Basic logic tells us that negative opinions have a negative impact on our perceptions. If a man leaves a restaurant complaining about the service or reads a book and gives a horrible review, he’s likely to drive other customers/readers away. But this is not always the case: even negative reviews provide publicity, visibility, brand awareness and drive sales. Negative publicity is still publicity.

In early January 2018, Michael Wolff’s book titled Fire and Fury was published. Excerpts released before publication included unflattering descriptions of behaviour by U.S. President Donald Trump, chaotic interactions among the White House senior staff, and derogatory comments about the Trump family by former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon. 

News of the book’s imminent publication and its embarrassing depiction of Trump reached Trump’s ears and prompted Trump and his lawyer, Charles Harder, to issue on January 4, 2018, a cease and desist letter alleging false statements, defamation, and malice, and to threaten libel lawsuits against Michael Wolff. Trump, unsurprisingly, went further to attacked Michael Wolff on Twitter by saying: “Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book.”

Far from deterred, Wolff’s publisher Henry Holt and Company took advantage of the free publicity and moved up the release date of Fire and Fury. The “really boring and untruthful book” flew off the shelves, topping 1.7 million copies sold across hardcover, e-book and audio formats in its first three weeks.  In a 12-month scoring period, the book sold 1,015,000 hardcover copies in the U.S. alone, in addition to the tremendous e-book, audio and international sales.

Thanks to Fire and Fury, negative publicity and of course Trump, Michael Wolff earned an estimated $13 million in one year, before taxes and fees, placing him number seven on world’s highest paid authors Forbes list 2018. The only newcomer and nonfiction writer on the list and the first nonfiction author to make the Forbes list in 11 years. Wolff supplemented his massive royalties with seven-figure deals for a sequel to Fire and Fury and the film and television rights; a series is in the works with Endeavor Content.

“Once a day, I cast my eyes heavenward and say, ‘Thank you for Donald Trump,” says Michael Wolff.

Negative publicity is still publicity. And yes, he has good reason to thank the President. Without Trump, Wolff would not have made Forbes list of the world’s highest-paid authors.

Michael Wolff is an American author, essayist, journalist, and a columnist and contributor to USA Today.

Source: Wikipedia, Forbes

By Nicky Verd
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