cleolinda: (GALADRIEL SMASH!)
[personal profile] cleolinda
We have some Wicked Pretty Updates. It was about to die down, and then it took a hard left turn onto WTF Street.

I have seen a blog post from a writer who agreed to take Jessica Verday's place. Since I don't know whether she is aware of the controversy or not, I am not saying who it is and possibly causing a dogpile. People directly involved do know.

Francesca Lia Block (whose response a lot of people have been waiting for) is staying in the anthology:

@francescablock: Pretty Wicked Things: l support Jessica Verday but b/c pub apologized & offered 2 use her story i will be keeping mine in

Which personally sounds reasonable to me. To elaborate on that, though, Telep's formal, non-flippant apology was finally discovered, buried in the comments of one of Jessica's posts, so she has made one. I'll repeat it (once again) here:

I sincerely regret the sequence of events which has led to Jessica Verday’s story ‘Flesh Which Is Not Flesh’ being excluded from the forthcoming anthology Wicked Pretty Things. This has been the result of a misunderstanding on my part which is entirely regrettable. Along with publishers Constable & Robinson Ltd, who commissioned the anthology, and Running Press, who are due to co-publish the book in the United States, I fully support LGBTQ issues. I apologise wholeheartedly for any offence that I have caused and offer the assurance that I would not in future reject any story on the grounds that it included a gay (or any LGBTQ) relationship.

And then, this morning... this happened.

The Misinformation Age: What Happens When A Headline Goes Viral.

It's basically a press release from the president of Running Press (literally: it is written by him and has no additional reporting or comment from Publishers Weekly) that... kind of misrepresents what happened.

Nowadays, a few keystrokes can powerfully magnify intolerance and bullying or spread a falsehood or incomplete story fast and wide, often with dire consequences. We were all made especially aware of this in the tragic incident of cyberbullying at Rutgers University last year. As publishers, it behooves us to be very aware of the blogosphere and digital environment with respect to titles in process on a daily basis. A news item suddenly creates an opportunity, or a celebrity meltdown jeopardizes a planned book. And in the sudden viral spread of a headline, facts are often the first casualty.

At Running Press, we faced this firsthand just last week.

[...]

According to Verday, when the manuscript was delivered, Telep requested that the author alter the story so the romance not reflect a male/male relationship, citing—quite incorrectly—that Running Press preferred YA anthologies to exclude "alternative lifestyles."

Yes, and Running Press's Lisa Cheng told Jessica Verday that, while they support LGBTQ writing, they "stand behind" this same editor.

Running Press's guidelines for YA anthologies do not exclude diverse lifestyles.

This is actually, demonstrably true. Both Saundra Mitchell and Sarah Rees Brennan (LJ is down, so I can't access her comment) noted that they have not had problems with stories in previous anthologies, and Saundra Mitchell in particular said that Liz Miles actually put out a call for lesbian/gay stories.  

Ms. Verday, understandably, refused to change her story and pulled it from the anthology. Then she took to her blog and social media connections, and accused Running Press of intolerance and censorship. Other authors in the anthology asked to pull their stories, believing the account.

Jessica never accused Running Press of intolerance or censorship, as far as I have seen. She specifically reposted both Running Press's and Constable Robinson's statements to the contrary. The person she took to task was the editor, Trisha Telep, who herself stated that Running Press did not request the story to be changed and did not agree with Telep's request for such a change. In fact, commenters here have expressed concern that too much of the discussion was focusing on Telep, rather than the publisher. Jessica was never unclear about this once she was aware of it. "Believing the account" implies that an untrue story was believed. Not to mention the phrases "facts are often the first casualty" and "falsehood or incomplete story" mentioned in the opening paragraph, and the oblique connection to "cyberbullying" connected to a suicide at Rutgers, supposedly comparable to what Running Press has just "faced firsthand." (Let me repeat that: the president of Running Press--who mentions that he is openly gay himself--just compared writers standing up for their pro-LGBTQ beliefs to cyberbullying that caused suicide.) The inaccuracy here is from Christopher Navratil in claiming something happened that, as far as I have seen, did not happen, and in implying that Jessica lied and/or embarked on an unjust smear campaign. (Just from a logical standpoint: what in the world would be her motive to do that?) If Running Press chose to "stand behind" an editor whose public statements, as they said, do not match their beliefs--statements that same editor has now acknowledged as "regrettable"--before that editor apologized appropriately, it is not Jessica's fault if other writers decide this is not acceptable to them, either. None of these things are "accusations." These are all public statements and/or corroborations on the part of the editor and publishers that I, among many people, personally witnessed, and which can still be read.

