When publishers act unprofessionally, a reader’s take.

Forewarning, this is a pretty long rant, read at your own risk 😉

Hey all, Nicole here, Shiloh’s admin. You can find out a bit more over at the FAQ page. But ya know, I’m that person you’ll see answering questions on occasion either here or over on Shiloh’s Facebook. Just FYI, ya know, if ya wanna; I have FB page and a twitter. Facebook is Admin SWalker and twitter is @Admn_SWalker. Though, if you follow Shiloh, which I’m sure you do, I’ll be reposting a lot of her stuff…but will try and post fun things on occasion, and you’re free to reach me on one of those. Just another source of Shiloh-news if you will ;). Shiloh has been kind enough to let me blog here about some recent events concerning a pretty big taboo an e-pub recently committed (IMHO, anyway). Without further ado…

As many of you may have seen, there was some drama surrounding how a publisher, Decadent Publishing to be precise, handled a negative review of one of their author’s books. Please note the following is simply MY opinion as a reader, NOT Shiloh’s, NOT my “professional” opinion in an occupational sense. I’m not a publisher/editor/agent. Right now, just a reader. So, please please understand I do not wish for any repercussions to come back on Shiloh, if you disagree with me, that is fine, but these views are NOT Shiloh’s. They are MINE and mine alone. I will mention, however, feel free to post if you disagree, but if you get nasty, Shiloh or myself can, and likely will, delete your comments. If you wish for a nice, thoughtful discussion, I’m all for it. But no bashing authors, Shiloh, me or others who may comment. Keep it respectful.

OK, now to the meat of this post…

Apparently The Enders, a blog review site, had one of their members purchase a book and post a review on said book. The publisher is Decadent Publishing. Now, let me be clear that I don’t know all sides here, as in I don’t know if the author simply mentioned the negative review to her editor or other representative at Decadent and Decadent on their own volition decided to go to the blog and comment or if the author asked Decadent to go and intercede on her behalf regarding the negative review of her book. My thought, I really, truly hope the author didn’t request Decadent take any action and it was a decision made solely by Decadent. Because if the author requested any such intervention, well as a reader, I won’t be buying ANY of this author’s work no matter who publishes her in the future. Negative reviews are gonna happen. Not all of us readers are going to like each and every book in the genre(s) we read, for whatever reason. Maybe we didn’t like the plot line, the author’s writing style, how a particular sub-plot was handled, etc. But, to me, as long as a review remains constructive in it’s criticism, they are entitled to their opinions. I know I haven’t always like every book I’ve ever read. In fact, I have not always made it through every book I’ve picked up. Now, if I’ve tried it once and I have trusted friends who rave on and on, I may give it another go. Alas, I digress. Back to main point. If this author asked Decadent to intercede, well it is MY opinion that maybe this person should re-think their intended career. Not every reader (or agent or editor or publisher) will like your book. Take the constructive criticism if you think it can improve your writing or do what I think (based on tweets from authors or what authors have posted on their respective blogs) do and ignore the negative review. Either way, if you don’t have thick enough skin to deal with the negative review, um, well…find something else to do. That being said, I wish them luck finding ANY profession where at some point you will get negative feedback about some aspect of your performance. That’s just life.

Now, what I’m hoping happened is either the author or someone at Decadent stumbled across this review (maybe a google search?) and either the author happened to be venting about it to her editor or whomever at Decadent or what have you, and then this person decided to either speak with others at Decadent or on their own, made the decision to email the people at Enders. From the information I’ve seen, these emails were scathing and threatening to the persons who make up the collective group of bloggers (some of which are authors) and Decadent found out WHO these persons are. First, as a publisher, really and truly you have no business emailing the review site or it’s members or even commenting on the actual review. You should know this, really you should. Negative reviews are gonna happen…you should be explaining this to your clients. What did they hope to accomplish by not only sending a nasty email, but continuing to bash these people via comments? All you’ve really done is piss off other authors (who are quite vocal and LOVE to share information), which means you’ve ruined your rep in the industry. This is an industry, IMHO, that is similar to my “day” job…your reputation is EVERYTHING. If you get a bad one, you’re finished, essentially. At very least you’ll have a hard time getting in decent talent and only get those poor poor writers who haven’t done enough research to figure out they shouldn’t sign with you. Also, us readers, we like to follow our fave authors. That means we go to their blogs/websites for information, we follow them on twitter if they have an account, we find them on Facebook. Why? We like information. Authors give us readers little goodies and fun bits of information. This can be snippets from upcoming releases, information on new WIPs, contests, etc. So, if you upset an author, especially one (or as in this case based on all the twitter activity I followed on Thursday) who is well known and has a large reader base, um, well hate to tell Decadent this, but you’ve just pissed off readers, as well. Know what that means? Less profit for you cause if you’ve upset us by your actions, know our way of handling it? We DO NOT BUY from you. That means your authors suffer, which if they’re innocent in all of this, I offer my sincere apology (and suggest they find way out of their contract with you so they can find a more reputable publisher). It also means your bottom line suffers. Hey, it’s the least us readers can do to make a statement.

