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aadams73
11-19-2006, 08:21 PM
Miss Snark just received a brilliant thrashing from Jennifer Crusie.

http://jennycrusie.blogspot.com/

I *heart* Jenny Crusie. Of course I like the Snarky One too, but not in this instance.

aruna
11-19-2006, 08:55 PM
VERY interesting post from Jenny. I was in two minds about this very issue. On the one hand, I've been through something similar and I felt that it needs to come out in the open. Miss Snark's nitwit post increased my ambivalence. Jenny's take on it convinces me that it should be talked about - but with dignity and professionalism. And I will.

SC Harrison
11-19-2006, 09:10 PM
I *heart* Jenny Crusie. Of course I like the Snarky One too, but not in this instance.

Try to boil it down like this: which piece of advice is better for an aspiring writer (of which there are legion):

1) Speak out in public against your publisher, possibly undermining efforts by your agent, spoiling future book deals with current publisher/future publishers, or:

2) Don't speak out in public against your publisher, which may not appease your anger or solve current issues, but will keep disagreements out of the public eye.

SpookyWriter
11-19-2006, 09:33 PM
Try to boil it down like this: which piece of advice is better for an aspiring writer (of which there are legion):

1) Speak out in public against your publisher, possibly undermining efforts by your agent, spoiling future book deals with current publisher/future publishers, or:

2) Don't speak out in public against your publisher, which may not appease your anger or solve current issues, but will keep disagreements out of the public eye.What about option #3?

aadams73
11-19-2006, 09:50 PM
1) Speak out in public against your publisher, possibly undermining efforts by your agent, spoiling future book deals with current publisher/future publishers, or:

2) Don't speak out in public against your publisher, which may not appease your anger or solve current issues, but will keep disagreements out of the public eye.

I think there's a middle ground in there somewhere. I don't think one should shut-up and eat whatever is thrown their way. I wish more authors could be more open about what goes on in the business without fear that an anonymous Miss Snark type (with her own agenda)will go all Polly Pissy Pants. Whether Anne/Krissie did the right or wrong thing is not really my point, but the Snarky One's foaming and spitting anonymous attack was bad and even worse behaviour than what she accused Anne/Krissie of.

You'll have to excuse me, I'm feeling sick and barely coherent today.

Little Red Barn
11-19-2006, 10:00 PM
[without fear that an anonymous Miss Snark type (with her own agenda)will go all Polly Pissy Pants.quote from aadmas73]:roll:

JennaGlatzer
11-20-2006, 03:55 AM
I just split this out from the Miss Snark topic in Office Party.

I have mixed feelings about the issue in general, too, but I'm off to catch up on my reading to see if this specific case sheds any light.

aadams73
11-20-2006, 04:02 AM
Cool, my own thread :D

I believe it was Nora Roberts who recently wrote in blog comments(argh, can't remember which one, it may have been Crusie's) that when she has a problem with her publisher, it stays between her, her agent and her publisher. Pretty wise advice, but as an aspiring writer I still love to hear more about the gritty stuff behind the curtain. Maybe I'm just nosey :)

Cathy C
11-20-2006, 04:17 AM
This is one of the primary reasons I DON'T blog.

Since my background (before starting the writing gig) is all in real estate, law and insurance, I tend to look at it from that angle.

A real estate agent isn't allowed, eithically or legally, to "stigmatize" a piece of property to a buyer in most parts of the U.S. This includes spilling your guts about the house/land in question, such as that it was formerly a crack house when the neighborhood was bad, or a murder/suicide was committed there, etc. If it doesn't affect the structure or the way it is NOW, it shouldn't come up because a person might not buy it, or the value can get trashed.

Same thing with law. We constantly told our clients, "Tell it to the judge, not the newspapers." Slander, libel, defamation of character. Even if the allegations are all true, the lawsuits can still happen and many people only remember the SUIT, not the result.

