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Affaire de Coeur’s Reviews Under Scrutiny

Karen Scott links to a post by Lee Goldberg who linked to a post here at Dear Author. Certainly that is some kind of circle jerk, but on an interesting and important topic.

Apparently Affaire de Coeur has a policy of providing positive reviews and articles to publishers based upon the amount of page space that is purchased. Additionally, and possibly more damning (I know! what could be more damning) is that according to Goldberg:

I’ve just discovered that their advertising director, Bonny Kirby, co-owns the disgraced Light Sword Publishing company with Linda Daly (a court recently fined Kirby and Daly thousands of dollars for defrauding authors). This explains why Light Sword titles consistently got positive reviews from Affaire De Coeur and why Daly was the subject of a cover story. No reputable magazine would review books published by their advertising director-or feature her partners on the cover. It’s a sleazy, unethical conflict-of-interest.

I’ve not ever read/purchased/seen an Affaire de Coeur magazine but I have seen them quoted multiple times in books and have been in business for over 26 years. It seems that the paid review is becoming more and more commonplace. I know that even Kirkus offers a pay review service.

Kirkus Discoveries, rolling out later this year, will allow self-published authors, long ignored by the trade journals, to buy a Kirkus review for $350.

The second new product is Kirkus Reports, set to appear early next month. It highlights titles that the editors feel are the best lifestyle books (health, parenting, personal finance). But to be included in this free e-mail newsletter for magazine and newspaper journalists, publishers must pay $95 per title.

It’s one thing, of course, to have advertising and still another to accept payment for the review itself or inclusion in a magazine or newsletter. What’s ethical?

  

Updated on September 2008.   I’m closing the comments.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She 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

198 Comments

  1. Steph
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 22:04:20

    The Affaire de Couer situation is completely unethical. No comment needed.

    Now, about Kirkus: My question is, are these reviews guaranteed to be positive, or are they going to be based on impartial consideration?

    As for the inclusion in the newsletter, that bothers me. It sounds like paid endorsement, not common advertising. I like books to earn that sort of recognition, not for it to be bought.

    Steph

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  2. Bev Stephans
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 22:10:14

    This is exactly why I trust so few reviewers anymore. Are they on the payroll or are they just doing their job for an accredited magazine, newspaper, website, etc.? Sometimes it’s very hard to tell the difference.

    I like what you do here at Dear Author. No one gets an A(B,C or D) if they don’t deserve it. Unfortunately, that’s only good for the romance books I read, but not other genre’s.

    If you have to pay to get your book reviewed, you probably shouldn’t be an author.

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  3. Robin
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 22:14:05

    I think it just goes to show how many people think that reviews are merely promotional tools and not part of an important cultural discourse about books and about the importance of reading more generally. IMO it doesn’t even matter that the reviews themselves might be authentic, the moment money is being paid to secure a review the process itself becomes degraded and ultimately inauthentic.

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  4. veinglory
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 22:25:46

    For a breakdown of one issue re: ads and content see: http://www.erecsite.com/2007/11/some-thoughts-about-affaire-de-coeur.html

    In AdC as in RT I notice MM ads but not reviews. In AdC as in RT I notice the small press books reviewed are almost entirely linked to ads. More equal than others, etc.

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  5. Lee Goldberg
    Jul 28, 2008 @ 23:02:43

    The Kirkus situation is also despicable…but at least they have the good sense to NOT include those paid reviews in their regular magazine. They are published separately under the Kirkus Discoveries banner.

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  6. Heather Sands
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 00:05:01

    This is why I so rarely read reviews that aren’t by people that I know or authors that I read.

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  7. Shreela
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 01:14:30

    I don’t like spoilers, and many reviews these days are. Is the reason for writing such detailed spoilers because the reviewer is being paid?

    I look at how many paragraphs there are, and if there’s more than a few, I just read the first paragraph to get a feel, then skip to the last paragraph to see how the reviewer felt about the book.

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  8. Ann Somerville
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 06:23:52

    Kinda puts into perspective all the sneering I read (and have had directed at me and others like me) about only being an ‘amateur’.

    Because doing it for love – the literal meaning of the word – is such a bad thing?

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  9. Mrs Giggles
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 07:06:22

    Many folks in the business have learned that there are many, many, many, MANY desperate authors (self-published, mostly, or those with small presses) who will pay for anything and everything. They pay to get published, which is fair enough if they know what they are getting out of it, but most don’t, assuming instead that you *have* to pay to get published. Or that you *have* to pay an agent to look at your works, you *have* to pay a publisher to edit your books, et cetera. And, of course, paying for a review. I’ve seen many websites offering “speedy review services” ranging from $10 to $50 targeted to authors because there are enough authors who will pay while hoping that somehow with their latest payment they will hit some kind of career jackpot and become a bestselling author.

    Paying for reviews is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to a booming industry that takes advantage of authors.

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  10. roslynholcomb
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 07:15:42

    I guess there’s some benefit to being broke as hell. Even if I hadn’t known better, I’ve never had enough money to pay anybody for anything. I certainly encountered more than my fair share of ‘pay to play’ promos, but I’ve never been tempted because I simply couldn’t afford it.

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  11. Robin Bayne
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 09:22:46

    I was reviewed in ADC years ago (maybe 10 years?) and I didn’t pay or pay for an ad. However, I was a subscriber for a few years prior to my book coming out and I believe that was why I got the review. It wasn’t a great review, by the way, just average.

    I also was part of an anthology for charity and the ADC owner/editor (Louise?) donated the entire back cover to advertise the book. I thought that was very nice.

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  12. KMont
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 09:33:58

    I don't like spoilers, and many reviews these days are. Is the reason for writing such detailed spoilers because the reviewer is being paid?

    I would say like most other issues, it’s possible and then there are other instances where that is not true.

    I used to never write reviews with spoilers, but I only posted to places like Amazon where it’s against the rules anyway. Since starting a blog though, I will discuss spoilers in my reviews, although if it’s an ARC, I try to only do mild ones if any at all. If the book has already been released, there may well be some and it’s because that book was so dang good that I felt the need to discuss it in a review style whereby it’s more than just a glossy, surface opinion of a book. There’s nothing wrong at all with a review containing no spoilers of course, but I always warn ahead of time when there are some. Some readers really like spoilers, some don’t. Personally I don’t think either way is wrong, as long as spoilers are labeled.

    On the subject of payment, some folks think simply getting an ARC to review is payment and therefore subject to the same kind of suspicion as those that receive money or other favors for writing reviews.

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  13. Gwen
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 14:39:06

    Gauging the “postiveness” of a review with how much advertising dollar spent is just sleazy. May as well just hang a red light outside your publication and be done with it.

    I don’t even give good reviews to authors I like as people unless the book deserves it. How smarmy would I have to be to write a purposefully good review for a book I didn’t like.

    Ick. Gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it.

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  14. Anonymous Publishing Person
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 15:07:23

    Good grief, this is getting out of hand.

    As someone who has worked for several prominant publishers that get lots of trade and mass market titles reviewed in this magazine, and tons of positive reviews no less, I can safely say that paying for advertising has never had anything to do with those reviews.

    My current publisher has NEVER bought advertising–and we had one of our authors featured on the cover, and my former publishers buy very infrequently, if ever anymore. But the reviews don’t seem to be drying up.

    I can’t say whether or not buying ads will save you from a bad review or not, but I know you can get a good one without paying a dime.

    Look, all I’m saying is please investigate all sides of a story before you go slamming peoples names and livlihoods into the dirt.

    Thanks.

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  15. Chrissy
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 15:37:09

    Thing is, I had a subscription to them a while ago and it never arrived after the first installment. When they asked to renew I told them why I would not do so.

    They apparently gave me another year free because of the first issue, but I didn’t want it.

    The production quality is awful and the reviews often, after I’ve read the book, seem to have been written without the reviewer ever opening a cover. That’s just an impression. But whether the reviews are tainted or not, they are VERY poorly written and seem very detached from the source material.

    At this point I throw it away without opening the envelope most of the time.

    *shrug*

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  16. veinglory
    Jul 29, 2008 @ 17:55:07

    APP, so you wrote for a large press then? Because really the 1:1 correlation between ad space and review space for large presses really speaks for itself to anyone. Blaze etc get a free ride, the little guys don’t. And as for the cover, if the cover isn’t an ad space why are is “full cover front page and back page ads available for each issue.” It really doesn’t take much digging to see what is going on. It just, apparently, took a while for anyone to built up to giving a damn.

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  17. Dera Williams
    Jul 30, 2008 @ 02:00:03

    It is really unfortunate that Affaire de Coeur is being tried and convicted in a public forum. What happened to journalistic integrity and checking of facts? I have been a reviewer for AdC for eleven years and have never seen anything that was not on the up and up. I personally know the editor and her integrity has never been in question. If I thought there was the least amount of impropriety going on, I would disassociate myself from the magazine. I have never been instructed or dictated on how to rate a book and I would be willing to bet the other reviewers will concur. An ad does not guarantee a good or favorable review; I know because I have written some reviews for books for ads that were just okay and my review reflected so. If you count the number of ads against the number of reviews every month, it can be seen that we are not giving favorable reviews to those who do pay for ads. We review dozens of books that have never bought ad space; all they get is an honest review. Again, I ask, what about checking the facts before trashing and slandering an entity or persons on a world wide venue?

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  18. Shreela
    Jul 30, 2008 @ 03:54:08

    @ KMont:

    “Personally I don't think either way is wrong, as long as spoilers are labeled.”

    I agree, and hope to see more spoiler alert reviews labeled. That way both sides would be happy.

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  19. Amie Stuart
    Jul 30, 2008 @ 10:08:26

    For what it’s worth, and it probably ain’t much, I’ve never advertised in AdC and I know they’re reviewing my upcoming release. *shrug*

    RT has been doing it to e-publishers for years.

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  20. Unrequited Writer
    Jul 30, 2008 @ 10:12:35

    Having received ad/review information from AdC, I can tell you the following:

    Requests for free reviews must be received by AdC at least 90 days BEFORE a title’s release. AdC will not consider a book for free review after that time.

    If a book is being released in less than 90 days, or has already been released, AdC will only consider it for review if the author/publisher purchases an ad package.

    Although I find the practice of what is essentially selling reviews not so good, I do believe the proof is in the pudding. So, I’d suggest that some industrious soul who has access to back issues of the magazine run though it and examine the book reviews of those books also being advertised. That would give one some idea of what is being provided. If it shakes out that AdC is providing fair, unbiased reviews–that those reviews run the gamut from ‘man this is awful’ to ‘I want 7 copies and here’s hoping you get film rights’, then, in my opinion, anyway, the charging for those reviews is immaterial, and someone, somewhere will need to print that AdC CHARGES for reviews in some circumstances, but those reviews are fairly and honestly completed.

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  21. Lauren Calder
    Jul 30, 2008 @ 11:58:43

    ok, normally I don’t do things like this but I feel as a reviewer for AdC, I have been insulted.
    I have never been paid for a review. I am not told who pays for advertising and I am not told how to write my reviews or what my opinion should be.

    I do know that those particular reviewers who were not on the up and up are no longer reviewing for AdC.

    I do know that any business would be hard pressed to succeed without advertising.

    If this particular reviewer had her palm greased (which is against company policy) to give Goldberg his 5 stars, I doubt she will be reviewing much longer, at least not with AdC. If she didn’t get paid, someone has a serious slander issue and a possible lawsuit pending against him.

    And if the reviewer was paid as Goldberg claims, I’m not sure I quite understand Goldberg’s point. Is he upset because he found out his publisher has to pay someone to get him good reviews?
    Or that he doesn’t believe his publisher should pay for any advertising for his books at all because his name should carry its own weight and sell millions of books?

    Since my curiosity was pushed, I looked to see if his book was advertised. It was not. I looked. I didn’t even see Obsidian advertised in the issue at all.

    I did, however, go through three AdC magazines to see if there appeared to be any truth to the man’s accusations.

    This is what I found:

    From what appears to be advertising (since I am far from expert on the idiosyncrasies of advertising/some may not be paid advertising but had a book cover on it) I mean … really … if it received a five star shouldn’t it have a picture of the book cover on it? I don’t know. I’m just a reviewer.
    Out of the 3 magazines that I checked
    Berkeley, Tor, Kensington, Zebra, Medallion, Cerridwen, Parker, Harlequin, Griffin, Changeling all appeared to have advertising

    4 books had 5 stars
    5 books had 4 1/2 stars
    6 books had 4 stars
    1 book had 3 1/2 stars
    1 book had 3 stars
    2 books had 0 stars
    a handful of books had no reviews although there were advertisements

    Well, people are going to believe what they want. My reviews are exactly that. Mine and no one else’s. And I don’t get paid for it but I do love the books I receive and try my best to be objective even though it really is subjective to each particular person’s tastes.

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  22. Amy Wolff Sorter
    Jul 30, 2008 @ 12:05:20

    APP writes:

    “As someone who has worked for several prominant publishers that get lots of trade and mass market titles reviewed in this magazine, and tons of positive reviews no less, I can safely say that paying for advertising has never had anything to do with those reviews.”

    As another poster wrote earlier, that comment said it all. Nothing against APP, but let’s face it. The larger publishers are going to get more consideration for review space than the self-pubs or independents, whether the review is positive or negative.

    There are publications out there (Romantic Times, for one) that will run a review without the author/publisher paying for an add. But it takes a lot of arm-twisting for them to do so — they’ll review books from their advertising clients first, then, if there’s space and a book catches their eye, they’ll do something else.

    But something else to consider — I’ve been following charges against Amazon (and others) in recent months regarding manipulation of reviews on their sites. I’ve asked readers, in the wake of all of this, how much stock they put in reviews when it comes to buying books. Unsurprisingly, the answer is very little. Recommendations and previous experience with the author are the two main things that sell books. Reviews, positive AND negative, are being ignored — at least on Amazon.

    BTW, some readers also won’t buy from authors who are arrogant or who have a bad attitude toward fans or their audience.

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  23. Alexey Braguine
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 16:15:12

    For reasons unknown, Mr. Goldberg has been attacking anyone who is in some way associated with Light Sword publishing and denigrating everyone including authors. His facts are flimsy. Now, he’s attacking ADC, doesn’t the poor man have some positive things to do?

    My Book, KINGMAKER was reviewed by ADC, no payment was ever made nor advertising solicited.

    Mr. Goldeberg’s allegations would have never been published in a newspaper. But on the internet slanderous allegations are tolerated.

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  24. Wayne Jordan
    Aug 01, 2008 @ 20:59:20

    I always get annoyed when I see arguments like this since it being into questions to integrity of the reivewers and Ms. Calder has all reason to be insulted. Just for fun, I check the July RT and magazine which I’ve been reading for years and never say any proof of this. In the July RT, I noticed that reviews range from 2 star to 4+ star. Books which have ads range are in that range and book without ads are also in that range. I’ve even found a book with a full page ad which received a 3-star rating. RT reviews the Harlequin Kimani Romance novels each month and I’ve seen 4+ rating and I’ve seen a 1-star rating. All the other Harlequin lines are reviewed and I’ve seen 4+ star ratings and I’ve seen 1 and 2-star. I write for Kimani romance and I’ve received a 4+ rating and I’ve received a 3.

    So what’s the point!

    I really can’t deal with people who bring this up each time and question the integrity of those who review.

    wj

    wj
    Wayne Jordan

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  25. Louise Snead
    Aug 02, 2008 @ 11:13:04

    Mr. Goldberg,
    At first I was not going to address you at all because you really aren't worth my time. But in spite of your claim to be from a family of journalists, none of it apparently rubbed off on you and you really do need to be educated.
    I have never seen or heard of anyone evaluating a product they openly admit they have never seen, but then I've never seen or heard of anyone getting a superb review free of charge, with no strings attached then lambasting the person who gave it to you. Neither one of these actions are smart. Moreover, I must dispel your and Veinglory's notion of being clairvoyants-’that you can look at an ad and tell whether it is a paid ad. You don't know me; you don't know that for whatever reason, I may have given a free ad someone. One of your bloggers told you that-’that I give them a free cover ad for a charity, but you ignored that. It's not an uncommon practice with me, but it's also not everyone's business whether an author is paying for their ad. Occasionally, I get stiffed by an author for an ad. It goes with the territory.
    Let's take the current issue. Out of the 60 pages, there are nine ads, only six of the paid for. St. Jude Hospital has a free full page inside front ad from me that they didn't ask for. Why? You shouldn't even have to ask. I volunteered as a Registered Nurse through the Department of Public Heath following Katrina. Hence, the 3 page spread on New Orleans. It's my second one on that devastated city, and there will be more until they're back on their feet. Slam Jam article-’AdC was the catalyst and remains a strong supporter of African-American romances being in print. Did they pay for this 3 page coverage? No. And they won't next year either. There are over 100 reviews. Do the math if you can. There is no way six ads are going to pay for this magazine. I pay for it. Why I do it is not your business. I pay for sending galleys like yours to reviewer; I pay the cost of publication; I pay for my web site. Instead of going off half cocked, poll the authors we've reviewed, you'll learn that they and their publisher contributed nothing to their being reviewed by AdC.
    I had to draw the line somewhere; we attempt to do simultaneous reviews-’that is do the review at the same time the book is released. It doesn't matter to us whether you're big publishers or small; it doesn't matter the genre. If you send your galley in 3-4 months prior to its publication date, we review it. However, if your send your galley to us in less that 3 month, we have to overnight or fed-ex it to the reviewer who has to rearrange her schedule to read it and get it reviewed; we often pay to change the layout so we can accommodate the late review. These represent costs I'm not willing to absorb on top of everything else. So, I openly say if you want us to review your book and you've sent in less than 3 months before pub date, you need to do ad to help us allay the expenses we will incur because you sent it late. Nowhere else do we say that ad is necessary.
    I determine editorial content. It's interesting that on one hand you condemn us for not dealing with small publishers but if I offer them a chance to explain who they are and what they do, you slam that, too. Some magazines charge for this. I don't. And, again, just because you seen an interview (oops, you've never seen an issue) doesn't mean someone paid for it. Sandra Brown, who has both the cover and a 3 page interview, paid us nothing. Readers want to know about her. Jim Butcher paid us nothing. Neither did his publisher.
    How does a small publisher, a mid-list author ever break through if no one allows them to write about themselves without charging, if no one reviews their books without an ad? This is a service, not a fault. Is it your expectation, then, when someone does take out an ad with me that I don't review their books? That's just crazy. Does it mean they'll get five stars because they took out an ad? No.
    I will not engage in a personal attack on anyone, not even you. I have reviewers who have jobs outside AdC and who may review for another site. I have nothing to do with what they do outside of AdC. The same is true with Bonny Kirby and Lightsword Press. I have no personal knowledge of their machinations. I don't want to know. However, they came to me as a legitimate small press, one of hundreds, whose authors needed publicity. They purchased one ad, and I gave them multiple free ads and let them do articles. I probably would do the same thing tomorrow.
    I would love more paid ads. I would love to stop paying out of my own pocket, but I'm not willing to become RT and do the exact thing you accused me of. There are many who are furious with you-’authors, publishers (including your own), readers who know who we are and what we stand for. They are looking at you-’a man who made horrendous accusations on hearsay without ever having seen the product he's criticizing, a violation of any edict of journalism. (e-mail me, and I'll send you a PDF for this issue) I've received tons of support from many sources who know the truth and who don't want to have anything to do with your blog. Oh, and can somebody please learn how to spell Coeur?

    Louise Snead
    Publisher, Affaire de Coeur

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  26. Lee Goldberg
    Aug 02, 2008 @ 15:20:58

    Louise wrote: ” I have reviewers who have jobs outside AdC and who may review for another site. I have nothing to do with what they do outside of AdC. The same is true with Bonny Kirby and Lightsword Press. I have no personal knowledge of their machinations. I don't want to know. However, they came to me as a legitimate small press, one of hundreds, whose authors needed publicity. They purchased one ad, and I gave them multiple free ads and let them do articles. I probably would do the same thing tomorrow.”

    That’s sad, Louise. Light Sword didn’t come to you as “one of hundreds” of small presses whose “authors needed publicity.” It came to you from your advertising director, who co-owns Light Sword and who profits from the success of the publisher and its books. That is an outrageous conflict-of-interest and the fact that you “don’t want to know” even now says a lot about your ethical standards (or rather your complete lack of them).

    The same goes for your astonishing lack of interest regarding potential conflicts-of-interest among your reviewers. Let’s say, for example, that one of your reviewers is also a publicist for Harlequin. It wouldn’t bother you to have her reviewing Harlequin books that she’s been hired to publicize? You wouldn’t care? You wouldn’t consider that an unacceptable conflict-of-interest?

    You’re a magazine publisher, Louise. You have a responsibility to your readers to assure that your reviews and coverage are free from bias. The fact that you don’t care about that is shocking.

    Louise writes: “So, I openly say if you want us to review your book and you've sent in less than 3 months before pub date, you need to do ad to help us allay the expenses we will incur because you sent it late. Nowhere else do we say that ad is necessary. I determine editorial content.”

    That’s not what you offer your advertisers. On your site you say:

    “To compliment your ad and review we also offer interviews or articles. If you would like an interview let us know 3 months in advance so it will go in the same issue as your review and ad. We accept articles at any time, we need articles 3 months in advance. All articles must receive approval on subject matter.”

    So what is the truth, Louise? What you offer to your advertisers or what you are telling me? But, for the sake of argument, let’s say you don’t offer articles, interviews and reviews in exchange for advertising. It’s still a breach of ethics to ask publishers to buy an ad in exchange for reviewing a book that is submitted late. Here’s a simple solution: if the publisher misses the deadline, don’t review the book.

    I think it’s terrific that you give free ads to charities. Good for you. But that has nothing to do with your total disregard for basic ethical conduct in your editorial practices.

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  27. Lee Goldberg
    Aug 02, 2008 @ 15:28:23

    Lauren,

    If you read my blog post, then you would know what my issues are. But to summarize:

    I don't think the five-star review of MR. MONK GOES TO GERMANY was the result of my publisher taking out an ad (they didn't). I am sure the reviewer genuinely liked my book.

    The reason I have refused to acknowledge the praise, or allow the blurb to be used in any advertising or promotion for my book, is because I don't want to be associated in any way with a magazine with such horrendous ethical standards (which is practically no ethical standards whatsoever). I don't want to lend them any professional credibility or implied endorsement that might come from being associated with me or my book. It's a matter of principle for me.

    I don't begrudge the magazine for having advertisements -’ no magazine can survive without them.

    What I find objectionable and highly unethical is that the magazine offers publishers and authors reviews, articles and interviews in exchange for buying advertising. It isn't a rumor that they are dong this, it is a fact, one confirmed by their advertising director Bonny Kirby in comments on Writer Beware and in the description of the various advertising packages/services offered to publishers (as detailed on the Affaire de Coeur website):

    “To compliment your ad and review we also offer interviews or articles. If you would like an interview let us know 3 months in advance so it will go in the same issue as your review and ad. We accept articles at any time, we need articles 3 months in advance. All articles must receive approval on subject matter.”

    “We will not accept submissions less than three months prior to the date of publication unless it is associated with an ad. We do not review books after publication unless it is done in association with an ad”

    In other words, if you buy an advertisement with Affaire de Coeur, they will “compliment” it with articles and reviews.

    And, as Bonny Kirby herself wrote on Writer Beware:

    “Any books that show up for review after the 3 month deadline, like the one that is discussed here has to have special treatment all the way through the process. This does in fact require an ad to expedite it.”

    So they will gladly review your book after publication, or if you submit it late, if you will buy an ad. There's clearly a connection between buying ads and getting coverage. They aren't even subtle about it.

    Reviews that appear as a direct result of paid advertising should be clearly labeled as such, whether the reviewer in question knew the review was purchased or not. That is a basic tenet of ethical journalism (see the Society of Professional Journalists Code of Ethics, which are adopted by virtually all reputable magazines and newspapers).

    There should be NO RELATION between editorial and advertising content…and if there is, it should be CLEARLY DISCLOSED on the articles, reviews, etc. that were bought. A high school journalism student could tell you that.

    What I find abhorrent and highly unethical is that the magazine also published reviews, cover stories, and articles about books published by Light Sword, a company co-owned by their advertising director. It is not my opinion, it is a fact. It is also an egregious and outrageous conflict of interest and should have been disclosed in the reviews, articles and cover stories…it was not. And that's shameful.

    If you visit my site, you will see a link to the EREC blog which studied a recent issue and saw a direct correlation betweens ads purchases and space devoted to those advertisers' books in the magazine:

    “Light Sword Publishing
    * 3 pages of advertising
    * 6.5 pages of content (3 being an article that is clearly self-promotional, aimed at authors not readers and available for free on their website)
    * 1.5 pages of book review space

    Medallion Press
    * 2.5 pages of advertising
    * 2.5 pages of book review space

    Parker
    * 0.25 pages of advertising
    * 0.75 pages of book review space

    Dafina
    * 0.25 pages of advertising
    * 0.75 pages of book review space

    Torquere Press
    * 1 page of advertising.”

