Bennett Cerf/Famous Artists Resurrected


The Bennett Cerf error on my part deserves proper chastisement.  I’m particularly pleased when a reader of my hoodoo corrects my miscues.  It matters not if this rebuke comes a Newsletter subscriber or from outside.  Anyone who picks up something I wrote that linked to a meta tag on the Internet certainly has the right to provide a contention.

All are to be commended for taking the time to set me straight.  The only way any of us who toil in this industry can be effective is if we are willing to be objective.  I’m certainly not happy when I make a mistake.  But my feelings must not get hurt either.  Hence, I want to elaborate on this issue concerning Mr. Cerf, for which I missed the boat completely

Subscribers who opened a recent Newsletter of mine might remember my remarks regarding Random House (via Pearson, et al.).  In it I discussed the developing relationship with AuthorSolutions, Inc.  I made the comment that Bennett Cerf would likely be turning over in his grave if he could learn of this.  I received a superb article concerning this from strong writers’ advocate, David Gaughran.  It documents Bennett Cerf’s involvement with Famous Artists.

Mr. Cerf was a financial benefactor of the Famous Artists/Famous Writers “schools.”  Because of deceptive sales practices, these entities were forced to close in the early ’70s.  Essentially, unwary souls were promised various considerations if they signed with Famous Artists.  Authors spent thousands of dollars each for worthless hype (gee, does that sound familiar?).

I constantly admonish writers about wolves in sheep clothing.  And that these crooks lurk around every corner.  I had no idea of Mr. Cerf’s complicity.  Maybe he didn’t realize what actually took place, as it’s not inconceivable he was kept in the dark.  But when a person possessing serious celebrity lends his or he name to a money-making project, this comes with certain responsibility.  And when the relationship pertains to writing, authors need to be particularly wary.

 

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