Sales of Hillary Clinton’s most recent book, “Hard Choices,” slipped significantly after its first week on sale.
Clinton was reportedly paid a multi-million dollar advance by her publisher Simon & Schuster, raising questions from some about whether the publisher’s bet will pay off.
“I do think it’s doing well,” Kate McKean, vice president at Howard Morhaim Literary Agency, says of the book. “She’s not going anywhere, so this book could potentially sell, and probably will sell for years and years.”
Still, even with books by celebrities that seem destined to be best sellers, publishers are taking a gamble, says Brian DeFiore, a New York-based literary agent.
“How much do we believe in this person?," DeFiore says. "How much do we believe the public wants to hear from this person and hear more about this person? And then, how much will that person’s voice resonate for years to come?”
Something else publishers taking into account: global sales. And given Clinton’s fame, DeFiore says it’s book that should sell around the world.
President Barack Obama is expected to nominate the former head of Procter & Gamble as secretary of Veterans Affairs, following Eric Shinseki’s resignation last month. A West Point graduate, Robert McDonald spent 33 years with the company that sells Crest toothpaste, Duracell batteries, and Charmin toilet paper.
After his time in the army, McDonald spent his entire career at Procter & Gamble, where he oversaw 120,000 employees.
His four years running the company were difficult ones. When McDonald took over in 2009, P&G was deep into a strategy that emphasized charging premium prices for brand name products — a strategy that became less effective after the financial crash of 2008. McDonald’s retirement from P&G last year was under pressure.
The new assignment could bring new challenges. Even though Procter & Gamble is the world’s biggest consumer-products company, it’s actually smaller than the VA. The company reports sales of $84 billion — a bit more than half of the VA’s $154 billion budget. The VA also has more than twice as many employees as P&G.
For transgender people, work isn’t always an easy place to be – They often face discrimination, and are twice as likely to be unemployed as the rest of the population. Many who do work are under-employed. But transgender experiences at the office can tell us a lot about the status of men and women at work.
Sociologist Kristen Schilt has spent years talking to transgender men and women about their work lives. One guy she interviewed is named Thomas. He’s a lawyer. He’d begun working at his law firm as Susan. Everyone in his firm knew about his transition, but clients and others outside the firm were told Susan had been let go.
Schilt says some time after his transition, his boss told Thomas that a lawyer at another firm said, “He was so glad they had fired Susan, who he had found to be very incompetent, but that he really loved this new guy, Thomas.”
That lawyer had no idea Thomas and Susan were the same person. But they were the same person, with the exact same abilities – Thomas just looked like a man.
Schilt says two-thirds of the transgender men she interviewed found workplace life easier once they left their female days behind. They’d say things like, “I don’t have to back up the claims I’m making. People listen to me more.” They reported having more authority than they’d ever had in their old work lives.
Chris Edwards has experienced that first hand. He’s a transgender man who works in advertising. He now perceives his workplace differently, too.
“As a creative director, and as a male creative director, I started to notice differences with the way women were treated,” he says. “But when I was a woman I didn’t really notice.”
Now he’s quite conscious of the pay gap at his firm. And he says it’s always a woman who’s expected to take the notes in meetings – no matter how senior she is.
Lisa Scheps knows all about that difference in status. When she was living publicly as a man, Scheps ran a business with three male partners. At 40, she told them she was going to start living openly as a female. She wasn’t prepared for their responses.
“One person said to me, ‘How do you expect to deal with business when all you’re going to be thinking about is nail polish?’,” says Scheps.
Her partners pushed her out of the company. Scheps has been an entrepreneur all her life. She thought she’d just start something else as a female business owner.
“My 40 years as man in the business world, I did not know failure,” she says. “Success came very easily to me.”
Not any more. Scheps, who is the co-founder of the Transgender Education Network of Texas, says administrative work is pretty much all she’s been able to find. Her income has fallen dramatically.
“It’s a very different world that I have discovered for women in the United States versus men in the Unites States,” she says. “It’s just that much harder, you just have to be that much better.”
Like everyone else who’s underemployed, Scheps says she just wants a job that matches her experience.
Ashley Milne-Tyte is the host of a podcast on women and the workplace called The Broad Experience.