Late Friday, AP reporter, Hillel Italie reported that Signet/NAL has severed its relationship with Cassie Edwards. Since we made a bit deal, here on the blog, about how appalling Signet/NAL’s initial response was, I thought it would be fair to give over our Sunday to say how awesome I think its final response is.
For newcomers, here are the details.
January 7, 2008: While a friend (Kate) of blogger Candy at Smart Bitches Trashy Books read Shadow Bear by Cassie Edwards, said friend noticed “didactic passages in the book. They were written in a distinctly different voice, and out of idle curiosity, she decided to Google certain phrases and sentences.” The googling revealed that Edwards used paragraphs of works from other authors in her fiction without attribution including Paul Tolme who wrote an article about ferrets in Defenders Wildlife magazine. In all, readers would review 22 books and help compile a PDF document of examples of copying 98 pages long. (as an aside, I think Paul Tolme is one of Edwards’ favorite resources).
January 9, 2008: Signet doesn’t respond very well to a query I made suggesting that whatever Edwards did was both legal and ethical.
January 9, 2008: AP picks it up. Gets quote from Nora Roberts. Roberts takes hell from some people for speaking out. Gets quote from RWA president who takes hell from some people for not speaking out.
January 12, 2008: New York Times carries the story in its Art Section.
January 15, 2008: Paul Tolme writes an article in Newsweek about his chagrin at being copied and smacks a bit at the romance genre. Takes hell from some romance authors and fans in emails about the smack down of the genre, but gets sympathy for the copying.
January 16, 2008: SBs and Nora Robert’s challenges the romance community to make lemonade out of lemons. Roberts’ offers up a $5,000 donation Defender’s Wildlife if we, the community, match it.
January 17, 2008: Paul Tolme admits that he might have been wrong about the romance genre, appreciates our support, and SB Sarah sends him a copy of Nora Roberts’ Northern Lights.
January 18, 2008, we match Roberts’ offer and send $10,000 off to Defenders Wildlife magazine.
January 19, 2008: Blogosphere continues to talk about why plagiarism is a big deal.
late January: crickets
February: quieter crickets
March: crickets are dead (life span is only 3-4 weeks). Deafening silence. ***
April 18, 2008: The Hallelujah Chorus breaks out. Signet parts ways with Edwards.
I want you to know how much I appreciate that you’ve made a tough but honorable decision and that you made it publicly. Breaking up with Edwards and making a stand is not one without repercussions.
You might face backlash from ardent Edwards supporters. You probably paid six figures to Edwards in an advance you won’t see back. You are foregoing likely profits from a bestselling author.
Yet, in face of that, you did the right thing.
It seems all too often that that publishers are putting the dollar before intellectual integrity. It seems not a day passes that there isn’t some made up memoir or some kind of plagiarism or other ugliness within the industry. Too often the negativity can overwhelm and even work to diminish our love for the genre. On Friday, though, you restored a bit of my faith with the industry and alot of my faith with your publishing house.
Thanks for standing up for the readers. We won’t forget it.
In recognition of that, I’m going to give out 5 fictionwise gift certificates for recent NAL/Signet releases. Name your favorite NAL/Signet author in the comments and I’ll pick five random commenters for the giveaway. Right now I am reading debut author, Allison Chase’s Dark Obssession. It was publicized as GOTHIC HISTORICAL. It’s going to Jan next. We will let you know what we think. Your turn. . .
**Deafening silence continues from Kensington and Dorchester who are still putting Cassie Edwards out on the market.