    Light Sword books, authors, and editors weren't featured in the magazine on the basic of merit, or their interest to the readership, or their newsworthiness, but because the advertising director had a personal, financial interest in the publishing company. That is a huge disservice to the magazine's readership, an extreme example of conflict of interest, and it reflects negatively on everyone associated with the publication.

    I don't blame you for being pissed off, Lauren. But I'm not the one who cast shame and doubt on your objectivity as a reviewer …it is the highly unethical practices of your employer that have done so.

    Lee

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  28. Lee Goldberg
    Aug 02, 2008 @ 15:35:11

    Alexey wrote: “My Book, KINGMAKER was reviewed by ADC, no payment was ever made nor advertising solicited.”

    That’s not entirely accurate. The co-owner of your publisher is the advertising director of ADC. Is it any surprise that the books that she published get favorable treatment and wide exposure in the magazine? Or that her partner was profiled in the magzine?

    Your book may or may not have deserved the positive review…but as long as this conflict-of-interest exists, the objectivity of the review will always be in question. You have been harmed and the sad thing is that you don’t even realize it.

    Alexey wrote: “Mr. Goldeberg's allegations would have never been published in a newspaper. But on the internet slanderous allegations are tolerated.”

    Bonny Kirby is advertising director of ADC and co-owner of Light Sword. That is a fact. That such a relationship is considered a conflict of interest under the Code of Ethics adopted by most magazines and newspapers is also a fact. ADC also gives reviews in exchange for ads in some cases. That is a fact. Stating those truths isn’t slander.

    Lee

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  29. Author
    Aug 02, 2008 @ 17:01:27

    Mr. Goldberg, FYI…Ms. Kirby is no longer affiliated with Light Sword Publishing and has not been for several months, so stop slamming both “Affaire de Coeur” and Light Sword. Maybe it you spent more time on writing books and less on slamming magazines and publishers, you’d get somewhere and not have so many enemies. Get a life!

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  30. Lee Goldberg
    Aug 02, 2008 @ 17:25:54

    But Kirby *was* affiliated with Light Sword while the company, and her then-partner Linda Daly, enjoyed positive press and considerable coverage from the magazine where she served as advertising director. It’s that conflict of interest and ethical breach that we are discussing.

    The fact Kirby has since parted ways with her partner doesn’t change the fact that a conflict-of-interest occurred…and that the publisher of ADC doesn’t give a damn. (And let’s not forget that a court recently determined that Kirby and Daly, while partnered at Light Sword, defrauded an author).

    That is why I have rejected ADC’s positive review of my book and asked my publisher not to use it in any promotional materials. In my opinion, the magazine engages in unethical behavior and I don’t want to be associated with them. I think it’s a good thing that a wider audience is now aware of those questionable practices.

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  31. Alexey Braguine
    Aug 02, 2008 @ 18:24:04

    Goldberg, quit your whinning. Read Kingmaker, where you will learn how to be a man of honor.

    ReplyReply

  32. Unrequited Writer
    Aug 02, 2008 @ 20:07:05

    I guess the question about all this after hearing from Louise Snead is this: if AdC provides free advertising and reviews for huge names like Sandra Brown, who actually no longer needs a review for any book and sells on name-recognition, alone, then why on earth would AdC demand payment from new authors from small houses who can barely afford paper, much less advertising? If altruism is your strong-suit, as you’ve suggested, Louise, why are you making back your kindnesses from the hard-working new authors who need a review?

    I haven’t seen a thing anywhere that says reviews completed must be done within a certain time frame. Doesn’t it seem reasonable that AdC might want to consider offering free reviews for anyone willing to wait? Without offering that option, this seems like a money-grab to me.

    As to Mr. Braguine . . . Sir, you might want to consider that dozens of potential readers see these posts and make judgements about the people who write them. At this point, I wouldn’t pick up your book if it was free.

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  33. PenWrestler
    Aug 03, 2008 @ 09:46:34

    Loise Snead wrote, concerning Lee Goldberg:

    There are many who are furious with you-’authors, publishers (including your own), readers who know who we are and what we stand for. They are looking at you-’a man who made horrendous accusations on hearsay without ever having seen the product he's criticizing, a violation of any edict of journalism.

    Lee, I’d be asking my publisher about this. If your house is gossiping about you with Ms Snead. . . not good!

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  34. Lee Goldberg
    Aug 03, 2008 @ 12:45:12

    Don’t worry, my relationship with my publisher is as strong, healthy and supportive as ever. They’re terrific. I have two more books in the pipeline (MR. MONK IS MISERABLE in December, MR. MONK AND THE DIRTY COP in July 2009) and I’ve just accepted a three-book contract from them for more MONK novels that will continue our relationship well into 2010. Contrary to Louise’s comments, my criticism of Affair De Coeur’s unethical editorial practices has had no impact whatsoever in my life, professionally or otherwise.

    (I do find it amusing, however, to see Louise accusing me of violating an “edict of journalism” considering that she unapologetically runs articles about books published by her advertising director, requires that some publishers buy ads in exchange for reviews, and doesn’t want to know about any potential conflicts-of-interest among her reviewers).

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  35. PenWrestler
    Aug 03, 2008 @ 15:59:47

    Well, I echo Unrequited Writer. It seems to me that for the most part, AdC could put a stop to all this if it offered free reviews, period, unless a house or an author demands immediate service. Then the cost for the review could be justified as ‘expedited service’. I just don’t get the nexus between paying for advertising in order to be reviewed later than the time period specified by the magazine’s policy. Unless a house or an author DEMANDS speedy service, there should be no monetary onus on AdC in the completion of a review. Clearly a shell game and totally unnecessary.

    It is good to know that AdC reviewers are unaware of who has paid for what; but I have to wade in with Lee, AdC’s review policy is a problem.

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  36. Bonny Kirby
    Aug 03, 2008 @ 22:00:52

    It astounds me how Goldberg continues to draw attention to himself and continues to get people to respond to him when he clearly has no clue as to what he is talking about either with the Light Sword issue or much more importantly the Affaire de Coeur issue.

    He has clearly not had any first hand information, nor has he ever seen a magazine. He clearly considers the idea of a magazine selling advertisements some sort of ethics issue. My question would be to him as follows: Do you think that the layout people, printers and such provide any magazine for free just for the pleasure of people? Is it possible that such things as postage, paper, layout, printing and such has to be paid for in some fashion?

    Reviews in AdC are now, have always been and will continue to be given without cost to the author or publisher. All they have to do is work within the very reasonable time constraints to get the magazine out on time to be of benefit to all of the authors, reviewers, advertisers and writers involved. This has been stated way too many times, but as in all things in these sorts of discussions, those who don’t follow guidelines and expect special treatment, hear what they want to hear instead of what it really said.

    Mr. Goldberg is clearly an ameteur with a serious love of listening to himself talk and it matters not at all whether he makes sense, insults people, commits slander or just makes himself look sad and unreasonable. He just likes to hear himself talk.

    As for me, I will gladly answer anyone truthfully regarding my actions. I have done nothing wrong. I answered Goldberg once on another blog, and since I refused to commit to an ongoing, repetitive, bottomless pit of Goldberg BS, he continues to listen to himself incoherently yammer on. Good for him. What I will not do is engage in an ongoing dialogue regarding something that is quite frankly none of anyone’s business. The people I have worked with and currently work with know my character and what I am made of, self serving blow-hards such as Goldberg just don’t interest me.

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  37. PenWrestler
    Aug 03, 2008 @ 23:30:58

    Hello, Ms Kirby and thanks for offering to answer some questions. I have been following the posts online on these issues and have a handful of questions that might clear things up a bit.

    1. It is my understanding that you are no longer associated with Light Sword Press. Were you still associated with them when AdC featured Light Sword authors and apparently the CEO of the company?

    2. Since your disassociation with Light Sword Press (if that is the case), how many of Light Sword’s books have been reviewed by AdC and have any of their staff been featured in articles or interviews?

    3. Your comments seem to suggest that AdC charges fees to authors and publishers who are late requesting reviews, punitively. Please explain AdC’s rationale for their fee schedule and please explain why AdC forces everyone submitting late to purchase an ad in exchange for a review. I’m really not prying, here. I just do not understand why it costs AdC more to do a late review when no burden is placed on the magazine by those requesting the review.

    As I said before, thanks for offering to answer questions.

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  38. Lee Goldberg
    Aug 03, 2008 @ 23:40:32

    Bonny,

    Selling ads is not unethical. It’s how a magazine makes money. No one questions that.

    Selling ads in exchange for reviews, however, is unethical under any circumstance.

    I notice you still don’t address the blatant conflict-of-interest regarding ADC’s coverage of Light Sword, a company that you co-owned at the same time that the magazine, where you work as advertising director, was running positive articles, reviews and interviews about their books.

    You honestly don’t see the ethical problem with not that?

    You say these ethical breaches are nobody’s business. I disagree. It’s the business of your readers. You have a responsibility to them. They need to know when there is a potential bias and undisclosed conflict-of-interest in the articles and reviews that you publish.

    Lee

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  39. DaedalDoll
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 01:23:59

    “Mr. Goldberg is clearly an ameteur with a serious love of listening to himself talk and it matters not at all whether he makes sense, insults people, commits slander or just makes himself look sad and unreasonable. He just likes to hear himself talk.”

    He’s not an ameteur(correct spelling is amateur, btw). I’m surprised you think this.

    His ethics are commendable. My impression is he’s interested in looking out for the readers as well as writers who are being harmed by bad practices.

    I’ve seen him present facts, not slander.

    “What I will not do is engage in an ongoing dialogue regarding something that is quite frankly none of anyone's business.”

    Oh, but this does matter to anyone who buys books–or writes them.

    Dae

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  40. Karen Scott
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 13:51:47

    I just do not understand why it costs AdC more to do a late review when no burden is placed on the magazine by those requesting the review.

    I don’t understand either. Bonny, care to answer any time soon?

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  41. Bonny Kirby
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 14:12:51

    I will give direct answers to all of these questions, this one time only.

    In response to PenWriter:

    1. I was never, nor did I ever want to carry the title of CEO of LSP. I owned substantial interest in it and in fact still do but only on paper until I can get the proper releases through the court system. Linda Daly understands that when I accomplish this that I am coming after my money so she wants to block me on that front. I will get released, I have no desire to affiliate myself with Linda Daly. I have done nothing wrong, nor will I continue ownership of a company where a partner clearly gets worse ethically.

    When Light Sword received coverage from and reviews from AdC, I removed myself from the entire process both at LSP and AdC. Louise Snead would not have allowed me to be involved if I had wanted to be, she is a very straightforward and ethical person, as am I. LSP purchased advertising and received the same courtesies regarding articles and such that anyone receives, no more, no less. The reviews were done by staff reviewers and I had nothing to do with them.

    The reason LSP has not recently had books reviewed is because they have not sent them in, early, late or otherwise. I have no idea what is currently going on in the day to day world of LSP, nor do I have any desire to. I want my name off of everything and my money returned.

    Question number 2 was answered in the previous one with one exception. ANY author under ANY publisher can submit to write an article with AdC. Only one of the LSP authors has done that, she was approved but the article has never been received. AdC will not chase her down for it, there are many authors who want to be featured and do their part to make it happen.

    3. Assume you are a subscriber to any magazine. When someone does not follow the guidelines by their own fault or circumstances it can and does require special handling to get their review in the appropriate magazine. The reason that reviews are not done after the release of the book is obvious even to a lay person.

    Taking that into account, when a galley is prepared at the publisher, it then has to be sent to the office at the magazine, where it is then logged, assigned and AdC assumes the costs of sending them to a reviewer. They then read and review the book and it is then put into the appropriate place to be laid out in the magazine. All of this takes time and money if it is on time. Assume that the galley hits the office after the deadline and the author really wants it in the magazine. That happens more often than you can imagine. Who then should assume the costs of overnighting books to reviewers? What motivates a reviewer to set aside a particular time in exclusion of all else to get this done? How does the layout guy continue his job without materials in place on time? How can it get to the printer and back in order to reach the subscriber on time?

    This is the response to the individual author who thinks it is all about their one book when the big picture is really of more importance. The only solutions are:

    a. Make the author pay a flat fee for the inconvenience and hold up for which they only get a review.

    b. Refuse to take anything late, no matter what.

    c. Give the author the choice of buying an ad which will cover the costs of the lateness and still allow them to get something out of it.

    There is your “rationale” for fee schedules. AdC is a business, that is it. Do you ask the grocer to rationalize charging for groceries? This has gone way out of bounds and needs to go into perspective.

    When they are received on time, there are no costs to the author and/or publisher.

    Response to Lee Goldberg:

    I answered all of that, twice now. Perhaps Mr. Goldberg should read the responses instead of listening to himself talk about companies and situations he has no firsthand knowledge about.

    Mr. Goldberg has attacked me and never once spoken to me about any of this. I will and have answered any questions truthfully and clearly. There is such a thing as someone who stirs unnecessary controversy for their own benefit and that is what I see here. If I am wrong, show me.

    I am not an unethical person and I have not and will not participate in unethical practices, that is why LSP and I have separated. In the manner in which Goldberg has approached this, he has given half information, untrue information and assumptions based on his own opinions. I am not hard to get ahold of, he has not even tried. It wouldn’t suit his purposes to deal in truth, based upon his approach this far. If I am wrong, he can certainly look at that and adjust his dealings accordingly.

    When he stated he had not even seen a copy of AdC magazine, a FREE download of the magazine was offered to him which he did not take advantage of. This would have required a few minutes which would have helped him get his facts straight. As I stated before, it does not suit his PERSONAL hate monging, half truths and garbage to educate himself on a subject that he has decided he is an expert on. Had he downloaded the magazine or gotten a copy, he would have then been able to speak somewhat intelligently and truthfully. The problem is at this point, he would have to backtrack on much of what he has said and people who take the road he has seldom if ever correct themselves when it comes to the truth.

    Response to DaedalDoll:

    I clearly responded to this when I responded to Goldberg himself. How do you know he is presenting facts? Where did the information come from? What is his point?

    If you believe he is somehow protecting the writing and reading public, then part of that should be dealing in the truth, not assumptions and the garbage he has thrown about without any kind of verification or comments from the parties involved. Back in the beginning of this, he stated that “journalistic integrity” was important to him. The way I was taught is by verifying, receiving comments or at least asking for comments and if you don’t get them, you state that the party would not comment. You wouldn’t slam a magazine you have never seen, nor would you turn down a free chance to see that magazine.

    I do agree that an unethical publishing company should be cited and publicized to writers. That is why I am no longer with LSP and I will state clearly, based upon first hand knowledge and FACT that authors should steer clear of this company. I will also say that several LSP authors have approached me recently to assist them in finding a new publisher, I have refused for obvious reasons. I have however, told them to continue in their search and get free as soon as they can. I also told them how to get out of the contracts they signed without going to court.

    If you think in any way I have been unclear, you should read it again.

    Bonny Kirby

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  42. Lee Goldberg
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 17:43:21

    Bonny,

    Thank you for addressing some of the issues that I, and other people, have raised regarding ADC’s editorial practices. You wrote:

    “1. I was never, nor did I ever want to carry the title of CEO of LSP. I owned substantial interest in it and in fact still do but only on paper [...]When Light Sword received coverage from and reviews from AdC, I removed myself from the entire process both at LSP and AdC. Louise Snead would not have allowed me to be involved if I had wanted to be, she is a very straightforward and ethical person, as am I.

    If that is the case, did ADC print a notice with the reviews, articles and interviews about Light Sword that disclosed that the magazine’s advertising director owned a substantial interest in the publishing company? If not, perhaps you could explain the reasons why.

    Bonnie wrote: “LSP purchased advertising and received the same courtesies regarding articles and such that anyone receives, no more, no less.”

    But those “courtesies,” as detailed in the advertising packages you offer on the ADC site, includes reviews, articles and interviews tied to the advertising. Did LSP receive articles, reviews and interviews as a result of the amount of advertising they purchased…or because of your position with the magazine? If not, perhaps you could explain the disproportionately high amount of editorial space LSP received compared to other publishers (as detailed in the EREC analysis of a recen ADC issue).

    And have any Light Sword books ever received a negative review in ADC?

    Bonny wrote: “Assume that the galley hits the office after the deadline and the author really wants it in the magazine. That happens more often than you can imagine. Who then should assume the costs of overnighting books to reviewers? What motivates a reviewer to set aside a particular time in exclusion of all else to get this done? How does the layout guy continue his job without materials in place on time? How can it get to the printer and back in order to reach the subscriber on time?
    [...]The only solutions are:

    a. Make the author pay a flat fee for the inconvenience and hold up for which they only get a review.

    b. Refuse to take anything late, no matter what.

    c. Give the author the choice of buying an ad which will cover the costs of the lateness and still allow them to get something out of it.

    The correct answer is B. There is no excuse for taking payola in return for a review. If you and Louise are as concerned about ethics as you claim to be, that should be obvious to you.

    Bonny wrote: “There is your “rationale” for fee schedules. AdC is a business, that is it. Do you ask the grocer to rationalize charging for groceries? This has gone way out of bounds and needs to go into perspective.

    You aren’t a grocery store, or a shoe store, or a car dealership. You aren’t selling individual products. You are a magazine, and that’s a very different enterprise, as you should know.

    A magazine has a responsibility to its reader to be free from the perception of bias. That is especially true of a magazine that reviews products which, in your case, are books. Your readers need to know that the opinions expressed by your reviewers aren’t influenced in any way by the authors or publishers of the books they are reviewing. Your readers need to know that no author or publisher received “special treatment.” Obviously, if you require a publisher to pay for an advertisement to “expedite” a review, or in exchange for other kinds of coverage, you are creating a conflict of interest and a perception of bias.

    These are basic, ethical rules taught in every high school journalism class in the country. AdC owes it to its readers, reviewers, and authors to conduct itself according to the highest ethical standards to avoid just this kind of controversy.

    My advice to you and Louise would be to no longer accept payment, under any circumstances, in exchange for editorial coverage. Or, if you choose to continue this unethical practice, run a disclaimer with each article or review disclosing that it was published as the result of some form of payment. Something like this, perhaps:

    “Full Disclosure Statement: Under certain circumstances, some publishers and authors receive reviews and other editorial coverage of their books in exchange for purchasing advertising in our magazine. While purchasing an advertisement will lead to a review, it does not guarantee that the review will be positive.”

    Louise should also make sure that none of her employees has a conflict of interest that would raise the question of bias (ie a reviewer who reviews books from her own publisher, the magazine reviewing a book written by another ADC reviewer, running articles about books published by an ADC executive, etc).

    And when there is a bias that can’t be avoided, the potential conflict of interest should be fully disclosed to readers. For instance, if there are any reviews or articles from companies in which her employees have a financial interest, it should be disclosed with something like this:

    “Our advertising director owns a substantial interest in Light Sword Publishing. She has not been involved in the preparation of either the editorial or advertising content regarding the publisher or its books in our magazine. We have strived to make every effort to remain objective in our coverage of Light Sword and not to grant them any special attention. If you believe we erred or failed in this regard, we welcome your feedback.”

    Lee

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  43. Ann Somerville
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 18:14:44

    The correct answer is B. There is no excuse for taking payola in return for a review.

    I disagree. If the author/publisher wants a premium service above and beyond what other authors/publishers get, why should they not have to pay for it? The magazine isn’t a charity. Of the options offered by Ms Kirby, I personally thought they took the best one.

    As Ms Kirby already made all her points in a comment on your original post, I’m surprised you’re arguing with her here. Of course, I’m glad you have, since your post comments are heavily moderated, and I doubt any one disagreeing has much of a chance of getting their comment approved.

    Mr Goldberg, I’ve very much disliked the personal attacks against you in this post, but I also very much dislike your highhanded and hectoring tone. Your ‘journalistic’ ethics aren’t exactly anything to write home about, since you frequently use your blog for very personal attacks on fellow authors. Your lecturing others in such a manner grates considerably. You have been told repeatedly that the reviewers aren’t paid to review, and they aren’t involved in the business side of this magazine. Your attacks on the reviews and reviewers are grossly unfair.

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  44. Bonny Kirby
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 19:35:07

    Wow, this is simple to respond to, much easier than I thought. As I stated before, Mr. Goldberg will not retract, nor apologize for any of his untrue or unsupported comments. His personal attacks will continue simply because people who crave this kind of attention will fight for it and never go back even when wrong.

    Journalistic integrity is not an issue I will address with him again. Had he possessed that, he would have at least responded to the part where he did no fact checking or verifying at all. That speaks more to his methods than anything I could say. The offer of a free downloaded magazine is still on the table and still has not been collected.

    Payment for services rendered is not “payola”, again you are making yourself look ridiculous.

    Ms Sommerville, thank you for your comments. I tend not to go into personal attacks and I did go there in this post. I shouldn’t have. My only excuse and it is an excuse is that I have been under personal attack for three weeks from a man I had never heard of with lies, innuendo and garbage. You can see for yourself the positive solutions were not what he addressed, it was only something he could stake his very shaky opinion on since retracting where he was wrong will not be done.

    Mr. Greenberg, if you choose, since this is America and AdC and other magazines like it are private enterprise, you can publish your own magazine. Interestingly enough, you would have learned that in the case of Kirkus Reviews and countless others, the ONLY way to get reviewed is by making payment. Many won’t review small presses at all, others with payment only and only on a limited basis. AdC reviews everything possible without prejudice to any of those facts as well as no prejudice on genre. Taking all of that into account, you own no part of AdC so you have no business attempting to make policy. However, since it is America, you don’t have to read it….wait, you never have. All you have done is attack.

    Since you feel you can give me advice unsolicited, let me give you some. Inform yourself with the facts, then speak to me and I will answer, if you choose not to do that, my advice is to shut-up.

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  45. Lee Goldberg
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 20:40:29

    Bonny wrote: “Interestingly enough, you would have learned that in the case of Kirkus Reviews and countless others, the ONLY way to get reviewed is by making payment.”

    That isn’t true. You are perpetuating a falsehood to justify unethical conduct.

    You can’t buy a review in Kirkus Reviews. And contrary to your implication, you can’t buy reviews in Publishers Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, or countless other reputable publications. Those publications never, under any circumstances, accept payment for reviews.

    You are confusing Kirkus Reviews with Kirkus Discoveries.

    Kirkus Reviews is a respected publication and website that does not ask for, or accept, payment for reviews.

    Kirkus Discoveries is an entirely separate web site in which ALL the reviews are paid for by authors or publishers. (And, as a result, it is not respected by booksellers, publishers, editors or agents). A simple visit to the Kirkus website would have made that clear. Here’s an excerpt from their main page:

    Kirkus is now offering a new review service, giving all writers the opportunity to get attention for their books and giving rights and acquisitions agents the chance to watch out for books that might interest them. Any book is fair game, whether conventionally published, self-published, e-published, published via Print-On-Demand or previously unpublished.
    NOTE: Kirkus Reviews and Kirkus Discoveries are separate book-review services.
    Kirkus Discoveries, unlike Kirkus Reviews, is a paid-review service that allows authors and publishers of overlooked titles to receive authoritative, careful assessment of their books.
    NOTE: Kirkus Reviews, an independent book-review journal, does not charge for reviews.
    •The review, written in the same format and style as a traditional Kirkus review, is sent by email to the author or publisher as a PDF document. (Allow 7-9 weeks for turnaround, depending on service). The author or publisher is free to excerpt the review or reprint it in whole as part of any promotional or marketing material, whether print or online.
    NOTE: All reviews must be attributed exactly as follows: Kirkus Discoveries. Once again, Kirkus Reviews and Kirkus Discoveries are separate book-review services. Attributing a Kirkus Discoveries review to Kirkus Reviews is incorrect and misleading. False attribution will result in corrective measures.

    While I think Kirkus is preying on the desperation and gullibility of aspiring authors with their new “service,” they have, at least, made it absolutely clear that the reviews in Kirkus Discoveries are bought. When ADC requires the purchase of advertising for a particular review, they do not disclose that fact in the review.

    I hope this clears up any confusion.

    Lee

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  46. Ann Somerville
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 21:03:28

    Actually, Ms Kirby, I wasn’t thinking of you at all when I referred to personal attacks, but other people further up the thread such as Alexey Braguine.

    When ADC requires the purchase of advertising for a particular review, they do not disclose that fact in the review.

    If they give the same review regardless, and the payment is not for the review but the expediting, why should they? The reviewers have repeatedly said – and the evidence would appear to clearly support it – that they don’t alter the stance of a review according to administrative issues. Good reviews are not tied to advertising, period. The speed of a review is. So what?

    You know, Mr Goldberg, I feel really sorry for the person who read your authorised Mr Monk fanfiction and gave you a fair and balanced review, only to have their integrity smeared and their hard work wasted. I honestly don’t give a damn about the other issues you’ve brought up, because from the start, you’ve victimised someone completely innocent, and for that reason, nothing else you say carries any weight with me. Since you didn’t fact check before launching your attack, I will give Ms Kirby the benefit of the doubt simply because I prefer the cut of her jib over yours.