From the insurance angle comes "lost profits/loss of standing" and those sort of claims were not only hard to estimate (so the estimates were HIGH) but the juries usually awarded something to the person defamed, just because it was possible that a slanderous statement turned the public against them--even if only briefly.

So, what does that mean for the author/publisher relationship? Well, quite simply--how many romance writers can read that statement and decide NOT to submit to the publisher? Writers are, as a group, very prone to taking offense on behalf of their fellows. What happens if they can't fill their list the next year, or sales take a nosedive, all because of one author's complaint? I have no problems with finding fault with a publisher, but I'd never take it to a public forum like these boards or a blog. It's just not worth it to me, as a writer, to have readers think me unprofessional and refuse to buy my books because I can't take care of business in the proper manner--whether or not it's true.

One of the comments on Jennie Crusie's blog was very telling. It was by an editor who took the side of the publisher and realized that if it had been her company being discussed, she would most definitely have taken offense at the statement. It would have changed her from working hard for the author, to only doing the minimum necessary under the contract--without going that extra mile.

:Shrug: It's sort of like baseball strikes to me. It doesn't matter whether the players are right or wrong, they're the ones not showing up on the field to entertain the masses . . . not the management.

I'd rather the people in the stands know that me and management are playing nice together, even if we yell behind closed doors after the game.

JennaGlatzer
11-20-2006, 04:33 AM
OK, I'm caught up! And now I have an opinion! :D

I think Anne Stuart would have been fine had she not mentioned specifics. If I wanted to give an answer like she did just to give aspiring writers some insight, I think I just would have left out the specific names of publishers and commentary about what they could and couldn't sell. So, something like, "I've enjoyed working with each publisher. However, my hopes are always higher than the results... publishing is a business, and in the end, all publishers have treated it as such-- I wish sometimes that it felt more personal..." I don't know. Stuff like that. Then it's not taking aim at any particular person/company that may be working hard for you.

I had a client who seriously shot himself in the foot like this once, insulting a major publisher. Thing is, he was totally right that they were not just not treating him well, but they were actively thwarting his efforts to sell the book. It was bizarre. (The original editor had left, so it was an orphaned book, meaning that it had lost its real champion in the publishing house.) However, his insults and complaints (in public and to higher-ups in the chain) just made things worse. It became a really combative relationship. The agent tried to do damage control, but even he gave up.

There are some specific instances where I'd still speak up and speak out, though-- like if my publisher had changed their contracts to something seedy, or gotten involved with something that I felt I *had* to warn writers about. Of course, I would also assume that my relationship with the publisher was then over.

One of the Snark commenters made a great point, though. (I think it was someone from here, but I don't remember who.) I've heard PublishAmerica people saying that they thought it was crazy for people to speak out against their "publisher" in public. But that's not true at all... PublishAmerica (and similar companies) are not real publishers and have no impact on the real publishing industry. There's no way that other publishers are going to be upset that a writer once spoke out against a scamming vanity press. Many of them speak out against the same thing, if you ask them about it. Totally different situation.

Cav Guy
11-20-2006, 04:36 AM
This is a tough one. On the whole I tend to agree strongly with those who define writers as contractors or sub-contractors, not "regular" employees. It's a nasty world out there, and you can't just kow-tow to "the man" all the time. Publishers (and some agents) seem to forget that without good writers they'd be out of business. Sure we need them, but that need goes both ways.

My little Bolshie rant out of the way, I suspect that this could or should have been handled with a touch more discretion by the author in question. Not being familiar with the romance genre and its ins and outs I'm not sure if there was a good way to do that. Yet another case of blogging getting someone wasted in the workplace (in a sense, at least).

Christine N.
11-20-2006, 05:18 AM
I sort of agree with Miss Snark. Ok, don't trash your publisher in public. Say you're having a disagreement and leave it at that. No need to air the dirty lingerie.

Specific dirt is, IMO, tabloid trashy and unprofessional.

