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Monday Midday Links: More on the DOJ suit, Cover Testing, Fake...

“What this [lawsuit] basically says is, any form of colluding to protect the producers, or primary sellers, is illegal. And given how poorly we regulate intermediaries, this is a landmark event,” says Clemons. “Given that you aren’t allowed to collude to protect yourself — because that is traditional restraint of trade — and given that we have very limited regulations to control the intermediaries, this is going to put enormous pressure both on traditional intermediaries and on traditional producers, or primary sellers.” ” Law.Com

“What every author wants from a review of this type is that one line they can quote. I would’ve been happy with something like, “Down at the Golden Coin is a fast and witty read that could have been so much better without Strickland’s ham-fisted dialogue.” Because of course I would quote only the first part of the sentence! But reading the PW reviews in the supplement, every one of them is suspiciously crafted so as to not string together a single sentence like the above. There’s basically no way to get a useable blurb from any of the reviews, even when they do say very positive things. It reeks of sneaky, if you ask me.” Chicago Now

“In an age where women are dominating – in the workplace, at school, at home – why are they seeking to be dominated in their love lives? Recent media portrayals have shown that a rising number of modern women fantasize about being overpowered, while studies are turning out statistics that bewilder feminists. New shows like HBO’s Girls and books like Fifty Shades of Grey are showcasing the often hidden desire for powerlessness. But why? Katie Roiphe examines the submissive yet empowered female in Newsweek. “It is perhaps inconvenient for feminism that the erotic imagination does not submit to politics, or even changing demographics,” she writes.”

[If] you suffer from a chocolate allergy, you might assume that the cocoa bean is the culprit. An ABC News report, however, points to a different allergen not listed on labels: cockroaches! The FDA deems certain levels of contaminants in foods to be safe, and as many as 60 insect parts per 100 grams of chocolate could be present without being rejected by the administration. This contamination is pervasive across all chocolate brands, as getting rid of them would likely require heavier pesticide use.


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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She self publishes NA and contemporaries (and publishes with Berkley and Montlake) and spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com


  1. Linda Hilton
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 10:21:11

    Re the “paid” reviews in PW — FWIW, the author of the quoted blog did not pay for a PW review and the quote does not refer to a review of her book.

    It’s more like she’s complaining that a program set up by PW to list and then maybe review — if they “merit” a review — self-published books appears to have been used not to promote the best but to slam with as much snark as possible the worst of the self-published.

    There are enough really lousy writers out there actually buying fake reviews but Ms. Strickland doesn’t appear to be one of them.

  2. Darlynne
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 11:19:02

    I suppose we could view the addition, unintentional, I hope, of cockroaches to chocolate as a little more protein in our diets.

    Frankly, I find that less indigestible than everyone crying “foul” at the DOJ’s efforts to NOT let publishers and retailers artificially level the playing field. I thought we Americans were all about competition and letting market forces do their work. Oh, wait, that’s only true when the right kinds of people/companies are winning, so now protectionism is the word of the day.

    I keep thinking about Stephen Boyd in the chariot race in Ben Hur: he could have competed fairly, however difficult, against Charlton Heston, but chose to cheat to make sure he’d win. Publishers, remember, those barbed wheels? Things didn’t end well for Stephen Boyd.

  3. Wyndes
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 11:29:35

    @Linda Hilton:

    The author’s not even self-published. She says that she considered it, but that her novel was picked up by Eckhartz Press. She read the reviews to see what books had more “merit” than her own (which didn’t get a review), only to conclude that PW wasn’t looking for merit.

  4. Kim
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 11:38:43

    @Jane: All of Jennifer Ashley books, except Pirate Next Door and the boxed set, at BN are for used paperbacks, not ebooks.

  5. Jane
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 11:40:15

    @Kim: Weird, they showed up on the nook search. I’ll delete. Thanks.

  6. Amber Lin
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 11:41:53

    I didn’t love the old Bro Magnet cover, but I like it better than the new ones. Maybe I am just used to it, but that counts for something too. Beautiful Disaster will always be the weird tongue to me, not the firefly jar, even though technically I like the second one better. I might prefer a contest where people could submit stuff? I know that has implications of its own (spec work being bad, etc) but hey, this book deserves a great cover!

