You know the saying “if it looks to good to be true, it probably is”? Yeah, I should have remembered that when I chose this story to include in “Link Love” a few weeks ago.
The gist of the article was that six year old British boy Leo Hunter had been offered a 23 part book deal worth thousands of dollars with American publishing house Strategic Book Publishing after penning a book about him and his dog called “Me and My Best Friend”.
Leo was to publish under the same pseudonym used by his mother, a published novelist, to protect his identity.
But it turns out the miraculous tale of a child wonder author was a hoax: Strategic Book Publishing say they have never had a deal with anyone named Leo Hunter.
The book was actually written by Leo’s mum Jamie. She paid Strategic Book Publishing to publish the book in 2009 when her son was just four. She even included a message to him in the opening blurb of the picture book: “Thank you to my son for the inspiration to write this series.”
If it was an attempt at a publicity stunt to boost sales of the book, it sadly failed; “Me and My Best Friend” is virtually unheard of and languishes in the bottom reaches of Amazon sales rankings.
I hate it when I get things wrong. I guess I should take heart in that many news organisations around the globe ran with the story too. I remember having some misgivings about whether a child so young could pull off such an amazing deal – 24 books is a lot to have to create and a lot of pressure on a little person. Would it be just quantity not quality? But I never thought to doubt that little Leo Hunter, who dreamed of being more famous than JK Rowling, was the real author. Obviously I am far too trusting!
What about you? Did you believe the story when you read it? Are you as surprised as me to learn it is a fake?