Principled Profit: The Good Business Blog

Musings on the world-wide movement for ethical business, frugal marketing, and how honesty, integrity, and quality combine with deep relationship building to create business success. By the originator of the Ethical Business Pledge campaign and award-winning author of Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First and five other books

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Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Ethics of Publishing a Liar's Memoir

I've been quietly following the James Frey flap for a couple of weeks now. This is the guy who got Oprah's endorsement for his "memoir" of addiction, jail time, and so forth (I will not make it easier to locate by naming the book here)--only it turned out to be fiction.

When this was revealed, Oprah first defended him for creating a gripping read that addressed deep issues, etc. The other day, she snapped out of the trance and tore him apart on camera.

Meanwhile, the author claims he originally submitted it as fiction, the publisher--no tiny little outfit but Doubleday, one of the biggest in the nation--first called in creative nonfiction and when that didn't fly, said that Frey had hoodwinked them.

It would be very illuminating to see Frey's original book proposal and see where the truth lies. Meanwhile, the thing stinks.

Best commentary I've seen on it is from Pat Holt of Holt Uncensored--she is always worth reading.

As of this writing, she hasn't archived the column yet, but she has some great suggestions:
  • Offer a refund for any reader who wants one, and make that process very easy
  • Hire website muckrakers like to vet any book that claims to be nonfiction
  • Get Frey to rewrite the book and send him out on tour to flog the vastly different rewrite, which would be priced at half of the original


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