the take

‘Marley & Me’ Author Would Prefer You Ignore His Next Book

John Grogan and his warring books.Courtesy of HarperCollins (Marley, author photo); Courtesy of Vanguard Press (Bad Dogs)

John Grogan, author of male tearjerker (and mega-best-seller) Marley & Me, is hoping that you won’t buy his new book, coming out this September from Perseus imprint Vanguard Press. That’s because the book, Bad Dogs Have More Fun, won’t earn Grogan a dime — and is being published without his approval. According to Publishers Weekly, his agent has even sent a letter to Grogan’s Marley & Me publisher, HarperCollins, publicly distancing Grogan from the book.

Bad Dogs Have More Fun is a collection of Grogan’s columns for the Philadelphia Inquirer. It was Grogan’s Inquirer column on the occasion of golden retriever Marley’s death that engendered such huge response that Grogan first realized the potential of a book on the subject of “the world’s worst dog.” After Grogan quit the Inquirer in February (after being deliciously called out by Buzz Bissinger for “mailing it in” in January), the paper — which owns the copyright on Grogan’s columns — sold the collection to Vanguard in April.

The letter to HarperCollins, mailed by Grogan’s agent, Laurie Abkemeier of DeFiore and Company, is posted in full on Romenesko. Abkemeier accuses the Inquirer and Vanguard of publicizing “a title and jacket that egregiously exploits John’s success with Marley & Me.” To which we respond: Of course they are egregiously exploiting the success of Marley & Me! Why shouldn’t they? The Inquirer was smart enough to sign Grogan to write for the paper, and Grogan was foolish enough to sign a contract that gave the Inquirer rights to all his columns. More than that, on the heels of Marley & Me’s success, it seems as though Grogan never took adequate steps to secure those columns, or at least partner with the Inquirer on the book — a move the paper claims they’d still be happy to make.

We admit it: we wept like a baby at the end of Marley & Me. Everyone we know who read it did. But we don’t have a lot of sympathy for John Grogan here. We’re reminded of a great line from Ray Romano, one we use around the house all the time whenever a millionaire bitches about something. Asked if his wife was upset that Romano frequently raided their domestic life for fodder for his TV show, Romano replied, “I tell her to go cry on a pile of money.” John Grogan: Go cry on a pile of money.

Grogan Dogs Vanguard’s Book of His Columns [PW]
Statement From John Grogan’s Agent [Romenesko]
Columnist, author Grogan quits Inky to concentrate on books [Romenesko]
Bissinger says Inquirer’s Smith, Grogan should take buyouts [Romenesko]

‘Marley & Me’ Author Would Prefer You Ignore His Next Book