Book World Reacts to White Nationalist’s $250,000 Deal

Authors, critics and readers respond to news that Simon & Schuster imprint will release a book from Milo Yiannopoulos

The book world reacted with dismay to reports yesterday that Milo Yiannopoulos — a leading white nationalist, Breitbart staffer and one of the Internet’s loudest, nastiest trolls — had secured a $250,000 advance on a book to be published by the Simon & Schuster imprint, Threshold Editions.

Threshold described its new title in a press release: “Dangerous will be a book on free speech by the outspoken and controversial gay British writer and editor at Breitbart News who describes himself as ‘the most fabulous supervillain on the internet.’” Yiannopoulos is most famous for championing abhorrent far-right views on the Internet and being kicked off Twitter after leading a harassment campaign against Ghostbusters’ Leslie Jones.

The book world recoiled at the news. Carolyn Kellog, Book Editor for the Los Angeles Times tweeted: “If you approved a $250K book deal for the troll promoting racist, sexist views so extreme he got thrown off this platform — we need to talk.” She also asked authors who had received $5K-$25K advances from big publishers to reach out to her. Saeed Jones, BuzzFeedNews’ Executive Editor, Culture and author of a forthcoming book set to be released by Simon & Schuster, lamented his new affiliation and reminded social media followers that “The publishing industry as of this year is 79% white. Being racist is quite profitable.” Author Danielle Henderson, who also has a book forthcoming from Simon & Schuster, tweeted: “I’m looking at my @simonschuster contract, and unfortunately there’s no clause for ‘what if we decide to publish a white nationalist.’” She invited the publisher to contact her regarding the state of their relationship.

The Chicago Review of Books announced on Twitter that “in response to this disgusting validation of hate, we will not cover a single @simonschuster book in 2017.” The move was received with some hesitation by those who felt a boycott would cause too much damage to deserving authors with books being released by other imprints. But as the day wore on, a movement to boycott Simon & Schuster gained traction on Twitter. Meanwhile, Buzzfeed had some fun examining Yiannopoulos’ self-published poetry.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, which had an exclusive on the story, Yiannopoulos said: “I met with top execs at Simon & Schuster earlier in the year and spent half an hour trying to shock them with lewd jokes and outrageous opinions. I thought they were going to have me escorted from the building — but instead they offered me a wheelbarrow full of money.”

At The New Republic, Alex Shephard wondered whether the move to get in bed with Milo Yiannopoulos might ultimately cost Simon & Schuster more than the $250,000 advance currently dominating headlines.

Threshold’s history and mission are described on the website: “Threshold Editions was founded in 2006 with a mission to ‘provide a forum for the creative people, bedrock principles, and innovative ideas of contemporary conservatism’ and to chronicle the historic reforms those people and principles would bring.” Its other recent titles include Glenn Beck’s Liars, more junk from Beck, some Trump propaganda and Oliver North’s thrillers.

Yiannopoulos’ book, titled Dangerous, will be rushed out in March and has ridden the wave of publicity into the top-5 on Amazon’s bestseller list.

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