And lastly, when there are inevitable misunderstandings, as with all human enterprises, be sure to be available, be accountable, and stand up and say what is right.

Well, now would be a good time to start, in regards to what you've just said about Jessica.


@moirarogersbree: Publishers, I hate to break it to you, but sometimes people are going to assume your editors know your policies & speak for you.

@Ceilidhann: How nice of Publishers Weekly to give Running Press free ad space to pretty much blame Verday for all this instead of Telep.

@Ceilidhann: Terrible reporting @publisherswkly Why didn't you talk to the authors who pulled out of the anthology? Or Telep herself?

@SmartBitches: "It is hard to believe you abhor bigotry when you have a continuous, ongoing relationship with a bigot." - @courtneymilan on Running Press

@SmartBitches: Article where @courtneymilan's comment cracks open the righteous, erudite whoopass: http://is.gd/7ZU2EH


[In reply to previous commenter] Erastes: The author, a bestselling author in her own right, was contacted by Tricia Telep to write a story, and was told the guidelines were that it needed to be a dark fairy story. She wasn't querying. And for the president of MLR: "Then she took to her blog and social media connections, and accused Running Press of intolerance and censorship." Actually, what she said was this: http://jessicaverday.blogspot.com/2011/03/being-gay-is-okay.html Notice: she quoted the editor in the original post, and when the editor made it clear that it had been her decision, and not her publishers, she edited the post to include Telep's remarks. This is not just a "misunderstanding." I don't care if the owner of the press is openly gay. He's working with a freelance editor whose response was breezy and flippant and full of unconscious and yet rampant prejudice. This is an editor who has published scores of anthologies with Running Press, and has many more in the works. I'm an author, and after hearing about this, I would never, ever work with Tricia Telep. It's not the press I wouldn't work with, but so long as you continue to have a relationship with her, you won't have one with me--or with any of the other authors out there. I am aware that you claim you wanted the story. I'm also aware that you're continuing your relationship with someone who thought that an appropriate response to the original accusation was to offer up a video of herself wrestling with a gay man. You want this to go away? Choose another freelance editor for your anthologies, stop pretending like you have no choice, and stop telling yourself that people are "misunderstanding" you. It is hard to believe you abhor bigotry when you have a continuous, ongoing relationship with a bigot.
--by: courtneymilan @ 20110404100348

Other replies:

I would like to see you [Publishers Weekly?] acknowledge that: (a) Jessica Verday made very clear, in her blog and in all other communication, as soon as she was aware that the publishers were not anti-gay-romance; (b) that all the withdrawing authors are aware of this, and they have all said they are withdrawing from work edited by Tricia Telep, not from RP indiscriminately; (c) several people have expressed discomfowith the fact that you have never publicly criticized Ms Telep for her unacceptable assumption (that she made an error is not the point, it is the prejudice behind the error that was offensive). This article is frankly insulting, and I would hope for better from a respectable publisher.
--by: Johann @ 20110404102146

But is Running Press and C&R still working with Tricia Telep? What did she say when informed of your policies? You mentioned your conversation with Verday, so what conversation with Telep did you have? Have you and C&R kept her on as the editor of this anthology? Do you plan to work with her in the future? The problem here is not about if Running Press "abhors bigotry" it's about what you're going to *do* about it. If you're still going to publish this title with Telep as the editor, you have to understand why Verday and other authors won't want to be part of it. You have to also understand that your words come off as hollow. If you truly "[stood] behind the creativity and authenticity of our authors" you would not want to work with someone who did not, who not only misrepresented your values but apparently sought to squash said creativity and authenticity. Steps you can take to ACTUALLY make a difference: refuse to work with someone who so doesn't represent your core values and find a new editor for this anthology AND query for an editor of a new YA anthology that will feature queer paranormal romances. Maybe that's an anthology Verday will be happy to be part of and it will definitely be a way for you to show what your REAL core values are.
--by: AngieManfredi @ 20110404090131


