Monday, March 22, 2010

Names, dates and places

I am helping a new author with a manuscript that is based on a true story with several real people mentioned. It's reasonably tame content, but to avoid offending some people I suspect some of the storylines/occupations/names (and possibly the setting of the story) will need to be fictionalised before publication. Is it better to let an agent consider the manuscript based on its raw form, or should these changes be made before contacting an agent?

It doesn't really matter either way: the agent could consider the manuscript with the real place and people names included and a note saying that some names will have to be changed; or they could consider it with the names changed but you'd still have to tell him or her that some names/place names have been changed. And if the manuscript gets published, the publisher will certainly need to know the real names, occupations and so on, and what they've been changed into, so the publisher can give the list to the defamation lawyer who will read the manuscript for them ...

So, really, the author should do what he or she is comfortable doing and keep meticulous records of the details that have been or will be changed.

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