If you're going to fantasize publically…

I missed this story when it first made the rounds last week. Then I ran into it at Writers Unboxed.

The short version: a guy writes a novelette (*his term)), self publishes it, and does some promotion. Among other marketing approaches, he starts claiming that his book was an Oprah pick. He goes so far as to put a transcript of his on-air interview with Oprah. Oh, how she loved his book.

fakeblurbsWhen I first read about this, I wondered if the guy might really be delusional. Psychosis can do things like that, make you absolutely sure that you had tea with the Queen when you were last in London. Then there he came clean, apologized, and claimed it was “an error in judgement.” Which means, he wasn’t delusional, and it was a conscious decision on his part to perpetuate the fraud.

I have no idea if there will be legal action against him, but that’s less interesting to me than this guerilla-style approach to marketing. Damn the topedoes, full speed ahead. This is a writer who is so desperate for attention that he lost all perspective. What he did was absolutely wrong, but I can see how he got there. Those of us who struggle from book to book and contract to contract know how frustrating and discourging the process can be. Authors often play games with fake covers (see the blurbs here for Pajama Girls?) but this is usually for personal consumption and a bit of a laugh.

One other thing that I’ve been thinking about since i read about this fictionalized Oprah love-fest: why Oprah? If you’re going to make something up, if you’re willing to be exposed as a fraud, why not go all the way? Unless, of course, you know you’ll get caught and that there will be corresponding publicity (author goes off the deep end!), the kind that puts you on the front page of newspapers. Which is, after all, what the guy wanted. So maybe things worked out just the way he hoped.

If I had to make up a fake interview, it wouldn’t be with Oprah. Most probably it would be Jon Stewart. He doesn’t do novels, but so what? On paper we could have a grand old time. Or you could go at this sideways. If you had to make up a television interview with a major personality who (of course) adores your work, who would it be?

9 Replies to “If you're going to fantasize publically…”

  1. It would be the person making it into a multi-million dollar film… take your pick

    Anthony Minghella
    Jane Campion
    Sydney Pollak
    David Cronenburg

    What a laugh!

    1. I was going to say the same thing! Mine would be:

      M.Night Shyamalan
      Steven Spielberg

      Or it could be a great author taking me under her/his wing, like:

      Margaret Atwood (although I hear she’s so dull)
      Jodi Picoult
      Michael Ondaatje

  2. My fantasy TV interview about my fab novel, huh?
    Bill Moyers
    Walter Cronkite
    Barbara Walters

    Or, going for broke,
    Eleanor Roosevelt
    Mahatma Ghandi
    Queen Victoria

  3. Oh Robin Williams for sure! Ya know, cause i’d be nervous..
    Or maybe that gay comedian/talk show host woman, what her name..funny lady, she’s got a new line of underwear out..Drawin’ a blank.

      1. That’s her, Love her early HBO stuff, I still use her material, s’pecially the “not really” stuff.

  4. I think the interview for my fictional novel would be conducted by Oprah, after much publicity of how I refused to be on Oprah, how I’ve never liked her approach to stories much. But since I’d won the Giller prize ($40,000 to the winner, $2500 to those short-listed; for a fiction novel written by a Canadian citizen or resident; published in Canada), and donated half the money to a charity near and dear to my heart, and Oprah agreed to match my charity dollars, I agreed to make peace with Oprah, she invited me to her home, and we did the interview there.

    Go big or go home – too true!

    What would be great is if I’d actually been fraudulent in some way in writing the novel, as well, and had to admit it to Oprah. Oh my, what webs we weave…

  5. Oprah. Oy.

    If I were going to make something up, I want to be utterly adored by that African-American lady who does political commentary on CNN’s Situation Room with the old guy anchor and that bald guy who got kicked off for using bad language (I’m so good with names, aren’t I?) She’s very sharp, and she’s not a size three, and her eyebrows don’t meet in the back of her head.

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