I am toying writing a book involving layered stories:
There is Manuscript A, written by a character, which is an ostensibly real account/diary of an incident she experienced.
In the fictional world, the character publishes Manuscript A, which is met with much acclaim, and a second edition of the work is issued, complete with a preface, a praise page, introduction, footnotes, appendices, etc. This edition is the book the reader will have in their hands.
My question is how far the reader can be lead into believing that the trimmings introduced in the second edition are 'real', as in being external to Manuscript A, as in being from 'real' people in our own world. If the trimmings are known to be fiction (such as by an explicit statement on the book sleeve or back cover), then Manuscript A is known to be fictional. However, if there is nothing that indicates that the trimmings are not in fact 'real', then the reader may not know for certain whether the events of Manuscript A are real or not, as this is the subject of debate within the fictional 'real' world, and is mentioned in the introduction.
How would a publisher handle such a situation? Is it possible to maintain this extra dimension to the story? What obligation does the writer have to the reader?