Wednesday, September 9, 2009

On Manners, Professionalism, and Karma

I don't blog about the publishing industry at large on here much, since my blogs are mostly focused on my own writing life. And I've learned the hard way not to get sucked in to online flame wars. But I just couldn't resist commenting on the Quartet Press debacle.

Those of you who follow my writing career know that I write for Ravenous Romance, a relatively new epress that was founded by several people with literally decades of experience in traditional NYC print publishing (my venerable literary agent Lori Perkins among them). The relatively new world of epublishing has never mixed well with the old-school, big-time NYC print publishing industry (most of the people who run independent epublishers started those epublishers with no prior publishing experience of any kind)----indeed, it's been kind of a "Wild West" for many years. So when Ravenous was founded in late 2007, it created quite a stir in the very tiny epublishing community, mostly due to the fact that Ravenous had big-time print publishing connections and business experience---and wasn't afraid to show it.

The relatively small, close-knit (and dare I say, snarky and emotionally immature) epublishing blogosphere pounced on Ravenous and its authors, claws drawn. The attacks, flame wars---even out-and-out harrassment---of Ravenous Romance's staff and authors by a small group of epublishing bloggers and (mostly) unpublished authors was like something out of Dante. It was like the meanest sorority-girl-slash-junior-high-school prank turned into an online horror movie. Worst of all, even some editors and staffers at some of Ravenous' competitors got in on the "fun," in appalling public acts of unprofessionalism. One blogger in particular (who shall remain nameless here) became a ringleader of sorts, dragging on the vicious mean-girl hazing (I can think of no better term for it) for several months.

And today, lo and behold, Quartet Press, which had been praised and cheerleaded to the high heavens for months by the very same bloggers that had viciously derided Ravenous Romance and its authors (not to mention had hired one of the aforementioned editors who had joined in the hazing, and had even publicly announced it would publish the ringleader blogger's debut novel) collapsed and shut down today before it published a single book.

Meanwhile, Ravenous Romance (and its authors, myself included) is going strong, has just signed an 18-book print deal in partnership with major media, and will be making a MAJOR national media splash on September 14 (stay tuned).

Poetic justice, perhaps? Karma? Something else?

I'll leave that for you to decide.

Edited 9/11/09 to add: The above-referenced blogger has categorically denied having a book deal with the defunct publisher, despite making prior Twitter posts, comments, etc. to the contrary (which may have been a practical joke on her part, who knows). Whatever the truth is, it seems there may be a gag order in place on the publisher participants, so it seems we'll never know. In any case, there was certainly a strong relationship of some kind, financial or otherwise, between the above-referenced blogger and Quartet Press' staff, which likely contributed to the chummy PR relationship between the two.

Moral of the story: Don't believe hype without actual dollars and results behind it, no matter who is dishing it out.



  1. It looks like the curtain is being pulled back these last few weeks on this small group of folks trying desperately to dominate the digital publishing world via tactics best left to the school yard.

    I've been trying to figure out all day exactly what was supposed to make QT so unique from the other pubs and I still don't have an answer that makes any kind of sense.

    Those unpublished authors you mentioned should wake up and stop getting their advice from certain bloggers and start connecting with folks who can actually help them with their careers.

  2. What ring-leader blogger were they publishing? Never saw that announcement

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  4. Jane? Jane was the writer? Does she read her own poorly written blog? No wonder she was reeling. 'bout time. Can't quit your day job yet Jane.

  5. I rarely comment on public opinion because I rarely care to make my opinion overly public. However, your take on the Quartet Press fold (debacle? seriously?) is...well, something worth a public remark.

    I had no stake whatsoever with Quartet Press and I have no stake with Ravenous Romance. I believe I'm reasonably unbiased, enough to say the differences between general reception of Quartet Press and Ravenous Romance directly stem from behavior of parties involved with both endeavors.

    Quartet Press partners, staff and authors conducted themselves professionally. As a result, they received professional consideration and interest.

    I can't say the same for Ravenous Romance's partners, staff and authors.

    As writers and as business people, we're judged by the words we put forth.

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  9. What I find rather amusing is how on several blogs, everyone is upset over the livelihood of authors and editors that are now out of work because QP died before it started. Yet, these same people have no problems attacking other authors and trying to cripple THIER livelihoods.

    I find the whole US against THEM in the romance world totally mindblowing as I've said before.

    In horror, small presses start or don't start and die over and over again. Enthusiastic people think they can do something they love, but often, the money crunch dashes their dreams. This doesn't shake the world or discredit a form of publishing whether it's ebooks, POD, small press or audio. It's life. Business life....

    The fact that QP needs more time to regroup or maybe will just disband doesn't shake the foundation of e-publishing. It's just a group of enthusiastic people who realized they have bitten off more then they can chew and good for them for realizing it BEFORE they dragged down many others.

    Other companies will form and die this year as well, as it's always been and as it always will be.

  10. Seph, I absolutely agree re: the weirdness of the US against THEM mindset. Well said.

    I do feel bad for all the authors/staff at QP - I really do hate to see us lose more publishing companies/bookstores than we already have this past year. I hope the publishing industry experiences an upsurge soon...

  11. Excellent commentary, Jamaica. As one of those "eighteen," I believe it's sweet justice our rise is timed by their demise. As the old saying goes, Be kind to people on your way up as you'll meet them on your way down.

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