"I Write a Fast Book"... To the Tune of a Tracey Chapman Song

On August 29, McCain declared Sarah Palin as his VP and introduced her to a national audience. Zondervan Publishing has announced that it's releasing a biography on Sarah Palin in November.

Here's the publisher's description of the book:

Our present era demands a new style of leadership that transcends political affiliation and party lines. In an age that values relationship over authority and instant information over accuracy, breadth of knowledge and depth of conviction are prized commodities. Governor Sarah Palin (R—Alaska) brings both of those qualities to her new role as candidate for the vice presidency of the United States.

Her familiarity with a broad range of issues and her strong moral center are just two of the leadership traits that have allowed Palin to organize and focus her efforts in elected office.

Exploring themes from her career in politics, her life as a hockey mom, and her strongly held Christian faith, author Joe Hilley’s biographical leadership study of Sarah Palin explores the leadership principles that have catapulted her into the national spotlight and explains how she models a fresh paradigm of leadership that will guide our nation through the 21st century.

I'm a Republican and I understand that Sarah has accomplished much in a short amount of time. I have to confess to having no enthusiasm about her selection. Perhaps my disappointment is coloring my assessment of this book. But I have to wonder how the author could have come to the conclusion so quickly that Sarah is a next generation leader. Did he base this assessment on Sarah's gender? There's a body of business literature that asserts that in the future having a female perspective at senior levels of leadership will become a necessity. Personally, I agree with this.

But let's face it. There's barely been enough time past to adequately vet Sarah (oops!) let alone come to the judgment that she's a "next generation" leader. It seems like the conclusion of the book has been written an all that is left to shoe-horn Palin's story into a predetermined outline.

The truth is that we all still getting to know Sarah. Journalists are still unearthing facts and testimonials about her. There's such a hurry to assess Sarah that she's become our national Rorschach test. We all see what it is we want to see in her. It will takes months for a fair assessment of Sarah to emerge.

Regrettably, that time will come months after the election.


  1. see my take at RUSHPRNEWS.com

    on Joe Hilley's bio


    Will Fiction Writer Joe Hilley Tell the Whole Truth About Sarah ... -]16 Sep 2008 ...

    Browse Will Fiction Writer Joe Hilley Tell the Whole Truth About Sarah Palin?


  2. Will Fiction Writer Joe Hilley Tell the Whole Truth About Sarah Palin?
    EmailWritten by rushprnews on Sep-16-08 11:32pm
    From: www.rushprnews.com
    Browse > Home / BREAKING NEWS, PRESS RELEASE, Politics, Publishing / Will Fiction Writer Joe Hilley Tell the Whole Truth About Sarah Palin?

    September 16, 2008

    Alabama Writer Penning Much-Awaited Bio of Republican’s ‘Burning Bush Moment’ Gal — But Will He Tell All?

    by Dan Bloom

    BOSTON, MASS (RUSHPRNEWS)09/16/2008--A trade book announcement earlier this month about Alabama fiction writer Joe Hilley’s planned “biography” of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin (and current GOP Vice Presidential candidate) put the story in a soothing, religious light:

    “Novelist Joe Hilley’s “Sarah Palin: New Kind of Leader”, exploring themes from her career in politics, her life as a hockey mom, and her strongly-held Christian faith, explaining how they influence her new style of leadership and align with our changing economy in the information age, to Zondervan, for publication on October 10.”

    How did the deal go through? Who agented the book? What was the advance? How did Hilley get the nod? Did God have a hand in this?
    Inquiring minds want to know.

    And Hilley is not the only writer doing a new Palin book. While Zondervan’s book will be bathed in religion and aimed at conservative Christian readers, a humorous paperback is also being planned by a Manhattan writer.

    According to publisher David Nussbaum, “101 Things You — and John McCain — Didn’t Know About Sarah Palin,” is being written as we speak by Gregory Bergman and will have a print run of some 25,000 copies.
    Nussbaum said the humorous paperback will be in bookstores nationwide by the first week of October, perhaps even by the end of September. A website, 101thingsaboutsarahpalin.com, will go live by September 22, he noted.

    Now back to serious Palin biographer Joe Hilley. He and his wife live in southern Alabama — in a place called not Hope but Fairhope. And now he’s got a ringside seat at the travelling media circus known as the Sarah Palin Show. His literary agent inked the deal.

    Hilley, as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate’s self-chosen rush-job biographer, is at the top of his game now. His literary agent brought the book idea to Zondervan, a subsidiary of billionaire Rupert Murdoch’s HarperCollins publishing conglomerate.

    So who is Joe Hilley and how did he get this gig? According to a source in the publishing industry, the Palin bio was sold by Hilley’s agent to Zondervan sight unseen, with just a simple outline and proposal.

    On his own website, http://www.joehilley.com, Hilley explains himself in detail, and it’s an interesting backstory. He’s a lawyer turned legal thriller writer turned ghostwriter turned biographer. In middle age, his star is rising.

    Meanwhile, here are a few items from his resume. He holds a college degree from Asbury College, a theology degree from Asbury Theological Seminary and a doctorate in law degree from Cumberland School of Law at Samford University.

    Asbury Theological Seminary? Located in Kentucky, it was founded in
    1923 “to prepare and send forth a well-trained, sanctified, Spirit-filled, evangelistic ministry” to spread scriptural holiness around the world” and is “committed to a vital evangelical Christian faith, rooted in the “Wesleyan-Arminian” theological tradition.

