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Oprah’s Shame, A Writer’s Responsibility

Unless you live under a rock, you’re aware of the latest publishing scandal.

But in case you don’t know what’s going on, here’s a recap to get you up to speed:

James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces” was an Oprah Book Club selection. Because of that endorsement, it went on to sell millions.

One little problem, though. The Smoking Gun website uploaded evidence that Frey’s tales were at the best exaggerated, at worst complete lies.

Oprah originally stood by Frey, but yesterday withdrew that support in a very public way. Right on her show, she confronted Frey with (from what I hear) a vengeance.

And she had every right to do so.

But the problem goes much deeper than this.

I’m not sure what the deal is, but I know of more than one writer who blatantly inflates their bio in order to land more writing assignments.

For example, I ran across a bio yesterday that listed “author” amongst its credits. Now the term “author” implies that the person has written a book. A full-fledged, perfect bound masterpiece that will undoubtedly change the world.

You can “author” articles, but then you’re a writer. You can “author” sales letters, but then you’re a copywriter. But writing either of these little chunks of prose does not an “author” make. Author = book.

This person hasn’t written a book. Ever. But someone reading their bio would be led to believe so.


If a writer lies in their bio, how can they possibly be trusted with a real assignment?

And if a writer blatantly lies in their own memoirs, well, I guess their career may very well be tainted forever.

And that’s too bad. For those with the greatest imaginations contain the most potential in this biz.

Just keep that imagination reserved for fiction, not nonfiction.

Here’s a link if you want to read more about Frey.

Talk later!


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