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

Dear Author Announces Romance Novel Central Forum

romance novel centralSo, after some thought and rooting around in the backend of BlueHost, I found a thing called Simple Machines Forum which is a great open source software program for forums. I installed it and added a couple of packages to extend functionality, and waa laa – we now have a forum for readers. It is for readers and by readers, I mean, anyone who reads. If you are an author, we’d love to have you but we ask you put on your reading cap when you come in.

You don’t have to register to post. The only required field is your name, which can be ANON, if you like, but I suggest Jean or perhaps Jamie or even Jericho. If you do sign up, you can have a reserved name and an avatar. There are a few other features that are available when you register.

The best way to use the forum, in my opinion, is to use the following two options that appear under your name when you login:

We all hope you enjoy yourselves and use the forum for whatever purposes it needs to be used for. Please feel free to give us feedback as message boards are very new to us.

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

16 Comments

  1. Ann(ie)
    Mar 24, 2007 @ 12:22:31

    Very cool. I’ve been looking for a good reader’s forum.

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  2. Danielle
    Mar 24, 2007 @ 14:24:38

    Just signed up and already posted to a couple of topics.

    ReplyReply

  3. Robin
    Mar 24, 2007 @ 15:24:25

    Yea! on the reader forum.

    Okay, I know this isn’t the place to post this, but I am stupefied at the fact that the RWA asked you (told you? warned you?) to remove the image of the award that shall not be named! Ahhhhh, did they not read Barbara Samuel’s column at RTB? Holy shit, people, are they TRYING to make themselves COMPLETELY irrelevant to readers?????????????? Cause they are on that fast track now, IMO.

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  4. Meljean
    Mar 24, 2007 @ 15:27:56

    Okay, I know this isn’t the place to post this, but I am stupefied at the fact that the RWA asked you (told you? warned you?) to remove the image of the award that shall not be named!

    What she said. Un-fricking-believable.

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  5. Jane
    Mar 24, 2007 @ 15:38:04

    Technically, I was asked only to remove the picture of the statuette, but was told “Please be aware that the name of the award and the statuette are registered trademarks of Romance Writers of America” so rather than run afoul again, I changed it.

    I have been wondering whether I should even host the contest now. Sybil sent me an “I Told You So” email today. She warned me that hosting such a contest would not be appreciated. Le Sigh.

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  6. Robin
    Mar 24, 2007 @ 15:54:49

    I have been wondering whether I should even host the contest now. Sybil sent me an “I Told You So" email today. She warned me that hosting such a contest would not be appreciated. Le Sigh.

    Well, if you want to do it for readers, then I say do it — at a core level, I don’t think you should let the RWA shape what you want to do here, Jane, even if that means holding a contest that relates to the ATSNBN.

    Generally, though, since trademark infringement tends to revolve around protecting the marketplace from inferior goods, the RWA’s use of trademark language in its cease and desist request doesn’t suggest a real *courting* of readers, at least not to me. You know, it’s funny, because I came into the Romance community SO convinced that authors and readers were natural allies — because on the most basic level we are THE SAME. And the economic interests of the genre are certainly dependent on readers. But the RWA — and should I address this directly to whoever is monitoring your site for RWA violations — is sadly unproductive in pursuing a course that will potentially alienate one of the most active reader communities online. And it also feels sort of childish to me, although I can’t intellectualize that reaction well enough to polish it up rhetorically. I expect this kind of crap from publishers, but it seems the RWA would be more thoughtful about rejecting free POSITIVE reader publicity.

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  7. Alison Kent
    Mar 24, 2007 @ 15:55:16

    NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said it doesn’t matter if the exact words “Super Bowl” appear in any ads.

    “If you are describing what everybody perceives as the Super Bowl … that is a trademark infringement,” he said.

    What I will never get about any of this trademark business (in this case the RITA though it brought to mind the Super Bowl) is how much publicity is brought to the contest by reader bloggers talking about it, even using the image of the statuette, i.e, where is the damage to the organization or to the reputation of the contest by allowing supporters to show the graphic, mention the name, and talk it up as long as they give proper attribution?

