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Wicked Pretty Update #4: The Prettying
Let's see if LJ will let me post this.

Yeah, this is still going. Last night, pointed me to Twitter:

@SaundraMitchell: Hey @PublishersWkly since Christopher Navratil is upset the authors didn't contact him how about providing an addy? It's not on their site!

@SaundraMitchell: And nice reportage! Extremely balanced. Why didn't you talk to any of the authors involved? @PublishersWkly

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who got the "Please come back to our anthology" letter from R&P I DIDN'T authorize that quote and my story remains withdrawn!

So I'm sitting here going, "letter with unauthorized quote whaaaaaaat," and then I start getting messages from a few different writers. Some of whom are extremely frustrated at the "double dealings" going on and the way Jessica Verday is being treated. So. Some information has been passed on to me. Like a copy of the contract.

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The source's commentary:

That's Trisha's boilerplate contract. Please note that

1) The only content requirements for the stories are word count requirements.

2) The contract clearly shows her as working as an agent of Constable & Robinson and Running Press.

3) And nowhere on this contract does it show that she is a freelancer, not affiliated with the companies, nor does it give contact information AT the companies.

So basically everything Christopher Navratil said in his press release is a bunch of bullshit. Not only is his timeline wrong, and his allegations unfounded, it's actually pretty impossible for ANY author contracted on these anthologies to know that Trisha doesn't work for them, or whom we might contact if something--like say, an editor tells us to degay a character--goes wrong.

A second author on a different anthology has confirmed that this is exactly the same contract she signed, and with no way to contact the employing publishers. It is, in fact, the standard Telep anthology contract.

(As a side note, a commenter called "Vigs" on the Publisher's Weekly post notes, "Based on my knowledge from the book buyer in the fiction department (I am a buyer in another field) most of the anthologies she edits are commissioned by Constable and Robinson and produced in the UK for Running Press/Perseus to distribute in the US. A few, like the teen ones, were Running's idea and they approached Telep due to her contacts in the industry" [my emphasis]. But clearly, Running Press has no direct association with her.)

(A second side note: while the source points out that there are no thematic content requirements in the contract, Jessica commented that she was told that "the publishers commissioned me for a collection of het YA romances." Which in turn led to Trisha Telep asking her to make one character in a m/m couple female, Jessica refusing, Running Press then revealing that they had never asked for this and Trisha made that call on her own, this is where we came in, etc.)

I'm having to paraphrase here to remove identifying details, but let's go back to the "Please come back to our anthology" letter mentioned in Saundra Mitchell's Twitter posts. That letter, it seems, was sent to every author who withdrew, asking them to come back now that it was (supposedly) all sorted out. The authors were even encouraged to look at the Navratil piece in Publisher's Weekly, the one that we discussed yesterday. (Which did not go over well, even in public comments I saw from writers.) While Liz Miles actually put out a call for LGBTQ stories, I have now been told that Jessica Verday is not the only author who has been asked [clarification: by Telep] to "degay a character." According to the writer I talked to, the authors themselves have not only declined to return to the anthology, they are also extremely ticked off at the shadiness. Also, the source in particular here is Not Happy that Publisher's Weekly gave Running Press a soapbox on which to misrepresent what she knows to have happened and present Jessica Verday as a troublemaker.

I also heard from Saundra, who (to elaborate on the third tweet above) says that she asked Running Press to remove a quote from her from their "Please come back" letter--a quote which misrepresented her feelings on the subject--or quote everything she said, which was pretty much the opposite of "I would love to work with Trisha Telep again." They have not done either, and are still using her words out of context. (Update: There's been an apology. See ETA below.)

I have heard rumblings from other angry authors, but I'm not sure what they'll be willing to make public. I'm not saying I know things I won't tell you; I'm saying, there are "You have no idea" statements all over the place.

I said this in a comment on Dreamwidth yesterday, but (I thought at the time) all that had to be said was, "We have worked with Trisha long enough that we find her apology to be acceptable, and we will continue our LGBT inclusiveness policy in the future. We hope that writers will continue to appear in our anthologies to help us achieve this goal." You could disagree as to whether you found this acceptable at that point, but at least it would be gracious and productive. I do not understand why all this behind-the-scenes shadiness is happening. Running Press is publishing some inclusive anthologies. There was absolutely no need to go to Publisher's Weekly and throw Jessica under the bus. I'm sorry, but--no, Christopher Navratil did not say, "Jessica Verday lied." He said everything but, and he wanted the anthology writers to see that he said it. (Not as a threat, I don't think. Possibly to guilt them into coming back, or in the hopes that they would believe it, apparently forgetting that he implied they were stupid enough to believe "accusations" without doing their own due diligence.) Apparently I'm not the only person who read it that way, and if people in the industry read it that way, that's damaging to her. If nothing else, it is an inaccurate attempt to shift blame. What is going on here?

The most charitable explanation I can come up with is that it's about (surprise) money. Multiple people have said--you can look at previous comments on these LJ entries--that Telep's "Mammoth Book of [Genre]" anthologies, and others, sell tons of copies and make tons of money. She apparently has 21 anthologies already out and five more on the way. What a lot of people who aren't in publishing don't seem to have realized is that Telep, the editor, is the "author" of the anthologies and the one who receives the royalties; the included authors get a $250 flat fee. (The exception, as noted in the contract, is that authors will get some royalties from any translations of the anthology. This was not a secret; everyone seems to be fine with this.) Both the publisher and the editor, therefore, are getting a lot of money from very good sales that they are not having to share with the authors. Now it seems that a number of writers no longer want to work with Telep, whose beliefs do not mesh with theirs (no matter what Running Press's beliefs are), both because of what she asked Jessica to do with her story (three times) and perhaps because of other experiences. I say this based on the fact that we have at least two writers now who have been asked to "degay" a character. I don't have any other public examples--if you have any, please tell me--but it would explain why these writers, who have all compared notes, might be so vehemently against working with her again.

