PUBLISHER PRECAUTIONS WHEN AN AUTHOR’S CREDENTIALS ARE IMPORTANT
For many technical and professional books, the reputation of the author is at least as important as the content of the book. Having a highly respected author tied to a book can benefit sales of that book, but any event that diminishes an author’s reputation can have the opposite effect. Unfortunately, reports of authors misrepresenting their credentials or engaging in questionable behavior seem to be on the rise. This phenomenon is perhaps compounded by social media, which knows no boundaries when it comes to keeping secrets. Accordingly, in order to avoid embarrassment or financial loss, publishers of books which are likely to rise or fall with the reputation of the author should take the following steps:
- Each author of the book should be required to disclose any relationships which that author has had or currently has, whether as a paid or unpaid consultant, employee or otherwise, with the manufacturer or distributor of any product or service referred to in the book. An author who appears to be promoting a product or service in which he or she has a vested interest will quickly lose credibility with readers.
- Each author should also be required to warrant that all biographical information which he or she provides for use in connection with the publication, promotion, and marketing of the book will be true, accurate and complete. Cautious publishers may want to follow up with an independent investigation to ensure that an author has accurately represented his or her credentials.
- If the publisher wants to be able to continue publishing the book without reference to an author, the publisher should include a provision in the publishing agreement which will allow the publisher to terminate credit for the author without liability to the publisher if it is later revealed that the author misrepresented his or her credentials or if there are any changes in the author’s credentials, reputation, professional standing, or other biographical information which would be likely to have an adverse impact on sales of the book.