    I. Do. Not. Get. It. Legalities or not.

    ReplyReply

  8. Alison Kent
    Mar 24, 2007 @ 16:04:10

    [quote comment="25208"]I. Do. Not. Get. It. Legalities or not.[/quote]

    Okay, I do get that an advertiser using the name “Super Bowl” to drive up his own revenue is stepping out of bounds. But there’s no revenue driving here. It’s just the end user, one who might benefit from finding new authors to read from the award/contest process supporting the effort. Sigh.

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  9. Robin
    Mar 24, 2007 @ 16:17:47

    Okay, I do get that an advertiser using the name “Super Bowl" to drive up his own revenue is stepping out of bounds.

    The wacky thing is that the trademark holder has the right to license products based on the trademarked item at will — that’s the value of the trademark and also its protection. And even more ironically, even in trademark licensing situations, the holder of the license AND the entity granted rights to produce goods based on or related to the trademarked item both benefit economically. DA isn’t competing with the RWA or trying to copy the RITA for its own profit or even benefit. It’s not producing miniature statutes based on the RITA and giving them out. The whole point of trademark protection is to prevent confusion in the marketplace between the original product and something else. In this case, not only was there NO intention to confuse, but there was also no possibility, since Jane et all clearly credited and sought to bring attention to the original trademarked RITA and RWA. Which is the ultimate irony, eh — that the entire point of the contest was to honor the RITA!

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  10. Jane
    Mar 24, 2007 @ 16:20:52

    I’ll blog about this tomorrow. I don’t even know if I want to do the research to see if I am within my rights to run the contest. But I’ll look at it later tonight and blog about it tomorrow.

    ReplyReply

  11. Robin
    Mar 24, 2007 @ 16:34:56

    I don’t know if you’re an IP lawyer, Jane, but there must be one around here somewhere. I’d be shocked if the RWA request came as a result of a legal consult.

    ReplyReply

  12. Alison Kent
    Mar 24, 2007 @ 16:35:37

    Robin – Thanks for the explanation. I knew as I was typing that I didn’t know enough to be saying anything, heh, but also knew there was a BIG disconnect here with the organization not allowing Jane to use the image for a publicity push designed (among other things) to bring the contest FREE PRESS!

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  13. LinM
    Mar 24, 2007 @ 16:46:13

    Wow – so much in a short space of time!

    Hurrah for the forum.

    The ATSNBN – sad. Every genre seems to be having vehement discussions about awards, so I went from SBTB to an SFF blog (written by an idiot) hoping that Bujold would move into paranormal romance because her books looked odd in the company of other Nebula/Hugo winners to a blog ranting about the Edgars. Vehement discussions about the awards and the winners are part of the fun. The saddest thing about the ATSNBN is the lack of publicity for the winners. Too bad the RWA thinks otherwise.

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  14. Robin
    Mar 24, 2007 @ 16:47:12

    Robin – Thanks for the explanation. I knew as I was typing that I didn’t know enough to be saying anything, heh, but also knew there was a BIG disconnect here with the organization not allowing Jane to use the image for a publicity push designed (among other things) to bring the contest FREE PRESS!

    A lawyer would know a lot more, Alison, but as you said, even beyond what is or isn’t technically trademark infringement is the question of why. would. the RWA. cut off a contest created basically to showcase its top award and its authors. Even if it is technically trademark infringement (and I don’t necessarily think that license holders even completely understand their own rights in many cases, assuming they have actually registered the trademark with the feds), why suppress a wholly non-commercial effort?

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  15. Janine
    Mar 24, 2007 @ 17:27:01

    I started a topic called “The Award that Shall Not Be Named” on the message board forum so that you guys can an on topic place to chat about it.

    ReplyReply

  16. Shannon
    Mar 24, 2007 @ 19:02:28

    Well, I went to the forum but there’s a whole “readers only” thing, so I’ll just say really quickly here that “they” might have thought you were using RITA in the title of the contest—the Readers RITA or whatever it said—and that triggered the trademark comment. That’s different than just mentioning the RITA. Just a thought.

    ReplyReply

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