By Darren Rovell
Nathan Whitaker stood in the back at a book signing in Gainesville and watched his co-author, and subject, Tim Tebow sign books for fans.
"I've sat next to Tony Dungy and one in every 20 come through in tears," said Whitaker, a former capologist for Jacksonville Jaguars and Tampa Bay Buccaneers who went on to write three best-selling books with Dungy. "With Tim, it was like every other person. People would literally come up to touch him while he was signing their book and some kids would be unable to move."
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Over the past year, Tim Tebow has grabbed the attention of the sports world. So much so, that his book "Through My Eyes," written with Whitaker, was the best-selling sports book of the year.
Nielsen Bookscan says that 185,000 books were sold, besting "ESPN: The Uncensored History," which sold 115,000 books in hardcover in 2011. But Lisa Sharkey, Harper Collins' senior vice president and creative director, who acquired the book says sales are much higher than that number reflects.
"We've sold hundreds of thousands of copies of this book,” Sharkey said. "We have 555,000 in print."
That doesn't even include the 200,000 copies of a children's version of the book that has roughly half the amount of pages and is written in simpler language.
Sharkey, who aggressively went after Tebow's book rights following the end of his collegiate career, said she had complete confidence that the Tebow book would sell extremely well.
"People are desperate for a positive role model for their families," Sharkey said. "People didn't know it was possible to be a kind, good, extraordinary leader and yet be so young."
Tebow wasn't initially thrilled to do a memoir as a 23-year-old, but out of concern for painting an accurate picture of his life, obliged.
That being said, Whitaker told CNBC that Tebow didn't want certain stories told.
"He didn't want to talk about certain stories, like when he visited a hospital, because those stories he wanted to stay private and there's a lot of those," Whitaker said. "And his parents have always taught him not to talk about his own accomplishments."
While some have argued some dislike Tebow because of his outward expression of faith, that seems to be an advantage in the book world. One publishing insider said good faith-based books, like Dungy's and Tebow's, are bought in bulk more than your standard book.
Whitaker says he's happy with the sales numbers of the Tebow book, but admittedly is not good about predicting book sales.
"Tony's books went crazy, while a book I did with James Brown of CBS was modestly received," Whitaker said. "Not only did Tim's book do well in Gainesville, but it did well in Tallahassee and Athens, Ga., places that you wouldn't expect."
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