Will Publishers Now Ask the James Frey Question?

Posted on January 28, 2006

The Chicago Tribune has an article about what changes may occur in the publishing industry when it comes to buying new memoirs now that James Frey was skewered on the Oprah Winfrey Show? Morgan Entrekin, president and publisher of Grove/Atlantic, told the Tribune, "From now on, it would be a very slow-witted publisher who wouldn't ask The James Frey Question: 'What exactly have you done with the truth in this memoir?'" The Tribune says future memoirs will likely contain a prologue or preface.
Expect many, if not most, memoirs published in the coming months and years to include a prologue, note or preface--some sort of warning--telling the reader just how many liberties the author has taken with the facts, say publishing executives.

Peter Osnos, founder and editor-at-large of PublicAffairs Books, said explanatory prefaces "will be clearer, more forthright and more common" in the future.

But don't expect many publishers to force their writers to go cold turkey from the occasional use of fiction--a composite character, a rearrangement of events or name changes--to smooth out the rough parts of what otherwise is being marketed as a "true" story.