Sunday, April 13, 2008

Travel Writer Lied

Thomas Kohnstamm, who has seen several books with his name on it published by Lonely Planet, told The Sunday Telegraph that a lot of the travel books he wrote or contributed to weren’t exactly as represented. As reported by Reuters:
He said in one case he had not even visited the country he wrote about.
“They didn't pay me enough to go to Colombia. I wrote the book in San Francisco. I got the information from a chick I was dating -- an intern at the Colombian consulate,” the newspaper quoted Kohnstamm as saying.
Kohnstamm is currently flogging a new book called Do Travel Writers Go To Hell? (Three Rivers Press). It’s an idiotic premise. A “writer” with dodgy morals signs a contract to deliver a book, then cuts corners and compromises himself in every imaginable way, then has the temerity to blame his publisher. What (ahem) planet are we on anyway? At what point in history did it become okay for someone to take on an assignment and then do a bad job because he didn’t like the terms he agreed to in the first place?

The Telegraph reported that Kohnstamm has earned the support of his fellow writers. “You know you are not paying enough money to authors to do the work you expect.” One Lonely Planet author told The Telegraph: “You are begging authors to cut corners … or to help finance the book out of their own pocket.”

Here’s an idea and here’s what grown-up writers do: if you really feel you’re not being offered enough money, don’t agree to do the book, don’t sign the contract. It really is that simple. And if everyone does that…

The Telegraph piece is here.


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