Romance, Historical, Contemporary, Paranormal, Young Adult, Book reviews, industry news, and commentary from a reader's point of view

NY Times and Daily Telegraph Publish Articles on the Cassie Edwards...

Felicia Lee, reporter from the Times, provided an excellent summary of the Cassie Edwards plagiarism issue that broke on the blog, Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. While some around the community believe that exposure of this issue is a black eye on romance, I think the majority of the response showed the genre to a good light.

The news of the plagiarism issue made it across the Atlantic.   The Daily Telegraph reported on the issue stating “Mrs Edwards and Penguin, her publisher, have tried to shrug off the controversy.”   Later on, the report sites the new press release by Penguin, but it doesn’t let it or Edwards off the hook.

One thing I don’t like is the Edwards v. Roberts tone of some of the news articles I’ve read because this isn’t about Nora Roberts at all, any more than it is about Edwards v. John Barrie, the plagiarism expert.   It’s about Edwards and the conscious decisions she made and the writers who have been directly affected.   Behind that, it’s about the community and not any one particular author.

Thanks Nora for sticking up for the genre and therefore its readers.   It’s not an easy road to take to make yourself a target.

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. Sheila Clover English
    Jan 13, 2008 @ 01:21:06

    Jane, I noticed the Edwards vs. Roberts tone as well and found it to be disconcerting. But, it is hard to ignore such an icon in the industry, especially when you’re the media.
    But you’re right, of course, this is about plagiarism and not anything else.
    What I have not seen so far, and perhaps I’ve just missed it, is any mention of what the repercussions are for such acts. Do publisher’s have a procedure that handles this kind of thing? Do they have a way of making the author accountable?
    Other issues plague the industry that have no clear cut repercussions. And it is certainly not happening exclusively to Romance. Look at James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces. You can still buy that book!
    The Association of American Publishers are watching a bill right now that strengthens intellectual property rights. So, you can see that publishers are keenly aware of the importance of such an issue. But of course this bill protects the publishers from theft. It helps them fight for their rights. What about the rights of readers from who publishers get their money? Readers should have the right to original and unique works if that is what they are told they are buying. Where is the trickle down effect of accountability?
    Perhaps publishers depend too much on legality and should be more pro-active about ethical behavior? Is it in an author’s contract that they cannot use other people’s work? And just as important, does the contract state what the repercussions will be if they are found to be plagiarizing?
    There seems to be this idea that what is right or wrong is inherently known to every person. I wish that were true, but it isn’t. People start to get lazy and take short cuts. People rationalize what they do in their own minds and without some directive they do what they want. And some people will just do the wrong thing and hope to get away with it.
    As members of the publishing industry is it not up to us to identify trends, such as plagiarism, and create policies, directives or guidelines to ensure that everyone follows both the legal and ethical path?
    The CE issue isn’t just about a person, it is much larger than that.
    The question of the day, to me, is – Will a solid resolution come of this topic? Or will this die down once the issue grows cold and wait for the next author to have their work stolen?

  2. Shiloh Walker
    Jan 13, 2008 @ 08:24:59

    Is it in an author's contract that they cannot use other people's work?

    Most contracts I’ve signed include a line along the lines of…

    “an original work of fiction”

    I say most because there are a few that came out from one publisher and when the rights reverted back to me, I did some rewriting, polishing, and then they were released by a different epublisher.

    There are also clauses specifying that use of works by others must also include permission

    Contracts, generally speaking are confidential but every one of mine that I’ve ever read have made it clear that works of others aren’t to be infringed of.

    One thing I don't like is the Edwards v. Roberts tone of some of the news articles I've read

    Me neither. But she has a ‘name’ that is recognized even outside the romance circle. She has a ‘face’ that is recognized. That probably translates to reporters as something that will snag attention.

    Thanks Nora for sticking up for the genre and therefore its readers. It's not an easy road to take to make yourself a target.

    I’ll add my thanks as well.

  3. SAMitchell
    Feb 24, 2008 @ 15:19:41

    Shiloh Walker:

    How do you know what’s written in Mrs. Edwards’ contract?

    Don’t assume that you know what her contract states unless you have a copy of it and can back up what you claim.

    I have no idea who you are or what you write. I’ve never heard of you and I’ve been reading romance novels for 20 years.

    I believe Mrs. Edwards had 2 books out when I first read one. When she started writing the Native American stories I was hooked. I even switched from reading modern day romances to reading historicals.

    When someone can say that about an author and their writing it means something!

  4. Sheila Clover English
    Feb 25, 2008 @ 14:56:01


    I guess I read the Shiloh Walker post differently. I don’t see where she talks about Mrs. Edwards contract. She’s talking about her own contracts and experience.
    She clearly states that contracts are confidential. She’s not attacked Mrs. Edwards, claimed to know about Mrs. Edwards contract or said anything disrespectful.
    I am very aware of Shiloh Walker’s books. I don’t know her personally, but I certainly know her work. Whether or not she is known to you doesn’t disqualify her opinion.

  5. Shiloh Walker
    Feb 25, 2008 @ 17:28:22

    Sheila, that was exactly what I was addressing~ you’d commented

    Is it in an author's contract that they cannot use other people's work?

    And that was just my response. I’m not exactly how my comment could have been construed as me having direct insight into any one author’s contracts, other than my own.

    Ms. Mitchell, as I’d just said, I was responding to another person’s question.

    I get that you enjoy Ms. Edward’s work. I’m a reader and was a reader long before I was published. I know exactly what it is to find an author that resonates with you so I can respect it in others.

    Even aside from personal reading choices, I’ve got a personal policy that I don’t attack any author and when I see something I feel is wrong, I address the action, not the person behind the act. Doing otherwise lacks professionalism and lacks courtesy and I try to avoid it.

    How you construed my answers to Sheila as implying that everybody should know of me, I’m not entirely sure. Frankly, I’m surprised when people have heard of me, rather than the opposite. If I’ve given somebody that impression that everybody should know of me, or that I have direct knowledge of anybody’s contracts other than my own, then my apologies.

    But all I did was respond to Sheila’s question, offer my opinion as to why some of the news articles made this about Nora Roberts, as mentioned in the above post and offer my thanks to her.

    Plagiarism, whether people feel CE has done it or not, is an issue that hurts the writing industry and speaking up about it takes guts. NR did that and I just wanted to voice my thanks.

    I’m sorry if that somehow offended you or came off as insulting or antagonizing to CE. We’re all entitled to our opinions and viewpoints and my only intention was to share mine.

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