Occupation: Girl

Please close the door and switch on the fun without fail.

I would be less inclined to stick with the publisher, even with a different editor, after that article. I'd hate to be the next author who stood up for something and got thrown under the bus in a thoroughly inaccurate representation of what happened and why. It's like they just dug themselves deeper.

I'm baffled. My instinct had been to feel quite sympathetic towards the publishers, and I wouldn't even have blamed them for sticking with Trisha Telep in the light of her second apology, which struck me as sincere enough, though I'd have liked to hear further assurances that she had been spoken to about it and neither she or anyone else at RP would be doing anything like that again.

But this -- just-- what are they doing? And it's so unforced. I can think of all kinds of things they could have said that would have been better, but if they couldn't manage any of them, then why say anything?

Great. First the whole "Beer Enema" incident and now this. I'm losing faith in humanity right now. :(

Seriously, "Galadriel smash" doesn't even begin to cover it. :/

Beer Enema

Do I want to know?

Dear Publisher's Weekly:

Please run this press release I have written wherein I publicly set ablaze all goodwill and forbearance shown toward my company over this ridiculous mess caused by one of my easily-replaceable freelance editors. If you could make it seem as if it's some sort of legit article at the same time, that'd be rad.

I would like to make it very clear to everyone who does know what's going on that I have grabbed hold of the wrong end of the stick as I proceed to flail around with it, and your assistance is much appreciated in this endeavor.

Christopher Navratil
Running Press

Oh, I wasn't using it anyway, not for anything important...

...so here, have one shiny Internets.

I'm just.

I'm literally staring at all of this, re-reading it, and trying desperately to WILL it to make sense.

I'll let you guys know if I have any headway.

*jaw drops*

So, let's see. Are we arguing that Jessica Verday streamed videos of Running Press being homophobic on the internet without their consent and now they're committing suicide? Because that's the only situation I could see that analogy being acceptable in, Running Press.

Yep. And there's the whole disgusting conflation between calling out bigotry/harassing a gay kid to death. Because these things are ~exactly the same~ you know...

I might, perhaps, be giving into unwarranted cynicism here...but I do wonder if 'the controversy was dying down' part might be linked to the sudden appearance of this article. Everything about the thing, the tone, the word choice, seems *specifically designed* to stir up all the same arguments and all the same links and all the same ATTENTION again. I bet RP's hit count shot up by two or three hundred precent when this first started setting the blogosphere and Twitter ablaze. The moment that hit counter started sliding down again, this inflammatory, pointless article appears. Hmmm...

What good would it do them, though? They don't make their money from page hits; they get it from book sales. All they'll have managed with this is alienating even more YA authors who might otherwise have been willing to work with them.

I've been reading some twitter responses to this, thinking about my own, and I think I can summarize why I have a problem with Navratil's statement.

When you are a business that has been embroiled in a PR scandal by being implicated in an immoral practice, there's a right way to respond and a wrong way to respond.

"Fuck you, I didn't do anything wrong," is the wrong way to respond, even if you did not, in fact, do anything wrong. It doesn't matter how personally outraged Navratil feels by what he perceives as slurs on his character. I imagine that being accused of running a homophobic business when you've tried your best to foster a LGBTQ-friendly business ethic feels like a slap in the face. But if you can't put your own defensiveness aside and answer as a business, then hire a PR agent to handle your press releases.

It's not about hurt feelings, it's about regaining the trust of your customers and future business partners (authors) - you swallow your pride and do damage control.

After weeks of silence, if you choose to open your mouth, you need to soothe ruffled feathers. A statement that blames Verday (and in rereading it, I am firmly secure in my opinion that it blames Verday) only serves to alienate everyone who needed to be reassured.

This may have felt cathartic to Navratil, but it was bad business. Personally, I wouldn't want to publish with Running Press because, regardless of what Navratil is like as a person, I don't have confidence in him as a businessman.

This, yes, here. Of all the ways that Navratil could have responded to the situation, this is pretty much the second worst. The worst would have been along the lines of "Everybody who said anything bad about us is a bunch of [expletive deleted]s, they will never work in this business again, I have the blood of a tiger."

I know authors are always desperate for publication, but even so--hearing about Navratil's response, specifically, of everything else involved in this situation, is the one thing that would make me, were I writing YA stories, avoid Running Press.

I'm a little confused by the rage. When this publisher talks about a "misunderstanding," he's clearly referring to Telep's misunderstanding of Running Press's policies. The article does everything it can to publicly distance Running Press from Tricia Telep, explaining that they didn't even hire her. This guy's objecting to the fact that his press got blamed for this, which the first version of the author's post - pre-edit - certainly led to. You didn't blame them, cleolinda, but others clearly did, even in comments on your site. So is this article really such a lie-fest?