Meanwhile, there is still some confusion as to what is really going on:

@Ceilidhann: @donnajherren I was willing to give RP the benefit of the doubt since Telep took the blame but this un-apology & scolding of Verday for (1)

@Ceilidhann: @donnajherren (2) going public, and rightly so, about the deliberate exclusion of LGBTQ content is baffling at best and disgusting at worst

@JessVerday: @cleolinda @donnajherren FYI: I was told [by Trisha Telep?] "the publishers commissioned me for a collection of het YA romances."

@donnajherren: @JessVerday I know Trisha never mentioned that our Mammoth story had to be het, and it definitely wasn't in the contract. @cleolinda

@JessVerday: @donnajherren @cleolinda That's what I don't get here. 2 + 2 is NOT equaling 4


I don't even know. I don't. even. know. The irony is, after the formal Telep apology, I would have been willing--well, I'm not directly involved in this; I'm here in the capacity of an observer. I'm not calling for a boycott, except in the sense that I said at one point that if people did want to do that, they needed to not punish writers and editors who had nothing to do with this. But if I were one of the writers asked to be in the anthology, I either would have dropped out in the period of time after the flippant non-apology but before the formal apology, or, if I had heard about this after the formal apology, I might have considered that to be sufficient and stayed in, maybe specifically trying to submit a story with LGBTQ themes. I don't know. It's a tough decision to make after the apology; it depends on how you feel about that. But I probably would have endeavored to work only with editors like Liz Miles from then on. My problem, as an observer, at this point, is not with Trisha Telep. It's with Christopher Navratil's inaccurate, self-serving, easily disproven, somewhat baffling retelling of the story. Because seriously, what the hell.

ETA: With thanks to [livejournal.com profile] domynoe:

@SaundraMitchell: Hey @PublishersWkly since Christopher Navratil is upset the authors didn't contact him how about providing an addy? It's not on their site!*

@SaundraMitchell: And nice reportage! Extremely balanced. Why didn't you talk to any of the authors involved? @PublishersWkly*

@SaundraMitchell: For any author who got the "Please come back to our anthology" letter from R&P I DIDN'T authorize that quote and my story remains withdrawn!*




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Date: 2011-04-04 05:40 pm (UTC)
finch: (Default)
From: [personal profile] finch
It's nice of Running Press to put to rest the discussion about whether authors should still support the publisher because it was the editor's policy and not theirs. Knowing they're going to throw authors under the bus like that? Now the publisher is making people even more uncomfortable than the editor.

Date: 2011-04-04 05:57 pm (UTC)
ceilidh_ann: Made by erin-icons of LJ. (QI Jimmy Carr)
From: [personal profile] ceilidh_ann
And to think it was all quieting down as well. I still don't think we're getting the entire story here but I doubt we ever will. And I don't care how many times the publisher/editor pulls the 'I have gay friends/I am gay/I wrestle gay Scots' card, their actions don't show any sort of understanding as to why this was such a big deal. We're still stuck with this completely wrong mindset that stories about straight (usually white, able bodied and beautiful) romances are universal because everyone can relate to that while only ethnic minorities or LGBTQ people can relate to characters of colour or LGBTQ. That and the idea that something being queer must make it automatically explicit in some way? Running Press just ignored why Verday's decision was so important. Ugh, this is still making me ragey.

Date: 2011-04-04 05:57 pm (UTC)
newhorizons: (little red)
From: [personal profile] newhorizons
I do not understand. Is he drinking the koolaid or something? Maybe we should send him a link to your coverage on the issue, because it seems that any random internet goer knows more about what is going on than he does.

Date: 2011-04-04 06:04 pm (UTC)
snacky: (Default)
From: [personal profile] snacky
From Christopher Navratil:

First, it is clearer than ever that we as publishers need to make sure our values and guidelines are completely clear—not just to our employees, but to the many third-party hands that touch a book project, from author through to reader, including business partners and freelancers.

