Therese here. Today’s guest is Sarah Jio, whose second novel, The Bungalow, releases on December 27th. Sarah’s debut, The Violets of March, sold very well and was a Target “Emerging Author” pick. It was while watching those sales that Sarah happened upon something…strange. She’s here with us today to tell us all about it. Enjoy!
I Found An Ebook Written About Me & My Novel on Amazon.com (and I Didn’t Write It)
The other day I did a quick search for my novel, The Violets of March, on Amazon. Confession: Authors (at least this author) monitor their books’ sales from online retailers from time to time (it’s kind of addicting, I will confess!). But a funny thing happened that day: I noticed a peculiar new title pop up in the search results for my book: an ebook. About me. And no, I did not write it or authorize it.
Let me preface this by saying: I am not a celebrity (clearly didn’t have to tell you that, but just to make it clear: I don’t hang with Lindsay Lohan and the gang, but I did chat with Gwyneth Paltrow once, but that’s another story). There are zero skeletons in my closet (at least, none that anyone would find very interesting!). My life is pretty vanilla, which is why I probably enjoy writing fiction so much (I can live vicariously through my characters!). And yet, there it was, the “undisclosed story behind the curtains” of The Violets of March” as it was printed on the cover of this ebook. Inside, readers would, I presume, find all the juicy, or rather, non-juicy, details of my writing life. Yikes!
At first, I kind of freaked out. Who wrote this? Why? Were they writing nasty things about me and my novel? Were they trying to profit on my hard work? I found it a little amusing that I had to pay $2.99 to read a “book” about me, but I did just that. My husband downloaded the thing on our Kindle and I, nervously, started reading. What I found inside the pages, however, wasn’t anything scary (whew!). It was actually kind of sweet: The author of the ebook, a woman named Sarah Reagan with a group called “Behind the Story,” had enjoyed my novel, and it seems she simply compiled all the information about me she could find on the Web and repackaged it into an ebook. There were reviews, interviews I’d done, and lots of quotes I’d previously given various web sites.
You might be wondering: Is this legal? I had the same question. Can someone really repackage a bunch of info on other web sites and sell it on Amazon.com? I don’t know the answer to that, but it’s the Wild West when it comes to ebooks, and people are putting up books like this en masse these days. The “undisclosed story” of my novel isn’t the first created by the “Behind the Story” team. They’ve written so-called reading guides for other titles, including The Paris Wife, Caleb’s Crossing, and The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. So in that respect, I’m in great company.
The whole experience was really weird, but also strangely flattering. After I got over the anxiety of having something out there that was written about me that I had no control over, I decided to just go with it (not that I couldn’t not go with it, but you know). It also helped that it didn’t seem to ruffle my agent’s or editor’s feathers a bit. Just a day in the life of being a writer in the year 2011, I guess!
Readers, what are your thoughts on these types of ebooks cropping up? If you found an ebook online for sale that was written about you and your work, what would you think?
Photo courtesy Flickr’s CarbonNYC