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Signet/NAL Deserves a Round of Applause

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.


Dear Signet:

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.

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. Jules Jones
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 05:30:01

    Adding my thanks — I really appreciate Signet doing this.

  2. Bev Stephans
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 05:38:21

    Hooray for Signet! It’s about time, but as Nora pointed out, these things take time. If only Kensington and Dorchester follow through.

    As far as a Signet favorite author, it would have to be Daniel Silva. His spy books are well written and exciting with a lot of wonderful history thrown in.

    Remember, most of the hard-covers are published under the Putnam name, but the paperbacks are under a variety of Penguin/Putnam names.

  3. Shiloh Walker
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 07:57:50

    Don’t put me in the drawing, but I wanted to my thanks to the publisher as well.

  4. JulieLeto
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 08:21:41

    Also, don’t draw my name…just wanted to say a big BRAVA to you on the letter. You know they will get a ton of letters protesting, so I think it’s so important that they hear from the people who are satisfied with this decision.

    I’m going to drop a line to my editor.

  5. Kristen
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 08:43:31

    This was an awesome result. Thanks to Signet and thanks to you for all your hard work and organizing. Actually, I consider organizing anything hard work, so good on ya.

  6. azteclady
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 08:51:57

    Please don’t put my name in the drawing; I just wanted to add my voice again to thank Signet for doing the right thing.

  7. Diana Castilleja
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 09:11:16

    My thanks as well for the letter, and for Signet doing the right thing.

  8. Sela Carsen
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 09:12:01

    This was such fantastic news. I was just thinking about this whole fiasco the other day, and came to the depressing conclusion that we’d never hear another thing about it from TPTB. I’m ecstatic to be proven wrong! Many, many thanks to you and SB for taking the initiative here and galvanizing the publishing world into taking some action. Kudos and great respect to you.

  9. Caitie
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 09:36:05

    I think that’s great too, I’d lost hope that any of the publishers were going to take any sort of action against Edwards. Maybe the other publishers will follow suit? We can hope…

    My favorite NAL/Signet author is Lacey Alexander

  10. Jane A
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 09:59:00

    I’m so impressed that Signet is taking this step! Good for you and SB for being driving forces in effecting this result.

    I think that Signet used to publish Diane Farr? I wish they’d contract for more from her!

  11. Aoife
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 10:11:46

    I have already sent off my letter via e-mail. I want to make sure the powers-that-be at Penguin/Signet/Putnam know that their undoubtedly difficult, but extremely ethical decision has been noted and appreciated.

    And, seriously, I was only joking a little bit on the other thread about making a point to buy as many Signet etc. books as I can lay my hands on. My book buying dollars are limited, and I will certainly be giving preference to books from an ethical and honorable publisher. Good behavior should be rewarded.

  12. Collette
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 10:21:42

    I too am impressed and pleased that Signet has responded to the Edwards situation with integrity. And I’m also pleased because they have a good number of authors I like. The next one I’ll probably purchase, based on publication schedule, is Savannah Russe but there’s so many more.

  13. The Cassie Edwards Thing in My (Baseball) World « The thing is…
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 10:24:24

    […] five Fictionwise gift certificates for recent NAL/Signet releases to be given away to readers–check it out!  All you have to do is leave a comment and tell her your favorite NAL/Signet author.  Easy […]

  14. Aoife
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 10:28:04

    I forgot to add that I am relieved that I will be able to buy Loretta Chase’s new release this summer from a publisher who did the Right Thing.

  15. Liviania
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 10:29:37

    Nothing like a party for good news! I’m impressed with NAL/Signet’s decision, because I know they’re foregoing a decent amount of money, as Jane pointed out. Choosing ethics over a check – priceless.

    Hmm, I have trouble picking favorite authors. I’ll choose Lauren Willig.

  16. Jane
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 10:31:39

    Aoife – Chase is with Avon now.

  17. Jill Sorenson
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 10:40:53

    Karen Robards, Vickie Lewis Thompson, JR Ward. To name a few.

    You don’t have to enter me. Just wanted to show my support to Signet, a classy operation with a stellar group of authors.

