First, big ups to Caitlyn Hunter for her blog post that contained the following bit of important wisdom:
I don’t know who to be more pissed with on this one; the authors for trying to dupe their readers or the editors/publishers for being blinded by all those dollar signs flashing in front of their eyes.
That one’s a toss-up, but the thing that really ticks me off is the thought of all those struggling writers out there—myself included—who would do just about anything to make it as an author
…except lie, cheat and steal.
When questioned by The Register-Guard last week about calling the book a memoir despite the acknowledged changes in facts, Seltzer said publishers “didn’t want to buy it as fiction.â€
And finally, Sandra D sent me a reprint of an article from Slate from 2006 that was reprinted today which asks, “Why are book editors so bad at spotting fake memoirs?”
Many editors think it’s not economically feasible to fact-check every book; intellectually, it may not be feasible either, given the degree of expertise brought to certain subjects. The publishers’ predicament is a real one….
Elisabeth Sifton, senior vice president at Farrar, Straus and Giroux, said, “There aren’t official procedures, but the supposition is that editors need to be smart and well-trained enough to spot this stuff….”
About issuing disclaimers in cases like these, Sifton said, “It’s purposeless, except to save face.”
As the trifecta of “oh shit” continues to unfold in the publishing world, some things become have become more clear as to the ways and means of books: if you make up some fiction, co-opt the painful history of a minority as your own, and call it the truth, that’s a problem.
If you co-opt the truth in other people’s writing, as well as the painful history of a minority as your own, and put it in your fiction without attribution, that’s ok. In fact, it’s on sale now.