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View Full Version : Publisher cancels contract because author is gay



Atalanta
08-23-2013, 03:55 AM
http://wovenbook.com/

(I searched but didn't see this posted anywhere on AW. I'm also not sure if I posted this in the right forum, so please forgive me if it's misplaced.)

I have no other details, I just saw the link posted at SF Site News. Is there some kind of weird escape clause the publisher used to get out of the contract? It just seems odd that they would have been able to legally get out of a contract over something as innocuous as an author's bio blurb.

Samsonet
08-23-2013, 04:23 AM
Wow. Um. I don't want to sound like I'm dismissing the claim, but is that it? A line in an author bio? There had to be something else to get such a big reaction.

JournoWriter
08-23-2013, 04:29 AM
Thread on Cedar Fort: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=114672

Alitriona
08-23-2013, 04:30 AM
Wow. Um. I don't want to sound like I'm dismissing the claim, but is that it? A line in an author bio? There had to be something else to get such a big reaction.

I think it has something to do with some Christian retailers not stocking a book by someone who lives their life contrary to Christian beliefs. Because, you know, that's very Christian of them.

This is an author I would like to see get the attention and support given a certain goodreads newbie over the last few days.

veinglory
08-23-2013, 04:38 AM
This is a Latter Day Saints publisher that distributes to a lot of Christian bookstores and gets a lot of their sales there.

But I have no idea why they would contract a book knowing the one of the authors was gay and somehow just assume he would hide that fact for their convenience.

Samsonet
08-23-2013, 05:04 AM
I think it has something to do with some Christian retailers not stocking a book by someone who lives their life contrary to Christian beliefs. Because, you know, that's very Christian of them.

Oh. Well. If it's a Christian publisher, then I guess it would be hypocritical to publish it, wouldn't it?

Though that doesn't excuse abusing the author.

DancingMaenid
08-23-2013, 05:09 AM
Wow, how ridiculous. I'm glad the authors stood up for themselves. I hate to say it, but I don't find this terribly surprising coming from an LDS publisher in Utah.

I'm familiar with Michael Jensen. I haven't kept up with his career lately, but he's always struck me as a decent guy. I'm pretty sure he used to be the editor of afterelton.com (now thebacklot.com), and he's written a lot about LGBT media. So the publishers have no excuse for entering into a contract with him if they had a problem with his sexual orientation. He's hardly closeted.

Little Anonymous Me
08-23-2013, 05:10 AM
All I can trust myself to type is a horrified "Wow."


:gaah

Parametric
08-23-2013, 05:12 AM
Oh. Well. If it's a Christian publisher, then I guess it would be hypocritical to publish it, wouldn't it?

I don't think your conclusion follows from your premise. There are plenty of non-homophobic Christians.

Samsonet
08-23-2013, 05:23 AM
No, I meant...

Nevermind, I don't think I'm mature enough to explain. I'll leave the thread now.

Jon M
08-23-2013, 05:29 AM
Seems like this is an attempt on behalf of a particular religious group (read: nutjobs) to make themselves irrelevant.

I do not have a problem with this tactic, but wish the author(s) well.

Roxxsmom
08-23-2013, 07:14 AM
Oh. Well. If it's a Christian publisher, then I guess it would be hypocritical to publish it, wouldn't it?

Though that doesn't excuse abusing the author.

Depends on their take on Christianity. Not all Christians are the same. But the term "Christian bookstore" does usually conjure up images of shops that cater to more evangelical, even fundamentalist, Christian mindsets.

Something does seems odd to me about all this. I would assume that a Mormon press that has concerns about its books being acceptable to Christian markets must have some pretty stringent guidelines about content. I'm assuming if this book was acceptable for publication by this press, it was a book that toed the conservative Mormon/Evangelical line in terms of content, morals and themes. It seems a bit odd to write a YA book that appeals to this market in the first place and then to be gobsmacked that they'd have an issue with an openly gay author.

It sounds like the publisher misled them about its agenda or about the sorts of markets they wanted to sell the book to. I have no idea why they'd do this. The contract should have made the publisher's expectations crystal clear.

veinglory
08-23-2013, 07:19 AM
Indeed. And FWIW they put out good books. I own several of them. This is not some little fly by night small press. They should have well established protocols from reconciling their mission and their business. But I guess either they don't, or this editor is not following them.

