Thursday, 22 August 2013

The highs and lows of publishing

Over the past week I have seen the highs and lows of the publishing world; not the big picture but the little one, for individual authors.

Firstly, my wonderful friend, author and editor, S.A. Meade had a free story plagiarised. Yes, some numbnut took a free story, transposed the setting, used her name for one of the characters, and the name of her story for the farm. 

Do what? Is this person stupid? My wonderful friend, Lisa Worrall, has some harsh, if entertaining, words on the subject. 

Now this is a low, an undoubted low. A really stupid thing to do. Because there are eagle-eyed readers out there who spot this kind of malarky a mile away, and one of them did and kindly informed the author. Thank you to them. And thanks to the publisher of said-rip-off for acting so promptly and withdrawing the book. 

If there is a high, it is readers who care enough to inform on plagiarists and support the original author, and the swift action of the publisher.

A word to the wise, readers don't like being cheated anymore than authors do. If you don't respect your readers you've no business writing.

And finally a bizarre tale of a young adult story at the point of publication, which is then withdrawn over a line... in the author's biography

Sweetwater Books, a division of Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, cancelled the publication of Woven, because the biographical blurb of one of Woven’s two authors, Michael Jensen, not unnaturally mentioned the author’s “partner.” When the author noticed his bio had removed all references to his boyfriend, he queried it with the acquisitions editor who said that Cedar Fort could not allow it because of potentially ruining their relationship with LDS-church-affiliated (Mormon) Deseret Book. Jensen suggested 'boyfriend' be changed to 'partner', but that was also not acceptable. The publisher knew that Jensen was in long-term gay relationship from the start. After an email exchange got nowhere Jensen spoke to Cedar Fort's owner, Lyle Mortimer. 
"Mr. Jensen called Cedar Fort’s owner, Lyle Mortimer, and asked why he was being treated differently from Mr. King. “The conversation really devolved quickly,” says Mr. Jensen. “Lyle started yelling about my ‘agenda’ and how I was trying to destroy families. He even started saying inappropriate things about how God had given me a penis for a reason. It was very uncomfortable."
As for Cedar Fort, the only comment I have found is from Bryce Mortimer, president of Cedar Fort.
"The decision to cancel the deal was not because Jensen was gay, according to Mortimer, but because the company felt he was too intent on publishing the information.“I think where it started becoming uncomfortable for us is where he really started to push it and almost use our company as a springboard for supporting that,” Mortimer said."
Well, undoubtedly a huge low for the authors after all that hard work. The story itself is YA, heterosexual and family friendly, with no 'gay agenda' *rolls eyes*. However the story has gone viral and I cannot believe that from the out-pouring of support for the authors, both from the LDS and the wider community there will not be another publisher eager to snap it up.

I guess my only comment to the publisher is that whilst you have the absolute right to do what is sensible for your business, the point of publication is too late to be forcing those changes, but the 'penis' comment is definitely not your business! As for David Powers King and Michael Jensen, may you find a new home with bigger and brighter sales.

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