  18. Jewel
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 10:47:57

    I’m glad to see at least one publisher take the right path. Chosing right over the almighty dollar. I’m also glad they took time to investigate to make sure that she did indeed plagiarize. It would have bothered me if they hadn’t. They did the right thing on both sides. My favorite author of thiers is Jayne Ann Krentz.

  19. Aoife
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 10:57:32

    Aoife – Chase is with Avon now.

    Darn. I must have been sleeping through that one. Thanks for correcting me!

  20. Wendy
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 11:09:48

    I’m really impressed with Signet and their decision. :)

    One of my favorite NAL/Signet author is Katie MacAlister, her stories are funny and wonderful and I’m a huge fan.

  21. CJ England
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 11:10:37

    I hadn’t thought about the advance they might have to eat. Yet another reason to applaud the tough decision they’ve made. I sent out my letter yesterday. They should know the public is grateful for what has been done.

    No need to enter me in the drawing. I just wanted to say thanks for the excellent reporting job that was done.

  22. Maureen
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 11:37:05

    I agree that it was the right thing to do.

    Thanks for the info and I think my favorite author of theirs is Candice Hern.

  23. Meriam
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 11:39:55

    What a relief. There are loads of NAL/Signet authors I like, and it pained me that they were linked to the same publisher.

    Please don’t add me to the draw. Like CJ above, I want to say thanks to all involved for pursuing this.

  24. Julia
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 11:46:52

    It is all too rare to find a company, in any industry, taking a loss to make the ethical decision. Kudos to Signet.

    My favorite NAL authors are Lynn Viehl and J.R. Ward.

  25. Grace Draven
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 11:51:42

    No need to add me to the drawing. I just wanted to throw in my applause to Signet for doing a just thing.

  26. Maya Reynolds
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 11:59:52

    Penguin owns both NAL and Signet, and I’m THRILLED with this response.

    Just wanted to add my thanks to all the others here.

  27. MAERED
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 12:09:16

    The publishers did the right thing, no question. I’m so glad that in light of the DAM/Amazon saga that we can see SOME ethical decisions being made.:) My favourite NAL/Signat author is JRWard.

  28. MaryKate
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 12:27:31

    I’ve sent off my thank you to Signet as well.

    Count Colleen Gleason as my favorite Signet author.

  29. Sara Dennis
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 12:46:03

    I, too, wanted to add my voice to the thanks for Signet’s decision. I’m sure it must have been a difficult one, at best. Those who manage the money may not be pleased, but in my opinion, it was the right thing to do, so well done!

    No need to put me in the drawing either.

  30. katiebabs
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 12:50:42

    I must applaud you Jane and the ladies at SB for sticking to your guns and bringing this into the light. You have set a standard I hope to follow myself.

  31. willaful
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 13:57:56

    Hey, I wanna be in the drawing! Does that make me a jerk? ;-)

    My favorite Signet author, if Loretta Chase is out of the running, is Jo Beverley.

  32. JaneO
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 14:29:02

    Signet not only did the right thing but did it the right way -‘ taking time to examine the evidence and talk to the author instead of just reacting to publicity and doing the PR shuffle. Good to see.
    At the moment, my favorite Signet author is Lydia James, who has done some impressive books.

  33. msaggie
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 16:06:18

    Thanks so much Jane for publicising Signet’s decision on Cassie Edwards. I did wonder what had happened as (like you said so charmingly with the crickets) it was all so quiet for months. I would have been hugely disappointed if they had swept it all under the carpet. I really enjoy all the insights into the publishing side of the genre that you provide here. Do keep up the great work – we are all much better informed for it.
    My favourite Signet author is Jo Beverley.

  34. kyahgirl
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 16:18:34

    I am really impressed with Signet. That is good news.

    It almost made me cry to have to pick a favorite author from that amazing list. I didn’t think Marsha Canham was still publishing but was happy to see her name on the list. That will be my pick.

  35. Molly
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 16:33:46

    Good for them! I was also starting to give up hope that Cassie Edwards’ publishers would do anything about her copying at all, except turn a blind eye. I’m glad Signet at least has the integrity not to publish plagiarized work. My favorite NAL/Signet author is Colleen Gleason.

  36. Heather
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 16:48:27

    I’m impressed. Kudos to them for reaching this decision.