CAWriter
08-23-2013, 08:21 AM
This is a Latter Day Saints publisher that distributes to a lot of Christian bookstores and gets a lot of their sales there.

But I have no idea why they would contract a book knowing the one of the authors was gay and somehow just assume he would hide that fact for their convenience.

I think it would be more accurate to say they're an LDS publisher who gets most of their sales at LDS bookstores. I don't know that you could find their books in other Christian bookstores.

I'm not saying the situation was handled right, but there's a part of me that thinks there was a mistake on both sides. The publisher should have been aware of who their authors were and not signed them to begin with if they can't support them in general as their authors (rather than if they hide some aspect of who they are), but the authors should have been aware that this publisher might not be the best fit for them. It works for both sides; publishers don't publish books by authors they don't support, authors don't approach publishers they'd be embarrassed to be published by. Sort of like the author mentioned in another thread who didn't want to be submitted to anyone who had published a book on OJ Simpson. Authors (and their representatives) have a responsibility to see if they have a conflict with the foundational principles of an organization they're partnering with. If so, look elsewhere.

(Again, please don't mistake any of this as excusing how the authors were treated or how the situation was handled. None of this is in defense of the editor/publisher.)

blacbird
08-23-2013, 09:29 AM
Seems like this is an attempt on behalf of a particular religious group (read: nutjobs) to make themselves irrelevant.

Not quite. It's an attempt, at least in the minds of the publishers, to keep themselves relevant for their target readership. About that readership, I'd prefer not to comment further.

caw

hikarinotsubasa
08-23-2013, 02:17 PM
So, who has picked this up and where can I pre-order a copy or ten? (Not only is this despicable, the book sounds really good. Thanks to this scandal, they'll sell at least one copy that wouldn't have been sold otherwise... insane.)

Ken
08-23-2013, 02:24 PM
... not cool.
The author must feel really crummy b/c of this.

:Hug2:

Undercover
08-23-2013, 03:36 PM
This is just devastating. I could understand why the publisher wanted to back out (which is a shitty reason to begin with) but to mislead the author, knowing his bio and ASSUMING he'd omit that part is clearly the publisher's fault, not the author's.

Everything happens for a reason, who knows, maybe he'll find an even better publisher that supports him completely. That would be the best ending to this story. And I have a good feeling that will happen.

shaldna
08-23-2013, 03:41 PM
Oh. Well. If it's a Christian publisher, then I guess it would be hypocritical to publish it, wouldn't it?

Though that doesn't excuse abusing the author.


I don't think your conclusion follows from your premise. There are plenty of non-homophobic Christians.

Yup. And there are plenty of gay Christians out there too. And Christians who are supporters of gay rights.

Personally I'm loathe to blame anyone's religious beliefs for their actions as it tends to escalte into entire religions being blanketed.

In this case it's not a religion having an issue with an author, it's an individual publishing house. That said, if the publishing house states that the reason is a religious one then that's a pretty crappy excuse for treating anyone like that.

Undercover
08-23-2013, 03:52 PM
I can see this being in the submission guidelines for what the publishing house takes, but this should not affect the author's personal preference

ULTRAGOTHA
08-23-2013, 04:37 PM
Please note that the other author of the book is also LDS. This isn't a "Mormon" problem. It's an asshole problem. The owner of the press behaved like an asshole.

NeuroFizz
08-23-2013, 04:54 PM
Some people seek to justify their prejudices, bigotry, and even fears through the convenience of religious teachings (however interpreted). Fortunately, many thinking humans can see that it is still prejudice, still bigotry, and still fear. And it's a pathetic way to promote the overarching intent of those teachings.

gingerwoman
08-23-2013, 04:59 PM
Is this really legal in the US?

Filigree
08-23-2013, 05:29 PM
Oh, easily. After all, this was a private business transaction that did not involve a state or federal agency. Authors are considered contractors, not employees, and contractors are much lower on the legal protection ladder. The publisher's rant wasn't well thought out because it makes his whole company look like douchebags, but there's probably little legal incentive for the authors to sue. Damages against a book that hasn't been published? Forced publication, with a publisher who hates the book now and won't support it?

The authors are better off leveraging the publicity to get a better deal from a sympathetic publisher.

