1. JGHunter
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    JGHunter Member

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    Lying about the book to the general public?

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by JGHunter, Oct 22, 2011.

    My main piece of work in progress revolves around an event in the late 19th century. I personally feel it would benefit by making out that I found this 'journal' in the loft of a house, having it published under a pen name. Thus there would be questioning between those who may be a little more believing (you know, the sort to believe a conspiracy theory without questioning it). Eventually, I'm guessing it would become clear that it was actually written by a modern author, myself. However, is this just blatent lying? Or could I be allowed to due to artistic license (or something to that extent)? If what I have just said made little or no sense at all, I understand and I will try and explain again if anyone has questions :p

    Cheers!
     
  2. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    Do you intend for it to be labeled as fiction or nonfiction?
     
  3. psychotick
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    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi,

    If you've read the Gor books you'll know that the author usually starts off by pretending to be another author who's just found another set of notebooks or had a random encounter with the protagonist. Its obviously complete fiction but it works in a strange way in leading you into each book.

    Cheers.
     
  4. JGHunter
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    JGHunter Member

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    Well Raki, it would be Fiction, I don't think I can change that.

    Psychotik: cheers, I have a friend studying publishing who said that it was probably an acceptable method and that a recent prize-winner pretended to be the eventual adult of a girl who suffered some sort of horrific childhood or something, I can't remember exactly. But then I've heard from other people that the public might not want to be lied to like that. But hey screw what they like or don't like, it helps the story if I pretend the author was from the late C19th ;)
     
  5. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    I would say it's fine for fiction. Nonfiction is another matter, and lying to the reader can have disastrous effects (like James Frey and his A Million Little Pieces).
     
  6. JGHunter
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    JGHunter Member

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    What happened with that?
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    this has been done before... if written well, it works... if not, it won't...
     
  8. Raki
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    Raki Contributing Member

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    His readers called him out, one of which was Oprah, and that really didn't help him. A google search will turn up quite a bit about it, Wikipedia has an article on it, as does The Smoking Gun (search his name on both), which revealed the lies for the most part. Most of his problems came about for fictionalizing parts of a nonfiction book and continuing to label the entire thing as nonfiction. For example, he turned a 5-hour jail experience into an 87-day incarceration.

    He didn't do what you're describing, but still if you were planning to lie in anyway with nonfiction, I would advise to be extremely careful about it or not do it at all. Fiction, on the other hand, doesn't have the same restraints, and imo, it would be perfectly fine to lie to a reader in fiction.
     
  9. JGHunter
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    JGHunter Member

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    Cool, thanks!

    And wow, that is quite a lie.
     
  10. JGHunter
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    JGHunter Member

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    Argh, second time its double posted :(
     
  11. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    The publisher -- Random House -- ended up offering refunds to anybody who had bought it thinking it was a memoir. The author claiming it was true on The Oprah Winfrey Show turned out to be taking things a bit too far.
     
  12. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    The publisher -- Random House -- ended up offering refunds to anybody who had bought it thinking it was a memoir. The author claiming it was true on The Oprah Winfrey Show turned out to be taking things a bit too far.
     
  13. Nicki_G
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    Nicki_G Member

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    I wouldn't say screw them, because you might be stuck with the copies of your book on your own bookshelves... but, that's the fun of fiction, you can make up your own world or your own life, and as long as the public finds it in the fiction section and buys it, then it's a success.
     
  14. JGHunter
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    JGHunter Member

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    Yeah, maybe 'what they like or don't like weren't the right words. Maybe what I meant was I shouldn't focus too much on 'giving them what they want', rather try and convince them that they want what I'm offering.
     
  15. Prophetsnake
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    Prophetsnake Contributing Member

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    The Celestine Prophecy springs to mind. Lots bought into that. "The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail", which was the book "The Da Vinci Code" was based on. Stir a bit of religion or a conspiracy in there and millions will want to believe, every time.

    The film "Fargo" had a "the following story is based on actual events" tag at the beginning, but was, in fact, complete fiction. the Cohens did it as a gag.
     
  16. JGHunter
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    Good point about the religious element haha.

    Well mine is a horror about a plague in the late 19th C...
     
  17. Nicki_G
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    Nicki_G Member

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    AH, this makes more sense then. Rule #1: Never give an audience what they want. It's boring to write for the audience. Write for yourself. :D
     
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  18. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    As noted above, this has been done before. It can be effective if done well. If you market the books as fiction (which is how I think it should be marketed of course), no one is really going to think this was a manuscript that was found. Not even for a short while (well, some might, but most people are not that gullible, particularly if the work is labeled 'fiction'). The readers will, however, be willing to play along and suspend their disbelief of the origin of the work if you give them a good reason to do so (i.e. by writing a damn good story).
     
  19. JGHunter
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    Then I wonder... why do people believe Dan Brown's tripe? :S
     
  20. letmebemike
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    Does Dan Brown pretend to be something he's not? I thought he was an author, not pretending to be some other author.

    IMO, just write the story, forget about clever games unless it is integral to the story. If the story is predicated on the author being a 19th Century author, why bother doing as you say and enabling the reader to find out it was written present-day?
     
  21. JGHunter
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    Well letmebemike, I would want the author to appear to have the junior working with the man who wrote most of the journal... I don't know how I'd avoid them finding out. Yes it is pretty integral to the story.
     
  22. HorusEye
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    There's a slight snag...if you decide to go for it, you'll have to write the book in dated language, which in turn might put off more readers than the thinly veiled fake authenticity attracts.
     
  23. JGHunter
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    That era of language comes fairly naturally to me, so I hope to be able to create the feeling of its age without being overly confusing.

    That is a problem, but it's a risk I'm willing to take. If only a handful of people end up keeping it on their bookshelf, then I will have achieved something, someone somewhere has kept my book.

    Furthermore, I think there are plenty of people out there who love classic literature but want for something new.
     
  24. Prophetsnake
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    I agree. Reading something like Conan Doyle or Twain is fun. It's not hard work for most readers. The fraud thing with your story is a non-issue IMO. Something like a plague would be easy to check up on, so anyone who got sucked in would have no one but themselves to blame!
     
  25. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have no idea what that means. But is the point to pretend to be this earlier author and then have a reveal at the end that it was really a modern day author? Is the modern day author actually in the story and is deliberately pulling a hoax (and thus the hoax is part of the story?), or is this whole charade just a gimmick on your part? If the hoax is part of the story itself, I'd say go for it. If it's just a gimmick, well, personally I don't care for authors who play cute with the reader in that way. Too PT Barnum for me.
     

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