Cites & Bytes @ Bailey

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006


I didn't coin the term, but think it is a perfect description of some publishing practices that have recently been in the news. There has been a stir over the apparent plagiarism in How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild, and Got a Life by Kaavya Viswanathan, a Harvard University sophomore. The book has been pulled from the market. Additional details revealed that Viswanathan was the recipient of a nearly $500,00 two-book contract deal from Little, Brown and had been "assisted" with her writing by book packaging company, Alloy Entertainment.
The plot thickens. It seems that book packaging companies like Alloy, which specializes in teenage-girl novels, research current trends, create the ideas for the books, hire authors, market the books to publishers, and create the cover art, according to a recent Associated Press article. Alloy is the company behind the Sweet Valley High series, the more recent Gossip Girls, and the successful Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants franchise (which I just read, more on that later.) Although this is a shocking practice to some, those of us well-versed in the Carolyn Keene, Franklin Dixon world of yore are familiar with the concept and emerged from childhood relatively unscathed by exposure to fake authors.
But isn't it sad to imagine the earnest author slaving in her/his garret without the benefit of corporate encouragement? Isn't it discouraging that a Harvard sophomore gets a $500,000 contract and plagiarizes, for Pete's sake? It's like the Milli Vanilli of teen lit.... Question: Did the grownups know? Or was Carolyn Keene on a par with the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus?


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