Monday, January 12, 2009

If You Can't Say Something Nice...

Come sit by me.


Seriously though, over the weekend, there was a huge kerfuffle (I do like that word!) over at Dear Author involving Ellora's Cave and their lawsuit against Borders bookstore chain. And reading over the comments thread - yow, the fur sure was flying for a while.

Anyway, this kerfuffle involved quite a few current and former EC authors, and their experiences (good and bad) with that publisher. Some signed their name to their comments, but some remained anonymous, but for very good reason. Now, normally I take anonymous comments with a grain of salt, but this is one case where I understand why anonymity is sought. Whether it is true or not, there was fear of retribution for some of the current authors, and so I don't fault them at all for not wanting to sign their names.

The comments grew heated and DA's blog admin basically let the debate go on and for that, I say good for them. It was ugly at times, but I think it offered up a chance for those of us who have never really dealt with this publisher, to see both their good and their bad. Some of the comments were signed, many were variations of anonymous - but the entire thread was an interesting read.

So this morning, on one of the blogs I read fairly regularly, was a steaming diatribe against the classlessness and disgrace of Dear Author allowing the comment thread to run the way it did.


This was a writer's blog condemning the debate. A writer suggesting that Dear Author should have not let the debate go on the way it did. A writer suggesting that those unhappy authors should have just sat down and shut up, basically.

Again, huh???

Now, I suppose it is only fair to say that the author condemning the blog is an EC author, and I am not about to name her, since she also believes that anyone blogging about the Dear Author post and comment thread is doing so in order to draw more hits to his or her blog. I think that's just a lousy thing to say, and extremely self-righteous as well. I suppose only she is allowed an opinion on the matter and not only that, but hers is basically the right opinion to have.

Um. No.

I, on the other hand, did not have a problem with these other authors offering up their experiences - both good and bad - in public, There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, were I thinking of submitting to this publisher, it's something I would find very interesting and not at all different from what I might ask a writer friend. Now, I don't write for this publisher, -my one sub to them went unanswered, and follow ups to see if they even received it went ignored as well - which seemed a little unprofessional to me but in no way had colored my opinion of them. A sub I made to a big NY house went ignored as well once. It happens, I guess. And after reading all of those comments, I don't know that I would ever sub to them. I'm not saying I wouldn't, just that I don't know if I would. But that's what a prospective author should see - the good and the bad.

Yes, there were a few comments that were more personal attacks, and those should have been reined in a little - but overall, I found the author experiences could be an invaluable bit of research, as I said. In no way should they have kept quiet. It was my impression by the condemner that saying nice stuff is okay. But saying not-so-nice stuff? Verboten.

I don't agree with this. I don't think authors should diss their publishers for the sake of causing controversy or to air out their grievances that could (and should) be handled by direct dealings with their publisher (see the old posts on Anne Stuart/Jenny Crusie/Miss Snark). But, if it's something being done in an informative way - that's different and that poster has as much right to say, "This is what happened to me, despite my doing X,Y,Z" as the blogger taking these authors to task for saying it.

It seems to me that it's a case of "I support freedom of speech as long as I like what you have to say," and it doesn't work that way. Nor should it. Imagine if no one ever gave the negatives... I shudder to think of what would happen.

Now, of course the blogger has every right to air her disgust with what she saw - but those who commented in that thread had every right to comment as well, even if they later regret what they may or may not have said. I don't doubt that those who used their names gave a long, hard thought to what they were writing. And for that, I give them props. Mega-props, actually. Some of the experiences had me doing a WTF???

Now, I have no dog in this fight at all, except it drives me nuts when any person or group basically agrees that we all have the right to say what we think, but that those of us who dissent should basically keep that to ourselves. Um, again, no. No, dissenters shouldn't. You might not like it, but that's too bad. You don't get to decide what should or shouldn't be said, any more than I do. And if you don't like it? Too bad.

ETA - After a bit of thought, I decided to go back and identify Dear Author and Ellora's Cave.

DISCLAIMER - As I said, I do not write for EC, and therefore all of my knowledge has come from those who either do or did write for them at one point, and what their experiences were.

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