When I (Jess here) interviewed Lacy Crawford
about her new memoir Notes on a Silencing
, we discussed the complex and often contradictory goals of publishers’ legal departments and fact checkers at periodicals such as Condé Nast/Vanity Fair, where Lacy’s first serial excerpt
was published. An article on nonfiction book fact checking (or the lack thereof) published in Esquire
(by Emma Copley Eisenberg
) made the rounds online in August, and many readers were surprised to discover that publishers don’t fact check the books they publish. In fact, a standard clause in nonfiction book contracts indemnifies the publisher when it comes to the author’s factual errors. What publishers do, however, is send the manuscript over to their legal departments to ensure they will not be held liable for defamation, an risk most authors mitigate by changing names or identifying details of some people in the book. Lacy explains how the goals of the legal department and the goals of fact checking are often at cross-purposes, and we come up with a few things authors should think about when selecting a excerpts for publications that will rigorously fact check.
Find Lacy Crawford:
We had so much to discuss we skipped #AmReading, but Lacy’s first book, Early Decision
, was a delight. It’s a satire about the high-stakes, high-stress process of college admission.
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