Once upon a time, authors books were something that they hung their integrity on – crafted carefully, honestly, and over long periods of time. Indeed, writing (whether a novel or non-fiction) was an art, and the process of the book being written was open to anyone who cared to look – the author, after all, had nothing to hide. When you are working with your own honest intellectual property, you don’t care who witnesses.
Unfortunately, nowadays the publishing industry has turned writing and authors book from an art to a collaborative science in many cases – leaving readers and fellow writers alike to wonder if the content of an authors books are a product of the author’s own mind, a group effort, or (even worse) plagiarized or even just a pack of out and out lies.
Over the last 20 years or so, there have been numerous cases of authors books being unoriginal, fiction (as opposed to the non-fiction they were billed as) or totally and completely plagiarized from the first to last page. Among honest writers, that has to be the biggest affront – having your words stolen and someone else credited for their creation. Among the most notable cases of authors books not being what they seemed were:
Jerzy Kosinski’s fiction work, The Painted Bird was challenged in 1982 by Village Voice writers Geoffrey Stokes and Eliot Fremont. Why? It was alleged that he had his writers assistants write large portions of the book and then passed it off as his own creation.
More recently (and memorably), Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code was very closely scrutinized in 2005. Apparently, Brown “borrowed” the idea for his international bestseller from another book, The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail – a collaborative work by three writers ten years in the making. While the authors books did and continue to make money and sell, it was he was dealt a big blow from the scandal.
Quite possibly the biggest recent (2006) scandal, however, involved James Frey, who authored the “memoir” A Million Little Pieces. It was later discovered that Frey totally fabricated large portions of the book, and he was later humiliated on the Oprah Winfrey Show by the host herself.