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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Casey Anthony-No Book Deal. No Boycott?

To the next person whose comment I use for a post I will send a free signed book!  (If you post as "anonymous" for convenience, try to include an identifying website or name in your remark so no one else can claim your prize!)  For an example, please click here

Please let me know your thoughts now. The comment function should be working, but if it "eats" yours, please send me your comment at: a s u d d e n s h o t (at) gmail dot com and I will gladly post it for you. 

    * * * * * * * * * * 

You know who this is.

TMZ is reporting that it has obtained strong statements from three of the biggest corporations in publishing that they have no interest in offering a book deal to Casey Anthony.  This is good news to most of us.  At the time of her astonishing acquittal, many had a fear approaching mania that through book deals she would become a millionaire off the suspicious death of her baby daughter. However, during radio interviews at the time, I urged a look at the real business of publishing instead.

In the not too distant past, publishing dynamo Judith Regan lost her literary empire by mistakenly believing a book by also acquitted O.J. Simpson would be a good idea. She not only lost her job but her entire imprint and her career in publishing over that fiasco. Judith Regan was a strange and foreign thing amongst publishers: she was a real risk taker. Now that she's been banished from their ranks, I would be hard pressed to name another.  When the fear of Casey's imminent riches-through-authorship burst into the national zeitgeist on the 4th of July, I well remembered O.J. and his affect on Judith Regan. I did not think many publishers would be willing to repeat that experiment in career hari kari.

Furthermore, publishing had changed since then. It is much, much tougher for anyone to get a book deal nowadays. Publishers are more risk-averse than ever.

Now TMZ is confirming that the biggest publishers are beginning to go on the record that Casey Anthony, whose bella vita began when her little girl's ended, is not welcome to join their rosters of authors.   This is a relief to all.  (Except perhaps my friend the lovable private investigator who has an almost pathological belief in the innocence of defendants. He told me in regards to Casey's case, "we have to start with the assumption that mothers don't kill their children." Really? Really???!!  Sigh. We love him anyway. Hire him--he will believe in you.  I promise. )

This leads me to the misguided boycott of true crime author Diane Fanning. Sometimes I get people coming to this blog seeking the answer to the question, does Casey Anthony make money from Jeff Ashton's/Diane Fanning's book?   The answer is an unequivocal NO. In order to write about a person, it is not  necessary to pay them for permission. If you had to do that, how does everybody on the internet get away with writing about everyone else, including about Casey Anthony?

Diane Fanning.  Photo from press release.

To the argument that writing a book like Ashton's or Fanning's is "blood money" let me say I understand your rage about the sickening death of this precious child. Many, many people express their rage over it by writing--in comment trails, on their blogs, on Facebook, on Twitter, and in their boycott manifestos.  Some people happen to be professional writers, trained to gather and verify facts and to develop them into a readable narrative.  Most true crime writers that I know write these books because they are also expressing their rage over crime. True Crime genre queen Ann Rule has a legion of fans, most of whom swear she has changed their lives in some way, educating them about the harmless seeming stranger or the over flattering suitor. The rest of us have our fans, too, and we touch lives. My books have resulted in donations to victims of crime and supported such things as Silent Witness.  I read Diane's book and it helped me--and thousands of others--join the national dialogue by laying out research I was unwilling to do myself because doing so is a full time job. 

Nobody who worked on the Casey Anthony case did so for free, except, murkily, Jose Baez and some of his team. No one who attended to Casey's needs in jail (guards, doctors, cooks, etc.) did it for free. The judge was paid, the prosecutors were paid, the stenographers were paid.  These people were all paid because they provide a service and are professionals who have met certain standards and are accountable. Book writers fit that category just as much.

To those people who sincerely believe that there is some blood money connection between books about crime and the criminals who commit the crimes, I hope this post helps clear up the misunderstanding. I know you have lots of things to do and it's not your job to know how a book is put together.  That j.o.b. is mine.

And Diane Fanning's.

If you followed the Casey Anthony case, you may also be interested in the #MarjorieOrbin case
A devoted father....
A happy little boy....
A woman with a chainsaw...

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