If it comes down to money; let the lawyers tell the story. Trashing your publisher is like trashing your previous boss when you go to get a new job. You wonder what that employee is going to say about YOU when they leave. It's not smart. If I were a publisher, I'd be glad to talk with her about what she didn't like about her previous publisher, but I'd hate to take her on knowing she'd rather talk in her blog than act like the pro she's supposed to be and either a) leave or b) work it out.

Children tattle on each other, not grownups.

Alan Yee
11-20-2006, 06:07 AM
One of the Snark commenters made a great point, though. (I think it was someone from here, but I don't remember who.) I've heard PublishAmerica people saying that they thought it was crazy for people to speak out against their "publisher" in public. But that's not true at all... PublishAmerica (and similar companies) are not real publishers and have no impact on the real publishing industry. There's no way that other publishers are going to be upset that a writer once spoke out against a scamming vanity press. Many of them speak out against the same thing, if you ask them about it. Totally different situation.

I'll echo that. If your "publisher" is a scammer and you haven't signed the dreaded gag clause with a $5,000 fine for each time you say something negative about them even if it's true, please please please speak out against them to other writers while working behind the scenes to get your book back.

The rule only applies to real publishers. If they're a scam, speak out against them as much as possible.

Christine N.
11-20-2006, 06:18 AM
Agreed. Scammers need to be outed in a public way, because they aren't professional and don't need to be treated as such.

Sean D. Schaffer
11-20-2006, 07:52 AM
I guess I shouldn't use a pseudonym any more.

Frankly, I think very low of people who say, "Oh, you're not writing with your REAL NAME, so you don't know anything and are a coward."

I think low of them now, using my pseudonymous name, just like I did when I posted on the 'Net using my real name.


Regardless of the situation at hand, I never thought highly of anyone who does not want to understand why someone chooses the anonymity path. I personally think when it comes to speaking out against a publisher, unless that publisher is a scam like PublishAmerica, it really is not good for a writer's career.

But hey, Ian D. Mecantie is not my real name, so I have no right to comment.


Pfft!

TeddyG
11-20-2006, 09:30 AM
Wow ...posted about this very subject in my blog yesterday Cobwebs Of The Mind (http://teddygross.blogspot.com/) under the title: Think Long And Hard Before...It May Be Your Only Chance (http://teddygross.blogspot.com/2006/11/think-long-and-hard-beforeit-may-be.html)

(just added a link into this thread as well)

Personally, I think they are all right. Anne Stuart, Miss Snark and Jenny Crusie. I just think their advice is meant for those with their own background and possibilities.

New authors who have signed one book contract should, IMHO, be extremely wary of trashing that publisher in public, no matter how right they are.

aruna
11-20-2006, 11:12 AM
My take on this is tempered by the wisdom of hindsight. In the long story of my dealings with a major publisher, I can see my own mistakes as well; the sincere mistakes of a rookie author, not understanding the publishing game, not having a tough enough stance. I do not believe in insulting my ex-publisher, indeed, in insulting anyone at all publicly. But I do think there are serious mistakes being made by the industry, and this effects ALL writers. If these mistakes are kept behind closed doors what hope is there for writers starting out? That is why I have decided to tell the story, but without insults and pointing fingers, and taking the blame where blame is due. At one point in my career, I took a moral stand, believing I was being "true to myself". But I had no platform to stand on, and I fell - hard.
I'm now picking myself up, dusting myself off, but should I keep silent? My first instinct is to say yes. Just write, get back in the business, make some money and shut up.
My second instinct is to talk, and that seems to be winning.

JennaGlatzer
11-20-2006, 11:49 AM
Ooh, I do know at least partly what you're talking about, Sharon, and that adds another layer to this.

Man, I'm just not sure there's a one-size-fits-all response to this question. I once wrote an article for Absolute Write that was a pretty full description of the whole publishing process of my first non-work-for-hire book. I told my editor upfront that I was going to write it, but just fairly recently (years after the fact), the publisher found it and wasn't happy. That was okay because I never intended to work with that publisher again (not because I hated them; just because they're a small niche publisher), but I still wasn't aiming to make anyone mad. I just wanted to tell the truth about the publication process, from the POV of a then-newbie author. I think that's a valuable thing, and we've had other AW columnists who've done the same thing for us (Jon Merz and Karyn Langhorne).

