The Author Background Check: Cautionary Notes

This post, from Consulting Editor Alan Rinzler, originally appeared on his The Book Deal blog on 7/12/10.

WE WERE HUNKERED DOWN debating whether to make an offer on a self-help book written by a seemingly well-qualified psychologist.

Then one of our dogged marketing assistants dashed in, shouting “WAIT!”

She tossed us a bunch of comments she’d unearthed from an obscure online forum: jaw-dropping, scathing assessments from former patients about the author’s failures as a therapist.  Whoa. We took a big pause — and ultimately dropped the project.

Don’t let this happen to you!

Searching with a fine-toothed comb

A little-known aspect of making a book deal these days is how a publisher’s editors, marketing and sales people verify an author’s platform and reputation.  We search for anything that might compromise our investment of time, passion, energy and money. Privacy’s not what it used to be, as we all know.

If your proposal or manuscript has reached the point of serious consideration, expect careful behind-the-scenes scrutiny of everything you’ve presented about your life and work.

If this is your first book deal

Publishers like nothing better than discovering and signing up the next big thing, the unknown writer with a great first book that promises to lead to many more. Before taking such a risk, however, careful due diligence is now standard operating procedure.

Here are some of the sources publishers check routinely these days, before signing up a new author:

Read the rest of the post on Alan Rinzler’s The Book Deal blog.