In a Surprise Twist, Well-known Publicist Throws His Hat Into the Ring For Lucrative Alan Greenspan Ghostwriting Gig

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To compete with David Wessel, Rik Kirkland, publicist Jeff Barge offers comparable experience – and a 10% discount! Tome's Working Title: “Greenspan: A Matter of Interest”

Citing competitive rates and comparable experience -- and offering a deal-beating 10% discount -- well-known New York publicist Jeff Barge announced today that he was entering the competition to ghostwrite former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan’s upcoming $8.5 million memoir.

Early reports had given the ghostwriting lead to David Wessel, deputy chief of the Wall Street Journal’s Washington bureau, and Rik Kirkland, a columnist and former managing editor at Fortune, a Time-Warner publication. But press reports this week had Mr. Wessel withdrawing from the contest, putting the competition into a free-for-all.

“Where there’s confusion, there’s opportunity,” says Mr. Barge, a noted expert on the subject. “At first I was hesitant to throw my hat into the ring on a $8.5 million, bet-the-company book publishing deal such as Mr. Greenspan has with Penguin's Ann Godoff,” says Mr. Barge. “But then, when I found out from a search on Amazon.com that neither Mr. Wessel nor Mr. Kirkland had ever previously written a book, my confidence level soared.”

To achieve a competitive edge in the highest profile ghostwriting bake-off of the year, Mr. Barge says he is proposing to hold the length of the book to under 200 pages. “That way, Mr. Greenspan will save significantly on my writing fees and be able to keep more of his advance for himself.” Adds Mr. Barge: “Alan Greenspan is no Bill Clinton.”

Mr. Barge has tentatively entitled the book: “Greenspan: A Matter of Interest.”

Admittedly, Mr. Barge views Rik Kirkland as a formidable adversary. "But what happens when his manuscript comes back populated by individuals named Georg Bush and Dik Cheney?" he asks. "At that point, a lot of expensive corrections would have to be made."

Although he has lived a relatively modest life to date, Mr. Barge does have several claims to fame. He and his clients regularly appear in leading newspapers such as the Sunday Times of London, the Australian, the Wall Street Journal, and others. His groundbreaking work in the earlier part of the century for client Pilot Pen Corp. has caused sales of that company's purple pens -- including the Dr. Grip brand aimed at writers suffering from arthritis -- to soar by an estimated 25%. And working on behalf of another client, Mr. Barge successfully introduced the phrase “desk rage” into the common parlance.

Such skills will no doubt be crucial in helping Mr. Greenspan achieve success in the literary marketplace, notes Mr. Barge, who says he has chosen William Shakespeare as his role model for his work with Mr Greenspan.

“Shakespeare’s inventive works include phrases that found life beyond the theater, among them: "To be, or not to be," "He hath eaten me out of house and home" and "Parting is such sweet sorrow," notes Mr. Barge. “I am already hard at work creating similarly interesting phrases for Mr. Greenspan. Interest-laden phrases that will be of huge interest to his readers. Phrases that will be remembered with interest down through the ages.”

Shakespeare (1564-1616) was a successful actor and star playwright during the highly competitive Elizabethan era.

Admittedly, part of his interest in doing the Greenspan ghost-writing project is financial. “Mr. Greenspan is receiving an $8.5 million advance for writing this book, and even if he only gives me 10% of this amount, that will still be a large amount,” Mr. Barge says. “Frankly, with my retirement years rapidly approaching, that amount would create a nice big thump if it landed in my 401-K.”

Alternatively, Mr. Barge says he could take on the project at rate of $150 per hour. “Whatever works best for Alan.”

Among other commonalities that Mr. Barge and Mr. Greenspan share are their passion and admiration for Andrea Mitchell. “I anticipate we will have a number of very animated conversations on this score as we work together to create his masterpiece,” he says. Mr. Barge says he is already considering brand extensions for Mr. Greenspan, a strategy that worked very well for the 'Chicken Soup for the Soul' authors. "Perhaps a line of self-help books called, 'The Greenspan Way,' a datebook -- or even a salad dressing."

But should he fail to win Mr. Greenspan’s business, Mr. Barge says he is not without other book industry options. He notes that he would also be available to work for Oprah’s Book Club.

“I have read in the New York Times, among other newspapers, that Oprah makes no money whatsoever from her book club,” he says. “That sounds like a business environment in which I could truly excel.”

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