“My Husband Signed the Contract for Your Book!”

From the book, My Paper Chase, by Harry Evans. A longtime British editor, Evans moved to the United States in 1984 and edited The Atlantic Monthly Press and then U.S. News & World Report. In 1986 he was the founding editor of  Conde Nast Traveler and from 1990 to 1997 he was publisher of the Random House trade group.

In 1994 we had a submission by a young, first-time writer, not long out of university, whose contract with another house had been withdrawn for failure to deliver on time. Thanks to the alert judgment of a young Random House editor (Henry Ferris) in the Times Books imprint and the superb quality of the writing when I took a look, we judged the book worth an advance of $40,000.

It was called Dreams from My Father, by a community organizer named Barack Obama. When Tina [Tina Brown, the wife of Harry Evans] met him on the eve of his presidential inauguration, she remarked, “My husband signed the contract for your book!”

He gave that radiant smile. “Worth a lot more now!”

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