Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones

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who got the "Please come back to our anthology" letter from R&P I DIDN'T authorize that quote and my story remains withdrawn!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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Tags: appropriate responses to bad situations, books, down with this sort of thing, publishing, shenanigans

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