  7. srpaulsen
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 12:34:37

    Hi Jane:
    Thanks for your interesting site. I feel compelled to point out some inaccuracies though: as others have said, if you really read the post by City Mom you’ll find that:
    a. she paid for a listing of her book in some of PW’s materials. The review is something that PW chooses to based on standards of their own, etc. They select books from the listings in their materials, but authors do NOT pay to receive a review, that’s just a bonus that they may or may not be selected for.
    b. City Mom considered self-publishing but did not, she was picked up by Eckhartz.
    c. Whether you respect self-publishing or not, it is increasing, and increasingly well-received by readers if not traditional publishing. It might behoove you to restrain the snarky language (“self-published author wanks on about how her purchased review…”), particularly when you’ve got your facts wrong. It just sounds petty, and it will lose you readers.

    Now, as for City Mom’s original post: with no supporting evidence regarding what percentage of traditionally published books PW reviews and how many of those reviews are positive and/or contain a “quotable” sentence, her comments cannot hold any water and are simply her personal opinion, based on…not much. She was venting, it was silly. You were both misguided.

  8. willaful
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 12:36:41

    Random thoughts:

    — I agree with Amber. Those new covers are dreadful.

    — I’m guessing the people who work at PW grew up reading MAD magazine.

    — I don’t think Roiphe is removing shame from discussing women’s fantasies, rather piling it on.

  9. CK
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 12:53:39

    I didn’t like the original cover for The Bro-Magnet and I have to say the new covers aren’t that much better. They still wouldn’t entice me to read it.

    As for the 50 Shades and “showcasing the often hidden desire for powerlessness”… I admit to not reading a lot of BDSM and maybe what I’ve read is ‘wrong’ (so feel free to correct me), but I’ve always thought that in a true, healthy D/s relationship, the sub has the ultimate power to stop anything and everything at any time. Everything else is window dressing or whipped cream because the sub has the ultimate control to end things. How is that powerlessness? Or am I completely wrong about BDSM?

  10. diremommy
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 13:59:18

    CK, I was going to point out the same thing. I’m not a BDSM expert, by any means, and it’s not my favorite sub-genre, but everything I have ever read has said that in a true D/s relationship, the sub has all the power. The sub is the one that can say “too much” and call a stop at any time. Nothing is done to the sub that the sub doesn’t agree to.

    And yes, there is nothing wrong with a woman who works hard all day, has to step up and be in control all day, wanting a man to take charge at the end of the day. It doesn’t even have to necessarily be in a D/s type thing, but just the man taking charge and taking care of the woman, letting her just…let go.

  11. Jane
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 14:01:41

    @srpaulsen: The author is lamenting that she can’t pull out words to create a disingenuous quote for her work, making it seem like PW is endorsing her work when it does not. This is exactly the type of thing that DA readers want to know.

    City Mom’s title of her article references self publishing. Her lede is this:

    Yet, when they found a way to capitalize on the self-publishing craze, I can’t help but think the poison at the end of their pen in the predominantly negative reviews has more to do with self-preservation than any real interest in fostering a relationship with the self-publishing industry.

  12. Shiloh Walker
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 14:12:30

    I think PW makes a habit of snarky reviews anyway… it’s like they give and take away in the same breath, if that makes sense.

    I’m not reading another damn thing that relates to … GASP… womenz enjoy sex and some of them even like it kinky.

    Also. Jane. I hate you. Cockroaches and chocolate. I hate you. I’m going away now.

  13. Moriah Jovan
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 14:15:15

    The old cover of Bro-Magnet is adequate. The new ones are all terrible.

