Dennis Kucinich has an autobiography out, but few people know about it. That's because the Democratic presidential candidate has barely...

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WASHINGTON — Dennis Kucinich has an autobiography out, but few people know about it.

That’s because the Democratic presidential candidate has barely mentioned the book. In fact, he never signed a contract with his publisher, and that has left executives at the small Beverly Hills, Calif., company frustrated and upset.

“I’ve been exceptionally disappointed in the man,” said Michael Viner, chief executive of Phoenix Books. After printing 20,000 copies and spending more than $100,000 on promotion, he said, he has seen the book sell 500 copies in two months. “It’s like we made a campaign contribution,” Viner said. “He left us holding a very large bag.”

“The Courage to Survive” is not the book the company thought it was getting. Viner said the Ohio congressman had agreed to write about his career, but the manuscript dealt only with his life through adolescence and college: “growing up as a sickly, undersized child who suffered from asthma,” as the jacket puts it.

Kucinich scoffed at the notion that he is balking at publicizing the autobiography, saying he held several book signings in New Hampshire and one in North Carolina. What’s more, he said, he “wrote every word of it.”

“This book is about the first 21 years of my life,” Kucinich said. “Of course I want people to know about it. There’s a great deal of joy in there, and I want to share it with the world.”

The problem, he said, is not the demands of the campaign but what he described as a contract dispute. While declining to discuss the details, he said several people advised him against signing the deal offered by Phoenix.

Under House rules, Kucinich cannot receive an advance for the book. Viner said he offered a 50-50 split of any profits earned.

Gail Knight, managing partner of the Palladin Group, a management and production company, said she advised her friend Kucinich not to sign with Phoenix after reviewing what she called “the worst literary contract I’d ever seen.”

Knight objected to the fact that Kucinich would have been required to give Phoenix the option to publish his next book, an arrangement Viner said is necessary for a small, three-year-old company to hold on to its authors. Knight also objected to an arrangement in which Kucinich would receive no profits until the company had recouped its expenses, although that is not unusual in publishing.

Viner said Kucinich submitted a cover designed by his wife, Elizabeth, with a typeface he did not deem of publishable quality. Kucinich said he was unaware of that complaint.

Viner also said his company booked Kucinich on several programs, but the congressman made only one appearance, on NBC’s “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno.”

Karen Ammond, a publicist retained by Phoenix, said Kucinich is a “wonderful” person who recently apologized to her for his lack of effort.