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  47. PenWrestler
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 22:05:50

    Thanks for answering questions, Ms Kirby. Although I still tends to agree with Mr. Goldberg, I appreciate you taking the time to join this exchange.

    As I said in an earlier post, I’ve been following this situation pretty closely. To Ms. Kirby, if you can, please clarify the following information off of the Writer Beware website:

    LIGHT SWORD PUBLISHING, a.k.a. LSP DIGITAL

    Since its establishment in 2006, we’ve been getting a similar range of complaints about Light Sword Publishing: delays, nonpayment of royalties, unprofessional behavior. We’ve also gotten reports that Light Sword’s current owner, Linda Daly, and its former co-owner, Bonny Kirby (who is no longer associated with the company), misrepresented the company’s expertise and capabilities in order to encourage authors to sign contracts.

    We weren’t entirely surprised, therefore, to discover that in late 2007, Linda Daly, Bonny Kirby, and Light Sword Publishing were sued by one of their authors for breach of contract, fraud in the inducement, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. (Writer Beware has seen the complaint, as well as numerous other documents involved in the lawsuit).

    Although the defendants filed a counterclaim, alleging that it was really the plaintiff who provided misrepresentations and breached contract, the plaintiff was ultimately successful. On April 15, 2008, a default judgment in the amount of $15,342.64 was entered against Bonny Kirby, and on July 8, 2008, a default judgment in the amount of $16,558.63 was entered against Linda Daly and Light Sword Publishing.

    Have you, or do you, intend to file an appeal in this matter? From what I’ve been reading, a whole lot of people feel victimized by this Light Sword Press. Are you able to make any comments at this time?

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  48. Daedal Doll
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 23:24:40

    To Ann:

    “If they give the same review regardless, and the payment is not for the review but the expediting, why should they?”

    Do we know they gave the same review? Ms. Kirby was an active co-owner of LSP. She was also in charge of advertising on AdC at the same time. You don’t find that a conflict of interest that readers should have known about?

    Also, I’d like to see those reviews (I looked, but I didn’t find them on the site) because I’ve purchased some of their books. Many of the problems come from poor formatting and lack of professional editing, but some of the writers weren’t skill-ready to be published and weren’t given the opportunity to improve that a pro gives. If I were AdC, I couldn’t in good conscience suggest to readers the products were worth buying.

    “The reviewers have repeatedly said – and the evidence would appear to clearly support it – that they don't alter the stance of a review according to administrative issues.”

    Are the reviewers who posted on here the same ones who reviewed Light Sword Publishing’s writers? If so, I’d like to know if they were put off by large spaces between words, inferior graphics, words bleeding into the spine, making them hard to read, or the myriad of grammar errors.

    “Good reviews are not tied to advertising, period.”

    We don’t know that at all in this case.

    “So what?”

    The “so what?” is about ethical practices in advertising/endorsing a product.

    Dae

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  49. Ann Somerville
    Aug 04, 2008 @ 23:48:46

    I'd like to know if they were put off by large spaces between words, inferior graphics, words bleeding into the spine, making them hard to read, or the myriad of grammar errors.

    The quality of the review isn’t the same thing as the motivation for a review. Just because a reviewer gives a good mark to something you consider inferior, doesn’t mean shenanigans are afoot – I see that kind of thing all the time in my genre. Reviewers differ in skill and taste quite markedly, which is why it’s so difficult to assess their skill.

    The original accusation was “Apparently Affaire de Couer has a policy of providing positive reviews and articles to publishers based upon the amount of page space that is purchased”

    Now Ms Kirby states this is *not* the case. The ‘positiveness’ or otherwise of a review is *not* linked to advertising, as various people have come forward to testify about. Now unless everyone of them is lying, I have to believe the rating is separate from the advertising income. They may very well give preference on reviews to those who buy advertising, as in, they will push them ahead in the queue – I don’t have a problem with that. All I care about, as a reader, author and reviewer, is that the reviews are honest.

    The anonymous poster here suggested a way of verifying the initial accusations. No one has provided any proof of bias at all – only accusations that there might be bias. As Ms Kirby is not now associated with LSP and we are talking about the situation now, I’d like to see some evidence of actual review distortion now. Or in the past, even, since no one’s come up with it.

    I see a distinction between asking for a de facto fee for a preferentially speedy review, and asking for a fee for a preferentially rated review. Can you give me any proof that the latter is in fact what’s going on?

    Also, Mr Goldberg claims “When ADC requires the purchase of advertising for a particular review, they do not disclose that fact in the review.” And yet he quotes, from their website, “We will not accept submissions less than three months prior to the date of publication unless it is associated with an ad. We do not review books after publication unless it is done in association with an ad.” Either they’re up front or they’re not – they can’t be both.

    So give me some proof bad stuff is happening, or count me as completely skeptical.

    ReplyReply

  50. PenWrestler
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 00:07:58

    I see a distinction between asking for a de facto fee for a preferentially speedy review, and asking for a fee for a preferentially rated review.

    That’s the whole issue to me, Ann. AdC doesn’t give late-comers the opportunity to say, ‘I know I’m late with this. All I want is a review, whenever you can get to it.’ What AdC says is that if one is late submitting, punitive action will be taken in that the late-comer must purchase an advertising package in order to get a review. AdC reps say that the publication must jump through hoops in order to get those reviews done speedily and get the review placed in the mag in a timely fashion–and the fees are essentially for THEIR trouble.

    It seems to me that no one is asking that they go to that trouble. Thus, the entire thing, in my opinion, is a false construction. Having said that, it’s their business. It’s just good to know how that business is conducted.

    ReplyReply

  51. Ann Somerville
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 00:52:08

    Penwrestler, many review sites won’t take late items at *all*. It’s only ‘punitive’ if there is some compulsion about it – you *must be reviewed by AdC and you *must* pay a penalty. Which is nonsense.

    Many, many ‘free’ services charge a premium if you want faster service, more detailed assistance, better features blah blah. I see nothing wrong in that since there is no suggestion that the free service isn’t available if you abide by the conditions. This is also a separate issue from falsely positive reviews, and I wish people would attempt to disentangle the two.

    ReplyReply

  52. The Automated Antichrist
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 01:12:20

    Y’know, if you go to ANY search engine on the web and type in what you’re looking for, at the top of the page it sends you to you’ll get three to five sites and next to them it says PAID ADVERTISING or SPONSORED ADVERTISING.

    Get it?

    If you’ve accepted ANY payment at ALL for publishing something, whether it’s a review or an endorsement, you’ve accepted PAYMENT, and it’s PAID ADVERTISING or if you prefer, SPONSORED ADVERTISING.

    You can spin it any other way you want to. It doesn’t change reality. When there is no bias and no pay, it’s an impartial review, and when there is money exchanged it’s PAID ADVERTISING.

    Get it?

    Did any of you innalekshul marvels look up Lee Goldberg’s resume? Sixteen of you put together haven’t accomplished what he has in the last twenty-seven years. He STARTED his career as a freelance writer for NEWSWEEK MAGAZINE. For most of YOU PEOPLE, this is a goal to be achieved. For this man, it was a jumping point. I’m guessing he’s forgotten more about integrity than most of YOU PEOPLE ever knew.

    Some of you have displayed intelligence and a willingness to explore the facts. The rest of YOU PEOPLE should be ashamed of yourselves.

    As far as Bonny Kirby is concerned, that woman didn’t have a gun pointed to her head, to my knowledge, when she wrote the email to my wife demanding money from her for Light Sword Publishing and I hold her personally responsible for her actions. The letter came from the same email address listed on the AdC website and was sent as a principal of the company she was associated with. It was a nasty letter. If anyone doubts it, be aware that I’ll forward it to anyone that requests it, complete with the electronic signature that it was sent from Bonny Kirby’s computer.

    It was a NASTY letter. My wife, who is a lady in the true sense of the word, decided to behave as a lady. I have not gotten over the arrogance and rudeness I saw expressed, and I haven’t gotten over it to this day.

    Your move, Bonny. Tell me why you wrote a letter like that.

    My name is Alan and I’m Mari Sloan’s husband.

    ReplyReply

  53. Ann Somerville
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 01:16:15

    Dear Automated Antichrist

    Your polite and rational words have convinced me.

    I will never doubt again.

    yours, a true believer

    [/bullshit]

    ReplyReply

  54. The Automated Antichrist
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 01:42:55

    Look up Mr. Goldberg’s resume, ma’am.

    After you’ve read it, tell me me what you’ve done and let me know if you’re fit to lick his shoes.

    Have a nice evening.

    ReplyReply

  55. The Automated Antichrist
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 01:48:00

    Do you want me to post the letter Bonny Kirby sent my wife?

    ReplyReply

  56. The Automated Antichrist
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 01:51:06

    I’m not polite or rational. Did you look at Mr. Goldberg’s resume?

    ReplyReply

  57. Ann Somerville
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 01:53:51

    Do you want me to post the letter Bonny Kirby sent my wife?

    I really don’t. Ms Kirby’s ‘nastiness’ and Lee Goldberg’s resumé are not material here. I want to see actual evidence of the misconduct alleged, and sorry, personal animosity is not proof.

    ReplyReply

  58. The Automated Antichrist
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 02:02:46

    I’ll post the letter Bonny Kirby wrote with no claims or allegations. YOU be the judge.

    ReplyReply

  59. Ann Somerville
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 02:16:10

    Then I hope she sues the arse off you. How unethical. I honestly don’t care what you post – this game of ‘she’s a bitch, she must be lying’ doesn’t work with me because it’s been played *on* me.

    And Mr Goldberg is hardly a model of sweetness and light either. There are people who can’t speak his name without spitting too. Shall we trot them all out in this beauty contest you want to hold?

    ReplyReply

  60. The Automated Antichrist
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 02:16:42

    Verbatim:

    First of all, I would like to formally introduce myself to you, my name is Bonny Kirby, I am one of the owners of Light Sword Publishing and the Vice-President of Marketing and Promotions.

    Linda has given me all of the details of your ongoing conflicts regarding Beaufort Falls. As per your contract, we have an open amount due from you for $750.00 for last minute changes after the book goes to press. As the author of this book, you have an obligation to follow the contract you signed. We are a professional publishing company who cares about the people that we choose to represent. Along with our efforts we expect and make it clear to you contractually, what your duties are as an author. Some of those duties as you well know are to project your book and your publisher in a positive light. Without your publisher, you would not have a book to promote in any light. Your work with Sisters in Crime, is no doubt a positive action for your book and should be for your publisher as well.

    As you have been notified in the past, as per your contract you and you alone are who we deal with in regards to your book. You are of course, free to hire your husband or anybody else you choose to assist you. Nevertheless, all dealings in regards to Beaufort Falls can only be discussed directly with you. If you choose to have a staff, you are certainly free to do so, we deal only with the person we have a contract with. Therefore, per your request “we are dealing with it”.

    Please refer to Clause Number 32 in your contract in which it states the following: “The publisher has a right to end the contract earlier, without having to provide a reason to the author. All that is needed is written notification to author.” The contract is dated by us January 4, and was signed by you and witnessed by Alan Gershenson. Due to the ongoing conflicts and resistance by you to live up to the terms of the contract, we are exercising Clause Number 32 in your contract.

    We have in stock 32 copies of Beaufort Falls and you have the right to purchase them for $13.96 per copy which is the 30% off the cover price as allowed in the contract which is a total of $446.72 plus $35.00 shipping. This in addition to the $750.00 you owe us makes a total of $1,266.72 due to Light Sword Publishing. Please pay this total via certified funds within 30 days from this date. Should you decide you do not wish to own the remainder of your books, please pay only the $750.00 via certified funds and we will donate the remaining books as we deem appropriate.

    In accordance with the terms of the contract, you may find a new publisher and re-release Beaufort Falls, but you must obtain a new publisher and a new ISBN number. Should you fail to pay the $750.00 due Light Sword Publishing, we will take appropriate collection actions.

    We deeply regret the necessity of this decision, however, the integrity of the contract protects us as a publisher, and you as an author. To demand that we go outside the bounds of the contract and deal with a third party is not in the best interests of your book, the publisher nor the author.

    The written threats you have made at various times during the publishing of this book, have been kept, as have all of the correspondence. No further threats and slander will be tolerated. The official statement from Light Sword Publishing regarding the separation of this contract will be: “Light Sword Publishing no longer represents Mari Sloan and her current novel, Beaufort Falls. We wish her well in her endeavors and in no way should this separation suggest negativity regarding Mari Sloan or Beaufort Falls.” As per your agreement with Light Sword Publishing, a similar statement will be required. Any negative comments in chat rooms, in the press or in any other venue will be dealt with accordingly.

    Linda and I wish you well, please notify us regarding your intentions on the amounts due within 3 days. Please make all of your responses via email or snail mail, no verbal communications will be accepted.

    Bonny Kirby

    Vice President of Marketing, Sales and Promotions

    Light Sword Publishing

    bonnykirby@earthlink.net

    817-373-3496

    ReplyReply

  61. Ann Somerville
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 02:22:10

    That’s your idea of nasty?

    You’re off your fucking rocker, mate.

    You’re also a creep for posting someone’s email address like that.

    All that letter proves is that (a) Ms Kirby, as she has openly admitted, worked for LSP and (b) she keeps her temper better than you do.

    ReplyReply

  62. The Automated Antichrist
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 02:26:02

    I don’t have a temper. I just keep notes.

    The email address posted is listed on AdC.

    So is the phone number listed.

    ReplyReply

  63. Karen Scott
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 02:37:13

    you've victimised someone completely innocent, and for that reason, nothing else you say carries any weight with me.

    I’m thinking that using the word ‘victimised’ is putting a slightly melodramatic spin on what happened Ann.

    ReplyReply

  64. The Automated Antichrist
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 02:39:40

    Ann, I’m not your mate.

    ReplyReply

  65. Ann Somerville
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 02:41:03

    I think unjustly accusing someone of corrupt practice is victimising them. What would you call it?

    ReplyReply

  66. The Automated Antichrist
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 02:44:09

    I apologize, since I DO have a temper, although YOU PEOPLE have never seen it, and you probably never will and I shouldn’t have said I don’t have one.

    I was called a “piece of work” for venting the last time I lost control.

    Rest assured I will not ever lose control again.

    ReplyReply

  67. Lee Goldberg
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 02:46:02

    Ann wrote: “Also, Mr Goldberg claims “When ADC requires the purchase of advertising for a particular review, they do not disclose that fact in the review.” And yet he quotes, from their website, “We will not accept submissions less than three months prior to the date of publication unless it is associated with an ad. We do not review books after publication unless it is done in association with an ad.” Either they’re up front or they’re not – they can’t be both.

    I totally agree with you on this point, Ann.

    Do they disclose to readers which reviews were published as the result of an advertisement and which were not? If they don’t, then the reader has no way of knowing which reviews were published as a result of a fee paid to the magazine…and which were not.

    Did they disclose to readers that the Light Sword books being reviewed were published by a company in which the advertising director of the magazine was one of the owners and the Vice-President of Marketing and Promotions? As far as I know, they didn’t.

    So, as you say, either they are up front or they aren’t.

    I don’t mean to cast any doubt on the integrity of the individual reviewers. I am sure they are honest, book-loving folks and that whoever reviewed my book genuinely felt it deserved the five stars that it was given. I want to take this opportunity to thank her for her kind comments.

    But when a magazine engages in these kinds of conflict-of-interest it creates a perception of potential bias that tarnishes every reviewer and review. That’s why it’s so important for a magazine to never engage in practices or activities that cast doubt on the integrity of its editorial content.

    I believe their practices raise considerable doubts about their editorial integrity. That’s why I couldn’t accept their positive review, as flattered as I was by it, and asked my publisher not to use it in any promotional materials.

    I am pleased to see these ethical issues being widely discussed, not only as they apply to AdC but to other book review venues as well. It’s a healthy and important debate that can only lead to better editorial practices and a more savvy readership.

    Lee

    ReplyReply

  68. The Automated Antichrist
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 02:46:27

    Ann, it’s very late. Why aren’t you asleep?

    ReplyReply

  69. Karen Scott
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 02:49:10

    I think unjustly accusing someone of corrupt practice is victimising them. What would you call it?

    Oh my bad, I thought Goldberg’s rant was about the magazine, rather than the individual reviewer.

    Just off to check out where Goldberg decimated the reviewer’s character.

    ReplyReply

  70. Karen Scott
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 02:53:46

    Ann, it's very late. Why aren't you asleep?

    Not everybody is on American time hun.

    ReplyReply

  71. Ann Somerville
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 02:58:28

    Mr Goldberg, when I read my local newspaper, and I see a piece about a new store or product, and next to it is an ad, then I know the product’s maker has bought advertising. It’s right there in front of me. Seems that the magazine is *not* concealing anything from anyone, since they’re not hiding the ads. You can presume bias, if you like, and so can the consumer, and it’s right to be cautious, but as you’ve openly accused them of actual bias, the onus is on you to provide the proof. If you had stated at the beginning, it opens them up to accusations of bias, without accusing them of it, then that would have been fair comment. A claim of real bias, requires real proof, I’m sorry.

    Your thanks to the reviewer is welcome, but a little late. A formal apology in your blog would be nice, I feel, since they have borne the brunt of your accusation. You understand as a reviewer myself, I take this kind of thing very personally, since I know how easy it is to sling crap at people doing what we do without any understanding of the process.

    Antichrist, don’t you have a foul pit to retreat to or something? I’m sure it will come as a considerable shock to you, but not everyone on the planet lives in North America.

    Karen, Mr Goldberg accused the AdC reviewers of reviewing positively to order. No one has been able to substantiate that in even a single instance, yet all have been defamed by this accusation.

    ReplyReply

  72. Lee Goldberg
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 03:04:30

    Karen,

    If you are looking for comments I’ve made about AdC reviewers, you might want to start with comment #27 here, where I wrote:

    I don't think the five-star review of MR. MONK GOES TO GERMANY was the result of my publisher taking out an ad (they didn't). I am sure the reviewer genuinely liked my book.

    The reason I have refused to acknowledge the praise, or allow the blurb to be used in any advertising or promotion for my book, is because I don't want to be associated in any way with a magazine with such horrendous ethical standards (which is practically no ethical standards whatsoever). I don't want to lend them any professional credibility or implied endorsement that might come from being associated with me or my book. It's a matter of principle for me.

    Or, more recently, comment #66, where I wrote:

    I don't mean to cast any doubt on the integrity of the individual reviewers. I am sure they are honest, book-loving folks and that whoever reviewed my book genuinely felt it deserved the five stars that it was given. I want to take this opportunity to thank her for her kind comments.

    But when a magazine engages in these kinds of conflict-of-interest it creates a perception of potential bias that tarnishes every reviewer and review. That's why it's so important for a magazine to never engage in practices or activities that cast doubt on the integrity of its editorial content.

    Lee

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  73. Daedal Doll
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 04:04:50

    “. . . when I read my local newspaper, and I see a piece about a new store or product, and next to it is an ad, then I know the product's maker has bought advertising. It's right there in front of me. Seems that the magazine is *not* concealing anything from anyone, since they're not hiding the ads.”

    Are they also reviewing the product for you, endorsing it? Are they, unknown to you, co-owners of the product? Have they been in business a long time and you trust them not to steer you wrong?

    Why are you so sure an independent reviewer wrote the reviews? Do you have proof they did?

    I have no problem with you sticking up for independent reviewers. I’ve reviewed a few books. I don’t believe the reviewers are being accused of anything, though.

    Dae

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  74. Daedal Doll
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 04:32:56

    To Ann #49:

    “The quality of the review isn't the same thing as the motivation for a review.”

    I didn’t say anything about the quality of the review. I wondered if any of the reviewers had posted on here. I said: I'd like to know if they were put off by large spaces between words, inferior graphics, words bleeding into the spine, making them hard to read, or the myriad of grammar errors.

    You seem to be reading meanings that aren’t there into posts.

    Dae

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  75. Ann Somerville
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 05:48:00

    I've just discovered that their advertising director, Bonny Kirby, co-owns the disgraced Light Sword Publishing company with Linda Daly (a court recently fined Kirby and Daly thousands of dollars for defrauding authors). This explains why Light Sword titles consistently got positive reviews from Affaire De Coeur[emphasis mine]

    and

    I also learned that advertisers get positive reviews [emphasis mine] and articles written about them depending on the amount of page space they purchase.

    Mr Goldberg, you have twice made a bald assertion that positive reviews were based on advertising. Which means the reviewers aren’t acting honestly, according to you. You can’t say “I don't mean to cast any doubt on the integrity of the individual reviewers” when you are doing just that. Who do you think writes these fake reviews?

    You have no offered no evidence at all for your assertions, not a single example of a patently unworthy book receiving a patently falsely positive review.

    Praising one reviewer for liking your book, does not negate your broadbrush tarring of the entire review team for AdC.

    Why are you so sure an independent reviewer wrote the reviews? Do you have proof they did?

    The burden of proof is on the accuser, surely? Mr Goldberg says the reviews are not honest, so let him demonstrate that. He could have said ‘there *might* be a problem of bias’ but he actually said there was bias. Not exactly good journalism, if you ask me. He’s flatly stated his assumption is fact, and repeated requests to pony up with evidence, have produced none. Therefore, I will accept the explanations offered by the accused party, until such time as Mr Goldberg (or someone else) convinces me why I should not.

    You seem to be reading meanings that aren't there into posts.

    No, I just wondered why you were so concerned with the quality of the reviews when the issue at hand is the integrity. One of their reviewers posted upthread. Why don’t you ask them about this?

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  76. PenWrestler
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 10:22:39

    A blog thread of this kind sometimes reminds me of making soup. If you leave it on the stove too long, the stock reduces to the point that the whole mass is undigestible. I see absolutely NO reason for the rancor displayed here. Ms Sommerville, I’m sorry you’ve been insulted. I was a little confused about your obvious anger until you mentioned that you’re a reviewer.

    Mr. Goldberg, in his zeal to simply help protect authors from the unscrupulous, can sometimes seem abrasive. He is, however, just trying to help. Every warning I read says that money should flow TO an author, not away from him. I understand that review companies are not included in this warning, but perhaps they should be.

    As I said in a previous post: HOW AdC conducts their business IS THEIR BUSINESS. I’m just happy to have a clearer understanding of that. At present I don’t need a review from anyone, but those I have obtained in the past, and will get in the future, have and will be, free.

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  77. Lee Goldberg
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 12:05:55

    Ann,

    Has any Light Sword book received a negative review in AdC while Bonny was serving as AdC’s advertising director and Light Sword’s co-owner and VP of Marketing and Promotion?

    Regular readers of the magazine tell me the answer is NO. Why do you think the Light Sword books all got raves?

    It could be because the reviewers genuinely thought the books were great.

    Let’s say that is it. You don’t think the conflict-of-interest described above creates a perception of bias regardless of the presumed integrity of the individual reviewers?

    Let’s take a broader view, removing AdC from the discussion.

    Do you think that Publishers Weekly would review books published, marketed and promoted by their advertising director? How about the Los Angeles Times? Or the San Francisco Chronicle? Or Newsweek? Or the New York Times Book Review? Of course they wouldn’t. Why do you suppose that is?

    Would any of those publications ever require authors or publishers to buy advertising in order to have a book reviewed? Or course they wouldn’t. Why do you suppose that is?

    Lee

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  78. Bonny Kirby
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 13:08:57

    It completely amazes me that Mari Sloan and her husband are opening this can of worms again, the very ilk of unethical behavior that made me leave LSP began with them. When Mari’s book reached Amazon for pre-orders, they and many of their friends put in pre-orders for the books to drive up their numbers. When the book was released, the sales were not followed through with and the books are then stripped (covers torn off) and returned to the publisher. Mari and Al were warned about this behavior and a few others that were just as bad and when “Al” became verbally abusive and they refused to behave ethically, I dismissed them. I would do it again without hesitation.

    In response to the rest. I firmly and completely believe in the right of freedom of speech. With that comes the responsibility of fact checking, that is what Mr. Goldberg ignores. He has never attempted to contact me, nor do I expect him to. That alone is what makes his credibility an issue, he is given the opportunity to answer when he is wrong, check his facts and look at the big picture and puts himself in the corner with his arms crossed acting like nobody has the right to question the fact that he attacks people and companies without knowing what he is talking about.

    The Sloans will continue to believe that they should be allowed to do as they please regardless of the consequences, the only thing I did not follow through with in that letter that I fully stand behind, is the collection efforts. I decided it just wasn’t worth the ongoing battle when they would never take the appropriate responsibility, morally and financially.

    I will be appealing the judgment but quite honestly do not expect to be successful. Since the lawsuit took place in Michigan and at the time I allowed Linda to handle it, there were lies told to the court. When I found out about this the train was running, I took some actions that would protect some people at the clear cost to myself and to Linda. The attorney that Linda used, was informed by me of the lies and false documents that Linda gave her as soon as I found out about them. When I told this attorney of it, and provided the correct documentation as proof, she appropriately removed herself from the case. Goldberg can make me into as much of a villain as he wants, but he clearly does not have the facts. I have done the right thing at great personal cost in many ways including being attacked on the internet by someone who is clueless and has ethical problems of his own. Had Goldberg done anything here but hate-mongering and grandstanding, he might have had time to deal with factual information.