Jamesaritchie
08-23-2013, 06:20 PM
I don't think your conclusion follows from your premise. There are plenty of non-homophobic Christians.

And there are tens of millions who believe homosexuality is a sin. No fundamentalist Christian publisher is going to buy books from homosexual writers, and no fundamentalist bookstore is going to stock such books.

There's nothing wrong with this. You may assume your belief about homosexuality is the correct one, but you have no right to say someone else can't believe otherwise.

Freedom either works both ways, or it doesn't work at all. Anyone who thinks LDS, or any other Christian publisher should buy books from gays, or that Christian bookstores should stock them, is living in la-la land.

No one should force you to go against your beliefs, and no one should force them to go against their beliefs.

There's something seriously sick about a society that says "something as innocuous as being gay", or that says we can have freedom of religion, as long as that religion does what we want, thinks the way we think, and goes against what they believe God is teaching them.

Seriously, seriously sick.

Atalanta
08-23-2013, 07:40 PM
If the book itself had a queer protagonist I'd promote the hell out of it on my queer SFF website. But co-author David Powers King refers to it on his blog (http://www.davidpowersking.com/2013/08/unwoven-how-one-word-lead-to.html) as "Family friendly, as heterosexual as it gets," which I'm hoping he doesn't mean the way it sounds (as if the former were dependent on the latter).

I'll still promote it via news blurbs and I sincerely hope the authors get picked up by another publisher sooner rather than later.

veinglory
08-23-2013, 09:04 PM
per their blog they already have a new publisher--but I don't see any mention of who.

ironmikezero
08-23-2013, 09:40 PM
FWIW, I suspect there is more to this than meets the eye... as always, follow the money...

Rhoda Nightingale
08-23-2013, 09:43 PM
Read about this on Jim Hines' blog earlier this week. Still pissed.

amergina
08-23-2013, 09:48 PM
FWIW, I suspect there is more to this than meets the eye... as always, follow the money...

Could you state what you mean?

veinglory
08-23-2013, 10:00 PM
FWIW, I suspect there is more to this than meets the eye... as always, follow the money...

It is blatantly clear to the eye that the money Cedar Fort earns from places like Deseret Books is the motivation for dropping the author.

Filigree
08-23-2013, 10:17 PM
Well, duh. Whether or not the book itself had any 'gay' themes, in the current climate of the Culture War, the co-author's mere admission of being in a committed gay relationship would probably be enough to keep the book out of Deseret and other LDS outlets. Cedar Fork probably thought they could not risk being blacklisted. This way, oddly enough, makes them look very good to the conservative LDS base, so they haven't really lost any credibility with their core market.

I grew up in a very Mormon area. I have many Mormon and ex-Mormon friends. I'm familiar with this issue. Not all Mormon families are as anti-gay as Orson Scott Card and his ilk. But a lot of people don't want to rock the boat and risk being shunned by family and community, even when they no longer really believe the religion. The internet (http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/internet-threatens-mormons/) and the recent focus around Romney and California's Prop 8 has not been kind to the church. So a lot of elders and community leaders are flailing around for winnable, symbolic battles.

This is, of course, only my private speculation and the in-confidence thoughts of some friends in Salt Lake City.

DancingMaenid
08-24-2013, 05:41 AM
Is this really legal in the US?

Aside from what Filigree said about the legality of publishers discriminating against authors, I would also point out that being LGBT isn't universally regarded as a protected status in the U.S. the same way race and religion usually are. Some states include LGBT people in their individual laws about discrimination, hate crimes, etc. But in a lot of states, discriminating against people for being LGBT is perfectly legal.

ironmikezero
08-24-2013, 08:31 PM
Could you state what you mean?

Absent being cognizant of all the pertinent details, any speculation is merely that.

That said, in my experience, financial considerations are far more likely to be at the root of any business decisions (whatever they may be) than any sort of moral rhetoric, however passionately offered.

Dig deeply enough and I suspect one would find a more mercenary rationale - one that will ultimately impact
some concerned party's bottom line.

A bit cynical? Perhaps... but I came by my cynicism the old fashioned way - I earned it over a long law enforcement career.

This is just one man's perspective... Feel free to form your own opinions.

