Marriage is wonderful, but divorce is unpleasant. I’ve always known that, but today I experienced it when I divorced myself from my publisher. It is a long story, but the crux of the issue is that they wanted me to delete virtually everyone from the book and replace them with non-existent characters, change all places, dates and situations and basically re-write the book as a fiction piece. They are concerned about libel.
While I respect their concern and understand how gun shy they are after a lawsuit, what is the point of writing a memoir if it’s not a memoir? In conversing with my attorney I came to find out that the First Amendment and case law look favorably upon memoirs and, unless I’m making an accusation that can’t be proved, I’m quite safe.
I am somewhat miffed that my publisher didn’t give me this information sooner. After I relayed my attorney’s opinion, they went ballistic and accused him of being a charlatan, only after my money. Now we all know about the reputations of attorneys and the jokes about attorneys (What’s the difference between an attorney and a bucket of shit? Answer: The bucket.) Nevertheless, I am happy with my attorney.
What I don’t get is why my publisher decided NOW to tell me that I have to take my brother (one of three main characters) out of the book as well as ANYONE else who could POSSIBLY sue, change all dates, places and facts before they would publish. Why didn’t they tell me sooner? Why didn’t they say what their restrictions are? It would have saved me two bloody months of work. But you live and learn. In those two months I’ve been able to create my Facebook page, my Lemonade website, my Twitter account and this blog. And don’t forget, in those two months I had a two week trip to Dubai and a four week encounter with a neck injury. Someone is watching over me.
Can I be sued? Sure. So can you–if someone doesn’t like your politics or your eye color or your religion. This is America and we are sue-happy. It doesn’t mean someone is going to win. And I am confident, after hearing about the law and the reach of the First Amendment how protected I am.
So, now I’m off (giddyap again!) to find a new publisher. I’ve got a small handful that were considered earlier. I’m hoping that from this we can move forward. This whole experience is becoming a bigger education than I expected. But education is never a bad thing, is it?