    The what? The Wesleyan-Arminian theological tradition, unlike the Jewish tradition or the Hindu tradition or the tradition of the Dalai Lama, “stresses the free grace of God in two ways: First, the grace of God is free in all — not dependent on merit nor on works.
    [And] second, the grace of God is free for all — all may be saved.
    [Jesus] died for the whole world. People are lost, [therefore], not because they cannot be saved, but because they will not be saved.”

    So get ready for Joe Hilley’s take on Sarah Palin. While it will be very different from his fast-paced novels, it will be sure to capture the attention of readers in both blue and red states — on both sides of the church aisles — some looking for affirmation and others looking for a few cracks in the the governor’s rosy resume.

    Expect the former. This
    is will God’s book, with God’s hand surely upon it. It might not be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, but it will be sure to light another fuse in the Sisterhood of the Travelling Pantsuits tent.
    Youtube link to Joe Hilley Interivew

    Previous RushPRnews article about book announcement from publisher:

    Other Palin’s stories here: http://www.rushprnews.com/?s=Sarah+Palin

    About the Author: Dan Bloom is a Rush PR News political and environmental news columnist/reporter and a freelance writer from Boston, who has been based in Asia since 1991. He graduated from Tufts University in 1971 and has worked in media, public relations and education in several countries. He is currently doing research on climate change and global warming as the founder of the Polar Cities Research Institute. Write him at danbloom@RushPRnews.com

    Posted by Dan Bloom · Filed Under BREAKING NEWS, PRESS RELEASE, Politics, Publishing

  3. i think it's hilarious that the description of a book that's so obviously a rush job condemns "instant information over accuracy."

  4. Zondervan, isn't that a Christian publishing company? I don't think this is a very good sign of a non-partisan Christianity

  5. Joe --

    Yes, Zondervan IS a Christian publishing house. This is one of the times that I'm VERY VERY glad that I'm not working in my old job at a Christian bookstore. Stores all throughout the Bible Belt will quickly sell out of this "biography" simply because it panders to what people want to hear about their candidate.

    How any decent biography worth anything remotely approaching journalistic integrity can be written, printed, published, and sold in barely two months (with less than 30 days before the election) is beyond me. What bothers me more is that most of the folks who buy this book (at least from MY experience in Christian retail) won't even wonder about such a strange occurrence.

    OK -- I'm stepping off my soapbox now.

  6. Zondervan is a Christian publishing company, but owned by a non-Christian corporation. They answer to the dollar as their bottom line, and sadly this book (which is being published in an astonishingly short amount of time) will sell very well.

  7. It's not unusual for Christian Houses to release politically-oriented non-fiction from both sides of the political sphere. Thomas Nelson (granted, one of the less conservative houses) released a book about Obama's faith a short time ago.

    What amuses me is the kind of rush job this book has to be. It wouldn't surprise me if Joe Hilley had a ghostwriter (or two) aiding the the production. Consider that book I'm writing now won't be released until 2010.

    I'm disappointed in Zondervan. They know better than this.

  8. Apropos of nothing:

    "The Faith of Barack Obama" (Thomas Nelson) was written by Stephen Mansfield, who also wrote "The Faith of George W. Bush" (Charisma House) and "The Faith of the American Soldier" (Tarcher). He also co-wrote Tom DeLay's biography and wrote books on Winston Churchill and Derek Prince. He wrote a book called "American Destiny: God's Role in America."

    But lest you assume, as I first did, that Mansfield's take on Obama would be necessarily conservative, here is what Desmond Tutu said about "The Faith of Barack Obama":

    “You must read this perceptive and well written book. Then you will know why Barack Obama has such a passion for justice and equity, such a gift for filling people of different generations with a newfound hope that things can and will change for the better.”

  9. Just last night I was complaining about how I liked McCain better than Obama but absolutely distrusted Palin.

    "Why?" I was asked. (I live in Virginia in a community which is fairly conservative).

    "Because she's a huge PR move and has no experience and I know nothing about her."

    "You just described Obama, too."


    "And he's gonna be President which is a bit more important."

    silent for a moment
    "Well McCain is old. So Palin is dangerously close."

    I am a swing voter and still haven't made up my mind about this election, but this frenzy sweeping around Palin right now freaks me out. I am not surprised at all that this book is being published at such a fast rate nor that it's being published by Zondervan (living in an area where mostly all of the Christian media is conservative, I am almost numb to this fact).

    The Obamarama kinda scares me too, as this man has only been senator for 4 years, 2 of those years working on his Presidential campaign.

    As a citizen of one of the swing states in the polls, I am excited about the remaining days which will turn my decision to either candidate.

  10. Hey, you guys and gals, nobody is talking about the most important thing here: how Hilley got the gig?

    Rumour has it that his agent brought the deal to Zondervan over lunch over Labor Day weekend, with just an outline, one page, and Zondervan said yes. Joe got the job. He is a fastwriting ghostwriter, as his bio says. But why is nobody talking about HOW this deal got done? Quickly. Over the LD weekend. Sight unseen. ADvance of US$100,000.....?

    Why is the media not delving into who Joe Hilley is, and even more importante, who is his agent?

  11. More importantly, who chose the photo for the cover? How did they manage to make Sarah Palin look so frumpy?

  12. Oh, Zondervan...your selection process never ceases to amaze me.

  13. I guess I'm not "offended" by Zondervan. Maybe I'm jaded. Their goal is to sell enough books to keep the doors open in a time where people are reading less.

    Thomas Nelson is just released a bio/memoir of Brittany Spear's mother. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that she's no Thomas Merton.

    Most politically created bio's are little more than bloated press campaigns. I'm sure Obama's Audacity of Hope was crafted for campaign purposes.

    The rush job that this book is just exposes the sham of these books more baldly.