Elizabeth Warren shopping a book proposal on her experiences fighting Wall Street in Washington
WASHINGTON — Senator Elizabeth Warren plans to start shopping a book proposal to publishers, seeking to enhance her national political stature while promoting what she considers the cause of her public and legal career: protecting the middle class from abusive financial practices.
The book’s working title is “Rigged,” Warren said in an interview, and she expects it to offer a first-hand account of her battles in Washington to rein in the sorts of predatory lending and Wall Street excess that victimized everyday Americans.
While she has not placed a proposal in any publisher’s hands, it is conceivable the freshman senator could command a seven-figure contract, based on the bar set by books authored by Massachusetts politicians Governor Deval Patrick and former senator Scott Brown.
“I’ve been blessed with an unusual career,” Warren said Tuesday. “I’ve had the opportunity to fight for causes I believe in. And this book is national, but it’s also deeply personal. It’s a very personal book.”
Warren said the book would not be a memoir but rather a first-person account of her experiences during Washington struggles over bankruptcy laws, the 2008 financial crisis, the formation of her brainchild — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which was included in the landmark Dodd-Frank financial regulatory overhaul — as well as her high-profile Senate run last year.
“This book is about a problem: how the system is broken,” she said. “But it’s also about what we can do to level the playing field. The book will talk about what’s broken, and how to fix it.”
“Look at the title: the working title is ‘Rigged,’ ” she added. “It refers to how the economic system’s too often rigged against families who work hard and play by the rules — and how it’s loaded in favor of those with money and power.”
Warren is being represented by well-known Washington attorney Robert Barnett, who also negotiated the book deal for Brown, whom Warren defeated in November’s election, as well as deals for President Obama, former president George W. Bush, and former president Bill Clinton.
While the book will be about fighting for the middle class, it could provide rich rewards for Warren, who said she had not thought about what she would do with the money.
The former Harvard law professor has written nine previous books, including two national bestsellers. Warren’s pursuit of a book deal less than three months into her term places on her a familiar path of politicians seeking to tell their story in greater detail, in their own words.
Agents and editors in the book industry say there is likely to be wide interest in Warren’s take on the tumultuous financial industry meltdown and government’s response, although how sizable an advance she gets would depend on how much she is willing to reveal and how strong the proposal is.
“There’s incredible interest in her story,” Todd Shuster, a New York-based agent, said when told of Warren’s proposal. “The market for books by prominent women in positions of power is strong. I’m not sure that her political philosophy is entirely known and if she she speaks to it vividly and candidly, there would be a robust market for it.”
In her short Senate tenure, Warren has largely stayed out of the media spotlight. She has yet to appear on a Sunday morning news program, the quickest way to take a national platform. But she made a splash by asking pointed questions during Senate Banking Committee hearings that became sensations on YouTube and liberal blogs.
A book would give her an additional context to air her views, not only on the page but by signing books, delivering speeches, and participating in national television interviews.
Warren said she didn’t anticipate enlisting a collaborator or a ghostwriter (“I like to write,” she said), but she would have some research assistance. She said that she would work on the book during her personal time, but also viewed it as an extension of her role as US senator.
“I’m not going to take away from my Senate duties,” she said. “But I see this as part of what I’ve been working on for all my career. For me, this book is about doing more for the people.”
She added, “I see this as another tool in the toolbox to help affect change.”
Warren and Barnett have been contemplating the book since before she decided to run for Senate, when she was a rising figure in Washington who was arguing for more consumer protections. She and Barnett plan to start meeting with publishers over the next several weeks.
Brown was a bigger media celebrity than Warren after he stunned the political world by seizing the Massachusetts Senate seat left vacant by the death of Senator Edward M. Kennedy in 2009. He began shopping a book proposal in early February 2010, within weeks of winning his special election. Brown’s tax returns showed that he received $1 million for the book.
Deval Patrick received $1.35 million for “A Reason to Believe,’’ a memoir published in 2011 by Broadway Books, a division of Random House. Last year, he signed a deal with Hyperion to publish two books. The first, “Faith in the Dream,” was published in May as an e-book. The second book is slated to be released in 2014.
Once Warren has a publisher, she will need to file details about the deal with the Senate Ethics Committee. She said it was a coincidence that the target date for publication would be 2014, when interest in the 2016 presidential election begins to rise.
It also may be on the shelves at the same time as Patrick’s next book.
“Is that right?” Warren said. “Competing? I guess I would say maybe we’ll do a two-fer.”Matt Viser can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.