    Can’t wait for the next JR Ward book. :D

  37. T.J. Killian
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 16:49:10

    No need to enter my name in the drawing.

    I give my thanks that finally a publisher is taking a stand.

    Gratitude and kudos,


  38. Mad
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 17:15:56

    Don’t put my name in the drawing but I wanted to give my thanks too. Way to go Signet/NAL!

  39. Chrissy
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 17:16:52

    I will never pass by a Signet title again. If it beckons me in even the tiniest voice, I’m buying!

  40. Josie
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 18:58:40

    The cynical side of me really didn’t expect a publishing house to take a stand in this way. Needless to say I am very impressed at their decision! Thanks for letting us know Jane and thanks to Signet for making the right call.

    My fave Signet author is Lynn Viehl – love the Darkyn series.

  41. A. Hashi
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 19:13:51

    Way to go Signet. I didn’t think they would actually part ways with Cassie, but they proved me wrong.

    My favourite author would be Colleen Gleason, her books seem to get better and better with each read. I also enjoy Victoria Laurie and Rachel Caine.

  42. Dani
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 19:55:56

    My fave is Jodi Thomas.

    Que Sara Sara….A huge way to go for Nal/Signet to have the balls to do something.

    I’m waiting for the lawsuits to start rolling in. :)

  43. Stacie McClellan
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 20:29:05

    I’m thrilled with Signet/NAL’s decision. With so many disappointments in the publishing and bookseller industries this restores my faith.

    My favorite NAL author is JR Ward.

  44. RStewart
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 20:38:30

    Kudos to the publisher. Good to see them do The Right Thing. My fave authors are Colleen Gleason, Katie MacAlister, and Jo Beverly.

  45. orannia
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 22:12:30

    Thank you to Signet for listening and to everyone involved for bringing it to our attention and persevering!

    orannia (whose favourite Signet author is JR Ward :)

  46. flchen
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 22:26:57

    What wonderful news–thank you to all of you who’ve worked so hard to bring this to light, and kudos to Signet for making a difficult but right decision.

    My favorite NAL author is Lisa Wingate.

  47. Janine
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 22:33:16

    Leave me out of the drawing, of course. I just want to say I’m so glad that NAL/Signet did the right thing.

    I like more than one Signet author, but since I don’t think anyone has mentioned her yet, I’ll put in a word for Pam Rosenthal. I’m really looking forward to her November release.

  48. Cat Grant
    Apr 20, 2008 @ 22:44:44

    Count me in on the “glad Signet did the right thing” tip.

    My fave Signet author? Hm. It used to be Mary Balogh, but these days I’ll have to go with Jo Beverley.

  49. K. Z. Snow
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 00:13:20

    The drawing isn’t important to me, either. These results are. It’s a heartening development. Big guys don’t often listen to little guys. Now…is Jane the Giant Killer going to take on Amazon? ;-)

  50. Caffey
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 01:04:33

    You had a beautiful response to Signet. You did alot for all readers, thank you both!

    I really enjoy a great many historical and paranormal romance authors from Signet! One that I love to read and I heard she has a new book out now is
    Lydia Joyce.

  51. Kyra Heiker
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 03:21:12

    You go, girls! I’ll be doing my part as well to support this publisher.

  52. Amy S.
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 06:59:50

    My fave author is Lacey Alexander.

  53. GrowlyCub
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 07:08:04

    Count in with the skeptics who are pleasantly surprised. :) More power to them. I hope this will shame Dorchester and Kensington into the right thing, too. I’ll send a letter to Signet thanking them and also to Dorchester and Kensington about their silence.

    I love Catherine Asaro, Mary Jo Putney and Mary Balogh (but I don’t think any of them are still NAL authors).

    My absolute favorite is Paula Detmer Riggs. Anybody know what happened to her?

  54. Tabitha
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 07:24:36

    I’m pleasantly surprised. Great news though!

    My fave authors include Jo Beverly and Vickie Lewis Thompson.

  55. Mirmalade
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 08:54:15

    Finally!! Thanks to both Dear Author and Smart Bitches for bringing this to the Romance community’s attention and particularly for not letting this die down. We all really appreciate your efforts.

