Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ten Years For Getting The Genre Wrong

There have been memoirs touted as genuine recollections that turned out to be fiction. The authors were torn from their best-selling pedestals for the crime, but no jail time was assessed.

Such is not the case for best-selling author Kevin Trudeau. If only he'd penned his books as memoirs instead of non-fiction self-help tomes. He wouldn't be looking at ten years in prison.

The author wrote a book and then went on a book tour, in a way. He ran infomercials to push his book, sort of like those authors who get themselves interviewed on whatever television program will have them. So Mr. Trudeau did his own television show and interviewed himself. Can't that be considered the equivalent of self-publishing?

As it turned out, what he said on his infomercial was compelling fiction. That, as it turned out, is illegal, but only because he failed to use the proper label for the genre in which he was writing. His books should have been shelved with the fiction titles, where the public knows the contents are made up. Instead, he made the mistake of classifying his books as a collection of facts.

And now he'll have ten years behind bars to contemplate the error of his writing ways.

Prior to sentencing, he told the judge he was a reformed man and would never make such a mistake again. No more fiction masquerading as non-fiction. But when a man's spent his writing career doing just the opposite, it's near impossible for the judge to believe him.

That, and the fact that the author made a fortune off his novels marketed as non-fiction, only to claim he was flat broke when the government won a judgment against him for fraud and false advertising. No one believes him on that score either. His talent for writing believable fiction, then, has found its limit.

Mr. Trudeau is free to write another book while incarcerated, but whether or not he can attract a publisher is questionable. While he has a strong platform right now, being so much in the spotlight, he'll be largely forgotten after he's served his time. However, he's proven to be quite the pitchman and if he can maintain his scamming skills, he just might be able to sell his manuscript.

He'd be wise to promote it as a memoir rather than a self-help book for those about to imprisoned. The publishing world is more forgiving of liars when it comes to memoir than the Federal Government is towards fraudsters and cheats. Having your book pulled from circulation and pulped isn't anywhere near as severe as ten years in the pen(itentiary).

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