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Publisher Speaks Out On McClellan Hype, Backlash

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Writing on Editor and Publisher this morning, Public Affairs Books founder and editor-at-large Peter Osnos addresses the media frenzy that's greeted the announcement of Scott McClellan's forthcoming volume, What Happened. In summation, Osnos is seemingly shocked--shocked!--that the marketing strategy his company pursued with regard to McClellan's book has actually worked in the manner that was intended.

For Osnos, there's a certain amount of expectations management that needs to be done now that everyone's suddenly interested in the book. For one thing, the book isn't finished. "McClellan is still at work on his book," Osnos avers, adding, "At PublicAffairs, it is not unusual for writers to be finishing their books at the time we announce publication because the sell-in to stores has to take place months before the books actually arrive." Besides, what happens if McClellan proves to be no better at writing than he was at being press secretary.

Still, there's only a certain amount of spin one can accept from Osnos before it starts to strain credulity. This may be Osnos' first experience with the accelerated hype machine of the internet, but for the lengths he goes to to express just how gosh darned flabbergasted he is that a humble bit of online ad copy has transfixed everyone's imagination, you can't help but notice that he's taken the opportunity to reproduce that copy in its entirety for E&P, even carefully honoring that boffo single-sentence paragraph, "There was one problem. It was not true."

"Rereading the excerpt now," Osnos confesses, "I can see why it was so exciting." The magical gnomes that coded up that excerpt for the Public Affairs website without anyone's knowledge could not be reached for comment.