So my speculation is that Running Press does not want to cancel an anthology that will make a lot of money--hence the "please come back" letter. They do not want to stop working with Telep, whose anthologies, again, make a lot of money. So our--the observers'--two solutions, "Cancel this anthology" and/or "Get another editor and don't work with Trisha Telep again" are not viable options, as far as Running Press is concerned. So what we are seeing, I guess, is what happens when one side says, "No, we won't work with her," and the other side says, "But we won't not work with her," and one side says, "Then we won't be in your book," and the other side says, "But this book cannot be canceled."

I don't know. That is really the most sense I can make out of the information we have at this point. If there is more information to be had, regardless of whose favor it's in, as always, I will be happy to add it.  

Just as I was about to hit post: Kaiden Blake talks about why this is important in the first place, plus a story from one of his fans.

ETA: Saundra says, "I am pleased to say that they have retracted my quote from their letter and offered a wholehearted apology, which I have accepted. On that front, at least, I feel that they've behaved admirably and I thank them for that."

I'm in the middle of situation-in-progress emails so I don't have anything solid yet, but things may be headed for a turnaround. More when I find out.

ETA: @francescablock: "f it no more pretty wicked things for me. i'm withdrawing."

ETA: With thanks to : Seanan McGuire's explanation on 3/28 as to why she pulled her story.

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So... they're going to publish a thirteen story collection with a six stories in it?

My understanding is that there is a lot of talking going on behind the scenes, and a surprising number of apologies are happening, and that some progress may be made. I don't know how it's going to turn out, though. There should still be fallout from the Publisher's Weekly "article," damn.

Thank you for keeping us updated on this whole mess. I posted a summary on my LJ but it was basically a whole bunch of "This is what I understand is happening but cleolinda says it better here..."

I did like my quote "She explained this on her blog, because this is the Century of the Fruitbat and this is how people do things nowadays" though

(Deleted comment)
Like the engine on the front is derailed and burning, but the engine in the back is still chugging away? And it's one of those long trains that keep you at the crossing for five minutes or more? And then there's a second train that runs into the crash from the other direction?

The agents must be downing whole bottles by now. In the long run all these what not to do lessons in public view will be good for the industry.

Thanks for making things clearer! The passive aggressive 'article' puzzled me but I suppose that Navratil stood to lose a lot and took the easy, somewhat silly decision to handwave it away...

Your posts rather remind me of old f_w reports. ;P

These are not the droids you're looking for?

The only problem with jedi mind tricks is that you have to be a jedi in order for them to work. Not sure Navratil got that memo.

My God...it's like a snowball of...dumb! >:(

Snowball of stupid, please. We don't really need to add ableist language to the mix, do we? =/


Just, REALLY???!!!

Just a thought: In those "please come back" letters, was there one sent to Verday, and did they suggest she can write the m/m story instead of the f/m story?

Not that I think this will solve everything, I'm just wondering if that occurred to them at all.

Oh, they actually did that (sort of) early on, while simultaneously saying they backed Tricia Telep 100%. Which was round about when other authors started pulling out.

Ya know, I had just been thinking that I would like to see Running Press and Tricia Telep go public (as in, greater than blog responses, to a wider audience) with an apology. Unfortunately, this wasn't it. Glad to see some measured intelligent responses pointing out the actual issues.

I am amazed by the thought that if you'd replaced the names of actual people in this with internet handles, this story could have come straight off fandom_wank.

Kind of depressing to know stupidity doesn't stop at the fandom door.

Like I commented earlier this week, thanks again for keeping us updated on the ridiculousity (word?) that is this debacle. If I was one of the authors involved, either previously or still, I couldn't run away faster from this mess. The PubWkly article yesterday was the last straw for me as a reader in trying to be sympathetic to the publisher's sides of things. This is a public relations and author relations FAIL of epic proportions for Running Press/C&R. :(

And it's right about now where my eyes start crossing from overload.

If it's not any bother, could someone SparkNotes the progress of this whole situation? I'm afraid I got lost right around 'Yeah, this is still going.'

Corret me if I'm wrong...

So, the authors get paid a flat fee on publication, yes? And since the publisher is not going to yank the anthology those who choose to have their stories in the book will still get paid the original agreed upon amount upon publication, right?

What to do as a reader, (IMO), is to read the book (support your local library!) and then buy a different book by the authors whose stories you like where they'll get the proceeds. This way you can boycott, if you want to, Telep and/or Running Press without harming the authors' reputations/ monetary gain/ hype/ whatever.

Re: Corret me if I'm wrong...

I noticed that this contract doesn't seem to have a mechanism for withdrawing the story. Usually if you break a contract I'm pretty sure you have to return the advance, which is what I would expect here.

Nothing's coming up for me?

Thanks for keeping us up to date on this. It's good, if you're someone with distant dreams of being published, to see this; I think it gives an idea of what sort of behavior to look out for with publishers you might work with. I think that before this I probably would have been naive enough to assume that a decent editor or publisher these days wouldn't demand that sort of thing, and moreover that anything an editor told me like that would have gone through the publisher first.

I'm still steaming about the reference to the Rutger's incident, though. There is no way anything involving publishing will ever be comparable to suicide, and especially not something like this. Especially given the circumstances of the incident, it makes it hard to believe their LGBTQ-friendly front. I mean, if they cared about what happened to that man in any way other than as a way to make themselves look good, they'd probably be dishing out apologies left and right.

The PW thing, to me, looks a little like they're trying to "win" authors back, but more like they're trying to gain sympathy from potential future contributors who might get wind of this incident. Dug themselves into a hole with that one, though, didn't they?