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Here’s Why I’ll Never Make the Corner Office

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[Originally posted Tuesday, June 28, 2005]

There has been a flurry of reports in the magazine and publishing worlds about a book proposal that, depending on who you talk to, is either a signed deal or never existed in the first place.

At one time, Steve Florio was the chief executive at Conde Nast, the New York City based magazine empire. In case you didn’t already know the conglomerate, you certainly know its magazines. GQ, Architectural Digest, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Wired, Cargo, and Glamour are just some of the jewels in the Conde Nast crown. Rumor had it that Florio was floating a propoasl for a tell-all memoir that eviscerated many of his publishing colleagues.

Florio is now vice chairman of Advance Publications (which owns Conde Nast) had said in past months that he would never write such a book. “That would be so beneath me,” he told The Daily News “I have no desire to write a dishy book; I give you my word as a gentleman. I would never betray any of my colleagues.” However, Women’s Wear Daily reported that it had seen a sales pitch and an excerpt from Florio’s proposal said he was engaged in just such an enterprise. In WWD reports quoted by the likes of The New York Times, the book proposal was said to thoroughly flog Ronald A. Galotti, the former publisher and real life inspiration for Mr. Big of Sex and the City. Florio allegedly wrote “the story of Ron Galotti is the story of how celebrity can ruin a perfectly good executive.”

Not only was this book proposal being shopped around town, Publishers Weekly reported that Crown’s Rick Horgan confirmed that a deal for Florio’s book had been signed, but that the manuscript wasn’t the tell-all muck-raking affair that has been described in the media. In an email to PW Crown stated the book would be an examination of smart management practices based on personal anecdotes but that it would include “candid appraisals of people not [emphasis was his] employed by Conde Nast.”

However, this strange tale comes to what may be its final conclusion when Florio told The New York Times that we’ll never see his text, whatever the nature of it truly is. “Because of what was said and how it was taken, there will be no book,” he told the paper. PW reached Crown’s Horgan yesterday morning, but he declined to comment.

But, finally, here’s where I realize that I’m just not the mogul type. It seems that Florio is distancing himself from the proposal that was distributed under his name to publishers. PW states the executive says “essentially, that he was misquoted in his own proposal. Someone was hired to write the pitch, he states, and the snarky tone wound up ‘way over the top.’”

I can understand how a big wig wouldn’t produce every single thing in his line of business. I’m not naive, I realize that Martha Stewart isn’t sewing all those towels and Emeril isn’t jarring all those sauces. But for a book deal that was going to carry your name wouldn’t you try to understand the nature of it? How long is a proposal? Ten, twenty, thirty pages? Can’t you be bothered to read those few pages? I guess I don’t understand the true nature of being an executive, but it seems to me you would check over the thing.

Unless all the allegations were true and now you’re trying to get out of it and you’re throwing some unnamed ghost writer under the bus.

Crazy story.