    I made a bad business decision getting involved with Linda Daly, I took a huge amount of financial and emotional hits to make everything right. I’m not asking to be thanked, I’m not a martyr or a victim, however, if someone chooses to come at me, make it truthful, informed and fair and I will treat that person the same.

    Al, who goes by the online name of “Automated Antichrist”, well that pretty much speaks for itself, however, I never saw any sign that Mari Sloan wasn’t a “lady.” I did, however, have to deal with unethical behavior from both of them that could have cost every other LSP author the ability to sell their books on Amazon. What I stated here is only a very small part of the story. It is true, I could sue him but there is really no point. He and Mari need to get over it and continue to pursue the goal of her being a writer if that is in fact what she truly wants. He reprinted a letter here that he had no right to do without my permission and I don’t truly care. If I say it, I stand by it. However, if he wants to attack, he needs to decide how much of his dirty laundry I can respond with. I truly have no intention of going there, it will serve no positive purpose.

    None of this has a thing in the world to do with AdC and the idea that Goldberg feels he has the right to make unfounded and untrue accusations against this company based on his own Napoleon complex just makes him look ridiculous.

    This has deteriorated to the point where nothing but sniping and grandstanding is going on to no good end. I care about AdC. I no longer care about LSP except for the case of protecting whoever I can who is innocent in that mess.

    I care nothing about the Sloan’s, they made their bed, they get to clean up their own mess. I am well within the statute of limitations on my ability to come after that money from them. I have chosen not to at this point and currently have no plans to change my mind. It is pointless.

    Regarding Mr. Goldberg, I think it is possible when he started this he thought he was doing a good thing. However, when it deteriorated to the point where there is no way for him to have the illusion that he has all of the facts, he chooses to continue squawking as loudly as he can that he is right. He still has not chosen to look at a magazine or check a fact. I have checked a whole bunch of them. Including the business of paying for reviews in certain publications, he did not. Taking all of that into consideration, he has no credibility.

    Many, many reviewers review under a pen name, I think Goldberg would be amazed at who he insulted there, but I don’t think he would care. That would imply that he was wrong about something.

    This topic has deteriorated to the point that it is repetitive and ridiculous. When a topic reaches the point where one poster suggests another is up past their perceived bedtime, it’s time to move onto something that matters.

    I have run out of patience with this whole thing. I have done nothing wrong and that is pretty much the end of it.

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  79. AL
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 14:05:07

    When Mari's book reached Amazon for pre-orders, they and many of their friends put in pre-orders for the books to drive up their numbers. When the book was released, the sales were not followed through with and the books are then stripped (covers torn off) and returned to the publisher. Mari and Al were warned about this behavior and a few others that were just as bad and when “Al” became verbally abusive and they refused to behave ethically, I dismissed them. I would do it again without hesitation.

    This never happened. It was alleged, but it is a fabrication constructed of whole cloth. If you think you can possibly prove what you’ve claimed, please do so using tangible and verifiable facts and I’ll mail you a personal check tomorrow. Really. I’m not kidding. If I owe you any money, I’ll pay you willingly. All I ask in addition is to please be certain to copy “Writer Beware” and “Preditors & Editors” on anything you send me so that this is fully documented before the writing community.

    Have a nice day.

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  80. PenWrangler
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 15:13:29

    Bonny Kirby wrote—

    I will be appealing the judgment but quite honestly do not expect to be successful. Since the lawsuit took place in Michigan and at the time I allowed Linda to handle it, there were lies told to the court. When I found out about this the train was running, I took some actions that would protect some people at the clear cost to myself and to Linda. The attorney that Linda used, was informed by me of the lies and false documents that Linda gave her as soon as I found out about them. When I told this attorney of it, and provided the correct documentation as proof, she appropriately removed herself from the case. Goldberg can make me into as much of a villain as he wants, but he clearly does not have the facts. I have done the right thing at great personal cost in many ways including being attacked on the internet by someone who is clueless and has ethical problems of his own. Had Goldberg done anything here but hate-mongering and grandstanding, he might have had time to deal with factual information.

    Would you be willing to make some remarks about the kind of fraudulent things Light Sword Press and Ms Daly have done? What kind of false documents did she present to your attorney? These things should be a matter of public record with the court, but I think it is very important for anyone interested in this case to get it from the horse’s mouth, so to speak.

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  81. Robin
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 15:29:13

    Reading through these comments has done nothing but make the issue of unethical behavior on anyone’s part extremely muddy. I definitely don’t think the basic observer (aka me) can feel comfortable trying to pick a side based on either Goldberg or Kirby’s “credentials,” whatever they may or may not be.

    One thing I have settled on, though, is that this issue taps into the basic question of what the purpose of a review is. For some, it seems that reviews are purely promotional. I get this sense many times from authors and publishers. I get the sense that the AdC editorial staff have this view, since reviews are tied so explicitly to advertising and to the idea of a deadline that brings a book’s release and a review together temporally. I have no idea if AdC reviewers see reviews this way, but I don’t think it would be necessary for them to in order for them to do their job.

    For readers, I think a review most often is a tool in deciding whether or not to purchase/read a book. Or as a foundation for conversation about a book or author.

    Now for me, a review is a piece of commentary, pure and simple (although I know it can be both a recommendation and indirect promotion, too). I personally want that commentary to be intellectually independent, whether I’m reading or writing a particular review.

    I know that even for professional reviewers the fact that they have a place to write and publish their reviews depends on advertising dollars, which means that a review on the NY Times, for example, is tied to a publication that itself depends on advertising dollars. I do not think this situation is the same as what’s being described at AdC, although that does NOT, IMO, mean that the reviews themselves are bastardized in any way. What it does mean, though, is that as a reader it makes a difference to me to know that the publication AdC seems to view reviews in entirely or at least primarily promotional terms. I don’t know if the reviewers are aware of this, if they share the view, or if they are being indirectly influenced because of it. That might taint my ability to read them as independent opinions, although I would not attribute my difficulty to reviewer dishonesty. I think that a reviewer can be thoroughly honest even though his or her reviews may be used to promote the pub in a business way. Which is different, IMO, from the promotion of a particular book that can happen with any review (“hey, buy this book; I loved it — that’s the kind of promo authors and publishers hope for but are not directing). And it’s also different from a publication directly promoting a particular author or publisher’s work. But parsing out those distinctions requires a long, complicated discussion and analysis.

    When I first read this story I felt that any tie between advertising dollars and reviews that exceeds the basic relationship major media outlets have with advertising (they cannot exist without it, and therefore their reviews would not exist without it) taints the reviewing process, even if the reviews themselves are not the product of a tainted reviewer consciousness. I am still tending toward that belief, but now I realize that some of it really comes down to how one perceives reviews as tools of publishing and reading. I would not feel comfortable reviewing for a publication that viewed reviews as purely promotional tools. I would want to know that as a reader of those reviews, too. But if that’s up front — if it’s well known that the reviews are being offered basically *as advertising*, then I don’t know if there’s anything explicitly unethical about that, because they contextualize the review as promotion. It would only be unethical, IMO, if there was a pretense that the reviews were intended otherwise. Because, as I said, reviews as advertising does not necessarily make for unethical or tainted reviews, but it does introduce certain considerations for the reader that the pub should not try to disguise (and I am making no conclusion about whether AdC is doing that or not). In other words, I, as the reader, should be able to decide what kind of authority to give the reviews; I don’t want the pub trying to do that for me by disguising an IMO important relationship between the business side of the pub and the journalistic side.

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  82. Ann Somerville
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 16:09:26

    Why do you think the Light Sword books all got raves?

    What I think isn’t evidence. A potential for bias is not the same as actual bias.

    I review books put out by the company I’m published with. So do a lot of reviewers in my genre – it’s too small a genre and there are too few capable reviewers to go around. I review books of friends too, for the same reason. All I can say is that I am being as honest as possible. But the potential for bias is clearly very great. I defy you to prove any actual bias.

    Robin states it correctly – that knowing the business relationship is important for judging the reviews. Mr Goldberg, you are correct to say the relationship gives grounds for suspicion. That is not the same thing as proof, and I come back to your original bald statements of actual wrongdoing and say “pony up or shut up”.

    He is, however, just trying to help.

    I’ve been in too many situations where an uninvolved third party tries to ‘help’ by flinging accusations and stating them as fact. A good journalist shouldn’t behave that way. Exposing the business relationship – after the fact though it is – is useful, though as it turns out, hardly earth shattering. Accusing reviewers – or even the magazine’s owners – of malpractice without evidence, is not.

    Yog’s law doesn’t apply. The only reason a reviewer needs to spend money is if they want a service the magazine doesn’t normally offer. They aren’t coerced or tricked into it. They’re not told lies that spending the money will increase their profit. Authors do have to spend money to be successful – Yog’s law is about spending it on being published. No one’s giving me postage or paper or printer ink for free, after all.

    Would any of those publications ever require authors or publishers to buy advertising in order to have a book reviewed?

    Romantic Times does, and it’s well known it does. As for the other publications, you may not ever know. Since they accept advertising, that’s a clear conflict of interest from the start – how do you know there’s no pressure on their reviewers to be ‘nice’ when there’s a big advertising account at risk? I’m sure there isn’t because reviewers don’t put up with that kind of shit. But you’ve only got my word for it.

    If you read reviews in any trade magazine, you have a potential problem. Readers can only be observant and not take things on face value – in my experience, a single review never sways anyone.

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  83. DaedalDoll
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 18:33:41

    “Regarding Mr. Goldberg, I think it is possible when he started this he thought he was doing a good thing.”

    You think he started this? I remember reading his blog many many months ago, (while Ms. Kirby was “one of the owners of Light Sword Publishing and the Vice-President of Marketing and Promotions”), when he wondered why her department kept sending him unsolicited, bothersome emails. I have my idea about where they got his name, but I’d be accused of accusing if I said.

    Again, I must say to you that I never commented on the quality of the reviews. I won’t repeat what I said. The questions I wanted to ask were about the publisher’s abilities, not those of the writers or their novels’ content. Your accusations are getting tiresome,btw.

    Ms. Kirby is NOT the victim here. The reviewers are, and it’s possible the publisher of AdC is, readers are, but it wasn’t Mr. Goldberg who did this. Ms. Kirby had a conflict of interest she didn’t disclose in the magazine. Only she is responsible for her actions or inactions. Any dirt that fell on the reviewers came from her.

    I think it’s interesting that you’ve tried to turn the tide against Mr. Goldberg by accusing him of unfairness to reviewers, but I don’t see any facts to back that.

    You say that AdC reviewers have posted on here, but not one of them said they reviewed LSP books. Yet you infer there is some proof of something about this and about the general practices of AdC in their posts, while claiming they are separate from the business end and so can’t know, making them, as I believe they are, innocent of any breach of conduct.

    My interest in this is about LSP and both Daly and Kirby’s treatment of a friend of mine. I don’t know Mr. Goldberg, but I admire his integrity. A judge, who DOES have all the facts, issued a personal judgement against Ms. Kirby as well as the judgement against the company. Doesn’t that say something to you?

    Ms. Kirby’s and Ms. Daly’s actions brought the writer’s community into awareness of all this. You’re blaming one of the messengers.

    Dae

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  84. DaedalDoll
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 18:51:43

    Ann:

    “Who do you think writes these fake reviews?”

    Now THAT is a good question. I have my thoughts on it, but I’ll just have to keep them to myself, darn it. Again, it was the conflict of interest that brought on my thoughts/suspicions.

    Dae

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  85. Ann Somerville
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 22:38:47

    Dae, the quote you have is not from me, it’s from Ms Kirby. I’m not her and have no interest in or contact with her or her company.

    You, Mr Goldberg, any number of people, may have legitimate gripes against AdC. However, by make flat, unsubstantiated statements claimed to be fact, Mr Goldberg has undermined his credibility, making other claims suspect, just as Alan AntiChrist undermined his credibility by abusing people here, violation of business confidence and a fairly outrageous spin on events even on the evidence he produced.

    I think it's interesting that you've tried to turn the tide against Mr. Goldberg by accusing him of unfairness to reviewers, but I don't see any facts to back that.

    I’m not going to repeat what I have quoted directly from him upthread at comment 75. I’m just asking Mr Goldberg to back up his accusations against the reviewers. He refuses to do so, therefore I conclude he can’t.

    I’m not trying to turn any tide. Mr Goldberg annoyed me from the start with his tone (so did his attackers) but the more I looked at it, the more I saw that the worst part of his allegations was not substantiated. Am I supposed to ignore that because you say he’s a good guy?

    Whenever DA have uncovered or reported on a scandal in the past, where accusations of misconduct are made, pretty quickly those are substantiated by testimonies from victims or insiders. Here, we’re still waiting for it. Now if Mr Goldberg had the integrity you and others trumpet so loudly, he’d retract the accusations of wrong-doing he’s still making against the reviewers, and retreat to a defensible position on the conflict of interest question. I understand why people are suspicious about Ms Kirby, but that’s no excuse for involving other people. You claim Ms Kirby brought the reviewers into bad odour, but two people have actually made those accusations – Mr Goldberg, and Jane here, by repeating them. Justice demands that they withdraw those for want of evidence.

    The evidence would be, by the way, something like a fake byline which can be traced to an owner or some such, reviews which are markedly false for LSP products, and demonstrably so, a reviewer coming forward to say they’ve been pressured to make false reviews, and so on. In situations where companies have been up to no good, the staff under attack usually come forward anonymously to put the record straight. Why has no reviewer done that here?

    Your attitude and Mr Goldberg’s and the AntiChrist’s seems to be, oh well, Ms Kirby is guilty of a conflict of interest, so it doesn’t matter if some of the stuff we’ve said can’t be proved. My attitude is, if you want to be considered honest witnesses and messengers, your hands have to be whiter than white.

    By the way, the ‘I know something but I won’t say it’ tactic is pretty low. Spit it out, substantiate it, or stay quiet. How are we supposed to believe you when you engage in this kind of thing?

    Your accusations are getting tiresome,btw.

    Not making any. I’m finding the general mud-flinging and refusal to answer direct questions a pain in the arse.

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  86. Lee Goldberg
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 22:41:26

    I thought it might be helpful to share the portion of the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of Ethics that applies to the relationship between editorial and advertising content. I’ve bold-faced the codes of ethical conduct that AdC broke by publicizing books published by their advertising director, by requiring some authors & publishers to purchase advertisements in exchange for reviews, and by not requiring their reviewers to disclose potential conflicts-of-interest:

    Journalists should be free of obligation to any interest other than the public’s right to know. Journalists should:

    -’ Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
    -’ Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
    -’ Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement, public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity .
    -’ Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
    -’ Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
    -’ Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
    -’ Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money; avoid bidding for news.
    The SPJ Code of Ethics is voluntarily embraced by thousands of writers, editors and other news professionals. The present version of the code was adopted by the 1996 SPJ National Convention, after months of study and debate among the Society’s members.
    Sigma Delta Chi’s first Code of Ethics was borrowed from the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1926. In 1973, Sigma Delta Chi wrote its own code, which was revised in 1984, 1987 and 1996.

    Virtually every reputable magazine, newspaper and broadcaster world-wide has adopted and expanded on these basic ethical practices.

    Here, for example, is the BBC’s code of ethics. I’ve bold-faced the codes of ethical conduct that AdC broke by publicizing books published by their advertising director, by requiring some authors & publishers to purchase advertisements in exchange for reviews, and by not requiring their reviewers to disclose potential conflicts-of-interest:

    When entering into an external relationship we must ensure that:
    * our editorial impartiality and integrity are not compromised and that we retain editorial control of our output.
    * our choice of partners is editorially justified and will not bring the BBC into disrepute.
    * we do not accept money or other services in exchange for broadcast coverage or publicity.
    * we work with a range of organisations and do not unduly favour one above another.
    * we do not promote or appear to endorse other organisations, products, services, views or opinions.
    * we fairly credit others where editorially appropriate.
    * Unequivocal separation between advertisements and news. All advertisements must be clearly identifiable as such.
    * Reporter must avoid conflicts of interest -’ incentives to report a story with a given slant. This includes not taking bribes and not reporting on stories that affect the reporter’s personal, economic or political interests.
    * Competing points of view are balanced and fairly characterized.
    * Persons who are the subject of adverse news stories are allowed a reasonable opportunity to respond to the adverse information before the story is published or broadcast.

    My point here is that I’m not holding AdC to some arcane, personal standard of editorial conduct of my own invention…but to the basic, long-standing, code of ethical standards that have been widely accepted and embraced by magazines, newspapers, and broadcasters worldwide… except, apparently, by Affaire de Coeur.

    Lee

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  87. Lee Goldberg
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 22:59:39

    Ann wrote: I review books put out by the company I'm published with. So do a lot of reviewers in my genre – it's too small a genre and there are too few capable reviewers to go around. I review books of friends too, for the same reason. All I can say is that I am being as honest as possible. But the potential for bias is clearly very great. I defy you to prove any actual bias.

    Well, this certainly explains why you don’t see anything wrong with AdC’s editorial practices. No offense intended, but by reviewing books published by your publisher you are engaging in a blatant and unethical conflict-of-interest.

    While I commend you for your candor, and for your stated effort to be objective in your reviews, the fact remains that what you are doing is unethical and wrong.

    It’s not necessary to prove whether you have a bias. Whether the bias is there or not, your conflict-of-interest creates the unavoidable perception of bias and taints the credibility of your reviews and of all the editorial content in the magazine. The whole reason that Codes of Ethics exist in the journalism business is to avoid the perception of, and potential for, bias in reporting and reviewing.

    No reputable publication would allow you to review books published by your publisher. I’m curious — are your editors aware of your conflict of interest? If so, have they disclosed it to their readers?

    Lee

    PS – I have taken Romantic Times to task on my blog for their practice of requiring ads from small press and ebook publishers in exchange for reviews. It is clearly a highly unethical practice.

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  88. Ann Somerville
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 23:05:12

    Mr Goldberg, did you adhere to this standard yourself?

    “Persons who are the subject of adverse news stories are allowed a reasonable opportunity to respond to the adverse information before the story is published or broadcast.”

    I don’t seem to be able to get through to you that Ms Kirby’s apparent lapse of ethical standards doesn’t excuse yours. You’ve made accusations and refused to back them up, therefore you are a tainted witness. Act with honour and you’ll be perceived as honorable. All you have to do is retract in public, in the same place as you made them, the accusations you can’t prove. Then you can prove that you are actually interested in the truth, not just beating an opponent with whatever stick you can grab.

    Putting it simply – two wrongs don’t make a right. You have the opportunity to honestly claim the high moral ground. I don’t understand why you won’t do so.

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  89. Ann Somerville
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 23:12:08

    No reputable publication would allow you to review books published by your publisher. I'm curious -’ are your editors aware of your conflict of interest? If so, have they disclosed it to their readers

    Oh, I’m damn sure my editors know about my conflict of interest. I know it’s a long way to look down from the lofty heights of Mr Monk novelisations to the sordid world of epublishing but those of us who write about pretty boys fucking don’t tend to find our stuff reviewed in print mags. Even Romantic Times considers itself far too grand to allow homosexual love to sully its pages.

    In other words, Mr Goldberg, you have no idea what you’re talking about. Again. (Ooh, and I used to write fanfiction! Doesn’t that make me a poopyhead.)

    The practice I see nothing wrong with, is asking a fee for an expedited review. Not disclosing a conflict of interest is quite wrong – but I haven’t argued that. I’ve only asked to you to prove your flat statement of actual bias. You’ve chosen – again – to ignore that, and go after my apparent lack of ethics. Are you perhaps avoiding the issue?

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  90. Lee Goldberg
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 23:34:32

    Ann wrote: “Persons who are the subject of adverse news stories are allowed a reasonable opportunity to respond to the adverse information before the story is published or broadcast.”

    Ann, I am not a magazine, a newspaper or a broadcaster. I’m not a journalist, either. I am not reporting a story. I’m an author and screenwriter with a blog. Surely, you have encountered blogs before and are aware of the difference between them and, say, Daily Variety or CNN or their associated websites.

    That said, I welcome other opinions on my blog and encourage people to leave comments to create a balanced view (not that I, as a blogger, have any obligation, ethically or otherwise, to do so). Bonny and Louise are welcome to refute on my blog anything I have written and, in fact, have availed themselves of that opportunity. I have posted every comment they have left without editing of any kind and will continue to do so. Anyone who reads my blog and the comments from readers will come to their own conclusions about the accuracy, or lack thereof, of my views…as is the case here, too.

    As for the suggestion that I have something to apologize for…

    Both Bonny and Louise have confirmed repeatedly in their messages, here and elsewhere, that they engaged in editorial practices that I find unethical and objectionable (eg. running reviews and articles about books published by their advertising director, requiring some authors and publishers to buy advertisements in exchange for reviews, etc). I stand totally and unapologetically behind what I said before on my blog and what I’ve said here since.

    Lee

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  91. Mari Sloan
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 23:43:24

    Yes, I’m Mari Sloan, the wife of the “Automated Antichrist” and while I am not happy that my husband has opened up a nasty can of worms once again, I do welcome this opportunity to clear up some of the slanderous statements that have been made by Light Sword Publishing and its owners about me. First of all, let me quote Bonny Kirby, who astonishes me in her assertions that Linda Daly lied about her, yet who refuses to realize that the same Ms. Daly has also lied about a great many other people as well. I will be charitable and assume that, as she maintains, Bonny was duped into writing the letter that my husband finds so revolting. My thought is that Bonny must have been similarly duped a number of times, but that is for other authors to come forward and reveal. As Bonny stated earlier…

    “I made a bad business decision getting involved with Linda Daly, I took a huge amount of financial and emotional hits to make everything right. I'm not asking to be thanked, I'm not a martyr or a victim, however, if someone chooses to come at me, make it truthful, informed and fair and I will treat that person the same.

    Al, who goes by the online name of “Automated Antichrist”, well that pretty much speaks for itself, however, I never saw any sign that Mari Sloan wasn't a “lady.” I did, however, have to deal with unethical behavior from both of them that could have cost every other LSP author the ability to sell their books on Amazon. What I stated here is only a very small part of the story. It is true, I could sue him but there is really no point. He and Mari need to get over it and continue to pursue the goal of her being a writer if that is in fact what she truly wants. He reprinted a letter here that he had no right to do without my permission and I don't truly care. If I say it, I stand by it. However, if he wants to attack, he needs to decide how much of his dirty laundry I can respond with. I truly have no intention of going there, it will serve no positive purpose.”

    First of all neither I, nor anyone else that I know, engaged an ANY Wish List padding at Amazon or anywhere else. When Ms. Daly threatened not to release my book, due to errors including the misspelling of my first name on the spine, around 70 friends and relatives had already pre-ordered my book from Amazon. These were REAL orders, and I have no doubt but what they resulted in REAL sales, not “torn off covers”. I had been having problems with her and I requested that everyone I knew buy from Amazon, JUST IN CASE MS DALY NEVER RELEASED THE BOOK AT ALL. Amazon does not bill your credit card until it has the book in hand. I made a point of ASKING people NOT to buy from the LSP website where they were at the mercy of LSP to return their money IF Ms. Daly chose NOT to publish the book. I won’t go into the problems I had in trying to get the book ready to be published but let me put it this way. When I WAS released from LSP, I had NO problem walking away from everything the company had touched. The cover was hideous and inappropriate, the only editing that was done had been done by a friend, NO proofing was done and it was obvious that Ms. Daly had NO idea how to prepare a manuscript, much less a text pdf, for printing. I’m not surprised she incurred extra fees from her chosen printer when she sent the mess in, but NONE of them were due to anything having to do with me. AFTER she sent me the author’s copy with my name misspelled, I found a major error that I suggested she correct at the same time. On my book’s release date I had NO idea whether the book had ever been printed. It was, because I reminded Linda Daly that if she did not fill the orders she had taken, she would be guilty of fraud. On the day I was released from LSP, I did not owe LSP any money, I didn’t WANT any remaining books, I was very happy to be released, and I prevented a breach of ethics by warning buyers and trying to make sure they didn’t get clipped at the website. Because I am ethical, pretty much everyone who ordered that ugly book got one and we’ve been rounding them up and replacing them with the second edition for free ever since.

    Bonny has her own problems. My only experience with her was the one letter but I hear that there are other authors who have not been as lucky. I still would like a correct royalty statement from LSP, but I fear their records most likely have disappeared into the great void. Mine haven’t and I prevailed and stopped “the Automated Antichrist” from making them available on our website a year ago. There is nothing about Light Sword Publishing that deserves to be remembered.

    Mari (not Mary) Sloan

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  92. Ann Somerville
    Aug 05, 2008 @ 23:56:51

    I stand totally and unapologetically behind what I said before on my blog and what I've said here since.

    So this – “I don't mean to cast any doubt on the integrity of the individual reviewers” is in fact bullshit. Good to know you can’t even abide by your own statements.