  14. Cara
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 15:29:04

    Heh, CK – I just read a Violet Summers book where the uber-alpha-dom-male even said outright to his sub at the end, “don’t you realize, hon? *you* are the one with all the power in this relationship…” (paraphrased, of course)

    I’m like a broken record, I know, but this is ultimately what makes me rage about the whole 50 shades craze – the gross inaccuracies that are going to be taken as “standard” when it comes down to BDSM and erotica as a whole, all because *that* is what managed to hit the mainstream. UGH.

  15. Cara
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 15:31:24

    Also wanted to add, I wonder if The Knight Agency is also responsible for those godawful covers on Nalini Singh’s Psy Changeling series, since she is a client of theirs. If so, maybe someone should just take away their cover-art privileges.

  16. Lou
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 15:47:07

    @Cara: This! I cannot figure out why Nalini Singh gets such awful covers for her Psy Changeling series. The cover for Tangle of Need is hideous. The series deserves much better covers.

    For the Bro-Magnet covers…oye. The original is miles better — and I wasn’t a fan of the original.

  17. Liz Mc2
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 15:51:57

    Katie Roiphe’s piece is widely and correctly described as “link bait.” There are a lot of good responses from feminists popping up–though of course Roiphe, being in Newsweek, will get more views. Their main point seems to be that a) a popular book and episode of a new TV show are hardly evidence of an “increase” in such fantasies; and b) even if submissive fantasies are increasing, that likely isn’t a backlash against feminism but a sign that as women gain more equality in the workplace and in relationships, they are more comfortable experimenting sexually and expressing their desires. I tend to agree. (Plus, people I know who read and *liked* 50 Shades see it as much more about negotiating a relationship, sexual and otherwise, than about submission. I’d file this one under more dumb commentary by someone who hasn’t read the book).

  18. Lada
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 15:53:33

    @Cara: I totally second this! Except…wouldn’t Berkley ultimately be responsible for Singh’s cover art? I’m guessing The Bro Magnet is published directly through Knight & give them credit for at least trying to repackage.

  19. MaryK
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 16:06:08

    Oh, how suspiciously sneaky. And reeky. LOL

    YUCK(!) on the chocolate thing.

    Self-publishing is increasingly well-received by readers? Do tell!

    @Darlynne: A lot of people seem to think that artificially leveling the playing field is competition.

  20. MaryK
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 16:08:13

    *I take comfort in the fact that though I’m allergic to cockroaches (and dust) I’m not allergic to chocolate.

  21. Loosheesh
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 17:09:46

    Big “eww” on the chocolate thing! I was at the hair salon this morning and saw a huge cockroach so the image is fresh in my head … once again, “eww”!

  22. Cara
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 17:17:47

    @Lada: I honestly don’t know who exactly answers for Singh’s cover art. But, y’know, just in case Knight has anything to do with that, too… ;)

  23. Sunita
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 18:00:33

    I honestly do not understand why anyone pays attention to anything Katie Roiphe says. At her best she’s mediocre, at her worst she’s appallingly bad. And yet, she eats up valuable verbal real estate on a regular basis. I understand that places like Slate find her useful for shit-stirring, but why on earth does it work?

  24. SBMary
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 18:20:59

    @Kim: Kim-That’s weird because they show up as Nook books on my computer unless I am reading it wrong

  25. Wahoo Suze
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 18:44:35

    I heard that chocolate cockroach thing about 15 years ago, and it didn’t turn me off chocolate in any way. What did was 1. losing my taste for cheap sweetness (if I’m going to ingest that many empty calories, I want them to be HIGHLY pleasurable, so now I only eat Callibeaut or Black & Green chocolate) and 2. finding out about all the child/slave labour involved in the chocolate growing industry.

  26. eggs
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 20:31:38

    srpaulsen said: “It might behoove you to restrain the snarky language (“self-published author wanks on about how her purchased review…”), particularly when you’ve got your facts wrong. It just sounds petty, and it will lose you readers.”

    Yeah, Jane. This blog SUCKS!! Heh heh heh. Heh heh heh.

