It pretty much boiled down to being quick and good.
NY Observer: The journalist Richard Behar and his literary agent, Richard Abate, moved fast when they heard about Bernie Madoff‘s arrest last week. Within a few days, a book proposal was ready, and Mr. Abate, last in the news for brokering a massive deal for Tina Fey, pulled the trigger as fast as he could.
“With time running out, I decided to submit only to two houses,” he said in an e-mail. “Both wanted it.”
After meeting with Mr. Behar for an hour and a half, Random House editor– and the new editor-in-chief there, Susan Kamil– put in a preempt offer and Mr. Abate took it.
“I didn’t want to return on the 5th and possibly be up against three or four proposals put together over the holiday,” Mr. Abate said, noting that between his client’s book and the one by Andrew Kirtzman that Sterling Lord Literistic president Flip Brophy just sold to HarperCollins, there’s already not much room left in the Madoff market. “I think publishers will think long and hard before signing up a third book,” Mr. Abate said.
Asked what Mr. Behar’s book will have over the competition, Mr. Abate said, “he’s simply the most badass investigative reporter in America, and this is the first story he’s encountered that demands a book-length treatment.”
We hope Behar’s advance covers the cost of all his cassette tapes. Who knows how many victims will emerge by time this fully unravels?
But, given Abate’s record we’re thinking the deal had to be pretty good one—we’re now thinking probably high six figures. He just came off getting Tina Fey an estimated $6.9 million, according to the NY Post’s Keith Kelly, who reports that Vanity Fair‘s $5 million number was just a starting point for the book bidding war.
See Also: Here Come The Madoff Books