The Penguin imprint of Dutton will go unscathed and will keep their profits. They weren’t the source of the leak and “Don’t shoot the messenger”, they’ll say. This will make the bean counters happy and make the editor a made man.
There should still be some accountability with publishers these days and Penguin shouldn’t get a hall pass for their participation in what has become the biggest SEAL controversy in the community’s history. Penguin also disregarded the review process and ill advised their author in a rush to grab headlines and profits.
Where’s the accountability?
Many publishers today are representing works of fiction (Pfarrer’s Target Geronimo is one example) as non-fiction and shirk common sense (in Penguin’s case) in a rush to be first to market.
Typical Publishing Timeline vs. No Easy Day’s Rush to Market
- Start: Proposal shopped to publishing houses by agent and then a publisher is picked (usually the highest bidder or best fit) and the contract is executed. Bissonette’s agent likely took this proposal to a personal contact at Dutton because her client would have wanted to keep this under wraps. Their editor has no previous experience in this genre. His advance was likely between 500k-2M. Based on my conversations with multiple publishing houses, had he shopped the book around he could have gotten a few million for sure.
- Manuscript turned in to publisher for edit. typically 6-12 month period
- Manuscript placed in 12 month pipeline and edited. Time to market is usually 12+ months after this unless it is “crashed” to market early as No Easy Day was.
- Typical Time to Market: 12-24 months for non-fiction
- No Easy Day Time to Market: 5 months
Note: Bissonette got out of the Navy in April and the book was ready to print in July. Sources in publishing tell us that the book was rushed to market to beat Black Hawk Down author Mark Bowden’s tell-all book “The Finish: The Killing of Osama Bin Laden“
Why The DoD Will Seize the Profits & Not Prosecute
Panetta and the Pentagon must set the stage for future authors. It’s similar to parenting, you have to produce consequences for bad behavior or your kids run amuck. We predict that they will take the money and not prosecute.
Because Matt is privy to a lot of dirty laundry in the SEAL community and the command at SEAL Team Six and leadership know this. They don’t want SEALs running completely off the reservation.
It’s widely known by insiders that while the SEALs have been doing great work, there’s been some major issues that would make a TMZ reporter blush. The majority shun media, dislike senior leadership promoting movies and serve with honor and dignity.
However, there’s been a lot of internal issues outside of Top Secret NDA’s at Team Six that Bissonette has in his quiver.
These have not previously known to outsiders and include a very small scale abuse of “Biker’s Coffee”. It’s embarrassed a lot of SEALs inside, just like steroids and baseball, and none are proud when this happens. There’s zero tolerance for this sort of behavior and the issue was resolved swiftly, but there’s a lot of bodies buried in the woods that Bissonette could point to.
Also, there’s the issue of public opinion and SOCOM’s Catch 22. Bissonette is a patriot and an American hero. Good luck trying to prosecute him in the court of public opinion when the SEAL community leadership has produced a PR machine (officially endorsed movies, video games and parading celebrities through sensitive Team areas) that’s like an out of control UAS drone. People would be outraged if jail time was on the table.
Top Secret NDAs
While the SEAL community senior leadership has to look in the mirror and effect major policy and cultural change, an example has to be set for others who think about violating Top Secret NDAs. Panetta and the Pentagon must produce a consequence and remove future incentives for this type of behavior. The main focus and motivating factor being money, and they’ll take the money off the table in our opinion.
The drama will continue in the SEAL community and it will get worse before it gets better.
The timing of this book was inappropriate in our opinion. It’s not a simple memoir and is in a different category all together.
Even Hollywood had enough sense not to immediately cash in on September 11th and make a movie about it barely a year later. The NYC and public backlash would have been too much.
The Pain Train Continues
This is the affect No Easy Day is having on the currently divided SEAL community, it’s produced major internal turmoil and it’s not getting better any time soon.
The pain train continues with three blockbuster SEAL movies due out (Lone Survivor, The Maersk Alabama, and Zero Dark Thirty) given full access by the current administration. The new update to the game Medal of Honor features interviews with SEAL Team 6 members, and one of the stars of Act of Valor recently cut a book deal for just under seven figures.
For the reasons stated above, we believe that they will only seize his money and not prosecute.
The silver lining in all of this is that the Spec Ops community in general will go underground and out of the media and Hollywood limelight, as much as is possible in the age of Twitter and Instagrams. We believe this is a good thing and where the community belongs.
Back to the shadows.