Saturday, April 24, 2010
Lies, damned lies and publishing
In 1974, William Summerlin was a researcher studying the rejection of transplanted organs. He claimed to have found a way to beat rejection without suppressing the host's immune system and presented some white mice with black patches on their backs.
These patches had supposedly been taken from the skins of black mice and transplanted to the white ones. But when a technician applied an alcohol swab to the patches, it removed the black color. Such misuse of a Magic Marker is not generally permitted in science, and Summerlin admitted the fraud.
...that was the end of transplantation without immunosuppression. It sank without a trace in the literature: Summerlin’s fraudulent papers have been cited only 3 times in the past 25 years; each a refutation.
I read about this as a wee one hoping to study science some day, and it made quite an impression on me. It's never a good idea to lie - not in research and not in publishing either. Both tend to be self-correcting; both are filled with people who read obsessively, check, compare, ask questions.
And these days it's easier than ever to obtain information. With the Internet at people's fingertips, deceptions are easily unraveled, such as Bill Schneider's claim that his self-published novelette had been selected for Oprah's Book Club. There's even a fabricated transcript where Oprah says how much she loved the book.
The latest such incident can be found on the blog of the Rejection Queen, where an writer posts her rejection letters and rants about agents. At first I took it for satire, because I didn't think anyone could do that and still hope to be published some day. But then the writer claimed she did have such a deal.
Aside from all that stuff, someone wanted to know the title of my book and the publisher. I can't give out the title yet but the publisher is "Grand Central Publishing."
That's a major house. So it seemed unlikely that the writer would have to fight with them about errors, as she claimed in subsequent posts, or that they would mess up the cover art and spell her last name wrong. And the book cover on the writer's Facebook page seemed Photoshopped. Still, she claimed she was getting a "15,000 copy release....first run" and that the book was going to be released on April 15.
Then this emerged.
It's the actual cover of the book, which is being printed by PublishAmerica.
I'd be upset about the cover too, given that at least six other PA books have had that identical cover.
The take-home message? In publishing, as in science, lies lead to the kind of fame you don't want.
Picture from fotosearch: http://www.fotosearch.com/CSP022/k0224395/