Ari Fleischer (search), the former press secretary for President George W. Bush (search), has become the second member of the president's inner counsel to ink a book deal.

He just auctioned off a memoir of his White House years for what industry sources said is an estimated $500,000 advance from William Morrow.

That puts him behind former Bush aide Karen Hughes, who became the first inner circle member to sell a book, for a reputed $1.5 million from Viking unit of Penguin Inc.

The lawyer who orchestrated the latest auction is Bob Barnett, the same attorney who commanded the multimillion-dollar book deals for Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

"It will probably be out in January or February 2005," said Claire Wachtel, executive editor at William Morrow. Morrow is part of HarperCollins, owned by News Corp., which also owns the Post.

"It's not going to be a kiss and tell," said Wachtel.

Barnett and Morrow officials would not comment on the price.

Fleischer did not circulate a book proposal, as is the norm for authors - especially first-time authors. Some thought that his former bosses may have encouraged him to put it out in 2005 to guarantee that nothing blows up during the 2004 presidential campaign.

Books by presidential press secretaries have not had much traction on the bestseller lists. "With Kennedy," penned by John F. Kennedy press secretary Pierre Salinger (search), set the gold standard for ex-press secretaries and few have challenged the throne. Clinton's first press secretary, Dee Dee Meyers (search), floated a proposal after she quit but got tepid interest from publishers and dropped the idea.