    I am not a magazine, a newspaper or a broadcaster. I'm not a journalist, either.

    Okay…so all that guff about your fine credentials and professional ethics is also bullshit.

    So there you have it, everyone. If Lee Goldberg judges you guilty by association, he’ll slam you, make no apology for doing so, and feel no need to substantiate a word he says. Good to know what we’re dealing with.

    Let’s just note for the record that Mr Goldberg refused to produce any evidence of falsely positive reviews, despite repeated requests. Outstanding.

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  93. Paul Bens
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 00:38:01

    Well, this certainly explains why you don't see anything wrong with AdC's editorial practices. No offense intended, but by reviewing books published by your publisher you are engaging in a blatant and unethical conflict-of-interest.

    While I commend you for your candor, and for your stated effort to be objective in your reviews, the fact remains that what you are doing is unethical and wrong.

    OK…it took me half an hour to read all the thread comments –knowing both Lee (hi Lee, we worked together many years ago on Likely Suspects) and Ann, this is really the only part I felt compelled to throw in an opinion.

    Lee…have you read Ann’s reviews? I have (most of them, I believe). I think that anyone would be hard pressed to say that Ann does anything but “call ‘em” exactly like she sees ‘em.” And anyone who “knows” Ann (through the internet or otherwise) knows she is not one to blow sunshine up anyone’s ass or sugar coat a thing. Not that Ann needs any support from me. I thought I’d just throw my .02 cents into the mix on a topic of which I can speak from knowledge.

    Frankly, I think that Lee brought up some valid concerns but as is wont to happen on the net these concerns have eroded into unproven accusations that can very quickly morph into “facts” regardless of any basis in actual proof. The thing that is interesting about this discussion to me is a lot of labels and accusations are being thrown around here, some of them civilly and some of them not (like any internet kerfluffel)…but there does not seem to be any concrete proof being offered. As I believe Ann said, the possibility of a conflict of interest, the appearance of wrong doing, are not proof of such things. Unless it can be proven that reviewers were told to positively review books by advertisers, this amounts to little more than speculation. Can there be the possibility of that? Sure. This is a dangerous slope and I think the call by Ann and others for proof, cooler heads and a reality check on what is proven fact as opposed to what is conjecture is a very good thing.

    So, I’d really like to caution against throwing labels like “unethical” around in the heat of an internet discussion without all the facts.

    And in the interest of full disclosure: I am a reviewer at Ann’s website, Uniquely Pleasurable. I don’t get paid to do reviews. I get to select what I want to review. I’m never required to review any other reviewer’s authorial offerings and other than my ghastly fast fingers typos (which are numerous), nothing has ever been changed in any of my reviews and never has anyone asked for me to change anything in my reviews. I have been reviewed by Ann at UP (albeit before we knew one another and before she asked me to review for UP). I have reviewed works by other authors on the UP review team (mostly because I read their books and enjoyed them and never because I was told to review them). I am fully prepared to get a bad review from Ann or any other reviewer at UP and they likewise are prepared to receive bad reviews from me. That’s, frankly, what I like about UP.

    As always, just my .02 cents, though others may find its value considerably less.

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  94. Daedal Doll
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 00:59:30

    Ann:

    “Let's just note for the record that Mr Goldberg refused to produce any evidence of falsely positive reviews.”

    You know, what he did was suggest a conflict of interest happened, (which it did), putting the magazine’s ethics in question. He didn’t say the reviewers, if there were reviewers invlolved in this, were at fault. This is something you’ve come up with, and I’m not sure why.

    Dae, the quote you have is not from me, it's from Ms Kirby. I'm not her and have no interest in or contact with her or her company.

    When I’m directing at you, Ann, you will know it. I put Ann: at the top.

    I’m going to withdraw from this because I find you unreasonable, and your interpretations and paraphrases of the postings flawed. I don’t knock my head against a closed door to open it.

    Dae

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  95. Ann Somerville
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 01:09:39

    Dae, I haven’t paraphrased anyone. I quoted directly from Lee’s blog. Clearly not good enough for you.

    ” He didn't say the reviewers, if there were reviewers invlolved in this, were at fault.”

    Yes, he did. I quoted him doing so in comment 75.

    “This is something you've come up with, and I'm not sure why.”

    Good grief. If someone says reviews are crooked, he’s accusing the reviewers. Are you hard of understanding?

    I likewise find you unreasonable, and moreover, motivated by personal interest in the LSP/AdC situation to the extent you can’t be objective. Talking to you is impossible because you have a secret agenda and are being disingenuous at every turn.

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  96. Daedal Doll
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 01:33:43

    “Good grief. If someone says reviews are crooked, he's accusing the reviewers. Are you hard of understanding?”

    Now this is funny.

    Good grief. If someone says reviews may be crooked, MAYBE they’re not accusing the legit reviewers at all. Are YOU hard of understanding faked reviews are possible?

    Talking to you is impossible because you have a secret agenda and are being disingenuous at every turn.

    What is my secret agenda? Come on. You’ve accused me of a secret agenda, but I don’t know what you think that is. Is it impossible to imagine I know a lot about this that you don’t know, but can’t post “proof” because of copyright infringments?

    Dae

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  97. Ann Somerville
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 01:39:36

    Goldberg’s been repeatedly asked for evidence of faked reviews. Nothing has been produced. He’s got nothing, and neither have you. Give us something if you’re so sure – a byline? A review you know is fake? Something – anything. But no. All you’ve got is suspicion, and that’s not proof.

    Is it impossible to imagine I know a lot about this that you don't know, but can't post “proof” because of copyright infringments?

    Yes, it actually is impossible to imagine, because how can discussing something be a copyright infringement? Fair use aside, why can’t you say ‘I have in my possession X document/email/letter which demonstrates Y’?

    Done with you, really. You’re not honest.

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  98. Daedal Doll
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 02:01:42

    Done with you, really. You're not honest.

    Now I’m really laughing.

    Okay, you find the magazines in question and read the reviews. THEN, we can talk about what you think.

    Waiting for you to tell me what my agenda is.

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  99. Robin
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 02:27:08

    by reviewing books published by your publisher you are engaging in a blatant and unethical conflict-of-interest.

    Does that also hold true for Michelle Green, whose own book was published by Harper Collins, and who reviewed Joyce Carol Oates’s The Gravedigger’s Daughter, also published by Harper Collins, in the New York Times Book Review? Practically speaking, how is this complete separation even possible, especially in lit fic, where publishers are hardly a dime a dozen (even if imprints seem that way sometimes)?

    But I also don’t believe it to be intrinsically unethical, since authors do not work for publishers as employees. If they did, then I agree that the practice would be unethical. But what would make a review by an author of a book from the same publishing house more unethical than, say, a review written by an author who knows the author of the reviewed book — and given the intimacy of author communities, that certainly happens often enough, as well.

    I think you can pull the whole perception of impropriety/conflict of interest out so far that so-called honest reviews would be few and far between. For me, the perception of COI really materializes at the point where it seems there is an intermingled business/reviewing relationship between a reviewing publication and publishers/reviewed authors. I definitely have some issues with the AdC set-up, and frankly, with RT, as well. That doesn’t mean I believe that the reviewers themselves are anything but honest and intellectually independent (although I realize that the suspicion of faked reviews can arise in these situations, which is why codes of ethics exist), but because of the way the publication offers itself out to various publishers and/or authors, the whole reviewing environment raises concerns for me. That doesn’t mean I would necessarily disregard the reviews altogether, though, as long as I understand the larger relationships. I would just keep those relationships in mind when reading the reviews. If the pub tries to disguise or bury those relationships, though, that IMO is patently unethical.

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  100. Lee Goldberg
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 03:01:21

    Robin wrote:

    Does that also hold true for Michelle Green, whose own book was published by Harper Collins, and who reviewed Joyce Carol Oates's The Gravedigger's Daughter, also published by Harper Collins, in the New York Times Book Review? Practically speaking, how is this complete separation even possible, especially in lit fic, where publishers are hardly a dime a dozen (even if imprints seem that way sometimes)? [...] I think you can pull the whole perception of impropriety/conflict of interest out so far that so-called honest reviews would be few and far between. For me, the perception of COI really materializes at the point where it seems there is an intermingled business/reviewing relationship between a reviewing publication and publishers/reviewed authors.

    You make a very good point, Robin. My comment was too sweeping. I stand corrected (FWIW, my brother just made the same point to me in an email).

    But I would argue that there’s a significant ethical difference between, say, an author at a small press reviewing another author of the same small press…and an author at New American Library reviewing an author of a book at G.P Putnam, both of which are imprints of the vast Penguin/Putnam empire. It’s still an ethically tricky situation…but I think you are right that in today’s world of media consolidation, that sort of situation is inevitable.

    In the above example, I would argue that the small press author should not be reviewing another author at the same house…but that it isn’t necessarily a conflict for an author at one imprint of a major publisher to review an author at a different imprint.

    But what about an author reviewing a book that shares the same editor as her own? Or the same agent? Would that be a COI? Would the NYT accept it?

    Or, to take another example, I believe that there’s a significant ethical difference between a publicist at Paramount writing a review of a Paramount film for a newspaper…and a film critic at KCBS, part of the vast media empire that owns Paramount, reviewing the film. I would argue that the publicist has a conflict of interest….and that the KCBS film critic does not.

    What are your thoughts?

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  101. Ann Somerville
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 03:18:31

    Goldberg – before you go too far down the path of trying to justify your earlier libel against me, I should point out:

    1. I have no idea who edits what authors at Samhain, and I don’t even know which other authors my own editor edits.

    2. Samhain’s hardly a ‘small press’ in epublishing terms.

    And further more, I don’t think you have a clue just how incestuous epublishing is and within it, the m/m genre. Just be careful what accusations you make because I won’t tolerate the kind of slurs you’ve dished out to other people on this post.

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  102. Ann Somerville
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 03:19:21

    Goldberg – before you go too far down the path of trying to justify your earlier libel against me, I should point out:

    1. I have no idea who edits what authors at Samhain, and I don’t even know which other authors my own editor edits.

    2. Samhain’s hardly a ‘small press’ in epublishing terms.

    And further more, I don’t think you have a clue just how interconnected epublishing is and within it, the m/m genre. Just be careful what accusations you make because I won’t tolerate the kind of slurs you’ve dished out to other people on this post.

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  103. Lee Goldberg
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 03:33:16

    Paul wrote:

    “OK…it took me half an hour to read all the thread comments -knowing both Lee (hi Lee, we worked together many years ago on Likely Suspects) and Ann, this is really the only part I felt compelled to throw in an opinion. Lee…have you read Ann's reviews? I have (most of them, I believe). I think that anyone would be hard pressed to say that Ann does anything but “call ‘em” exactly like she sees ‘em.

    Hey, Paul, it’s been a long time! Are you still in the casting game? LIKELY SUSPECTS was a show near and dear to my heart (and earned me one of my two Edgar nominations). I hope you are well.

    I am not familiar with Ann or her site at all. But following her link, I can already see one important plus for readers: all the critics are identified and any potential conflicts of interest are disclosed. For example:

    Ann Somerville (Site Admin and moderator) has been writing original fiction since 2003 and now writes full time. She founded Uniquely Pleasurable as a place to raise interest in romantic GLBT fiction ('original slash') in 2005. She has a novella soon to be published with Samhain Publishing, and a novel, Remastering Jerna, to be released by PD Publishing in 2009. Most of her fiction is available free and online at her website.

    Anyone who reads Ann’s review of a Samhain Publishing or PD Publishing title knows that she is also published by them. This allows the reader to consider that when they read the review and make their own determination about potential bias. I wish AdC was as open about their potential (and actual) conflicts of interest.

    Lee

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  104. Lee Goldberg
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 03:35:34

    Ann wrote: “Goldberg – before you go too far down the path of trying to justify your earlier libel against me”

    Um, Ann, I haven’t libeled you or anyone else. Take a deep breath and relax. You’ll thank me later (as my friend Monk would say).

    Lee

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  105. Ann Somerville
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 03:38:38

    Ann, I haven't libeled you or anyone else.

    Of course not. This is the highest praise from you, I’m sure – “by reviewing books published by your publisher you are engaging in a blatant and unethical conflict-of-interest.”

    You'll thank me later

    Don’t be a patronising arse.

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  106. Bonny Kirby
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 09:01:07

    Comment #79 – Nice try Al…ridiculous, but nice try. I could tell the entire story here and prove it, you know that. However, what would it accomplish? You set your own credibility on the line without all of this. I choose not to publish some of the garbage you sent, not because I can’t, but simply because after all of this time you are unable to let it be. I’m not going to have this discussion for the rest of my life.
    Anybody who really digs into this will be able to find the facts without my help. You opened your own can of worms, what happens happens.

    Comment #80 – IF I were to produce the documents at this point. I guarantee that I can’t recover my money and overturn the judgment. Look it up if you want, the attorney and information is public record.

    Comment #80 – LSP did not get all rave reviews.

    Comment #83 – I SPECIFICALLY have stated I’m not a victim. Pay attention. In addition AdC knew that I owned a part of that company, which is why I removed myself from any interaction on their behalf. Again previously stated. I do now understand your position since you claim to have a “friend” involved in this. How unbiased are you?

    All in all, this entire thing has turned into a giant fiasco. I’m tired of it as most if not all of you should be by now. The issue with LSP is truly a dead issue, it will not survive all that has gone on, I am seeing to that. Complaining about something that is finished is silly.

    No matter how many times Mr. Goldberg repeats himself, he has not and cannot substantiate his accusations.

    As I stated before, I have taken huge financial, emotional and other hits, I am finished with this. I will not engage in personal attacks on others, nor will I respond to any others against me or AdC. Interestingly enough, I have taken much harder hits for doing the right thing than Linda Daly or others have taken for doing the wrong thing.

    I stated I would answer reasonable questions, I did. At this point all I am seeing is that the people who ask for proof from Goldberg get attacked.

    It is far to ridiculous to continue with game of how long people can snipe at each other. Differing opinions should not be attacked, treat people with the courtesy you expect to receive.

    While Goldberg is uninformed and ridiculous, in MY judgment, he has a right to his opinion. Taking that into account, his attacks on those such as Ms. Somerville just because she doesn’t agree, just further brings his credibility into question.

    I’m tired of being attacked over all of this when I have gone above and beyond to make it right for those who were caught in a bad situation. You are simply not one of those people. Have a good life Mr. Goldberg.

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  107. EX-LSP author
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 10:37:53

    I’m the author of “Searching4MrRight.com” –LSP’s ‘cash cow’ that sold 3K books without any help from LSP.

    I also had the same attorney as the other author who recieved the judgement. I didn’t ask for a judgement, just my release. With it came a confidentiality clause. That is very lucky for LSP. It’s been very difficult for me to watch all the blogs without commenting.

    Bonny:
    “treat people with courtsey you expect to receive.”

    Your very lucky I can’t post all your ‘nasty’ letters to me. One of ADC’s reviews was printed on the back cover of my book with grammical and spelling errors that I tried to correct long before the book was published. That review and errors are a matter of public records for everyone to see.

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  108. An Observer
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 11:01:23

    I think this thread has run pretty far afield from its original discussion points. It has still been illuminating. What seems clear to me are the following:

    1. Bonny Kirby is the Advertising Director at Affaire de Coeur Magazine, a review publication featuring literary reviews, articles and advertising.

    2. For a time, Bonny Kirby was also Vice President of Light Sword Publishing. Her positions at both Light Sword and Affaire de Coeur were concurrent.

    3. During the time that Bonny Kirby was Vice President at Light Sword and Adverstising Director at Affaire de Coeur, Light Sword authors, its books, and its CEO were featured (sometimes prominently, including cover art) in Affaire de Coeur Magazine.

    4. On its face, the coverage that Light Sword received at AdC during this time period was disporportionate when considering the coverage of other small presses.

    5. There is no evidence that Light Sword books received dishonest reviews or that reviewers were in any way affected by the association of Kirby with Light Sword. Since reading and reviewing are subjective in nature, it seems unlikely that any finding of dishonesty in AdC reviews will ever be established. Until supporting evidence is produced, any suggestiion that these reviews were dishonest is an insult to literary reviewers in general.

    6. Ms Kirby, along with Linda Daly, current CEO at Light Sword, have been found PERSONALLY liable and a judgement has been lodged against them in a Michigan civil court for wrongdoing while doing business as Light Sword Publishing. The company was also hit with a judgement. Although Ms Kirby has stated that she ‘might’ appeal, public records in Michigan indicate that the opportunity to file an appeal has come and gone. No one filed an appeal.

    7. Aside from the author who did file suit, other authors have come forward with similar complants concerning Daly, Kirby, and Light Sword.

    But back to Affaire de Coeur:

    8. Affaire de Coeur requires that publishers and/or authors submit work for review at least 90 days before publication.

    9. Publishers and/or authors who submit works after the 90 day time limit must purchase ad space in Affaire de Coeur Magazine in order to obtain a review. So, it can be said that books reviewed under these circumstances, pay for the service.

    People draw their own conclusions from the facts–which is also a fact.

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  109. Robin
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 11:43:42

    But I would argue that there's a significant ethical difference between, say, an author at a small press reviewing another author of the same small press…and an author at New American Library reviewing an author of a book at G.P Putnam, both of which are imprints of the vast Penguin/Putnam empire. It's still an ethically tricky situation…but I think you are right that in today's world of media consolidation, that sort of situation is inevitable.

    In the above example, I would argue that the small press author should not be reviewing another author at the same house…but that it isn't necessarily a conflict for an author at one imprint of a major publisher to review an author at a different imprint.

    But what about an author reviewing a book that shares the same editor as her own? Or the same agent? Would that be a COI? Would the NYT accept it?

    Or, to take another example, I believe that there's a significant ethical difference between a publicist at Paramount writing a review of a Paramount film for a newspaper…and a film critic at KCBS, part of the vast media empire that owns Paramount, reviewing the film. I would argue that the publicist has a conflict of interest….and that the KCBS film critic does not.

    What are your thoughts?

    I think the answer to almost every legal question is applicable here, too: it depends.

    I’ll tackle your last example first, because I think it’s the clearest cut COI. In that case, you have a publicist, an employee of a studio, writing a review. Assuming the publicist is doing so for the commercial benefit of the studio, then it most definitely is a COI, IMO. In that case it’s not so much to me about big v. small, but about the roles each reviewer holds and the purpose of the review. Both reviews may technically be works for hire, but in one case the review is intended to promote the studio, and in the other, I assume that the purpose is to provide a public critical evaluation of the film (which may, by extension, provide some publicity). That, combined with the different roles of the reviewers, makes this example a clear COI for me. Although even in the case of KCBS, I want to know that it’s a subsidiary of Paramount.

    As for authors who share the same editor writing reviews of each other’s work, I’m less convinced that’s an overt ethical violation. A bit of background here: I come from an academic background, I see scholars taking on the work of other scholars — even within their own university department — all the time. And there is no taint because scholars are seen as independent, even as they are employees of an academic institution. The nature of their employment is dependent on a certain amount of intellectual and professional freedom, which means that they are not in the business of promoting anything but their own scholarly ideas. Where COI’s do become a worry, though, is in the sciences where drug companies are funding research. That situation begins to look more like what you are talking about, where there is a question as to whether the research is biased because of the corporate funding. But even there a baseline presumption of academic integrity exists.

    So in terms of *authors* as opposed to editors, publicists, and the like, I tend to see them as more like scholars — as artistically and/or intellectually independent. Yes they are in contract with a publisher, but technically they are not employees and they are not writing for hire in the traditional sense (although it scares me a little when some publishers expect authors to show the same kind of behavior toward the publisher that they would to a traditional employer). So if they are writing purely as authors, and they are not trying to disguise an editorial connection or a friendship or whatever, then I don’t see them as incapable of providing independent critical commentary in the form of a review.

    That doesn’t mean there can’t be real or perceived COIs, but for me those depend on a) the role the author occupies when s/he writes the review, and b) the purpose of the review (direct promotion or critical commentary). I already think that author participation in critical commentary in some genre environments is stilted and discouraged, and I hate to see more intimidation of authors engaging in critical discussion of other authors’ books. At the same time, I share your concern that when reviews function primarily or exclusively or even incidentally as direct publicity, other considerations apply, because the review is basically advertising, which brings us back to a commercial competition paradigm, where the concerns are broader. And there, at a minimum, I want disclosure of any potential COI relationships.

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  110. A Nickle Shy
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 12:55:56

    So in terms of *authors* as opposed to editors, publicists, and the like, I tend to see them as more like scholars -’ as artistically and/or intellectually independent. Yes they are in contract with a publisher, but technically they are not employees and they are not writing for hire in the traditional sense (although it scares me a little when some publishers expect authors to show the same kind of behavior toward the publisher that they would to a traditional employer). So if they are writing purely as authors, and they are not trying to disguise an editorial connection or a friendship or whatever, then I don't see them as incapable of providing independent critical commentary in the form of a review.

    FYI: Unlike authors at many publishing houses, Light Sword authors know one another and are in close contact. The editor at the company is or was a reviewer at Affaire de Coeur. By itself, that doesn’t mean much, but it’s interestin’.

    The Nickle Shy Guy

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  111. Daedal Doll
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 15:38:07

    To Bonnie Kirby:

    Comment #83 – I SPECIFICALLY have stated I'm not a victim.

    Yes. Then went on to whine, make excuses, and blame others. You also admitted to not making the readers of the magazine aware of the conflict of interest, yet took to task one who noted this. You continue to say he had no proof of ethical breach, even though he used the magazine’s own wording to prove the point.

    Pay attention.

    I’m not and never was one of your “stable”, so don’t bother talking to me like you did them. Your machinations don’t work on me. I wish more of those writers would wake and show your interactions with them.

    In addition AdC knew that I owned a part of that company, which is why I removed myself from any interaction on their behalf. Again previously stated.

    So if you say it, it must be true? Forgive me for being skeptical of someone’s word whom a judge, with documentation in hand, found guilty of fraud and emotional harm. You obviously did more than “owned a part of that company”.

    I do now understand your position since you claim to have a “friend” involved in this. How unbiased are you?

    I’m required to be unbiased to post here? To voice an opinion? You’re running this blog, too? I shouldn’t be angry when my friend (friends) are shabbily treated? They, like everyone else, are entitled to their dignity.

    No matter how many times Mr. Goldberg repeats himself, he has not and cannot substantiate his accusations.

    He already did. You did NOT make the readers aware of the conflict of interest. Are you now saying you did?

    To Ann:

    There it is. I’m angry, but not with you. I admire your strong defense of the reviewers, although I don’t think they were involved or attacked.

    An ex-LSP author said it clearly–” Unlike authors at many publishing houses, Light Sword authors know one another and are in close contact.” This was not, and is not, the usual “business” situation.

    Do I feel sorry for the writers? Not exactly. It’s more shaded than that. I do intensely dislike the wiggleworming I’m seeing from Kirby.

    Abuse is often relative, and the abused don’t always recognize it’s happening.

    Dae

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  112. Ann Somerville
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 15:42:40

    Comment #80 – LSP did not get all rave reviews.

    Ms Kirby, can you please demonstrate this? It would have been nice if you had come forth with examples sooner, but if you can do so now, it would put a lot of this discussion to bed. Also, you should state quite clearly – and prove – that LSP reviews were carried out by your regular house reviewers and not ‘special’ reviewers brought in just for their products. Those who say your method of conducting business has brought suspicion on your magazine are quite correct, and I am one who is suspicious.

    Also, you said above that many reviewers review under different pennames than their authorly ones – if that’s the policy at AdC, then I want to put clearly on record my condemnation of the practice. While I write under a pseudonym, I’m not reviewing under a different one. Any professional author who criticises other professional authors, must be prepared to stake their own pro reputation on their honesty. (That, Mr Goldberg, is the protection authors receive when I review them.)

    5. There is no evidence that Light Sword books received dishonest reviews or that reviewers were in any way affected by the association of Kirby with Light Sword. Since reading and reviewing are subjective in nature, it seems unlikely that any finding of dishonesty in AdC reviews will ever be established. Until supporting evidence is produced, any suggestiion that these reviews were dishonest is an insult to literary reviewers in general.

    Finally, someone gets it.

    People draw their own conclusions from the facts-which is also a fact.

    Yes, but the conclusions are not facts, something almost everyone in this discussion has not understood.

    Robin, I’ve actually had academic work published and so has my husband. Your description of the situation is apt. To carry the analogy with academia further – both I and my husband published in different small areas of specialisation within a particular wide field. Our papers would be sent out for review to peers but because of the very small field, it’s almost impossible that the people reviewing our papers would not know us or each other. In my husband’s case, he’s had papers reviewed by people with definite axes to grind, and he’s also frequently sent papers which copiously quote his work. Are the authors in those cases either to refuse peer review or be denied it, just because there’s only a tiny pool of qualified reviewers?

    In the m/m genre, I’ve seen reviews by co-authors of the author reviewed, personal friends (as I’ve done myself), and any number of reviews for stablemates. It’s just too small a genre, the venues accepting the genre too few, and the number of capable reviewers too few, to embargo such things. All you can do is look at the interconnections, and assess the quality of reviews. Even pro reviewers will undoubtedly review books of authors they know and possibly like very well. Objectivity is a figleaf, and is not actually possible when you’re talking about opinion.

