If you have ever submitted --or plan to submit-- a manuscript into the fleshpots of the publishing world, you might be well advised to read about a growing scandal regarding the confidentiality of your submission, discussed in an article entitled "The Trials Of Joe McGinniss," published earlier this week on Truth-Out.org.
It's fraught with mystery, betrayal, lies & revelations, and stabbings both front-'n'-back... all revolving around the so-called "investigative journalist & author" Joe McGinniss, better known these days as "the guy who moved next door to Sarah Palin" to ...uh... 'research' his soon-to-be-released book "The Rogue."
Politics and your opinion of Ms. Palin aside, the article focuses on the ethical questions that arose when a competing book on Ms. Palin was sent to NY publishing houses... and promptly forwarded by Random House/Broadway Books editor Charlie Conrad in full manuscript form to Mr. McGinniss. Just as promptly, McGinniss circulated the full manuscript around the media and blogosphere worlds, thus undermining the competing book's potential-contract value (and, of course, minimizing any chance of the other book cutting into his own sales). That book was subsequently "passed" by the major houses (some of which had expressed serious interest prior to the "leak") and finally published by a "Christian publishing subsidiary" for a relatively low advance.
Random House, by the way, defends both its editor and its author, claiming that, gosh, there was no confidentiality clause in the cover letter of the manuscript submission. (NOTE: I'm told there almost never is; like every other agent I've known, my agent(s) have always assured me that the "when you write it, you own an immediate, binding, implied copyright." Apparently not-- that is, if the house to which you submit has a competing project under contract. Expect this to go to court, folks.)
Mr. McGinniss' ethical issues have been dissected for decades-- notably, by New Yorker reporter and author Janet Malcolm some years ago in a book entitled "The Journalist And The Murderer," focusing on McGinniss' questionable practices in researching & writing "Fatal Vision" (the Jeffrey MacDonald case).
Full article is online (with a link to incriminating e-mails written by McGinniss during his li'l voyage of destruction) at: http://www.truth-out.org/trials-joe-mcginniss/1314731960
So, writers beware--- particularly with slimeballs like Mr. McGinniss still walking the world, and with editors like Mr. Conrad strolling alongside.
--Earl "Ethics? We Doan Need No Esteekin' Ethics" Merkel