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The strategy behind Hillary Clinton’s book release

David Gura Jun 6, 2014

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s new memoir, “Hard Choices,” hits store shelves on Tuesday. It’s the latest in a string of tell-alls by former members of the Obama administration, including Robert Gates’s “Duty” and Timothy Geithner’s “Stress Test.”

You’d think memoirs like these could sell themselves. Well, think again, says Jim Milliot, editorial director at Publisher’s Weekly.

“You could say it is one of the great ironies of book publishing that the bigger the author, the bigger the publicity campaign,” he notes.

This campaign kicked off on Mother’s Day, with an exclusive excerpt in “Vogue” magazine: Hillary Clinton, reflecting on motherhood. The excerpt was share-able, the idea being each retweet or Facebook like will translate into sales.

“Social media is a big component of all this,” Milliot says.

In fact, “Hard Choices” has its own Twitter account, managed by Simon & Schuster. Plus, there are more excerpts on a website, as well as YouTube videos.

According to Josh Baran, who managed the publicity campaign for “An Inconvenient Truth,” former Vice President Al Gore’s bestseller, “You want your message out.”

That kind of message machine can cost millions. We don’t know how much this one is going to cost, because the publisher declined our request for an interview. We do know that the publicity team for a big book starts with what Paul Bogaards calls a “communications blueprint,” which includes “television, radio, newspapers, magazines, blogs, big mouths.”

Bogaards, who manages media relations for Knopf Doubleday, has drawn up blueprints for former Gates’s memoir, and for President Clinton’s autobiography, “My Life.”

Rollouts may be more intricate than ever, but one thing is still true: If a reporter gets ahold of the book early, it can throw all that timing, all that money, and all that planning off track.

Still, Journalists were eager to get their hands on Bill Clinton’s memoir before it was published.

Says Bogaards: “I mean, one had them actually had the gall to call me and say, ‘Hey, can you help me out here?’ I was like, actually no, I cannot help you out.”

Publicists play defense and offense. Leaks aren’t all bad, and sometimes they are done strategically. Politico, for example, got it hands on a chapter from Hillary Clinton’s book early, and yesterday, CBS News, which is one of Simon & Schuster’s corporate siblings, obtained a copy of “Hard Choices.”

So far, these leaks have done what every publisher wants: they ginned up interest, they got people talking, and Simon & Schuster hope, that will lead to buying.

THE ROLLOUT, planned and unplanned

Sunday, May 11

Vogue.com posts “An Exclusive Excerpt from Hillary Clinton’s Upcoming Book, ‘Hard Choices’ 

Tuesday, May 27

Simon & Schuster releases Hillary Clinton’s “author’s note

Friday, May 30

A Politico reporter gets her hands on a “much-anticipated chapter” from “Hard Choices” about what transpired in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012

Hillary Clinton meets with booksellers at BookExpo America, in New York City

Wednesday, June 4

“People” publishes Hillary Clinton’s “first at-home interview since the end of husband Bill’s presidency in January 2001”

Thursday, June 5

CBS News obtains a copy of the book

Monday, June 9

Diane Sawyer, of ABC News, interviews Hillary Clinton during an hour-long, prime-time special

Tuesday, June 10

“Hard Choices” hits store shelves

Hillary Clinton does her first live interview, with Robin Roberts, of ABC News, on “Good Morning America”

She kicks off her book tour at a Barnes & Noble in New York City

Tuesday, June 17

Hillary Clinton sits down with Bret Baier and Greta Van Susteren of Fox News

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