    Sorry. I can’t help but think of Beavis & Butt-head, hunched over their computer preemptively powning all the “snarky” review blogs before their self-published romance comes out on Amazon. “We’ll never get a bad review now! Heh heh heh. Heh heh heh.” Sorry. Stopping now …

  27. CK
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 21:42:08

    @eggs: I thought the formal way of addressing Jane when you disagree with her was … Jane, you ignorant slut! ;)

  28. Jane
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 21:48:20

    @CK: It is. Definitely. I can’t take anyone seriously without the right prefatory address.

  29. Linda Hilton
    Apr 16, 2012 @ 22:05:33

    @Sunita: Katie who?

  30. Jill Sorenson
    Apr 17, 2012 @ 10:38:19

    I hate the new Bro-Magnet covers. The original is FINE.

    I’m annoyed every time I read the phrase “the sub has all the power.” I can’t stand it! I wish someone would explain this to me with a longer post. IMO the D/s relationship features a negotiation of power, and the turn-on for a submissive is in ceding control. How can you have it both ways? Sure, she/he can say no or use a safeword, but the entire point of a submission fantasy revolves around a certain level of powerlessness and letting go.

  31. Cara
    Apr 17, 2012 @ 11:09:59

    @Jill Sorenson:

    Maybe think of it in terms of both parties. After all, the Dom is receiving their pleasure from the sub’s apparent powerlessness. It is hard to explain. The way I think of it is that it’s kind of like giving fellatio. It can seem like the giver is in a ‘weaker’ position, but really, giving head is a super-powerful thing?

    The sub’s pleasure is what drives the Dom, even if that pleasure appears to be out of their control. It’s what gives the Dom their job, and without it, there’s nothing. Idunno, it’s hard to explain, that’s for sure, and I’m no expert. I just think about it and fantasize a lot ;)

    We definitely need some more experienced BDSM voices to chime in, here, however!

  32. Jenny Lyn
    Apr 17, 2012 @ 12:04:47

    My cat likes to lay on her back with her legs splayed wide apart. We call it her “whore pose”. Turns out it’s very Odalisque-y. Thanks for tacking on the laugh there at the end, Jane.

  33. Kaetrin
    Apr 17, 2012 @ 20:42:23

    @Jill Sorenson: I’d like that post too Jill!

  34. Angela
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 07:09:52

    @Jill Sorenson: I think saying the sub has “all” the power is a bit misleading. I do think the sub has the ultimate power – in that it can be stopped. But that’s not all power by any means, and the sub is making one choice to not make any other choices, submitting themselves to someone else’s control.

    But the sub is also making that decision, and the ability to call a stop to everything is pretty damn powerful in a Dom/sub relationship. I think that the ‘sub has all the power’ comes from that dichotomy. They aren’t in control of the details through their submission, but they are in control of the overall picture with that one simple word.

    I’m not sure if I’m making sense. You’ve made me think about this a lot last night and this morning.

  35. Jill Sorenson
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 08:27:06

    @Cara:I have a harder time understanding the Dom role, especially the appeal in causing pain, but I’ll put that aside for now. I get what you’re saying about oral. But what if the sub is bound and the Dom controls the depth of penetration? Sorry, that is a graphic image. I’m not seeing how the sub has any power there, and even the ability to use a safeword is hampered. A lot of trust must be placed with the Dom not to go too far. Trust is power, no?

    I would also argue that the ability to cause and withhold pleasure is power. In the above scenario, the sub is giving the Dom pleasure, but he’s still in control.

    @Angela: Ultimate power? Yes, that makes more sense to me.

    I just feel like this “sub has all the power” expression is trotted out to ease the concerns of anyone who finds D/s problematic. It has never clicked with me. I’d like to see a thoughtful, *positive*, in depth defense of female submission that explores the power dynamic instead of dismisses it.

  36. Angela
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 10:40:39

    @Jill Sorenson: I never had the reaction to that phrase that you did, but I think that’s because I took it as ‘ultimate’ power vs ‘all’ the power in my head. But I can absolutely see the problems with that phrase.

    I’d also love to see a “thoughtful, positive, in depth defense of female submission that explores the power dynamic” too. In fact I want to see it so badly, and it’s such an interesting subject to me, that I might have to write it.

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