Pantsuit Nation, a secret pro-Hillary Clinton Facebook group with nearly 4 million members, has landed a book deal. Or rather, its organizer Libby Chamberlain has.
Chamberlain’s book will be published by Flatiron Press on May 9th — the quick turnaround thanks to her hiring of literary agent Jennifer Rudolph Walsh shortly after the election, The New York Times reports.
In a post on the public Pantsuit Nation community page this morning, Chamberlain described the book as a “permanent, beautiful, holdable, snuggle-in-bed-able, dogear-able, shareable, tearstainable book” that would give voice to all the group’s members. Pantsuit Nation started as a covert place for women in red states to gather and talk about their excitement about the impending election, but swelled and turned into a very public secret after Secretary Clinton seemingly addressed it in her concession speech.
Members have been posting personal stories, often accompanied by photos and videos, in the group at staggering rates ever since the election. The book will be a collection of those same Facebook posts, not unlike the Humans of New York collections (except those posts all have one author). Chamberlain told the Times they will be assembled in random order — as spontaneous postings in a Facebook group would appear.
In her announcement, Chamberlain also asked group members to “occasionally check [their] ‘Message Request’ folder” to see if Chamberlain had contacted them about including a post they had written in the book. “Stories and images will only be shared with explicit permission from the author,” she added.
Some of the comments below the post express excitement about the project, as is the case with a woman who writes “an anthology of narratives with author approval can reach out to red and purple state voters. It can also raise funds for charity.”
But many of the comments are angry or disappointed. Some think Chamberlain is violating the group’s promise of secrecy and safety by publishing any of its contents: one woman writes, “Something sacred has happened on this page and I don't believe it belongs to you to share, sell, or in anyway reveal to those not in the group.”
And other community members say Chamberlain’s choice to focus on storytelling instead of activism (which she doubles down on in her comments about the book) is a waste, particularly given the large, diverse, and ambitious audience she has collected. One commenter described it as a “pretty coffee table book” that will just sit and be looked at occasionally, "while all around, women, LGBTQ people, ethnic and religious minorities, and anyone not considered a ‘real American’ by the Trump regime loses [their] civil rights.” That sentiment is echoed many times, including by a woman who notes “The NRA with its 5 million members has a stranglehold on Congress,” and then points out the irony: “Pantsuit Nation has 4 million members and decides its main mission is ‘storytelling’ and now, selling books.”
Regional political activism groups have sprung up around the country using the Pantsuit Nation name. But Chamberlain has also been criticized by members for asking that these groups choose different names so as not to dilute Pantsuit Nation’s storytelling mission. For example the New York City group, which has planned marches and organizational meetings, recently renamed itself from “Pantsuit Nation NYC” to “Action Together NYC” in order to comply.
Libby Chamberlain was reached for comment but had not replied at the time of publish.