DancingMaenid
08-24-2013, 11:50 PM
That said, in my experience, financial considerations are far more likely to be at the root of any business decisions (whatever they may be) than any sort of moral rhetoric, however passionately offered.


If you mean that the publisher's decision was motivated by money (that is, they were concerned about losing profits because the author was gay), then that's still homophobic. It means they're more willing to pander to prejudiced customers than do what's right. This is the professional image they've decided to craft.

If you mean that the authors only got upset about this and took a stand for money, then I don't see any evidence of that.

jjdebenedictis
08-25-2013, 12:39 AM
That said, in my experience, financial considerations are far more likely to be at the root of any business decisions (whatever they may be) than any sort of moral rhetoric, however passionately offered.

Dig deeply enough and I suspect one would find a more mercenary rationale - one that will ultimately impact
some concerned party's bottom line.Did you read the original article? The following paragraph makes it quite clear the decision was not mercenary, but very definitely a case of moral rhetoric:
"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. Then he threatened to publish Woven without our names attached or without our bios at all—rather than print that one sentence."

gingerwoman
08-25-2013, 05:12 AM
Did you read the original article? The following paragraph makes it quite clear the decision was not mercenary, but very definitely a case of moral rhetoric:

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. Then he threatened to publish Woven without our names attached or without our bios at all—rather than print that one sentence."

The agenda thing is always so baffling.

But yeah I think first it was someone's bigotry and other people in the company were probably convinced to stick by the bigortry for fear of monetary loss from the Christian bookstores they deal with. Everything had been fine up until then so if the key person had had a different attitude it seems the deal would have gone through with maybe the word changed to "partner". (Although it's funny in New Zealand anyone not legally married to their live in lover calls that person their "partner" and my New York cousin said she thought all these people she met were saying they were gay until she figured it out. Referencing your "partner" here does not mean the person is same sex. )

blacbird
08-25-2013, 06:26 AM
Did you read the original article? The following paragraph makes it quite clear that they say the decision was not mercenary, but very definitely a case of moral rhetoric:

The bolded added for precision of expression.

I think the publisher was most certainly concerned about the bottom line, should the sexual preference of the author become an issue, and found an easy, convenient cloak of rhetoric to cover his . . . posterior.

caw

veinglory
08-25-2013, 06:28 AM
Wait, where did they say the decision was not mercenary? They said it was to placate LDS retailers because that is where they make a lot of money. As far as I know that is the only reason they ever gave.

Ant associated rhetoric doesn't effect that.

Roxxsmom
08-25-2013, 06:34 AM
Indeed. And FWIW they put out good books. I own several of them. This is not some little fly by night small press. They should have well established protocols from reconciling their mission and their business. But I guess either they don't, or this editor is not following them.

Out of curiosity, do books from this press allow characters who are in same sex relationships? If they do, it seems really strange to disallow a line mentioning that one of the authors lives with his partner. Anyone who would be offended by the latter would be unlikely to be reading (or stocking) the former.

But if they don't allow books with those themes, then it might have been a hint to the authors where they stood on the issue in general.

Not excusing what was done to the authors, even if the latter is the case.


The agenda thing is always so baffling.

(Although it's funny in New Zealand anyone not legally married to their live in lover calls that person their "partner" and my New York cousin said she thought all these people she met were saying they were gay until she figured it out. Referencing your "partner" here does not mean the person is same sex. )

It doesn't here either, at least not always. I know people who are in long-term, committed opposite sex relationships where they refer to their significant other as their partner. Usually it's used when the people are married in everything but name but have chosen not to marry legally for some philosophical reason. Younger opposite sex couples who are co-habitating often call each other "significant others" or simply boyfriends/girlfriends. At least they did back when I was younger and cohabitating (a while ago now).

But regardless, saying that you live with your partner implies a romantic attachment and that you are having sex with someone to whom you are not married, which is a sin for opposite sex couples too as far as the LDS church (and most other churches) is concerned.

Atalanta
08-27-2013, 06:46 PM
Mormon authors sign open letter in support of King and Jensen:
http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/56774960-78/cedar-fort-gay-book.html.csp

Here's the letter:
http://mormonwriters.wordpress.com/2013/08/22/

They're up to 53 signatures now. Nice to see, especially since many of them have been published by Cedar Fort.