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  113. An Observer
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 16:46:21

    People draw their own conclusions from the facts-which is also a fact.

    Yes, but the conclusions are not facts, something almost everyone in this discussion has not understood.

    No, conclusions are not facts. But conclusions are or should be determined BY facts. For example, the court in Michigan CONCLUDED, based on the facts presented, that Kirby, Light Sword, and Daly were all guilty of fraud and other wrongdoings in their business dealings with an author. The conclusion (or finding) itself is not fact, but was determined BY the facts.

    It is also a FACT that Kirby and Daly were partnered at Light Sword when Kirby was providing inordinate space to Light Sword at Affaire de Coeur.

    I expect that the vast majority of the people reading these posts, who are able to separate fact from fiction, might well reach conclusions of their own based only on the facts. In legal circles, this kind of information is digested using what’s called the ‘reasonable man’ standard. In other words, what would a ‘reasonable man’ conclude based on these facts?

    Some people, for example, love limberger cheese. But love it or hate it, MOST people think it stinks. That’s reasonable.

    I am interested in knowing how Linda Daly, in Michigan, and Bonny Kirby, in Texas, met and formed their business alliance.

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  114. An Observer
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 16:58:24

    Forgive me, I wasn’t quite finished.

    I do not see how one can CONCLUDE unequivocally that Affaire de Coeur gave false-positive reviews to Light Sword authors. But all of the FACTS in this matter create an aura of SUSPICION regarding any dealings between Light Sword and Affaire de Coeur.

    Ms Kirby has protested repeatedly that she’s done nothing wrong, and she may not have. But by failing to use REASONABLE caution and adhere to ethical business practices she put herself, Light Sword, and the unfortunate authors contracted to same in this suspect position. Public business-dealings are always open to public scrutiny. As a professional in the literary community, Kirby simply should have known better.

    That, too, is a fact.

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  115. Bonny Kirby
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 18:26:57

    Ms. Somerville,

    Pen names are not just used by AdC reviewers, it is industry wide. Many use their own names, and many use pen names for their own reasons. AdC does not require it either way, it is a personal choice for their own reasons. The requirement that AdC coes put forth is that they give honest reviews and justify them, positively or negatively.

    I will look up the LSP reviews and their ratings and post them when I find them all in a day or two. That I find a reasonable question, I don’t know the answer since I didn’t do the reviews, nor do I remember actually reading them. No special reviewers were brought in for LSP books or any others. When a reviewer is brought on they are asked which genres the like and which they do not. None are asked to do a genre they do not care for, but they do not get individual choice as to which books or authors they want to review, it is purely luck or non-luck of the draw. One can not reasonably review books without taking the good with the bad.

    Forums such as this one where people do not use their names who feel that they have such strong “facts” and “opinions” are suspect to me. You use your name, I do as well, as much as I dislike the methods and conduct of Mr. Goldberg, at least he has the guts to sign his name. People who hide behind “anonymous” and “observer” hold no credibility to me.

    For the record; a court in Michigan did not “conclude” any wrong doing by me, it was a default judgement I was not informed about until I found out about the false documents given to the attorney. I had, very mistakenly allowed Linda to handle everything, she was telling the attorney I had full knowledge of everything and as they say mud slides downhill. By the time I knew of it, the judgement had been entered. It is reversable technically, but I still think it is unlikely. Linda Daly’s judgement was one of wrongdoing and it took place well after the default against me since that is when I torpedoed the whole thing by exposing her.

    The “EX-LSP” author was in fact put under a confidentiality clause, and it is standard in any contract release. She asked to be released and was given that release, she was NOT the cash cow she claims to be. She in fact stated clearly that she did not expect the business of promoting a book to be as much work as it was and was not what she expected. She has broken that confidentiality clause by what she said here, even though I have no intention of doing anything about that. If Linda tries to, I will give her what information I can to protect herself, even though she knows she broke her clause. I was at one point somewhat rough with her, I responded to her the way she chose to communicate with me. I do not now, nor have I ever chosen to allow someone to be rude and abrasive without a clear and concise response, I have shown that here in this mess as well. My responses to her were much the same tone as what Al Sloan aka “The Automated Antichrist” (someone else hiding behind a false name) considered a very rude letter who also feels like he can dictate bedtimes to adults.

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  116. A Nickle Shy
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 18:52:15

    I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, Bonny, but a tryer of fact will not enter a default judgement without predisposing evidence. Are you really suggesting that a Michigan trial judge entered an arbitrary judgement against you simply because you did not respond? Are you suggesting that no evidence existed in this case and you, again, are just a poor ol’ victim?

    Sorry, ma’am, but judges rely on factual evidence to make any kind of judgement.

    I may be a nickle shy. Heck, I even misspell ‘nickel’. But I’m not stupid.

    The Nickle Shy Guy

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  117. Bonny Kirby
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 19:02:19

    Not a victim…Not saying it again. I am guilty of poor judgement and a bad business decision and I’m not saying that again either.

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  118. Bonny Kirby
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 19:47:24

    By the way, default judgements are ALWAYS what happens when there is no response.

    I also have not “whined and given excuses”. The mistakes I made are my responsibility. The responses I have given are a courtesy due to some valid concerns.

    Considering the rate of the deterioration of this, other than the ratings of the books I have already promised, there is no further point in my response. It appears that a “mob mentality” is forming and yet there are still nothing more than assumptions on many things. I am under no obligation to respond to anyone, I am certainly not going to continue this in the direction it has gone.

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  119. Ann Somerville
    Aug 06, 2008 @ 20:02:52

    Ms Kirby, why don’t you simply stop replying to the anonymous posters? (I’d sure like to know how many of them are sharing an email address – I certainly have my suspicions.) You do not have to discuss anything unrelated to Mr Goldberg’s original allegations, and I, personally, don’t find it particularly edifying to see legal wrangles gone over and over in public like this, nor the back and forth between people with history and grudges which should be settled in private.

    Personally, I’m only interested in one substantive issue – was and is your reviewing actually corrupt. That it’s open to the accusation of corruption is, unfortunately, the result of your previous business choices. You have the wherewithal to demonstrate or refute the validity of Goldberg’s charges on that score, and I’m somewhat irritated that it’s taken you so long to decide to deliver the evidence.

    The penname issue rankles. I don’t care if it’s industry standard or not. It sucks. I’ve seen too many petty feuds and bitchery among authors to believe an author hiding under a separate review pen name, would never take advantage of that to deliver a vengeful review – or a falsely positive one. That practice opens your magazine and others up to as much suspicion of corruption as your previous business links.

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  120. Bonny Kirby
    Aug 07, 2008 @ 10:39:59

    The pen name issue is well beyond the scope of what anyone can do. All I can tell you about it from our standpoint is that it is a personal choice and no reviewer is allowed to review anything except the book. Uncorrected galleys are what they have to work with, therefore they are not allowed to go after editing. They are not allowed attacks on the author, if they like it or dislike it, they have to say why. Nobody at AdC is corrupt. Nobody is asked to give any kind of review based on ads, grudges or anything else, the review they give is it. Ads are not discussed with reviewers.

    Regarding producing the LSP reviews, quite frankly, it didn’t occur to me and nobody directly asked for that answer. It is however, an interesting question and as soon as I get them looked up, I will answer it.

    Anybody can decide that any practice they don’t care for is corrupt, just like any review in the world, that specific detail is opinion.

    Anonymous or not, many of the questions and garbage has gotten repetative. I have answered the same questions many, many times and am not answering them again. If somebody doesn’t like my answer, they just get indignant and ask it again over and over. It’s stupid to continue this. If they don’t like the answer, it doesn’t change the fact that it is what it is.

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  121. Paralegal
    Aug 07, 2008 @ 12:29:57

    I’m not a writer but I do follow anything where ethics are in question and any possible breach of ethics may have occurred. Imagine my surprise when I came upon this gem:

    Comment #79 – Nice try Al…ridiculous, but nice try. I could tell the entire story here and prove it, you know that. However, what would it accomplish? You set your own credibility on the line without all of this. I choose not to publish some of the garbage you sent, not because I can't, but simply because after all of this time you are unable to let it be. I'm not going to have this discussion for the rest of my life. Anybody who really digs into this will be able to find the facts without my help. You opened your own can of worms, what happens happens.

    It looks like Mr. Sloan is about as crazy as a fox, to borrow a cliché, and it is with amusement that I notice he hasn’t responded to this. Indeed he has opened a can of worms but not for himself.

    Legal Definition: LIBEL – An untruthful statement about a person, published in writing or through broadcast media, that injures the person’s reputation or standing in the community. Because libel is a tort (a civil wrong), the injured person can bring a lawsuit against the person who made the false statement. Libel is a form of defamation , as is slander (an untruthful statement that is spoken, but not published in writing or broadcast through the media).

    Ms. Kirby, you may want to consider telling the entire story here and proving what you have stated beyond a shadow of a doubt, if you can, to justify what you have accused Mr. Sloan of doing. Then again, you may not. It might be easier to just admit that you had a lapse of memory, got mixed up when you wrote what you did, and apologize.

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  122. A Nickle Shy
    Aug 07, 2008 @ 13:08:15

    Like Ann, I’m wondering where the reviews are. I went to the magazine’s web pages but couldn’t find an archive of past reviews. With the reviews, I wouldn’t mind taking a look at all the copy about Light Sword.

    For me, I don’t ‘share’ an email with anyone.

    Another FYI: In order for a judge to make a finding in any matter, there must be a determination, before the judgement, that there is evidence to warrant the filing. Yes, failing to answer a suit results in a default judgement. But evidence must be there for the suit to go on.

    The Nickle Shy Guy

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  123. DS
    Aug 07, 2008 @ 13:39:34

    Never read AdC but I do remember my feelings when I found out about Romantic Times’ policy on purchasing ads and reviews. I never read another copy of the magazine.

    I was so happy when I discovered Laurie Gold’s All About Romance website because the reviews were well written and AFAIK she made full disclosure on anything that even hinted at impropriety. That is what I am used to in the magazines I do read and I don’t see why AdC and RT shouldn’t be held to the same standard.

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  124. Ann Somerville
    Aug 07, 2008 @ 19:12:23

    Regarding producing the LSP reviews, quite frankly, it didn't occur to me and nobody directly asked for that answer.

    Now this is really hard to believe. Goldberg made his initial post on 21 July stating “This [your business relationship with LSP] explains why Light Sword titles consistently got positive reviews from Affaire De Coeur….” Louise Snead responded to that on 2 August, and you responded here on 3 August. I raised the issue of the lack of proof for such statements on 4th August here on DA. It’s now 7 August (well, 8th here in Aus.)

    Are you honestly telling me it never occurred to you before 6 August to dig out less than favourable LSP reviews as a defence to the original charge? When it would have been the clearest possible refutation of the allegations?

    Ms Kirby, you’re either incredibly slow or you’re lying. At the very least, it gives me a very poor opinion of your business acumen. You’ve left your staff reviewers to hang out to dry since 21 July, their reputations utterly shredded without challenge, when you had the ability to clear their names – and if not clear your own, answer a very specific and damaging charge.

    I’m really not impressed.

    Please, produce this information as quickly as possible to show good faith. If you haven’t yet learned how your actions can create suspicion, please, learn that now. If you respond to this with some dismissive remark and refuse to show the proof you say you have, then I think I’ll be forced to conclude, as I did with Mr Goldberg, that neither of you can substantiate your claims.

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  125. ANickleShy
    Aug 07, 2008 @ 20:56:19

    Bonny Kirby wrote to Ann Somerville in post # 15 on August 6th:

    I will look up the LSP reviews and their ratings and post them when I find them all in a day or two. That I find a reasonable question, I don't know the answer since I didn't do the reviews, nor do I remember actually reading them.

    Bonny Kirby wrote to Ann Somerville in post # 20 on August 7th:

    Regarding producing the LSP reviews, quite frankly, it didn't occur to me and nobody directly asked for that answer. It is however, an interesting question and as soon as I get them looked up, I will answer it.

    Ms Kirby was so disinterested in the reviews of books from her own company that she didn’t even bother to read them. Then she plumb forgot about getting them for all the world to read as she said she would. Ummm Hmmmm. And I have this steamboat I’m selling for a dime. . .perfect condition. . .only been sunk once. . .

    The Nickle Shy Guy

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  126. ANickleShy
    Aug 09, 2008 @ 20:27:08

    Boy, Ann, I sure hope you’re not holding your breath (or anything else) waiting for BK to post the materials you asked for. Big surprise, huh?

    The Nickle Shy Guy

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  127. Ann Somerville
    Aug 10, 2008 @ 00:45:06

    Ms Kirby, it is now three days since you promised to produce the evidence that not all the LSP reviews were positive. You clearly either are not going to respond, or were lying. Either way, your credibility is completely shot.

    Claims that you pushed LSP well above what other publishers could expect are easily justified, regardless of whether the reviews are genuine or not (I’ve been told of reviews ranging from 31/2 to 5 stars for LSP books, which simply doesn’t tell me enough to know if they are fair or not, but I do note that one of the reviewers who reviewed does not review anywhere else under that name – which makes me suspicious.) A photo of a book or person from LSP was on the cover of every issue the last half of last year. Linda Daly and LS authors contributed articles and/or were interviewed in each issue. This year Daly got one cover devoted to her, and one of her books was reviewed in it.

    In other words, whether you have severed your ties with LSP or not, your past behaviour casts suspicions on the way you do business and the manner in which you treat your advertising clients. Considering you could have cleared up suspicions here and have not, I would advise anyone thinking of working with your magazine to think very carefully about it. At the very least, your business acumen is considerably lacking.

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  128. Karen Scott
    Aug 10, 2008 @ 05:12:27

    Do we think Kirby is trying to hastily write these not-so-positive reviews herself? Surely it doesn’t take three days to find an example that could put these allegations to bed?

    Just saying.

    Also, I find it strange that she doesn’t seem to take much interest in the reviews that her own company produces.

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  129. Ann Somerville
    Aug 10, 2008 @ 05:18:44

    Do we think Kirby is trying to hastily write these not-so-positive reviews herself?

    I think she thinks that since Lee Goldberg has gone off to continue roleplaying Mr Monk, the rest of us will forget about it. You know romance readers, after all. We’re all so fluffy and dim.

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  130. An author
    Aug 10, 2008 @ 10:09:52

    Reading on another blog, I found information that Light Sword’s editor is/was also a reviewer at Affaire de Coeur. The post doesn’t say what name this person reviews under or whether she reviewed any Light Sword titles.

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  131. More Facts
    Aug 10, 2008 @ 12:31:29

    Bonny is a book reviewer for Affaire de Coeur as well. From her MySpace page:

    Bonny’s Networking
    Publishing – Business – Publisher
    Vice President of Light Sword Publishing http://www.lightswordpublishing.com
    Publishing – Writer – Columnist
    Proud writer for Affaire de Coeur Magazine http://www.affairedecoeur.com
    Publishing – Writer – Critic
    http://www.affairedecoeur.com

    Bonny’s Companies
    Light Sword Publishing
    Westland, Michigan US
    Vice President/Submissions & Art Design Director

    Affaire de Coeur Magazine
    Oakland, California US
    Vice President of Advertising and Promotion

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  132. ANickleShy
    Aug 11, 2008 @ 10:58:22

    You know romance readers, after all. We're all so fluffy and dim.

    Yeah, me too. I wear my pink fuzzy robe while I read.

    The Nickle Shy Guy

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  133. Sharolyn Wells
    Aug 13, 2008 @ 22:00:07

    I have had 2 novels published. Both e-books and sent them off for review. At no time, on either book, have I paid for review. Nor has my publisher on either book paid for a review. How the h*ll can you trust a review that has been paid for?

    Shay

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  134. A Nickle Shy
    Aug 14, 2008 @ 13:05:48

    I think there’s a lot of new authors who have come to believe that it’s ‘normal’ to pay for a review. Look at the dozens of online review services that have cropped up in the last few years. Most of them charge for reviews and they cater to self-published or POD-published authors whose business acumen is less than it should be. Good for you for bothering to educate yourself about things.

    That opens another interesting thread: Online Marketing Services and how much good they do, other than lining the pockets of those who run these companies, of course. I wonder if there is a single POD or self-published title that has ever been on the best seller lists, or that, as far as that goes, has ever approached mid-list sales figures? If one did, I’m curious as to how useful all this proferred dog-paddling online really is?

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  135. An Author
    Aug 19, 2008 @ 21:34:56

    I keep checking back every few days to see if Kirby or Snead have ‘found’ the LSP reviews and magazine copy from past issues of Affaire de Coeur and posted the material here as Kirby said she would. I guess the dog ate their homework, huh?

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  136. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 01, 2008 @ 17:47:54

    NickleShy Guy Wrote:

    “Ms Kirby was so disinterested in the reviews of books from her own company that she didn't even bother to read them.”

    It does strain credibility, doesn’t it? But so have all of Ms. Kirby’s arguments in defense of her blatant and unethical conflict of interest at Affaire De Couer.

    Ann Wrote:

    “Those who say your method of conducting business has brought suspicion on your magazine are quite correct.
    [...]Claims that you pushed LSP well above what other publishers could expect are easily justified, regardless of whether the reviews are genuine or not.
    [...]A photo of a book or person from LSP was on the cover of every issue the last half of last year. Linda Daly and LS authors contributed articles and/or were interviewed in each issue. This year Daly got one cover devoted to her, and one of her books was reviewed in it. In other words, whether you have severed your ties with LSP or not, your past behaviour casts suspicions on the way you do business and the manner in which you treat your advertising clients.”

    Gee, Ann, isn’t that what I have been saying from the start?

    I’m glad you’re finally seeing the obvious. Better late than never.

    Now if only Ms. Kirby had the good sense to acknowledge her ethical lapses and Affaire De Coeur agreed to stop selling reviews under any circumstances, to adhere to basic journalistic ethical conduct, and to fully disclose any conflicts of interest to their readers, perhaps then the magazine might regain some of the respect it has lost.

    Lee

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  137. Ann Somerville
    Sep 01, 2008 @ 17:59:58

    Goldberg, don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back because you are equally guilty of not proving your case. I asked you to prove the reviews were crooked and you simply refused to answer.

    I guess you, like Kirby, are more fond of the sound of your own ego than of sticking to objective facts.

    You both suck.

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  138. An Author
    Sep 02, 2008 @ 10:09:09

    Well, I have looked all over the AdC web pages and cannot find a reference to a single Light Sword Publishing author, or to Light Sword, the company, or Linda Daly, its CEO. I do recall the reviews of some of Light Sword’s books and I certainly recally Ms Daly’s picture encompassing the whole of the front cover of the magazine a few months back.

    Maybe Ms Daly could post the reviews here, along with excerpts from the questioned works. Certainly SHE has access to them. That would allow people to make up their own minds in this regard.

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  139. Daedal Doll
    Sep 02, 2008 @ 20:03:53

    Maybe this will help.

    News

    Scroll to the bottom.

    The reviews will be on each author’s web site.

    Dae

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  140. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 02, 2008 @ 21:31:23

    Great idea! So I followed your suggestion.

    Lightsword founder Linda Daly's DOVES MIGRATION and REBEL DOVES both got four star reviews, one from “Lettetia Elasser” and the other from “Inez Daylong.” Linda also got a cover story. That sort of coverage is hardly a surprise given that Linda’s partner, vp of sales and promotion for Lightsword, is also the advertising director of the magazine.

    Patricia Guthrie's book IN THE ARMS OF THE ENEMY was reviewed by “Kimberly Swan,” who gave it five stars and made it a Reviewer's Pick.

    “Kimberly Swan” gave CJ Parker’s FUGUE MACABRE: GHOST DANCE four and a half stars.

    And “Lettetia Elasser” gave Alexey Braguine’s KINGMAKER three-and-half stars.

    So most Lightsword titles get four stars or better from ADC…only Kingmaker got slightly less.

    I couldn’t find reviews for any of the other Lightsword catalog titles…most of which were either just “published” (and I use that term very loosely in relation to Lightsword) or haven’t seen print yet.

    I wonder what names Ms. Kirby reviews books under for ADC…

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  141. Ann Somerville
    Sep 02, 2008 @ 21:56:25

    So, where’s your proof that the scoring of these reviews is in anyway affected by the publisher of the books? I already mentioned the spread of scores for Lightsword books, so you’re telling us nothing new.

    Both Elasser and Swan review elsewhere, so I doubt they are sock puppets. Daylong doesn’t, so far as I can tell. That in itself doesn’t mean anything.

    The mere fact of middling to favourable scores for LSP books. doesn’t prove corruption. Most romance review sites give high scores, unfortunately – it’s one of the reasons Dear Author is so treasured, because they don’t blow smoke up anyone’s arse. (Sorry to let you down about the five stars for your Mr Monk magnum opus, but a lot of reviewers just aren’t very picky.) If it hits their buttons, bang, it’s a four or five star mark.

    To prove your initial bald statement, you would have to do more than prove the books highly scored were not as wonderful as your Mr Monk picks his nose or whatever it was called – you would have to prove that either the reviewer was a sockpuppet for Kirby or that there was direct interference in reviewer independence. The first will be definitely easier than the second. So, off you go, Mr Goldberg.

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  142. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 02, 2008 @ 22:50:44

    The Lightsword reviews by Affaire De Coeur:

    1 book – Five Stars
    1 book – Four and a Half Stars
    1 book – Four Stars
    1 book – Four Stars
    1 book – Three and a half stars.

    That’s what you call a spread of “middling to favorable scores?” More like great to fantastic scores, if you ask me…and, I suspect, just about anybody else.

    Four out of five Lightsword books that were reviewed got FOUR TO FIVE STARS (and we aren’t even throwing in the favorable articles and cover stories about Lightsword). If you don’t find that extremely fishy — given that the co-owner of Lightsword, their vp of sales and promotion, is also the advertising director of the magazine that gave Lightsword those great reviews (and cover stories) — then you have never smelled fish.

    But hey, what do I know? I’m an arse, I suck, and I write MONK novels.

    Lee

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  143. Ann Somerville
    Sep 02, 2008 @ 22:55:58

    I'm an arse, I suck, and I write MONK novels.

    They say the first step to recovery is admitting it.

    I never said this wasn’t fishy. I *said* you haven’t proved your case, and you haven’t. Five books with scores from 3.5 to 5 is a spread of middling to favourable scores – not sucky to favourable. A lot of romance authors would consider seppuku over a 3.5 star review, actually – if you look back over recent drama on this blog, that’s the point of this post here:
    http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2008/08/19/what-is-wrong-with-the-c-review/

    So you need more than five reviews. You need, in fact, what I told you right from the start – proof of actual shenanigans. You know – *evidence*. You write detective novels, you must have heard of the concept. I’m sure Ms Litte would explain it in very small words if you haven’t.

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  144. Sharolyn
    Sep 02, 2008 @ 23:08:33

    I’m back again.

    I wrote a nice little paranormal romance. A year ago, I submitted it to LSP for possible publication. In exchange, Linda Daly sent me her book Rebel Dove and told me to “rewrite my novel just like that“. I tried to read Rebel Dove, which is a Civil War romance. I couldn’t get past the first 3 pages. I sent it to my sister who loves Civil War romances. She couldn’t get past the first page and told me never to send her that ca-ca again. If Linda Daly got a review of 5 for Rebel Dove, something reeks!

    Shay

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  145. Ann Somerville
    Sep 02, 2008 @ 23:15:19

    If Linda Daly got a review of 5, something reeks!

    It’s really not that simple, I’m afraid. For example – an author sent my review site his lesbian thriller to read. My read of the first few and the last pages made it clear I couldn’t finish it without barfing, so I passed it to another of our team. Their reaction was identical. So, in line with our stated policy on author submitted items, we declined to review it as being entirely without merit.

    That piece of crap is getting five-star reviews all over the damn place. I have no idea why, or what appeals to the other people, because I still feel icky when I think about it. But there’s no corruption, just a divergence in tastes. You can see the very same thing in operation on DA with reviews.

    This is the point Goldberg will not understand. Variation in reviewer opinions != reviewer corruption. It would be nice if all reviewers had reliable and informed taste, but the reading community is made up of all sorts, and so is the reviewing community.

    Linda Daly sent me her book Rebel Dove and told me to “rewrite my novel just like that“.

    Jeez. If a publisher or editor ever did that to me, that would be the last communication I would have with them. What an arrogant bitch.

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  146. Sparky
    Sep 03, 2008 @ 06:48:05

    I’ve lost count of the times when I have seen a book reviewed 5 stars, bought it and then wondered if using it as toilet paper would be legal considering the toxic waste I will be introducing to the sewers. I don’t think the reviewers were corrupt (though I do think many reviewers feel a desperate urge to give positives out like sweeties for no merit – but again, I think that’s more happy-fluffy-bunny disease rather than corruption)

    People like different books. At least 3 times a year my brother and I will both try to convince the other to read the books from our favourite series. We’ve both tried to read the other books 8 or 9 times – each time we have loathed them so much and couldn’t finish the first one. Neither of us are corrupt or insane (well, he may be insane, I’ve seen no proof otherwise) we just have different tastes.

