted to write a book.   Paul knew that I had some knowledge of the book world, partly for some personal reasons, but partly because I had been working on publising my own book Cold Peace.

So Paul Schiffer asked to introduce me to Jerry Corsi over the phone.  Would I take Jerry Corsi's phone call, Paul asked?

Again, I was in a bad mood.  I had my own problems to worry about.  Why should I take on any one else's problems?   But I beleive:  Give and it shall be given unto you.  I believe that we are here on this Earth to do good, not just to care only about ourselves.  So, fighting back my own annoyance at events in my own life from that morning, I said sure, why not.

Jerry Corsi's and John O'Neill's book proposal had been turned down by Regnery Publishing (who ultimately changed their minds) and by World Net Daily books and by potential agents.

I listened as Jerry Corsi described the book, and he asked my thoughts on getting it published:

Won't work, I responded.  (I have a habit of sayings can't be done, NOT giving up, and then getting it done where no one else can.)   Look:  It is now May 27.  You haven't started writing.  The election is November 2.   No publisher is going to admit that the book is only about the election.  But practically speaking the shelf life of the book is going to largely end on November 1.

So you have to write the book. They have to edit your manuscript.  Maybe your manuscript will stink.  I explained how a very famous conservative woman handed in a manuscript to Regnery Publishing which was AWFUL  and Regnery had to anguish over how to salvage the manuscript without alienating a leading conservative so major that they couldn't afford to cut her loose.

Then they have to physically print the book, warehouse it, distribute it to regional wholesale distribution centers, sell it to bookstores, distribute it to book stores, promote it, and get it on the shelves, and leave enough time for people to actually BUY the book significantly ahead of the elections.  So the book would have to be on the book shelves by September.  This is May.  And you haven't even started writing it yet.

And on top of all of that, I happened to know that the owner of Regnery was in Europe, and for something this challenging would have to be consulted, despite being out of the country.

I tried to be positive and encouraging.  I said, you should start thinking about self-publishing.  Go ahead and write the manuscript.  We'll go to Berryville Graphics (a big book publishing plant in little Berryville, Virginia.)

But in the meantime -- I always believe in covering all the bases -- send me your book proposal and I will see if we cannot get Regnery or some other publisher to publish it.  Let's pursue all pathways at the same time, and see where it gets us. 

So Jerry Corsi emailed me their book proposal.

Jerry Corsi is a great writer, not only in quality but in the astonishing pace and volume of books he churns out.  Jerry Corsi is a great thinker and conservative.  He has written a couple dozen wonderful books.

But his book proposal was atrocious.    It may be the worst book proposal ever.

Not understanding his audience and not knowing what hot buttons needed to be pushed with publishers, Jerry Corsi -- a great writer in general -- failed to mention in his proposal to publishers that he had ever written a book before.  That's a huge worry for publishers:  Your idea sounds great.  But can you write?  What if your manuscript stinks?

As a result, I took the highly unorthodox step of insisting that Jerry Corsi INCLUDE several of his prior books in the package sent to the publisher.  When the question arises:  "But can he write?"  I wanted the dramatic, physical, answer right there in front of them:  Here are some of my prior books right on your desk.  So big and bulky you can't miss them even if you try.  There is no place to put your coffee without seeing that -- YES, HE CAN WRITE.

Then there is marketing and distribution.  Most authors (like 99%) imagine that when they hand over the mansucript their work is done.  Unfortunately, no.   The publisher wants to see how are WE -- that is the author and the publisher -- going to market and sell this book? 

Jerry Corsi and John O'Neill had a fabulous story to tell on how they would market the book.   But that story was not in the book proposal (or not clear enough to be understandable).  Through the Winter Soldier project led by Scott Swett, Unfit for Command had a vast, ready-made network for mass marketing the book, from Day 1, Minute 1 of publication.  That neeed to be better explained.

But then there was the risk:

And so I committed one of the greatest sins in book publishing history.   The gods of the book world must have shrieked in horror.  Any book agent would have a heart attack.

I recommended that Jerry Corsi and John O'Neill -- the sky is flashing with angry lightning even as I write these horrifying words -- WAIVE THEIR AUTHOR ADVANCE !

Such a blasphemy is unheard of.

The name of the game in publishing is that the author tries to get the biggest possible advance, so that if the book flops, the author still gets the money while the publisher is left holding the bag.  The publisher wants to pay as small an advance as possible so that if the book flops they limit their losses.

So book agents exist to try to negotiate as big an advance as possible.

I recomended that if Corsi and O'Neill wanted to have any hope of getting this book published that as of May 27 they hadn't started writing yet for a November 2 election, they should try the shocking and dramatic step of lowering the risk for the publisher:   Waive your advance as authors.

Now, it is true that a book can be on the book shelves in 5 months (from late May to November 1), but in this case the window on book sales would close on November 1.  Most books might be of interest for yeras to come.  But a publisher would have to assume, pessimistically, that no one would want this particular book after the election.  Perhaps if John Kerry won and became President.  But for sure if he lost, most likely no one one buy the book on November 3.

So any publisher would be taking an extreme risk starting the process on Monday, May 30, 2004, for a book whose relevance would end on November 2, 2004.  Getting the book published would take an extraordinary solution.

It worked.  They FedExed my rewritten book proposal to Regnery on Monday.  (I sent a heads up email to the President of Regnery to watch for it.)   It arrived on Tuesday.  

Remember that Harry Crocker had already sent an email to Jerry Corsi rejecting the book.

Tuesday mid-day, Regnery called -- having already said "no" remember earlier -- that they wanted to set up a meeting.

Tuesday afternoon Regnery called back and said forget the meeting, we're taking the book.  The Chicago book show is coming up, and we want to promote the book there.

I still had plenty of -- very unfair -- problems of my own going on.  But I figured if I am going to go down, I am going to go down fighting.  I am going to do as much good in this life as I possibly can.  If bad thing are going to happen to me unfairly, I am going to move the ball forward as much as I can.

Over 1.1 million copies of UNFIT FOR COMMAND were printed.  I don't know how many were sold, because to get the book on the shelves available to be bought, there are always extras that don't get sold.  But I think it must have been pretty close to 1 million copies.

Many political observers believe -- as do I -- that the massive television advertising campaign of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth combined with UNFIT FOR COMMAND (two sides of the same coin) changed the outcome of the 2004 Presidential election, and re-elected George Bush who was running a lukewarm campaign.

John O'Neill ended up donating $1.5 million to charity from the book, to help the families of fallen veterans.  Remember:  They waived their advance, at my suggestion!  It paid off BIG !

But I also have to give credit to the public relations and marketing genius of Jerry Corsi.  I was very privileged to be in the loop from June through September 2004 as Jerry Corsi magnificiently planned and implemented the marketing for the book.  I won't give away any secrets here for free.  But I learned a lot from Jerry.  

There is no doubt that without Jerry Corsi's marketing genius, UNFIT FOR COMMAND would scarcely have even been noticed.  The mainstream media would have ignored it, and small sales would have allowed them to get away with it.

No comments:

Post a Comment

We value an open exchange of ideas, even from those who disagree. However, please remember that even minor children can come across websites on the internet. Please use respectful language suitable for auidences of all ages.