So, not addressing Trisha Telep at all and scolding Jessica Verday for things she didn't do (but sound good if you want yourself and Running Press to be seen as the victim in all this) is the way to make sure your values and guidelines are completely clear to everyone? Seems to be compounding your problems, instead.

Secondly, we all need to constantly monitor correspondence and activity relating to our projects (my advice: set up a Google alert for all your titles). Be aware, in this 24/7 world, a few days can be a very long time. And lastly, when there are inevitable misunderstandings, as with all human enterprises, be sure to be available, be accountable, and stand up and say what is right.

And while the shit is hitting the fan over the PW opinion piece, where's Navratil? Is he ignoring Twitter and the comments and his Google alerts? Failing on available and accountable!

But who knows, he'll probably find a way to blame Verday for cyberbullying him into this fuckup.

Date: 2011-04-04 06:06 pm (UTC)
maudelynn: (pic#168266)
From: [personal profile] maudelynn
I just don't understand why he had to add in the bit that Jessica Verday trashed Running Press. Really bad form.

Date: 2011-04-04 06:07 pm (UTC)
outlineofash: Actor Jeremy Brett with a look of bored disbelief. (Mood - Seriously?)
From: [personal profile] outlineofash
Wow. I gave the publisher the benefit of the doubt when this first blew up, but that article... WTF street indeed.

Date: 2011-04-04 06:08 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] karenmahoney
I told myself I wasn't going to comment on this whole mess again, but I have to say something. There are many, many things I *could* contribute, but all I'll say right now is that as one of the authors to withdraw from Wicked Pretty Things, I feel personally insulted by this:

"Other authors in the anthology asked to pull their stories, believing the account."

I made my own decision after a LOT of serious thought and consultation with both my agent and publisher. I didn't just read one "account" and jump ship because I automatically believed every word. I'm quite capable of researching what went down, asking questions, getting advice, and then making a decision based on ALL the information.

That's all I have to say.

Date: 2011-04-04 06:11 pm (UTC)
maudelynn: (Default)
From: [personal profile] maudelynn
Yet another angle to look at it from that makes his wording in the article ill thought out and insulting.

Date: 2011-04-05 12:55 am (UTC)
jtkellerman: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jtkellerman
What kills me is that I *did* give them my side of the story a full five days before I actually pulled out of the anthology. Their only response from the company to me was to copypasta their corporate "This is unfortunate, but due to other authors hard work and stuff, we're going to go ahead and publish this antho." statement.

Date: 2011-04-04 06:13 pm (UTC)
dantesspirit: (Default)
From: [personal profile] dantesspirit
Good ol' victim blaming by the publisher. 'It's not our fault! It's the author's fault!' Umm, no, it's partially your fault for not being clear to the editior for one, for not standing up for the suthor for two, and for trying to pass the buck TO the author for a third strike.

Date: 2011-04-04 11:06 pm (UTC)
rosefox: Green books on library shelves. (Default)
From: [personal profile] rosefox
For the record, Navratil's piece is a Soapbox, an op-ed; it's not a news article.

Date: 2011-04-05 12:29 am (UTC)
cassildra: Lisa from the Simpsons saying "don't fuck with smart girls" (simpsons: don't fuck with smart girls)
From: [personal profile] cassildra
As a [livejournal.com profile] seanan_mcguire fan (I read the ARC of her first book, ffs), and having met her personally, I have to say... she doesn't do things quickly or without thinking it through, and researching all sides of the angle. I can't really speak for her or any of the other authors, but from what I've seen, to [ask] to pull their stories, believing the account without a lot of research and a lot of heartache over doing so is uncharacteristic and completely counterproductive.

And I'm sorry if I mischaracterized any of the authors who have pulled out, but--in my fannish opinion, that's what happened. That's how I'd do it, anyway.

Date: 2011-04-05 10:17 am (UTC)
opportunemoment: (srs riter)
From: [personal profile] opportunemoment
I have to wonder whether Navratil actually read Jessica Verday's blog, or if he just had the whole story reported to him second hand through an editor or PR person, with all of the [er] editorialising that that might entail. It's only a thought, but it would explain him appearing to wilfully paint what she said in entirely the wrong light. I wouldn't be surprised.

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