    That’s why before I trust ANY reviewer I look at what they’ve previously reviewed and see if they have reviewed books I’ve already read. If they’ve slammed my favourite books then I know we have different tastes and won’t listen to them. I also check to see if they give negative reviews – if they can’t bring themselves to tear apart the tripe (even politely) then I don’t think their reviews will be helpful.

    So, my lovely verbose post basically says: positive reviews, no matter how undeserved WE think they are, are not in any way proof or even an indication of corruption

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  147. Sharolyn
    Sep 03, 2008 @ 08:00:15

    I feel this way about it. Reviews should be the reviewer’s opinions without prejudice or payment. And as my late mother used to say (and I must apologize in advance if someone is insulted or shocked by my words) “Opinions are like a$$holes. Everyone has one but not everyone should show it.”

    Shay

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  148. veinglory
    Sep 03, 2008 @ 08:24:18

    I don’t think Goldberg was saying because reviewers vary they are corrupt–he isn’t that dim. He was saying that because advertisers get to determine the content of the magazine and buy reviews, the magazine is ethically too questionable for him to want anything to do with them.

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  149. Alexey Braguine
    Sep 03, 2008 @ 09:58:54

    As Goldberg has posted, KINGMAKER got 3.5 stars in ADC. This doesn’t really surprise me as this is an espionage thriller reviewed by someone who probably prefers romances. The point is that KINGMAKER did not benefit from favoritism at ADC.

    Everywhere else it has received glowing reviews. I will quote here Peter Earnest, former Principal Spokesman for the CIA:

    I've known Alexey for many years and am well aware that he knows his way around many of the more remote and exotic locales. I found his Kingmaker an extraordinarily fast-paced and suspenseful read especially when you realize this is his first time out. Trager establishes a strong enough presence to merit a sequel ideally with a few of the truly exotic characters Alexey introduces in this story. Alexey has a good feel for the telling one-liner and Trager's out-of-the-box getaways put Indiana Jones to shame. I'm looking forward to the next one.

    KINGMAKER has 5 reviews on amazon. A proffesional reviewer for military books gave it 4 stars. The rest are 5. Solares Hill (Key West printed paper, also gave KINGMAKER a very favorable review.

    I have read Patricia Guthrey’s IN THE ARMS OF THE ENEMY. I found it to be comparable with Dick Francis’ stories. So a 5 star review fits this book.

    When it comes to 5 stars, most of them are undeserved. 4 stars should indicate an excellent read and 5 stars should be reserved to masterpieces.

    I hope my post contributes to the more sober tone this discussion has acquired lately.

    Besties to all,
    Brag

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  150. Mari Sloan
    Sep 03, 2008 @ 11:19:08

    Reviews are as subject to evaluation as the books that they assess. I look for a review that leaves me confident that the reviewer read the entire book. Comments I find valid would be “Starts slowly but picks up speed near the middle and has a slam-bang ending.” Or, “Language is stilted and its use of present perfect tense annoyed me. Was unable to finish.” Or, conversely, “Stayed up late to finish!” These are specific.

    Formulaic responses are just that, they can, and are, used generically to enable a reviewer to plow through a dozen or more books a month.

    Subject matter appeals to different people, but a book’s readability should be easily evident. A plot summation, (often called a spoiler) or very general descriptive terms can be gotten by reading the Amazon summary. A good review is like a road map that guides the reader and lets him or her know the bumps on the road as well as the scenery ahead.

    Far too many people are writing reviews and far too few books are getting thorough, skillful, reviews. Few reviewers now have the carte blanche to be able to say exactly what they actually thought of a book without political repercussions. You can continue with the idea that it IS just the reviewer’s opinion as long as you wish, but it is a professional form of writing and a very important part of the marketing process, and should not be influenced by factors other than the quality of the writing.

    Subject matter appeals to different people but a book’s readability should be easily evident. A plot summation, (often called a spoiler) or very general descriptive terms can be gotten by reading the Amazon summary. A good review is like a road map that guides the reader and lets them know the bumps on the road as well as the scenery ahead. Far too many people are writing reviews. Far too few books are getting thorough, skillful reviews.

    It should at least be based on the book, rather than the publisher or the book’s connections. The reviewer should meet all of the ethical standards for being able to write a fair review before he or she opens the cover.

    Mari

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  151. Jessica
    Sep 03, 2008 @ 11:24:49

    Far too many people are writing reviews and far too few books are getting thorough, skillful, reviews. Few reviewers now have the carte blanche to be able to say exactly what they actually thought of a book without political repercussions. You can continue with the idea that it IS just the reviewer's opinion as long as you wish, but it is a professional form of writing and a very important part of the marketing process, and should not be influenced by factors other than the quality of the writing.

    Thank you. I couldn’t agree more with this paragraph.

    I also agree with your point about reading the entire book. I am working on a “reviewers code of ethics” prompted by these DA discussions and my own irritation with many review sites, and one of the first things I thought of was the obligation to the reader and author to read the entire book, cover to cover. I can’t review a book I haven’t read!

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  152. Ann Somerville
    Sep 03, 2008 @ 14:48:17

    Emily, as noted a number of times above, Goldberg had consistently claimed, as he did in his original post that the LSP/AdC connection “explains why Light Sword titles consistently got positive reviews from Affaire De Coeur”, and yet he has come up with no evidence at all that this is the case.

    He simply will not accept that the fact that five novels got scores from 3.5 stars to 5, doesn’t mean the reviewers were influenced by Bonnie Kirby’s connection with LSP. That the magazine puffed LSP above what any other small press would expect, is undeniable. That the reviewers were involved in that nonsense, is deniable and completely unsubstantiated. All I am doing here is sticking up for reviewers generally as it’s all too easy – as Goldberg did here to me – to accuse them of corruption. We take too much shit and it’s unfair. If someone can demonstrate that one of the reviewers is Kirby’s sock, then that would be the evidence we need. But no one has.

    Goldberg has had this explained to him over and over, using single syllable words and examples, and yet he still refuses to understand. He really is that dim.

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  153. Ann Somerville
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 01:37:59

    Not exactly relevant to the current discussion, but I was amused to read that Harriet Klausner was apparently an AdC reviewer in 2006:
    http://www.jbwr.net/web/bp/billblog/index.php/archives/2006/12/27/harriet-klausner/

    I notice that Mr Monk Goes to Germany – the same item which garnered the ‘discredited’ five star review from Affaire de Coeur, won a five star review from La Klausner. Perhaps Mr Goldberg is unaware of Klausner’s reputation, or maybe he can only afford one review tantrum at a time.

    Of course, Klausner may have read and adored this staggering work of literature, just as she read and adored all the 17,225 other books she’s reviewed and given five stars too. I’m sure those rumours that she’s rorting the Amazon review system for filthy lucre must be utterly baseless, or Mr Goldberg would be swinging his Edgars in fury without a moment’s hesitation.

    Right, Lee?

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  154. An Author
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 09:51:24

    You know, Ann, you could probably be of great service in this regard. I’m sure it would be possible to obtain Light Sword’s titles, at least those in question. Perhaps you could take a look and give your good opinion as to their literary quality–maybe even pass them off to a couple of other reviewers you trust.

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  155. Ann Somerville
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 13:49:08

    The problems with this are (a) I’m obviously known as a critic of AdC now, (b) I refer you to this comment for tthe flaw in your plan and (c) nothing on this earth could induce me to read anything by Alexey Braguine, having seen his nasty and bombastic behaviour on this comm and his tasteless bragging.

    Besides, we don’t review het.

    No, the only way to prove the reviews are corrupt is to identify the sockpuppets, if any. I’m a little surprised that no ‘Deep Throat’ has come forward to do so. This could mean almost anything, however.

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  156. A Romance Reviewer
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 14:25:37

    I say time out to all of you!

    I write reviews for two sites and I pay for my books and sometimes receive an ARC which I pass on to a friend, hospital etc. I would never, never accept money for reviewing. I do it because I love contemporary romance and the romance author community. I’m a paying memeber of RWA even though I’m not an author. I also share my reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and I’ve received email thanking me for my honest review which led the reader to purchase the book.

    I have author friends you are exceptional and talented women.

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  157. Ann Somerville
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 16:07:43

    I say time out to all of you!

    Who died and made you our mother?

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  158. Alexey Braguine
    Sep 04, 2008 @ 18:49:22

    Ann Somerveville,
    I thought we were talking basically here about the quality of writing and honest reviews of that writing. Obviously this is not the case.
    Thank you for mentioning my name. It is much more satisfying to be hated than ignored.

    Wishing you all the best,

    Alexey Braguine, author of Kingmaker

    Alexey Braguine

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  159. An Author
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 10:09:38

    I think it will be unlikely that a ‘Deep Throat’ will ever come forward. Like many publications of its ilk, AdC doesn’t appear to have central offices, and the reviewers are certainly scattered hither and yon. So, unless one of them happens to know another of them who has confessed some kind of perfidy, it will never happen. And it MAY HAVE NEVER HAPPENED to begin with.

    But with that said, the silence from AdC is deafening. If they have nothing to hide, they are certainly hiding it well.

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  160. Robin
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 12:31:25

    I have been reading this thread in sort of fascinated horror, so I’m a little anxious about getting back into it, but here goes. There are several reasons — for me — that the questions around AdC and LSP matter. First is the general resistance to *critical* reviewing in favor of the automatic four or five star review for practically every book (hey, if someone got published, their book must be good, right? and if they wrote a book at all, shouldn’t that alone be worth at least four stars?). Then there’s the way that a reviewer’s integrity rests on his/her honesty, so when any reviewer’s honesty is questioned without evidence of nefarious doing, it can make other reviewers feel a bit on the defensive. And finally (well, not really finally, but finally for now), there is the way that a reviewing publication’s lack of transparency can cast a long shadow of deferred suspicion on other reviewers.

    In other words, AdC’s lack of disclosure and forthright address as to questions about their relationship with LSP are doing no favors to honest Romance reviewers everywhere. But persistent accusations of wrongdoing without evidence is basically doing the same thing, because it’s already tough enough to write honest reviews without being cast as mean or illegitimate.

    I doubt AdC is going to step up to the plate here and disclose those things some of us think they should disclose. But I think it would be great it those who believe that AdC is writing *paid rave reviews* could do the evidentiary analysis so that we could actually chew on some concrete examples.

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  161. Legal Eye
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 15:35:16

    According to Case No. 07-61718 GC filed in the State of MI 18th Judicial District, counsel for the defendents in the aforementioned lawsuit, in fact, filed a motion, to withdraw representation because a retainer check issued by Kirby bounced due to “insufficient funds.” The check was never made good despite numerous promises. There are outstanding fees still owed to counsel. Kirby has never been in the dark, as copies of summons to appear, the judgement and other pertinent documents were provided by counsel and the court. The appeal period lapsed with no response from Kirby. The judgment stands.

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  162. An Author
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 16:13:52

    I think it’s also significant that LSP has received NO coverage at AdC since Kirby and Daly split up. The cover story on Daly was the last coverage of LSP, and it went to press after Daly and Kirby split. But since that time, no LSP titles have been reviewed by AdC; there have been no articles about any LSP authors, no more cover stories, etc..

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  163. Ann Somerville
    Sep 05, 2008 @ 23:34:48

    it would be great it those who believe that AdC is writing *paid rave reviews* could do the evidentiary analysis so that we could actually chew on some concrete examples.

    Never going to happen, is it? Goldberg tossed out his libels at the end of July, yet the first time he bothered to actually look at any of the AdC reviews was on Sept 2nd. So he’s got nothing. By his own account though, not all LSP items got ‘rave reviews’, no matter how Alexey Bragging wants to big up his 3.5 stars. I think we’d call Goldberg an unreliable witness. (I can afford to be generous after he admitted his own failings so extensively ;) )

    Kirby failed to back up her statement that “LSP did not get all rave reviews”. Even though Mr Bragging’s rating supports that, she herself did not present any evidence. She spoke in bad faith.

    If I was an AdC reviewer, I’d be spitting blood over all this. Talk about being thrown to the wolves by your employer.

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  164. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 06, 2008 @ 00:26:56

    Ann wrote:

    By his own account though, not all LSP items got ‘rave reviews’

    You’re so right, Ann. Only a mere four out of five Lightsword books received four stars or better from Affaire de Coeur. That’s just a pitiful 80%. That’s not so many, is it? Hardly worth talking about.

    Oh, did I mention that on top of that, two of those five books were by Linda Daly, who owned Lightsword with Bonnie Kirby, the advertising director of the magazine? And did I mention that Daly also got a cover story?

    Lightsword’s vp of sales and promotion must have been absolutely thrilled with all that wonderful attention and lavish praise from Affaire de Coeur for her publishing company and her authors!

    Oh wait, that’s Bonnie Kirby, too.

    I’m sure that’s just a coincidence, aren’t you, Ann?

    I mean, who in their right mind would think that just because Lightsword’s co-owner and vp of sales and promotion is also vp of advertising for Affaire de Coeur and reviews books for them that it has anything to do with all that praise and attention from the magazine?

    It’s foolish for anybody to even suggest a connection, wouldn’t you agree, Ann?

    In fact, there’s nothing wrong with the relationship between the magazine and the publisher at all, is there?

    Of course there isn’t!

    I don’t see any conflict of interest or ethical concerns there, do you, Ann?

    Of course not!

    Who would? Nobody but rabble-rousers, homophobes and communists.

    Lee

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  165. Ann Somerville
    Sep 06, 2008 @ 00:42:12

    I don't see any conflict of interest or ethical concerns there, do you, Ann?

    I do and have said so over and over and over. Are you lacking in reading comprehension or something? Go back and read my comment here:
    http://dearauthor.com/wordpress/2008/07/28/affaire-de-couers-reviews-under-scrutiny/#comment-172130

    And while you’re at it, read Robin’s comment a few above this one. She’s also pointed out your lack of proof for your claims. Whatever would Mr Monk say for your scientific method, Lee? You and he are such good friends, maybe you should ask him.

    By the way, the claim was made that Kirby reviews for AdC but the evidence proferred said she wrote for them. Not the same thing. Really, what did they teach you in that journalism course? You must have passed ‘Making shit up 101′ with flying colours.

    Nobody but rabble-rousers, homophobes and communists

    I must protest on your behalf. I’m sure you’re not a homophobe.

    You’re still an idiot though.

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  166. Robin
    Sep 06, 2008 @ 01:10:33

    Oh, did I mention that on top of that, two of those five books were by Linda Daly, who owned Lightsword with Bonnie Kirby, the advertising director of the magazine? And did I mention that Daly also got a cover story?

    Are you suggesting that the reviewers were dirty, too? I think moving to that conclusion is where some of us — who also review — are feeling a little more cautious in our steps.

    ITA with you that the connection between LSP and AdC is doing the reputation of AdC as a *publication* no favors, if the aim is to present AdC as an unbiased source of reviews. BUT, that doesn’t automatically mean that the reviewers themselves are all part of some pay for play scheme, even though reviewers who may be perfectly honest and uninvolved in these kinds of relationships are being indirectly smeared.

    Now I guess you could argue that AdC threw its reviewers to the dogs when it forged the relationship with Kirby, but the question is still *who* are we talking about when we refer to AdC? And who are the reviewers who reviewed the LSP books? Do they have a connection to LSP? Is the LSP connection the entirety of the COI or are there other identifiable and discernible connections? It’s difficult for me to believe that there aren’t perfectly honest and unbiased reviewers working for AdC who had no idea of the LSP relationship, so does that mean their reviews should now be suspect? How would a reviewer even begin to refute an association that doesn’t even exist for them?

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  167. Ann Somerville
    Sep 06, 2008 @ 01:18:11

    How would a reviewer even begin to refute an association that doesn't even exist for them?

    That’s the crux of this, isn’t it? We’re asking reviewers to prove their innocence, when the onus should be on the accuser to demonstrate their guilt. Over and over people are (well, Goldberg is) using the ‘they gave favourable ratings, so they must be crooked’ argument and It. Doesn’t. Work. That. Way.

    Are the reviewers even aware of this discussion? Dera Williams commented here, but we have no idea if the three publicly named here as reviewers of the five LSP books (a tiny sample) know about it. Given Bonnie Kirby’s unwillingness to be open and informative on a whole range of issues, it’s entirely possible they don’t know their names and reputations are being bandied about in this fashion.

    Ironic a certain TV tie-in author is so touchy about his reputation, when he’s happy to sling slurs at all and sundry without a shred of evidence. Would he be so sanguine if he was the one being accused of corruption? I think not.

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  168. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 06, 2008 @ 02:12:17

    Ann wrote:

    By the way, the claim was made that Kirby reviews for AdC but the evidence proferred said she wrote for them. Not the same thing. Really, what did they teach you in that journalism course? You must have passed ‘Making shit up 101′ with flying colours.

    As “More Facts” pointed out on August 10th, here is an excerpt from Bonny Kirby’s very own MySpace page, which you can check out for yourself. (I have bold-faced the relevant portion).

    Bonny's Networking
    Publishing – Business – Publisher
    Vice President of Light Sword Publishing http://www.lightswordpublishing.com
    Publishing – Writer – Columnist
    Proud writer for Affaire de Coeur Magazine http://www.affairedecoeur.com
    Publishing – Writer – Critic
    http://www.affairedecoeur.com
    Bonny's Companies
    Light Sword Publishing
    Westland, Michigan US
    Vice President/Submissions & Art Design Director
    Affaire de Coeur Magazine
    Oakland, California US
    Vice President of Advertising and Promotion

    Perhaps you have heard the phrase “critics rave” about a particular book or “critics panned” a particular movie. What you may not have understood, Ann, is that these critics mostly likely wrote or broadcast something we call a “review,” which is why critics are often known as reviewers and vice-versa. I hope this helps clear up any confusion you might have had.

    Lee

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  169. Ann Somerville
    Sep 06, 2008 @ 07:25:37

    She may or may not be a book reviewer for them, but I’ll admit I missed the word ‘critic’. As an Australian, that’s a term I associate with movies, not literature. I apologise for that mistake.

    But so what? We’ve got three reviewer names, and no evidence any of them are Kirby. You’re supposed to be so well-connected. No one’s slipping you any hints? No letters under your e-door? Why do you think that is?

    You’re still avoiding the substantive point, and still insisting 1+1=20.

    Let’s recapitulate the facts:

    Kirby and LSP were connected.
    LSP got a lion’s share of publicity in AdC
    5 LSP books got scores ranging from 3.5 – 5 stars.

    Um…nope, still not seeing the evidence of reviewer corruption. You haven’t even demonstrated that the scores on the LSP books were unusually high (ignoring what you were told about the inflated scoring so unfortunately common in romance reviews.)

    Put it this way – George W. Bush is a lying, evil criminal tyrant who perverts everything he touches. Does that make a clerk in the Department of Social Security a crook too?

    Kirby might be – almost certainly is – a dishonest and untrustworthy businesswoman. What you are doing is not slamming her, but slamming her employees, none of whom most likely have anything to do with her business or her machinations. Why are you so determined to make them suffer for your opinion about their boss? Does that strike you as fair and just? Are you too small a man to admit your mistake?

    Rant all you want about Kirby, but I am not going to let you off the hook on your slams about the reviewers, and your unsubstantiated claims. All the patronising in the world won’t make me back off, so you can either slink away with your tail between your legs, come back for more of the same, or come up with more than the same reheated drivel.

    Or you can say what you should have said at the beginning, which is that you don’t have any evidence, but the behaviour of Bonnie Kirby brings the independence of reviews in AdC under suspicion. That would be the honourable thing to do.

    Gonna do it, Lee?

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  170. An Author
    Sep 06, 2008 @ 09:35:26

    I’ve read back through these posts and I do not see a thing here that suggests that anyone has said, ‘those dirty, rotten, dishonest reviewers at AdC are to blame for all this’. Rather, what I see is a preponderance of evidence that suggests, no, screams that there was likely collusion between Daly and Kirby to inflate the reputation of their miniscule and fraudulent publishing house, Light Sword Publishing. Kirby’s and Snead’s failure to provide complete information regarding these reviews only adds to that impression. Daly’s silence is interesting, too.

    We have no idea, at this point, who reviewed LSP titles, and as you’ve pointed out, Ann, considering the subjective nature of reviews, even by reading these tomes ourselves, the closest we’re going to come to refuting these reviews is a huge ‘Yeah, riiiggghhhht’.

    I’ve gone to the trouble to visit the web pages where excerpts of these works are posted. I’d suggest anyone interested do the same. They speak for themselves.

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  171. Texas Mom
    Sep 06, 2008 @ 10:19:32

    At the Texas Book Festival in November of 2007, AdC magazines were passed out to all people who came by the LSP booth. In that magazine, a children’s book was reviewed. So, how did a children’s book end up in a magazine that is devoted to adult readers? The connection? LSP and AdC. This has nothing to do with the honesty of reviewers, but at best certainly indicates an improper medium for reviewing a children’s book. When I saw the magazine, I was horrified to think that these magazines were passed out to children. What adults choose to read is their business, but what is given to children who might be exposed to adult material is not ok. Lack of judgement on AdC’s part or journalistic ethics question? Which leads this back to the original questions about conflict of intrest and business judgement.

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  172. Ann Somerville
    Sep 06, 2008 @ 15:25:49

    An Author, in the Lee Goldberg posted references in Jane’s post, he said:

    I’ve just discovered that their advertising director, Bonny Kirby, co-owns the disgraced Light Sword Publishing company with Linda Daly (a court recently fined Kirby and Daly thousands of dollars for defrauding authors). This explains why Light Sword titles consistently got positive reviews from Affaire De Coeur and why Daly was the subject of a cover story. [emphasis mine]

    And Jane in her post here said:

    Apparently Affaire de Coeur has a policy of providing positive reviews and articles to publishers based upon the amount of page space that is purchased. [emphasis mine]

    This puts corrupt reviews centrally in the accusations that AdC unfairly favoured LSP titles and business over other publishers. It does, in fact, clearly implicate reviewers in Kirby’s behaviour, which is grossly unfair.

    Was LSP promoted heavily in AdC prior to Kirby’s split with them? Undoubtedly.

    Were the reviews based on anything other than merit? No evidence whatsoever.

    I’d be interested to know what the usual scores on an AdC review are, actually.

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  173. Robin
    Sep 06, 2008 @ 15:42:19

    I want to know where the hell AdC’s managing editor(s) is(are) in all this. Reviewers don’t set policy. If anyone should be taking heat for a COI, it should be management, not labor, IMO.

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  174. PenWrangler
    Sep 06, 2008 @ 16:48:12

    Oh, the fact that AdC and LSP were in each other’s pockets is enough for me. I don’t really care if Kirby hand-picked the reviewers (and I am not suggesting she did, so don’t have a cat), directed their opinions, or even ghosted the reviews herself(well, maybe I care if she ghosted the reviews). Couple the nasty nature of their association and the obviously unfair benefits extended to Linda Daly and Light Sword Publishing(leaving the authors there completely out of this), along with the fact that the company and both of these women have been found liable for fraud, and this dripping, stinking mess is sufficient for me to suggest to any author that they not walk, but run.

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  175. An Author
    Sep 06, 2008 @ 17:27:59

    Sorry I missed those quotes, Ann. But both of them are appropriately suggestive that AdC and only AdC is responsible for the reviews in question. Right now, because no archival record (online at least) seems to exist, this is all turning into a huge ‘he said, she said’, and that’s exactly what Kirby and AdC want. They want this to go quietly away. They don’t seem to want to produce a thing that might clear this up. I wonder why that is? Could it be that the evidence is illustrative of exactly what’s been suggested? Once again, it’s incumbent upon them to do what they said they would do: produce the material of interest.

    AdC should be appalled that there has been even the slightest suggestion that any of their review staff has been purposely inaccurate about books. AdC should be moving heaven and earth to show that the opposite is, in fact, true. Affaire de Coeur should be making every effort to clear this mess up. Kirby promised, in early August, that she would do just that. Were I a reviewer with this magazine, I would be making it abundantly clear to them that unless and until Affaire de Coeur starts actively supporting their reviewers, they can count me out. I would be screaming to the moon that Kirby’s association with Light Sword Publishing have caused the reviews, articles, and photo spreads that appeared in Affaire de Coeur during that time to have done nothing but cast aspersions on anyone involved. My guess is that the individuals who completed these reviews may well not have known of Kirby’s involvement with LSP, at all. Even more reason for them to be furious!

    Should anyone have commented that reviews at AdC were suspect? Maybe not. I do know what my gut tells me based on the facts that we do know, though.

    Yes, I agree. On it’s face, this doesn’t look like much. Kind of like an iceberg.

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  176. Legal Eye
    Sep 07, 2008 @ 07:03:56

    TX Mom, you may be interested to know that Count III of the original complaint dealt with your concern ie: the plantiff’s (LSP author) children’s book was intentionally placed in the adult-oriented magazine and that defendent Kirby is Vice-president of Advertising of the Affaire de Coeur.

