Besides being an eloquent speaker, US President Barack Obama is also a good writer as Dreams from my Father and The Audacity of Hope, which costs Sh500, attest. The first version of the memoirs, Dreams from my Father, was published in 1995, when he was about to contest for a seat in the Illinois State Senate- equivalent to an MCA in Kenya, and in between then and becoming the first African-American president of the US, Obama has raked in royalties in the millions.
Dreams from my Father, was a rich dream, indeed. Okay, not at first. The book did not dig in a lot of mullah, but when he delivered his landmark 2004 address at the Democratic National Convention in Boston, Dreams from my Father began experiencing an ascent in sales, so much so that, Random House issued a republication, notes Huffington Post.
Obama started writing, Dreams from my Father, after being elected the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review in 1990. Dreams is a memoir where Obama compares and contrasts his inheritance, the clash of his views on race and his odyssey to his father’s home, and it received rave reviews long before he became a household name.
“His ability to reflect on this extraordinary mesh of experiences that he has had, some familiar and some not, and to really meditate on that the way he does, and to set up scenes in narrative structure, dialogue, conversation-all these things you don’t often see, obviously, in the routine political memoir biography,” Toni Morrison, a Nobel Laureate, would later say of Dreams.
“It’s unique. It’s his. There are no other ones like that.” As Obama’s fame rose, the Business Insider claims, so was the sales of his books, earning $3.75 (Sh375) for every hard cover of his two books and $1.12 (Sh112) for paper back plus the annual $400,000 (Sh36 million) salary as president made Obama a multimillionaire.
But writing mullahs began rolling in after The Audacity of Hope speech and its eponymous book for which Random House paid $1.9 million (Sh190 million) in advance, adds Huffington Post.
The Audacity of Hope “was a slam-dunk that propelled Obama’s popularity upwards in the years before his presidential campaign,” writes Business Insider.
The audio versions of the two books, from which Obama earns ten percent of each sold, according to Forbes, are doing equally well with Audacity winning the Grammy Award for Best Spoken Album, besides the two books being translated into more than 50 languages.
Obama also did a pictorial 2010 children’s book, Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters, a hit with school kids. The book tells the story of 13 Americans who shaped its history in an photographic presentation. But according to Forbes, its proceeds, unlike the first two books, goes to Fisher House Foundation for the children of fallen or disabled US soldiers.
There is no current disclosure on Obama’s wealth or figures of book sales. The US law allows that to be disclosed only during presidential elections. So, what there is on Obama’s book sales dates back to 2012, when Forbes magazine report estimated that Obama earned $147,490 (14.97 million) for Dreams from my Father and $425,000 (Sh43.135 million) from The Audacity of Hope, in 2006.
But at the height of his presidential campaign in 2007, Dreams raked in $815,971 (Sh82.82 million) while Audacity brought in $3.28 million (Sh.9 million). Details of the book deal says Obama earns 15 percent of the list price for hardcover copies, seven percent of the list price for the trade paperback version, then eight percent of the list price for the first 150,000 issues sold of the mass market paperback, then 10 percent of the list price thereafter.
Literary critics have said Abraham Lincoln’s witty writings done in pieces of paper and tucked in his top hat for safe keeping, as the best presidential offerings in the history of president-writers. But Barack Obama’s, Audacity of Hope, has been ranked the best book ever by any president in recent memory.
Audacity of Hope remains the foremost presidential best seller in the last five years, with millions of copies, which forms more than half of his $12 million (Sh1.2 billion) net worth according to Forbes. That was the amount, (Sh1.2 billion) paid to President Bill Clinton, in advance, for his memoirs, My Life published in 2004.
But the title for the most prolific political leader is shared between US President Theodore Roosevelt, British Premier Benjamin Disraeli and Czech President Vaclav Havel, all of whom clinched power while they were already accomplished writers. While Roosevelt and Disraeli were novelists, Havel was an accomplished playwright.