Barack and Michelle Obama have a book deal. This is not surprising on its own, because of course Barack and Michelle Obama have a book deal. Former First Couples always land book deals. And this time it was extra obvious, not only because they made history by being the first black family to live in the White House, but also because Barack Obama is already a two-time best-selling author, for Dreams From My Father and The Audacity of Hope. Michelle, a fellow Harvard Law alum, is no slouch either. The only surprising thing about it was the price tag: $65 million, reportedly. That is, economically speaking, a lot of money. More than even the high-end of expert estimates.
The publisher that landed the books, Penguin Random House, released this statement.
“We are absolutely thrilled to continue our publishing partnership with President and Mrs. Obama. With their words and their leadership, they changed the world, and every day, with the books we publish at Penguin Random House, we strive to do the same. Now, we are very much looking forward to working together with President and Mrs. Obama to make each of their books global publishing events of unprecedented scope and significance.”
So that is what we know. But truthfully, I’m more interested in what we don’t know. What I’m saying is… I have some questions.
What if the Obamas don’t write memoirs?
What if they sit down to write their personal stories but get writer’s block and decide to change course?
What if they write, like, dueling fantasy books that are intended to be the first volumes of longer series?
What if their agent negotiated most of this deal while they were on vacation, but both of them spent the whole trip pounding through the Harry Potter series and they came back thinking, “Hey, we should try that”?
What would you do if you were the editor who acquired the books thinking you’d landed two of the most anticipated non-fiction books in recent memory — the memoirs of the first black President and First Lady, to be released during the presidency of their successors, who are attempting to reverse course on many of their signature accomplishments — and you suddenly found yourself dealing with a pair of first-time fiction writers?
What if one of them does that?
Like, what if Michelle writes a straightforward memoir about her time as First Lady and Barack writes a hyper-violent Game of Thrones-esque book about wizards and stuff?
What if it sells like gangbusters and gets made into an HBO series?
How wild would it be to see opening credits for a violent prestige series titled like The Necromancers Guild and then have “Based on a book by Barack Obama” pop up at the end?
Do you think that would ever become normal for you or would it blow your mind a little, every time, even if the series runs for 10 seasons?
What if Barack Obama wins an Emmy?
What if he gets way into it and starts wearing a sea captain’s hat everywhere like George R.R. Martin?