April 21, 2016

Andrew Cuomo isn’t getting any more of those sweet, sweet book royalties


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Booksellers at The Strand weren’t the only people who didn’t care for Andrew Cuomo’s memoir. (Because no one cared for Andrew Cuomo’s memoir.) (image via Twitter)

Last week wasn’t just the final week of tax season—it was the final week of public-officials-and-their-legally-public-tax-filing season! With that comes some sobering information about civil servants and the amount of money they (claim to) make.

And even more sobering are the incomes of the officials who write memoirs that come nowhere near close to earning out. Let’s say, for example, Governor Andrew Cuomo.

Whether it can be attributed to 2014’s ebola scare, the poor sales track for New York political machine lifer memoirs, or just bad luck, Cuomo’s 2014 memoir, All Things Possible:Setbacks and Success in Politics and in Life tanked. Nielsen BookScan has the life-to-date sales as 3,130 units, which would respectable for a book that hadn’t netted a mid-six-figure advance. (Fun fact: Kurt Warner’s memoir, also called All Things Possible, has sold 3,131 units according to Nielsen. It also came out 11 years before Cuomo’s.)

Now, as Rick Karlin for the Albany Times-Union reports after examining Cuomo’s tax filings, that royalty trickle has slowed to a royalty nothing.

This year, he collected nothing for his memoir, All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and in Life.

The memoir, published by Harper Books, netted him an advance of about $565,000 in 2014 and 2013 according to those filings.

The governor’s ethics filings back then estimated an advance of about $700,000 but that was before various expenses such as legal fees.

For 2015, there were no reported advances or royalties for the book.

The memoir hasn’t sold well and Harper has said no paperback was planned.

Meanwhile, Glenn Blain at the New York Daily News got the best (worst?) bon mot about the whole grim affair:

“What was expected was paid,” said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi about the book payments.

And there you have it! To those cynics who believe that public service and being an author are the two combined paths to filthy lucre, you are wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. The only way to make lots of money is to join a STEM field, or to find the one thing people can’t do for themselves and monetize the shit out of it.



Liam O’Brien is the Senior Sales & Marketing Manager at Melville House, and a former bookseller.