Here is a letter to Barry Bonds after the first proposal to New York publishers was turned down.
July 17, 2001
Mr. Barry Bonds
c/o Steve Hoskins
Fax No.: (650) 631-8331
Re.: Authorized Barry Bonds autobiography
My agent, Basil Kane, has circulated our proposal to all the major New York publishers. I am sorry to report that, as of now and unless the situation changes, we will not be getting any offers.
It is possible that, should you break Mark McGwire’s home run record, we could get good offers, but I must admit that I overestimated the value of this project, based on Basil’s projections of what we could get.
Now, this leaves us several things to consider. The first is, as I say, to “wait and see” if you hit 71 home runs, or lead the Giants to the World Championship, both scenarios that could drastically change the situation. However, these scenarios, exciting as they are, are not the kind of things to rely on.
The next thing to consider is that at least two small publishing houses, Sports Publishing, Inc., and McFarland Publishers, have asked me to write a book about you. It is assumed that such a book would be an unauthorized biography, because while they would like to have you ink a contract for an authorized autobiography, they do not have up-front money to pay you for such a thing.
An authorized autobiography would sell much more than an unauthorized biography. If you do not break the home run record or Hank Aaron’s career mark, then this year (2001-02) is the best, most marketable time for you to write your book. Age 37, roughly three years prior to age 40 and retirement, is known as the best period for an athlete to write a book.
If you are excited about writing a book, getting your message out, and telling your story, I would be happy to continue working with you on this project. We could write an exciting, edgy book together. This would require my spending time at the park and some road trips, but not being with you substantially more than any other journalist.
In the off-season, I would ask one workday (seven hours) per week with you. On this schedule, I could have a manuscript prepared by the first of the year. At that point, we could go back to the publishers who, upon seeing the completed work and convinced of your cooperation, would provide, in my view, a good compensatory package for the book.
However, I am unable to write an authorized book without being paid. If you are interested in having me do this project with you and under your direction, I would be happy to discuss compensation. Should we arrive at a deal together, I can assure that the message and tone of the book would be yours.
Absent that, I still think a book about you is a good project, and would take one of the two small publishers up on their offers to have me write an unauthorized biography. I must stress that such a biography will not be as lucrative as one you authorize.
My personal suggestion is that you proceed with the authorized autobiography with me. With no unauthorized projects to compete with, it would be in a position to do well financially.
The reason large houses have not been willing to give you big up-front advances is that they are not convinced of your cooperation, and this was not an argument Basil was able to overcome.
Should you wish to help us overcome this argument, which would revive the prospect of up-front advances, we would be happy to make this happen. This would require your active participation in an attempt to sell this idea to publishers by:
(1) Engaging in phone conversations with publishers;
(2) Providing me with anecdotes to up-grade the proposal in order to re-ignite interest with publishers; and
(3) Meeting with publishers when you go to New York in August.
Even if we proceeded without an up-front advance, if you were to write a book with me, complete with edgy, insightful anecdotes, this would be the tangible proof they are looking for to provide us the money such a project is, in my view, worth.
I sincerely wish I had better, more substantial news on this project. I have worked very hard on it and consider it a very important sports book. I think there is a New York bias involved, and after having gotten to know you and Steve Hoskins better, I now have a good understanding and grasp of why you may feel misunderstood by the media.
I continue to want to pursue this deal with you. Strategies in business often take twists and turns, but obstacles can be overcome.
Very truly your,
STEVEN R. TRAVERS
Causes Steven Travers Supports
Conservative, Christian, USC, American patriotism