Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Publishers Sell Authors, Not Books

Current mood: tired of the bullshit

Category: Writing and Poetry

Since the hapless young Harvard "author" was signed before she wrote her book, it seems only fair to hold Kaavya Viswanathan's ghost writing and "packaging" people responsible for the rampant plagiarism involved in its creation.

When she said she had no idea she was plagiarizing another author - make that "authors" (see below) - she might well have been telling the truth. She probably had little or nothing to do with the actual writing of her coming-of-age, chick-lit novel.

If you look at the copyright page, you'll see the copyright is shared by Alloy, an entertainment industry powerhouse with a proven track record of marketing "authors" like Viswanathan - after carefully crafting their novels for them.

A vivacious, beautiful young Indian woman who made it into Harvard is a PR person's dream. To expect her to also come up with a finished novel at seventeen is both unrealistic and unfair.

Getting into an Ivy League school is a grueling, all-consuming job: Honors classes, extra-curricular activities, sports, volunteer work, SAT preparation, college application essays. (The teenager was "helped" with the writing of her application by the same person who took her to William Morris and then to Alloy.)

The kid was probably getting four hours sleep a night.

Where in the world would she find the time to write her book? I'd be surprised if she read it.


Young Author Faces 2nd Plagiarism Claim (From Yahoo!)

52 minutes ago

A Harvard sophomore's novel, which was pulled from the market last week after the author acknowledged mimicking portions of another writer's work, appears to contain passages copied from a second author.

A reader alerted The New York Times to at least three portions of "How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life," by Kaavya Viswanathan, that are similar to passages in the novel "Can You Keep a Secret?," by Sophie Kinsella.

While the plots of the two books are distinct, the phrasing and structure of some passages is nearly identical, the Times reported Tuesday.

In one scene in "Can You Keep a Secret," which was published by Dial Press, the main character, Emma, comes upon two friends "in a full-scale argument about animal rights," and one says, "The mink like being made into coats."

In Viswanathan's book, Opal encounters two girls having "a full-fledged debate over animal rights."
"The foxes want to be made into scarves," one of them says.

There are also similarities in details and descriptions. Jack, the love interest in Kinsella's novel, has a scar on his hand; so does Sean, the romantic hero in "Opal." Jack has "eyes so dark they're almost black;" so does Sean.

"Can You Keep a Secret" was published in 2004, more than a year before Little, Brown signed then 17-year-old Viswanathan to a reported six-figure deal to write "Opal" and another novel.

Viswanathan did not immediately return a call for comment Tuesday. She refused comment to the Times.

Last week, Little, Brown announced it would pull copies of "Opal" which spent six weeks on the New York Times best-seller list after dozens of similarities were found with two novels by Megan McCafferty.

Viswanathan acknowledged borrowing from McCafferty's work but claimed it was unintentional.
Kinsella's book was published by Dial Press, which is owned by Random House. Stuart Applebaum, a spokesman for Random House, did not immediately return a call Tuesday. However, he told the Times: "If this latest allegation is true, it is very disturbing, but it would be inappropriate to make any further comment until we have an opportunity to thoroughly review the matter."