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  177. Robin
    Sep 07, 2008 @ 11:07:44

    Should anyone have commented that reviews at AdC were suspect? Maybe not.

    Why not? IMO the inquiry as to AdC’s practices relative to either LSP or its practice of expressing reviews for advertisers is completely legitimate. I think they’re slightly different discussions, though. As for the LSP situation, I’d say there are bunch of red flags waving at this point, but not much concrete substantiation to figure out who did what and who didn’t and who more generally was involved. Which doesn’t convince me that either AdC or LSP is off the hook — it just makes it impossible to go past a certain point without it being pure speculation. Speculation which, IMO, tends to keep landing on the reviewers rather than on the decision makers/policy setters.

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  178. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 07, 2008 @ 12:00:28

    A reader of this discussion just emailed me jpegs of four Affair de Coeur covers in a row. Lightsword co-owner Linda Daly and/or Lightsword authors were on three out of four of them.

    Sept/Oct 2007 – The cover features the jacket of Lightsword author CJ Parker’s FUGUE MACABRE and a photo of Linda Daly.

    Nov/Dec. 2007 – There’s another photo of Linda Daly on the cover.

    March/April 2008 – Linda Daly IS the cover story and so is her book Lightsword book DOVES MIGRATION.

    But I am sure all of this attention for Linda Daly, and the rave reviews for Lightsword Books (four out of five of them got four stars or better), had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that Bonny Kirby, the co-owner of Lightsword Publishing, is also the vp of advertising and a critic for Affaire de Coeur. No sir. It’s just one of those happy coincidences when good things happen to good people.

    I’m sure that Ann is absolutely right about the impartiality of the critics who reviewed Lightsword books for Affaire de Coeur. I also am confident that none of those critics could possibly be a nom-de-plume for Bonny Kirby, who also reviews books for the magazine, because that would be unethical and fraudulent.

    It’s clear to me that if any Affaire de Coeur critic gave a Lightsword book a one or two star review it would have been published. Why do I know that? Because clearly Bonny Kirby and Affaire de Coeur aren’t favoring Bonny’s publishing company in any way whatsoever and are conducting themselves in an entirely ethical and above-board manner.

    Lee

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  179. Robin
    Sep 07, 2008 @ 12:34:40

    But I am sure all of this attention for Linda Daly, and the rave reviews for Lightsword Books (four out of five of them got four stars or better), had nothing whatsoever to do with the fact that Bonny Kirby, the co-owner of Lightsword Publishing, is also the vp of advertising and a critic for Affaire de Coeur. No sir. It's just one of those happy coincidences when good things happen to good people.

    I don’t think *anyone* here is suggesting that. Obviously there is something going on. The question is what, exactly? For example, were positive reviews of LSP books ordered, or was it more that any negative reviews didn’t go to press? Were certain reviewers hand-picked or simply invented (i.e. other folks disguising themselves as staff reviewers) just for the LSP books?

    And as one anon author said above, where is the rest of the AdC management in all this? Because that, IMO, would help clarify the very pregnant questions around the general practice of AdC tying reviewing to advertising. Which, it seems to me, is really the credibility question here, and which, again, loops back to AdC management and the way they set review (and reviewer) policy. Is LSP an example of this or an anomaly?

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  180. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 07, 2008 @ 13:01:58

    Robin wrote:

    Because that, IMO, would help clarify the very pregnant questions around the general practice of AdC tying reviewing to advertising

    Kirby, as well as several authors, have already told us that there is. And Kirby says that if a review comes in “late,” the publisher or author has to buy an ad to get a review. In addition, the magazine explicitly links reviews and coverage to ads in their pitch to advertisers:

    To compliment your ad and review we also offer interviews or articles. If you would like an interview let us know 3 months in advance so it will go in the same issue as your review and ad.

    It doesn’t get much clearer than that. But wait, there’s more. They also offer:

    Book cover ad.–This is the cover of the book that goes right beside (or above or below) the AdC review of your book.

    Obviously, no publisher or author is going to buy a book cover ad to go alongside a negative review. So it’s clear what Affaire de Coeur is offering here.

    Authors or publishers can also have their books reviewed after they were published as long as they buy ad:

    We do not review books after publication unless it is done in association with an ad

    How often — if ever — do you think one of those purchased reviews is going to be negative? If the review was negative, how likely is it that author or publisher will ever advertise with them again…or feel they got their money’s worth for the ad that they bought? What’s the incentive for Kirby to risk alienating a client?

    The clear tie between advertising and reviews, as well as the blatant and unrepentant conflict of interest in their editorial coverage, vividly indicates just how sleazy and unethical Affaire de Coeur is…which is why I outed them on my blog, instructed my publisher to never refer to their rave review of my book in any of my publicity materials, to never use it as a published blurb, and to never send the magazine any of my future work.

    Lee

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  181. Ann Somerville
    Sep 07, 2008 @ 16:26:42

    How often -’ if ever -’ do you think one of those purchased reviews is going to be negative?

    Tell me something, Goldberg. How many publishers take out paid advertising in magazines or on websites where reviews appear?

    A few? Many? Almost all?

    Doesn’t your logic follow for all venues which accepts paid advertising and also publishes reviews? Say, for instance, the Times Literary Supplement? The New York Times?

    And yet they manage to (a) keep the advertising revenue flowing and (b) produce honest reviews. Why is that?

    You are again repeating the calumny that the reviews in AdC are affected by Bonny Kirby’s business interests. Not ‘could be’ – ‘are’. And again, you are only offering bombast and supposition as your ‘proof’. You don’t have any proof. You don’t even understand what proof is. All you are interested in is protecting your reputation, and if you have to libel every other person in a discussion to avoid admitting you’ve screwed up, you will, because you don’t have the balls to apologise. It takes courage to say ‘yeah, I got that wrong’. The words ‘I’m wrong’ have probably never dribbled past your lips because you don’t think you can ever make a mistake.

    I’m done with you. You are a dishonest, defamatory, tin-eared coward, and I hope all reviewers shun your crappy fanfiction in future because you shit on the people who have kept your ‘writing’ career afloat. And when your name comes up in conversation, I will make sure I mention your behaviour here, and how little you care about the truth, or evidence, or fair play, or decency. You make me sick, as a reviewer and as an author. I feel diminished for having engaged in conversation with you because you are such a poor specimen of what a decent human being should be.

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  182. Texas Mom
    Sep 07, 2008 @ 16:37:30

    Thank you for pointing that out,Legal Eye, with respect to the lawsuit and the fact that a children’s book was placed into an adult oriented magazine. Why there seems to be difficulty associating Kirby and Daly with the AdC reviews is beyond my comprehension when a children’s book was reviewed in AdC by a young boy from California where AdC is located. Was he some employee’s child? That is only circumstantial evidence.

    It really doesn’t matter but for the fact that in the Sept./Oct. 2007 AdC magazine reviewed a children’s book that just happened to have been coincidentally published by LSP. That same magazine was handed out by the LSP booth members at the Texas Book Festival in November of last year to people for advertisement. That’s how I got a copy of the magazine.

    It is common for AdC to review children’s books that have not been published by LSP? I think not. Has it been a common practice to advertise a children’s book in AdC? I think not. Anne, even on your website, you mention that the site has adult content and anyone should be 18 years or older to view parts your site. That is taking responsibility to insure that those who go to your site are age-appropriate.

    However, when a book review is done by a young boy and that review is put in a magazine that has adult content and erotica something is wrong here, unless there’s a kid’s section that is routinely printed with books published by other publishing companies. And there is no such animal, I hope, that has children’s sections in adult/erotica magazines, unless of course it is in Thailand where sexual exploitation and sexual violation of children’s rights are commonplace.

    I too have re-read the blogs and have found nothing that accuses the re viewer’s with wrong doing. I certainly don’t think that the young boy who reviewed the book was coerced to give the book good ratings.
    I think that the salient question was whether the involvement of Kirby with LSP violated journalistic ethical standards. And without all the verbiage how could there be a question in any one’s mind about the connection of Daly with Kirby when the first and only time a children’s book was reviewed just happened to be published by LSP?

    And Lee, you have a child, would you want your child to be given AdC as an advertising tool for a children’s book? Of course now, the advertising department of Mars that produces M&Ms has now sexualized M&Ms I guess, the thinking is that sexuality now can sell children on products as well.

    But I digress, Daly and Kirby were associates based on the fact that AdC included a children’s book in the magazine published by LSP for the first and hopefully only time. That is the connection and the violation of standards. And the fact that LSP books did not always get 5 star ratings indicates to me that the reviewers themselves were innocent. But what is not innocent nor ethical was the non-disclosed relationship between LSP and AdC that gave preferential treatment in the magazine itself to the books published by LSP. Having a children’s book reviewed in AdC published by LSP should be proof enough. And it’s hard for me to believe that no one apparently sees that.

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  183. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 07, 2008 @ 17:49:52

    Ann gushed:

    You are a dishonest, defamatory, tin-eared coward, and I hope all reviewers shun your crappy fanfiction in future because you shit on the people who have kept your ‘writing' career afloat. And when your name comes up in conversation, I will make sure I mention your behaviour here, and how little you care about the truth, or evidence, or fair play, or decency. You make me sick, as a reviewer and as an author. I feel diminished for having engaged in conversation with you because you are such a poor specimen of what a decent human being should be.

    But aside from all of that, you like me.

    Lee

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  184. ANickleShy
    Sep 07, 2008 @ 19:30:38

    Boy, howdy! I’m gone for a spell and come back to a pissin’ contest! Reading back, I see it’s the same BS, different day. The collusion between Light Sword Publishing (a friend of mine calls it Limp Sword) and Affaire de Coeur could only be more apparent if Daly and Kirby took out a full page ad in the next issue of the magazine, confessing all. So, I just don’t get the tail twisting going on here. If you’re so all-fired concerned about the accuracy of the reviews printed by Affaire, for God’s sake, go read the books and judge for yourself.

    The facts are plain. Bonny Kirby and Linda Daly were business partners. Bonny Kirby was, simultaneously, the adverstising director at Affaire de Coeur. Four consecutive issues of Affaire de Coeur Magazine featured reviews, interviews, covers, and photographs of Light Sword Publishing titles and its authors/principals. Overwhelmingly, the reviews of Light Sword titles were glowing. Affaire de Coeur even printed the review of a children’s book published by Light Sword, something it had not done in the past, or since.

    Linda Daly was featured by Affaire de Coeur as some kind of literary pundit when the truth is that she has no literary background, no literary education and no success, beyond a short shelf life as a Publish America author. Having been the recipient of her bulk emails regarding her company’s releases, my only comment here is that the woman needs to go back to school. English 1A would be a good place to start. So, I find it very hard to believe that any unbiased professional magazine searching for copy would ever consider featuring her and her apparently overwhelming desire to ‘make authors’ dreams come true’. Especially if they took a look at her web pages. I almost gouged out my own eyes after reading them today.

    One of her ‘staff’, according to the Light Sword page, has ideals deeply seated in her ‘psychic’. She is also obviously allergic to complete sentences, as there is not a single one in the paragraph I’m talking about.

    I know I’m rambling here. But the suggestion that this whole thing isn’t what it seems is horseshit. Pure, number 1, grade A.

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  185. Legal Eye
    Sep 16, 2008 @ 08:43:38

    Inform yourself with the facts, then speak to me, and I will answer.

    Ms. Kirby, the complaint filed against you, Daly & LSP is, in fact, public record; not hard to find, just takes time and a reason to attain it. I’m armed with facts . Care to have a go at it?

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  186. Legal Eye
    Sep 16, 2008 @ 09:27:00

    Don’t you just love it when the power fails?

    Inform yourself with the facts, then speak to me, and I will answer.

    Ms. Kirby, the complaint filed against you, Daly & LSP is, in fact, public record; not hard to find, just takes time and a reason to attain it. I’m armed with facts. Care to have a go at it?

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  187. veinglory
    Sep 16, 2008 @ 10:34:44

    Ms Kirby. You seem to miss the point, the very specific point, of objection. It is not that advertisers are buying advertising–but that they are buying content where the conflict of interest goes undisclosed.

    When I first subscribed to AdC I received a magazine containing an article from Light Sword that was 1) old, 2) available for free on the internet, 3) an advertorial and 4) in my opinion substantial misleading and in places factually incorrect. Not to mention written by a press already widely disgraced.

    That is when I started blogging about the tainted content issue of which bought reviews are only one example. That is also why I did not renew the subscription.

    And in answer to another point, there are good reasons for not having a model where you charge for ‘expedited’ or ‘additional’ services even if the base service is free. It has an insidious effect on the impartiality of the review and is one fo the reasons a number of review websites are run by less than stellar people fleecing self- and small press published authors for all they will pay. The author needs to look after their own interest but that doesn’t make paying for a review good idea. Rather they should learn to get their ARC out in time or choose a publisher capable of doing so. One need only look at the busibness advice online about how to ‘make money with a review site’ to see the sleaze (e.g. get reviewers to work for free, start with free review and ramp up charges latter, do no work, make money! Yay!–no mention of informing readers or selling books)

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  188. veinglory
    Sep 16, 2008 @ 10:43:57

    Ann, the point is they are selling things other than advertising–i.e. their editorial content is for sale. Amongst other things articles explicity suggesting that authors submit to LightSword. Would an impartial, useful magazine do this?

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  189. Lee Goldberg
    Sep 16, 2008 @ 11:06:12

    Ann wrote:

    Tell me something, Goldberg. How many publishers take out paid advertising in magazines or on websites where reviews appear?

    Many. Advertising is what allows these magazines and websites to survive. The difference is that Newsweek, Publishers Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, and sites like Bookgasm, for example, don’t allow publishers to buy reviews or editorial content under any circumstances and have strict rules barring their reporters and executives from having a financial interest in the books they review and publishers they are reporting on. Those magazines abide by codes of ethical conduct. Affaire de Coeur clearly does not, since they allow publishers to buy reviews and editorial content and they allow the magazine’s executives to have a financial interest in the books and publishers they are writing about. I hope this clears up any confusion or misunderstanding you might have had.

    NickleShy wrote:

    The facts are plain. Bonny Kirby and Linda Daly were business partners. Bonny Kirby was, simultaneously, the adverstising director at Affaire de Coeur. Four consecutive issues of Affaire de Coeur Magazine featured reviews, interviews, covers, and photographs of Light Sword Publishing titles and its authors/principals. Overwhelmingly, the reviews of Light Sword titles were glowing. Affaire de Coeur even printed the review of a children's book published by Light Sword, something it had not done in the past, or since.

    Linda Daly was featured by Affaire de Coeur as some kind of literary pundit when the truth is that she has no literary background, no literary education and no success, beyond a short shelf life as a Publish America author.

    [...]So, I find it very hard to believe that any unbiased professional magazine searching for copy would ever consider featuring her and her apparently overwhelming desire to ‘make authors' dreams come true'.

    Because they aren’t an unbiased or remotely professional magazine. That has become painfully obvious from the comments left here, on my blog, and on Writer Beware by Louise Sneed and Bonny Kirby.

    Kirby engaged in an unethical conflict-of-interest. But the ultimate responsibility for all of this rests not with Kirby but with Sneed, who is the publisher. She clearly has no respect whatsoever for her readers or the journalistic integrity of her magazine. If she did, she would have fired Kirby by now, issued an apology to her readers, and instituted reforms to make sure such a blatant and unethical conflict-of-interest never occurs at her magazine again.

    Lee

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  190. DanielleMorrow
    Sep 16, 2008 @ 12:34:11

    It is a shame that all of this had to come about. A warning went to both Writer’s Beware and Predators and Editors. Anne Crispin rebuked me and claimed I was a bitter ex-employee.

    Yet, here it is two years later and the truth comes out. Think back to when Lightsword first went public, why did they go through so many Vice Presidents? One of them helped educate Linda (who claims to have an 8th grade education) on the bones of the publishing world which she chose to ignore and another was the daughter of the senior editor (who only wanted to do graphics), and then Bonnie Kirby arrived. Did anyone hear of Lightsword Publishing before Bonnie Kirby, Advertising Director of Affaire de Coeur, came in the picture?

    Linda Daly claimed she was ‘paying it forward', but deep down she only looked after herself. Many authors went under their own publishing company to launch their books. Linda Daly supposedly had an agent. So why didn't a traditional press pick her up?

    There was one book submitted and pulled because the author didn't believe Linda had anything to offer him. This book would have been the best of Lightsword, and possibly given a good name for the small publisher. Linda Daly became greedy and wanted an extended contract with the author and all media rights.

    It is my opinion that Linda chose to represent authors that made her own writing look good. The only way to prove this is if you would read each of the fourteen books published by LSP and shared my opinion or review of each. I also remember how excited Linda Daly was when Affaire de Coeur agreed to review her “Dove” series. Then the next thing I knew, Bonnie Kirby was coming aboard.

    A practice which Linda Daly put into place before Bonnie Kirby arrived on the scene was to have each author pre sale 100 books. This was the working capital to have them actually published. To my knowledge, Mari Sloan was the first to achieve this to its fullest, but it backfired because Ms. Sloan had them order through Amazon instead of LSP.

    We can all second guess what happen at Lightsword. The truth is Lightsword's CEO became more unethical with each submission received. One lie built upon another until it was out of control. Lee Goldberg's claims aren't off the mark. He isn’t bitter; Mr. Goldberg is simply using his voice for others who have paid their dues to become a part of the writing world. Unlike Bonnie Kirby and Linda Daly who made the claim they were helping writers. He is by getting the facts out to many readers and writers.

    If Lightsword continues to want to help others maybe they should join Green Peace. Or better yet, follow Linda Daly's “Saint Michael” to church and take part in confessing how many people they truly screwed, and take the penitence and show their authors some remorse.

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  191. Mari Sloan
    Sep 16, 2008 @ 21:54:07

    <<<

    A practice which Linda Daly put into place before Bonnie Kirby arrived on the scene was to have each author pre sale 100 books. This was the working capital to have them actually published. To my knowledge, Mari Sloan was the first to achieve this to its fullest, but it backfired because Ms. Sloan had them order through Amazon instead of LSP

    .>>>>>

    So THAT is what it was all about? It makes perfect sense to me now. Silly me! No one told me I needed to pre-sell 100 books from the LSP website to make my release date a reality. And here I thought that all of the grief I was getting from Linda Daly and all of her statements about “when and IF the book is released,” made AFTER setting a release date and beginning pre-orders, was because of the serious mistakes made, one in which my first name was misspelled on the spine of the cover. She made me SO nervous after the first 30 or so sales to her website that I TOLD my friends and relatives to buy from Amazon and I ordered my own pre-sale books from Amazon. Not to even mention that they had a better price and I could get them there cheaper than MY AUTHOR PRICE from LSP AND they didn’t charge anyone’s credit card until they were ready to send product.

    NO wonder she was SO POed about my Amazon sales and tried not to pay me any royalty on them. Not to mention that she tried to stiff me for the royalty from my sale to Crime Time books, purchased for the Los Angeles Festival of Books. What a maroon. She actually CAUSED her worst nightmare to happen, with me.

    I do know that she never read my book, which was recommended to her by her senior editor, who loves it to this day. She had designed a hideously blue cover for it which at one incarnation had waves of murky blue stuff seething in the background like some sort of atomic waste and the senior editor asked her “What IS that stuff in the background?”

    “Why, that’s the falls!” Ms. Daly replied. “The Beaufort Falls!”

    “But Linda,” the editor told her, “there are no falls. Mari states in the first chapter that ‘there are no falls in Beaufort Falls’.

    I wasn’t there but the editor had a good laugh about it with me after I was out.

    Mari

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  192. ANickelShy
    Sep 20, 2008 @ 21:34:56

    I’ve been over at Lee Goldberg’s blog reading his latest and decided I’d come over here and see if there has been anything new posted about this issue. Reading through these posts, something suddenly struck me. As far as I can make out, not a single, solitary Light Sword Publishing author who was reviewed by Affaire de Couer has jumped on the bandwagon, demanding to know what gives here.

    If a review for any of my books had come under this kind of scrutiny, you’re damn straight I’d be asking some questions. Kirby and Daly have made these people look like idiots.

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  193. Legal Eye
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 07:28:04

    And…it appears that our Bonny lies over the ocean.
    The goodship Bonny has been called back to port to defend “the facts.”
    Eghads, it is feared the vessel is lost or worse, sunk.

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  194. idiotmagnet
    Sep 22, 2008 @ 10:05:47

  195. Legal Eye
    Sep 25, 2008 @ 13:12:07

    Found the aforementioned children’s book by the author who took legal action against LSP, Daly and Kirby in AdC Sept/Oct 07 issue. It rated 5 stars and there’s a 3 pg spread (9-11)same issue. Pg 12 spotlights yet another LSP author. That author’s book review p 50 slam-dunked 4.5 stars.
    And then there is Daly featured on pgs 2-5, yep, you guessed it, same issue, all promoting LSP with color photos. Daly and author photos on cover.
    Me thinks it stinks.

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  196. Nifty Novelist
    Oct 28, 2008 @ 21:37:31

    Here’s a newsflash regarding Bonny Kirby, Linda Daly, and Light Sword Publishing:

    This all comes via an officer of the court in Michigan and is a matter of public record in Michigan and in Texas. It has been published elsewhere online and comes directly from court records.

    Last week, when civil bailiffs went to seize the property belonging to Light Sword Publishing and Linda Daly, located at the home of William and Linda Daly in Westland, Michigan, Linda Daly scampered on down to the courthouse where she filed a hand-written motion to stay the seizure of properties, claiming that all property belongs solely to her husband Bill, and that she has not been able to do any work, nor has she had any income for the past five years due to health problems. The motion for stay of seizure is dated October 24, 2008. The motion does not list an attorney for Daly or for Light Sword Publishing. By affixing her signature to this statement, Daly has presented to the court the absurd notion that this information is true and correct. By doing so, Daly has put off the right and proper disposition of Light Sword Publishing assets until after November 25, 2008, when a court hearing has been scheduled where the trier of fact will determine the veracity of this statement.

    Daly’s affirmation is contrary to the fact that she is the sole proprietor of Light Sword Publishing. Over the last 2 years she has caused to be published over 20 individual titles, all represented by her company. She has hired staff, produced digital pdfs for print, negotiated with print companies, and received inventory. She has distributed these titles to book outlets. She has developed marketing materials, sent out mass-mailings, operated a chat session on Saturday nights, solicited authors for more manuscripts, and done all of the other things incumbent to her position as CEO and owner of Light Sword Publishing. Ms Daly acting as Light Sword Publishing produced royalty statements for the authors contracted to her company and has paid out royalties on the books that have been sold. Numerous of her company’s titles are currently for sale on Amazon.com as well as other online outlets. They are also available for sale on the Light Sword Publishing web pages. One former client of hers has sold, according to Daly, herself, thousands of books.

    Having read many of the court documents surrounding these matters, I have every confidence that the court will order that this seizure go forward. My only question now is whether or not Light Sword Publishing Company’s assets won’t just sprout wings and fly away–to a relative’s home or a storage unit, for example–before the court can take possession.

    Additionally, I am in receipt of court records from the state of Texas regarding one Bonny Lorraine Kirby–the self-same Kirby who is the former Vice President of Light Sword Publishing and the Advertising Director at Affaire de Coueur. According to the National Criminal database, Ms Kirby is currently serving ten years’ probation for half a dozen theft offenses, all occurring in Texas. They range from misdemeanor bad checks to 3rd degree felony theft. Kirby’s probation is due to end in 2012. Kirby has now left the state of Texas and is purportedly living in Arkansas.

    Make no mistake about it, this is the same Bonny Kirby who arranged for reviews and articles about Light Sword titles to be prominently placed (as in ‘on the cover’) in Affaire De Coueur Magazine during the time that she was VP at LSP. She is the same Bonny Kirby who reportedly wrote a NSF check to the Michigan attorney who was hired to defend Light Sword Publishing and its principles in the lawsuit so richly discussed in these pages. The check was uttered on a Light Sword Publishing account, and, like Light Sword, was dishonored.

    Authorities in Texas are going forward in their attempts to recover assets from Ms Kirby.

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  197. Lee Goldberg
    Oct 29, 2008 @ 21:32:20

    According to the National Criminal database, Ms Kirby is currently serving ten years' probation for half a dozen theft offenses, all occurring in Texas. They range from misdemeanor bad checks to 3rd degree felony theft. Kirby's probation is due to end in 2012.

    Wow…

    This certainly explains Kirby’s “flexible” notion of ethical conduct and her inability to understand the concept of conflict-of-interest. She’s a common criminal. I’m not a lawyer, but I am surprised that a court finding that she defrauded authors doesn’t constitute a violation of her parole.

    Lee

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  198. Bec
    Oct 29, 2012 @ 14:52:27

    Hi

    I don’t know any of the other reviewers but I started writing reviews for AdC last month. I don’t get paid as at the end of the day I’m getting a free book out of it. They email me some books and I give honest reviews, which I can then re-word and add on goodreads.

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