N.B. This is involving an incident that’s covered on Jenny Trout’s blog in detail regarding the lawsuit against Dear Author/Jane Litte from a well known romance publisher, Ellora’s Cave. The two authors mentioned: Jamie McGuire (author of Beautiful Disaster) and Teresa Mummert (author of White Trash Damaged) had some vague public social media messages that celebrated the lawsuit against Dear Author, as retribution against a figure they didn’t like or was critical of their works/behavior in the past. There were already tensions and an immense shock at the announcement of the lawsuit in and of itself because of the repercussions it could have on the book blogging community as a means of silencing, but also because of the effect it has on authors who publish under Ellora’s Cave (and notably, I’ve read quite many Ellora’s Cave authors in the past).
I honestly have no idea if this post will be seen by the authors these words are addressed to, but it is intended as an open dialogue for conversation on an issue that some people, including myself, have had far too much of their fill of. And it is worth the conversation. I hope everyone takes it for what it is: food for thought, rather than a so called “witch hunt” – which I’ll address in my letter soon enough. YMMV.
To the parties of concern,
I think we need to have a conversation. Seriously.
There was a point where I almost didn’t pen this post. Not because I felt afraid to offer my two cents on this whole thing, but because I felt afraid of how it would be interpreted. Will I get sued just for saying something that a group of authors do not like? That I’ll get their ire just for calling them out on doing things that I find to be highly unprofessional? Will it hurt me even when I’m an aspiring writer who’s also a book blogger, passionate about the books I read and offers my honest two cents? Will I be labeled a bully when I’ve had a history of being shoved against lockers, called racial slurs, belittled by the shape of my body, among other things, repeatedly over months, years time, and never had the gall to speak about it until well after the fact?
I hope not. I seriously hope not.
This post isn’t penned with mirth or jealousy (I’ve never had such a bone in my body), it’s not even penned with anger. I’m just tired at this point. Fed up. Disgusted. In a lot of pain.
Why the hell would anyone want to revel in someone else’s (anyone else’s) problems is beyond my comprehension. Why anyone in a professional capacity would childishly and publicly post this information on social media where anyone and everyone could see it is also beyond me. I’m not even saying that it’s right to do it even privately (YMMV), but the fact that it’s public and pointing a mocking finger is just as bad call.
The internet is not a private place. Even as we have our own little microspaces on the webs, the repercussions of what we say in a public sphere have consequences, and people can (and most likely will) be hurt by them. If you start pointing fingers and doing jigs at something that has very serious repercussions for a whole lot of people, there’s a pushback effect. If you push, people will push back. If you perpetuate drama, the drama will find its way back to you, and you may not want it to happen, you may run with your tails between your legs from the matter and wipe your hands of it, but it’s still there. It exists.
The whole issue with Ellora’s Cave is serious business. The whole measure of what they’re trying to do to Dear Author, who is run by figures that you may not like, has serious repercussions that effect people far beyond that blog site.
But you don’t see that. You only see what it means for yourselves.
It’s not about you. It is not always about YOU.
It is not a “witch hunt” to voice having a problem with what you two chose to say and the way you said it. You’re authors, you’re public figures, your words are a reflection of the business you choose to promote, and while it may have been in something of a personal space, the whole freaking world can hear you. Loud and clear. There’s no subtlety in the malice that came across with your posts.
The thing that I ask is why? Why? It hurts my head and my heart thinking about all this crap. All this unnecessary and unwelcome drama. This is not high school, this is not the movie Mean Girls, this is the real world. Because as someone who loves writing and voicing opinions about books and buying from authors whose works I love, you know – I care about this stuff, and by stuff I mean blogger-reader-writer-author relationships. I do, a lot. I don’t think it’s right for people to be silenced, even if it’s from people I may not have a good relationship with. But I think in larger considerations, it would depend on what the conversation is about. If we’re talking about criticism against books or other forms of media – that’s fair. People can have problems with what they read or watch or consume in the public spectrum if they see it as problematic, and voice those concerns. Likewise, people can have problems with public figures or businesses if the services they provide are not to par.
But a person who’s a blogger acting as an informant on an unfair practice, and is getting punished for telling people of the unethical notations and ramifications of that practice – that’s not cool.
I run the risk of getting both of your ire, but I’m going to speak out anyway. This isn’t about you, and it isn’t about your books. It’s about something much bigger than that. Heck, for one of you I’ve never read your books, and the other I’ve read all of your books and pretty much raged at every single one in some capacity. (And apparently I’m taking another one of the team picking up one this month on behalf of a friend who’s insanely curious but wouldn’t touch the book with a ten foot pole. The things I do man, the things I do. = ) But at least I can accept that with the maturity it lends and own up to that factor. I have the freedoms to speak on things that I find are problematic and can own that opinion without fear of retribution. Yes, some people may dislike me for it, but I can take it. I’m a grown woman, and I can accept when I’m wrong about things and apologize and take ownership of it if that’s the case.
That doesn’t make me weak, it makes me strong. Can you say the same thing about yourselves and the actions you take and perpetuate?
I would never think of reveling in any kind of misfortune that comes your way – public or private, no matter what it is. Heck, one of you was the victim of a plagiarist who took from your work among several other authors, and as someone who thinks plagiarism is horrible since I am a hardcore lover of words and individuality – I felt for that. Ironically, Dear Author was one of the players who reported it, and you still proceeded to throw DA under the bus. Why dude? That doesn’t make any sense. You can’t say one thing, but mean another. (And oddly, that’s a line in a song that I really like, but I don’t know if many people would know it.)
Apparently, that has it’s history with you. You make a statement, delete it, pretend it doesn’t exist. Or you make a statement, and feign ignorance or pass it off to someone else like it’s their problem and not yours. Denial is ignorance. Perpetuating ignorance in the face of conflict is not the way to resolve it, especially if you have a firm hand in furthering the drama surrounding it, rather than constructively contributing to a dialogue.
I remember other incidents like this – just didn’t say anything about it. I remember when one of you made a callous comparative statement about “segregation” and the moment someone said they had a problem with your comparison of the term outside of its racial and civil rights meanings, you absolved yourself of all responsibility of it.
And as a POC myself, that fucking hurt. But I didn’t say anything. It’s your space, your words, your responsibility. If people have a problem and turn away from your work or lose respect for you on that note, that’s your own doing – not mine. It’s not a “witch hunt” if people complain when you make hurtful statements and then run like the wind in the other direction like you didn’t do anything wrong.
Before you even sit in front of a keyboard, before you even put your finger to a keystroke – for the love of all that’s holy, THINK before you act. Take RESPONSIBILITY for your actions and words.
If you don’t want yourself in the spotlight for making statements that people will find problematic or hurtful, don’t make that statement. And if somehow on impulse you end up saying something that upsets a lot of people, instead of feigning ignorance or wiping yourself of all responsibility, maybe it might be a better thing for you to actually read what people are saying is problematic with your words, join the dialogue constructively with a patient ear and openness to it, and you know…LEARN from it.
You might get something out of doing better by others in the long run. And certainly, it would be a better alternative that perpetuating further drama, ire, and hurt by not acknowledging the problematic terms that you, directly or indirectly, furthered from your words.
Words matter. Words matter.
My two cents, and none more.