    Fav Signet authors include: Cherry Adair, Julie Leto, Karen Robards, JR Ward – among many others.

  56. Jane
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 08:56:48

    I think that the SBs did a great job of covering this story but that it was the collectiveness of us readers and authors who made enough noise to make a difference. One person or even one blog can’t make change. It’s everyone working together so I thank all of you. I’ll leave the contest open until tonight. Thanks guys.

  57. Stephanie Z.
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 09:55:58

    I really enjoyed Lauren Willig’s first two books, but haven’t had the time to get to the second two. So she’s my favorite Signet/NAL author.

    And congrats to them.

  58. Ann Bruce
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 10:14:00

    Wow! Cut my internet for the weekend and I miss all this! Don’t enter me into the draw; I’ll be hitting the bookstore during lunch today.

  59. Dawn Roberto
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 11:04:37

    I want to thank you all for the great letter you did and for Signet for doing the right thing even if it was the heardest thing they had to do.

    Thanks for getting this to our attentiona nd for keeping up on it. At least one publisher did tyhe right thing…now willthe others do it as well?

    My fave Signet is JR Ward. I am waiting anxiously for the next book! :)

    Owner-LR Cafe
    Senior Reviewer/Interviewer:

  60. allison
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 11:14:41

    Adding my kudos to Signet/NAL/Penguin.

    I’ve a list of books that I was planning on buying used so as not to contribute directly to a publishing house that supports plagiarism. I’ve now moved those books off the used pile and have ordered them new.

    Thanks for the heads up and your continued class in the face of the backlash.

    For my favorites: Karen Robards was one of the first authors I ever read in romance and she remains a favorite. For fantasy: Lois McMaster Bujold and Jennifer Roberson cannot be beat. I love Jennifer Roberson something fierce. I’ve been a devoted fan of her Tiger/Del series since it came out in 1986. I’ve worn out about 10 copies of Swordsinger. Her fantasy stories based on fairy tales are also awesome. Beauty is a wonderful retelling of Beauty and the Beast, for a recommendation.

    (no need to enter me into the drawing – pimping my favorites is reward enough)

  61. Sarai
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 13:36:26

    That is wonderful I am glad the publishing house stepped up!
    My fav authors:
    1. Shiloh Walker
    2. Mary Balogn
    3. Holly Lisle
    4. Katie Marsh
    5. Lynn Viehl

  62. Sarai
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 13:38:11

    I really like Lynn Viehl and Shiloh Walker.
    I am so glad this publishing house stood up and did the right thing. It really speaks highly of them!

  63. Lleeo
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 19:04:08

    This is really, really great news. Ethical writing practices are important to us readers and many other authors. I’m so glad Signet did the right thing and in a very appropriate, professional manner.

    I’ll echo Sarai here: I absolutely love Lynn Viehl but after coming into contact with Shiloh on several blogs and finding her to be very eloquent, respectful and always willing to add her voice, I’d like to try one of her books. :)

  64. CathieCaffey
    Apr 21, 2008 @ 23:07:51

    I don’t know about others but sending the link for Signet was great! I just added so much to the shopping list including a new author I found and her book sounds great: Dark Obsession, May 2008
    (A Novel of Blackheath Moor)
    by Allison Chase

  65. Karmyn
    Apr 22, 2008 @ 02:00:06

    It’s about time they did this. I just hope that the others will follow suit and maybe people will finally learn that plagerisim is wrong.
    Has anybody informed Paul Tolme? I’m sure he’d be glad to know something was done.

  66. Jane
    Apr 23, 2008 @ 08:36:04

    The winners are:

    # 41 A. Hashi
    # 33 ms aggie
    # 10 Jane A
    # 23 Meriam
    # 31 willaful

    Thanks for supporting NAL and their fantastic decision. Please send me (jane @ the email address where I should send the Fictionwise GC to. Thanks.

  67. Tasha
    May 28, 2008 @ 13:00:52

    Lori Foster is on the Romantic Times forums, pretty much saying that people should keep quiet about little things about pervasive and systematic plagiarism because it’s none of their business. I’ve never been a big fan, but this guarantees I’ll never buy anything of hers.

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