When Obama leaves the White House, on January 20, 2017, he will write a memoir. “Now, that’s a slam dunk,” the former Obama adviser David Axelrod told me. Andrew Wylie, a leading literary agent, said he thought that publishers would pay between seventeen and twenty million dollars for the book—the most ever for a work of nonfiction—and around twelve million for Michelle Obama’s memoirs. (The First Lady has already started work on hers.)
Which one do you think will have the even lower finished-to-purchased ratio?
Remnick's long article features extensive analyses from Obama about how, on the one hand, the President should never say anything interesting, but, on the other hand, interesting things are those the President should never say. The article can't have set literary agents on fire with anticipation.
One possibility is that, having never said anything interesting in decades in anticipation of becoming President, Obama has been saving up the huge number of brilliant insights and hilarious zingers he's dreamed up, and will unload them all in his $20 million book. An alternative is that he hasn't actually thought up anything all that interesting, and that's what the people who will pay for this book want more of.