I agree with you. I think that Running Press wasn't formally accused by Jessica to be intolerant, but the original "Gay is Okay" post put the spotlight on the publishers and not Telep. If I hadn't been following the story here, I wouldn't have even realized that Telep was who Jessica had problems with. Jessica's original post implied that Running Press was running the show and this was flatly contradicted in Navratil's statement. Aside from that, if C&R continues to work with Telep, it looks like Running Press has no choice but to do the same (or to cut off relationship with C&R altogether), seeing as C&R was the originating publisher on these projects (as Navratil stated).

I don't think that it's fair to accuse Jessica of cyberbullying. But I do think that Running Press is justified in its frustration. They have an indirect relationship with Telep via their UK mirror publishing company. And now, even if this wasn't Jessica's original intention, people are threatening Running Press with boycotts and withdrawals because of Telep's mistake. I definitely don't agree with that, and while Navratil may not have articulated his frustrations accurately, I don't blame him for wanting to do so.

Did you see this tweet from Saundra?

For any author who got the "Please come back to our anthology" Ietter from R&P I DIDN'T authorize that quote and my story remains withdrawn!"

Any clue what that was about?

It always give me the willies to see Tyler Clementi mentioned, since I go to Rutgers :( The bullshit spouted off here (the president of Running Press--who mentions that he is openly gay himself--just compared writers standing up for their pro-LGBTQ beliefs to cyberbullying that caused suicide) burns me the fuck up.

Well, this is certainly 'wicked' effed up. I think what I find most particularly distasteful about what Navratil wrote is the way he poses as the victim. The title to that statement alone offends me in the way it lies about what happened. This isn't cyberbullying, this is a writer informing other writers about institutionalized bigotry. I'm even more disgusted than I was when I read about the initial situation earlier.

Either Running Press's publicity department is staffed by crazy people or they're currently banging their heads against walls and trying to work out how on earth to get out of this mess. It's as though somebody saw a fire and decided to reach for the bucket of petrol instead of water in order to put it out.

What with this and the Crazy Self-Publishing Lady Who Only Wants Perfect Reviews, the internets are awash with prime examples of how not to deal with situations in the publishing & writing world.

Navratil spends a lot of effort distancing himself/Running Press from Telep. He comes across all "OMG, we have no idea who she is and she's nothing to do with us and I've never met her she's just some chick who answered our Craigslist post and started taking in submissions or something, I dunno," but hasn't Telep done a bunch of anthologies for RP? And they still don't have a clue who she is and she, clearly, doesn't know who THEY are because despite all the work she's done for them she still thought they'd find a m/m relationship objectionable.

I think this whole thing is really a study in communication. RP made assumptions about Telep who in turn made assumptions about RP and neither of them actually bothered to confirm, deny or clarify those assumptions. Verday assumed that RP would find her story acceptable and took Telep at her word when she said that RP wouldn't allow non-het stories in the anthology. That, at least, was later clarified by Telep, but the damage train had already begun to roll and it was not in any way helped by Telep's initially flippant reaction or by RP's initial support of Telep's actions.

Telep did manage to get a "real" apology out there, but instead of posting it somewhere obvious left it buried in the comments section under a generic Constable & Robinson account instead of under her own name. Maybe it was because she was putting on her official C&R hat, but it was not, I think, the right decision to make and was also done in the wrong place. The situation was already snowballing and I think at least part of the avalanche could have been avoided if Telep had either made a more visible apology or if she'd sent the letter directly to Verday and trusted her to inform the masses. Or both. When in doubt, cover your bases.

Navratil only compounded all the mistakes that had gone before by either trusting what he'd been told instead of checking the original sources themselves or by flat-out misrepresenting the facts. Facts that anyone with internet access could easily check. He practically bends over backwards in the effort to disassociate from Telep but also blames Verday for all his current woes when better lines of communication could have prevented this whole sorry mess from happening. He tries to act as if Telep is some random person off the street who sends them stuff and they publish it. Well, did it occur to him that this may be part of the problem? I'm not saying Navratil has to personally know every editor under the Running Press umbrella, but someone at the company should be in touch with Telep and that someone should be able to give her a good idea of what RP will and won't accept in their manuscripts so that she won't have to make assumptions based on what she thinks she knows about them.

I may be arguing in circles, now. I think I need more caffeine. My point is, I think, that despite the hugely interconnected world we live in there seem to be a hell of a lot of breakdowns in basic communication.

"Verday assumed that RP would find her story acceptable and took Telep at her word when she said that RP wouldn't allow non-het stories in the anthology."

Actually, I took her at her word when she told me THREE times that the publishers wouldn't accept a m/m story. Then, when that changed, quite frankly, I didn't buy it.

