Uh oh. Obama’s literary agent required clients to write their own bios

Steve Bowman, a client of Acton & Dystel, writes at Breitbart.com that in his dealings with Jane Dystel, she required him to write his own bio:

Now let me say right up front: when it comes to Obama, I’m not going to speculate who wrote what, when. Dystel had assistants, one of whom is now her partner, Miriam Goderich, who says the whole Obama-born-in-Kenya thing was a fact-checking mistake by her. And I cannot speak specifically to the mechanism of Dystel’s publicity. (Alas, Dystel was unable to sell anything I wrote, so she had no reason to promote me, but I’m getting ahead of myself.)

I can speak of what she was like to work with and how she generated material. In my dealings with Dystel, I found her exceptionally thorough and very professional. She had a template she wanted non-fiction writers to follow, and my writing partner and I followed her template closely. She was rather fastidious, going so far as to mail a personal “Season’s Greetings” card in December.

All material she used in our proposals came directly from me and my writing partner. She edited our rough-draft proposals and gave us feedback, but the final versions were all ours. Our final versions, bio included, were then simply photo-copied, by us, and distributed to potential publishers. This was back in the pre-Google days, recall. 

I was asked to write the bio in the third person.

He writes that this is directly from their website:

Submission guidelines at the Dystel & Goderich website (original emphasis): “[Y]ou should describe in two or three sentences—no more—what the book will be about. This is followed by another brief paragraph on why it is being written and then another on why you are qualified to write it….Finally, there should be a more formal narrative Bio of the author.”

There’s more to Bowman’s column and you can click on over to Breitbart.com to read it.

But this is also interesting. Breitbart also published this yesterday:

In addition to the 1991 biography above (#1), here, via archive.org, is a screen shot of Obama’s biography (#2) on the Dystel.com website in June 1998, in which the text has been updated but the birthplace error has been repeated:

Here, again via archive.org, is a screen shot of Obama’s updated biography on the Dystel & Goderich website in February 2005 (#3), updated to reflect the fact that Obama had become a U.S. Senator–but not corrected as regards his birthplace:

And here, once again via archive.org, is a screen shot of Obama’s biography on the updated Dystel & Goderich website in April 2007 (#4), revealing that the text had been modified slightly–but the birthplace had not:

Breitbart News attempted to contact Goderich and senior partner Jane Dystel several times over several days prior to publishing our original story. They chose not to respond.

The real mystery is not where Obama was born–which has long been settled–but why Goddard failed to ask her agent a single relevant follow-up question about how the ‘fact checking error’ occurred in the first place.

Did you notice how it kept changing yet the “born in Keyna” still remained? Whether or not you agree with Breitbart’s supposition as to what this really means is up to you. But it does undoubtedly bring up questions that deserve answers.

(h/t: Ace)

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