I think there's a fine line to walk between a cone of silence and airing dirty laundry. Somewhere in the middle, there's something valuable... things other writers can learn from.

priceless1
11-20-2006, 11:16 PM
I agree with Jenna. There's a fine line between genuine problems plaguing the industry or a partidcular publisher and airing one's dirty laundry. Even though I sit on the other side of the desk, I'm still a writer and see both sides of this argument.

Obviously, no publisher wants to see their name in less than flattering lights for whatever reason. This happened to us once, and I felt it completely out of line. It was personal, yet the author chose to take it to a public forum. I couldn't help but wonder why. The author didn't effectively communicate any of our correspondence that led to our ultimate decisions, and, thereby risked tainting the public waters against us.

Was that the goal? Or was it done to gain sympathy? To this day, I have no idea, and I don't really care. Either way, there are always two sides of a story, and I felt it was unprofessional and done in a state of emotional angst, which the author later admitted. We were lucky - the relationship ultimately survived, and we've moved on to a far better place with each other. But the airing dirty, personal based laundry was still wrong.

On the other side of the coin, if a publisher isn't providing the services they claim to provide, then writers need to be informed. Telling the truth, no matter how much it stings, is still the truth, and the publisher has the choice to fix the problem or continue on.

As Jenna wisely said, there isn't a one size fits all answer. In the event of going public with something, just be sure that it doesn't backfire on your career.

Dave.C.Robinson
11-21-2006, 04:34 AM
We can argue about how things were said-- but I know I for one agree with the basic principles of don't air the dirty laundry in public; and don't bite the hand that feeds you.

Momento Mori
11-21-2006, 05:48 PM
Reading the interview with Anne Stuart, Miss Snark's Blog and Jenny Crusie's defence, I've got to say that I'm not impressed with any of them.

Nowhere in her interview does Anne Stuart seem to accept any responsibility for her relationship with her publishers. She says she left Avon because she thought she could "do better", she describes Zebra as not knowing what to do with her and she basically joined them for the cash, she says that Signet lost enthusiasm and her current publisher Mira could do more.

The thing is, I'm not seeing what she seems to be doing to help any of those relationships. Nowhere does she say she tried talking to them, going through her author - it all comes across (whether she intended it or not) as being a v. passive relationship where she expects it all to be given to her.

Likewise, whilst I agree with Miss Snark's basic point that you don't diss your publisher, it would be useful (as Jenny Crusie points out) if she could give a few pointers for dealing with a situation where you don't think your publisher is treating you well.

Finally Jenny Crusie's article, whilst a laudable defence of a friend, is ironically as hyperbole in tone as the Miss Snark blog that she's complaining about and the fact that she doesn't seem to offer any solutions of her own is particularly damning. She seems more interested in bashing people who don't blog under their own name than in addressing the serious issues that she raises.

All in all, it's a bit too kids-in-a-kindergarten for me.

batgirl
11-22-2006, 02:26 AM
ooohh, 800 posts - I should be writing.
I read the interview when it was linked on Miss Snark, and I didn't think it was 'bad-mouthing'. There wasn't anything specific mentioned, just a bit of disillusionment.
Can publishers really be as thin-skinned as seems to be suggested? If so, why does Tor put up with Terry Goodkind griping in his interviews about the covers and how his mean publishers tar him with the big nasty FANTASY brush?
I'm guessing that if your books sell well, publishers are pretty tolerant.
-Barbara

Richard White
11-25-2006, 12:37 AM
I just go by a rule I was taught as a young man.

"If you must speak ill against an employer, quit and then damn him to your heart's content. But, if you cash the man's check, then you owe him your loyalty."