The Corner Office: He Did It
• How did you come to publish “If I Did It”?
Kampmann: At [BookExpo America] last year, [David and I] had dinner with an agent named Sharlene Martin, and it had nothing to do with O.J. Simpson. … She was interested in the Beaufort model for [another project]. Nothing came of that, but during July, she told David Nelson that she was working on another project that could be even more interesting. It was in July or August that she became the agent for the Goldman family, who had acquired the rights to the HarperCollins book. …
I think that Sharlene—and I’m not sure [which other publishers] she showed the book to—was pretty sure that the larger publishers weren’t going to touch this with a 10-foot pole, given what had happened with HarperCollins. I had a different reaction [to the book]. … I wanted to find out how good Beaufort really was. I knew in my heart that we could do an amazing job on this book if the opportunity came to us.
But I still presumed, up until the contract was signed, that I wasn’t going to get it. I thought someone else would come in and swoop it away. There was no reason Beaufort would get it, because I wasn’t offering an advance. … The model that we used with the Goldman family was essentially a [traditional] publishing model without the advance. And the royalty was actually better than the 15 percent of retail that the big authors [normally] get. So the bottom line for me was, can Beaufort do it, [and] can Midpoint handle it on the sales-distribution side …? … We signed the agreement on Aug. 11, .
• What happened once the deal was announced? How did you deal with the strong reactions and media interest that surrounded it?
Kampmann: … Beaufort ended up being the perfect publisher for two reasons: It neither had a bad reputation [nor] a good reputation. So … the immediate negative reaction we took [after the deal was announced] didn’t stick, because there was nothing to hang it on. …