Oh, this is so the opposite of okay. This whole thing leaves a sour taste in my mouth. Also, I don't see how you could read Navratil's article and find it at all reasonable. He definitely misrepresents Verday's responses, and I think the other author's responses are reasonable as well. I just don't understand why Telep is so important that they are standing behind her in such an idiotic way.

Also, are we sure that that "serious apology" comment is actually from Trisha Telep? Because it seems oddly soulless- like it's been copied and pasted by someone. Also, the fact that it is buried in the comments of Verday's article rather than posted by Telep on her blog, twitter, or a press release seems to indicate that it might not be real.

I thought that about the apology as well. I can hope we're being overly cynical, but... :/

Aaand the comments on the article have gone down the toilet, with a "well you're bigots for saying people who are 'against the gay lifestyle' are bigots! Tolerance is a two-way street!"

happy happy. joy joy.

Let me repeat that: the president of Running Press--who mentions that he is openly gay himself--just compared writers standing up for their pro-LGBTQ beliefs to cyberbullying that caused suicide.

What an asshat. Seriously, fuck this guy right in the ear. I can't stand when people denigrate real instances of violence by co-opting the same language for lesser social offenses (or, as this case, no offense at all). Protip: GETTING CALLED ON HAVING A BIGOT ON STAFF IS NOT THE SAME AS BEING BULLIED TO DEATH.

Seriously, what is RP even thinking? I'm baffled about why they're even doing this anthology at this point. It'd be one thing if the publisher had told everybody from the beginning one way or another, or specified gender pairing preferences, because at least then everybody'd be on the same page. They said they wanted it a little romantic, so I can almost sorta see the anthology being aimed at a specific orientation; I don't get into m/m romance myself, and I don't buy m/m romantic books/stories/magazines/whatever; insert obligatory disclaimers that being gay is fine, just not what floats my romantic boat as a consumer. I can almost see where Telep might have been operating from. But by not specifying just what they wanted--and more specifically not making the anthology genre romance, RP left themselves open to any interpretation on the theme suggested. They got what they asked for, and got it from an extremely talented writer. Then Telep decided to alter the deal. And then RP decided to be weird about it and make things even more murky.

At this point we are well past Clusterfuck Junction and pulling into Jesus Christ WTF Man City. I'm not marketing any fiction at present, but I don't think RP will be on my list when I query my completed project. They sound pretty nuts at this point.

This entire situation is a huge mess. I posted a blog about this (http://kaidenblake.blogspot.com/2011/04/wicked-side-of-pretty-things.html) and one of my fans has independently posted part of her own heartbreaking story (http://bit.ly/ii2pBg). Like I state on the blog, the issue at heart will not clear up as quickly as this specific situation; those who stand up for what is right, however, will contribute to making more situations like these appear less frequently. We can only hope.

Thank you for doing your job covering all of this and supporting some wonderfully goodhearted people and an important social issue.

Oh, wow. I'm about to post a new entry that's got even more about the whole thing in it--I'll add the link. Thank you.

(Should I link to the fan's story? I try to be careful about linking to people who might not be prepared for strangers to show up.)

This is my first time posting here although I've been following this blog diligently for a while now I just thought it was time I introduced myself and stopped being the creepy lurker *waves shyly*. I don’t quite know what the proper etiquette is… do I need an invitation to participate in the discussion? Can I just dive right in or, by doing so, am I committing some unforgivable offence that will condemn me forever? In case you didn’t get it, I’m new at this. Please don’t smite me.

Well, if LJ can stop getting haxxored long enough for me to reply--

do I need an invitation to participate in the discussion?

Of course not! People drop in all the time and start commenting, and I usually have no clue who they are. It's a livejournal, but I tend to think of it as just a public blog that's out there for discussion. People are completely free to lurk (which is what I do most places I go) or comment as they please, no introductions required. :)

Another lurker dropping in.

The thing that I find most despicably underhanded in this fauxpology--well, one of the things, but other people have hit those points--is this line: "A news item suddenly creates an opportunity, or a celebrity meltdown jeopardizes a planned book."

First of all, gee, to whom could you be referring, Christopher Navratil? I'm sure I can't read between the lines of your incredible subtlety.

Second of all, a celebrity meltdown jeopardizes a planned book? That's really how you're characterizing it? Really? Good god.

Ohhh, but he might be just generally referring to celebrity meltdowns jeopardizing planned books! Sorry, no. Even if he is, or will protest to be if anyone calls him on it, putting that line in given the context of this is tarring Jessica Verday with that brush. Which on top of the "oh and then she ran to her blog and whined about how we're oppressive censoring meanies! I'm the victim! I'm the victim!" retelling of this story puts me over the edge.

Well, this is certainly turning out to be rollicking good fun.

That is some first class stupid, Running Press.

Francesca Lia Block is pulling out of the anthology.


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