Second, there is some speculation on whether Decadent has shared personal information about their authors or about the persons running the Enders. Again, you HAVE to be kidding me. Not only have you acted in a seriously unprofessional manner, this could very well violate some rights. Now, let me be very very careful and issue a clear disclaimer. YES my day job is an attorney. NO I do not practice IT/Copyright/privacy issues, etc. Nor do I know the terms of Decadent’s contracts with its authors. I AM NOT submitting a professional opinion as to whether they have or have not violated any laws, etc. I’m just saying writers/authors, should tread very carefully if you decide to sign with Decadent. I’d be pretty cautious…THAT IS ALL I AM SAYING. Be cautious, make sure you’re INFORMED and making INFORMED decisions, make sure I’s are dotted and T’s are crossed. How you go about that is up to you. I offer no advice AT ALL. Hope we’re all clear there ;).

Bottom line is this. It is MY opinion (and mine alone) that as a reader, I believe Decadent has overstepped its bound and acted in an extremely unprofessional manner. In MY eyes, their reputation is nil. I do not plan on buying anything published by them. I hate that the repercussions of this decision will affect innocent authors (none that I’m currently reading I do not believe are published via Decadent…so will be cautious when checking out new authors). But, unfortunately, they’ve signed with a company who apparently can’t abide by industry standards and handle business “in-house” as it were.

Kudos to you if you’ve stuck with me through my rant ;). One final thought, many thanks again to Shiloh for letting me rant as a guest blogger *G*. In future, I promise to hopefully keep my posts shorter if she’s still willing to let me blog again he he.

9 Replies to “When publishers act unprofessionally, a reader’s take.”

  1. Great rant Nicole! I gotta say – we are on the same page on this issue. This publisher gave itself a black eye and a bloody nose in the industry. One little negative review would have gone by unnoticed. But their reckless and, in my opinion, criminal behavior have caused much more harm to their brand. I can’t imagine the amount of business they are going to lose because of this. I hope this will serve as a lesson to everyone to keep it professional. Your reputation can make or break you.

    BTW Nicole, congrats on your first blog entry!

  2. Great post. I did not know that this happened. Being a reader and reviewer this was a very interesting read. Thank you for posting.

  3. Hi,

    Don’t want to sound rude but a lot of your rant sounds like speculation. Until you have all the facts maybe leave the emotion out of it and just post the facts.


  4. Eh, that’s the beauty, though, of having a reader’s POV, Barb.

    Me, I try to look at it from a professional in the biz.

    I have enough, though, to form an opinion, and you don’t need facts to form an opinion.

    I know that DP acted like a friggin ASS, IMO, just based on the comments left the Enders blog.

    That’s enough ‘evidence’ for me to form the opinion that they lack professionalism-they leave the implication of a threat in public like that.

    Professional publishers just don’t operate like that.

    It’s so unprofessional, it leaves me ill. Although, had it been me? I would have said, ‘pretty please, yes and thank you. And can you please expedite it?’

    People like Nicole? Being a reader? She doesn’t need to have facts. She make judgments based purely on emotion…she can and will.

    When places like Decadent, or others, say… Triskelion *(for a point of reference-FYI, Triskelion, for those who don’t know, is a pub that acted unprofessionally and folded). When pubs act unprofessionally, very often…they fold.

    When readers see it, they don’t need ‘evidence’ to form an opinion. ‘Evidence’ is needed in court, if I’m not mistaken. ‘Evidence’ isn’t needed to base an opinion. We form opinions based on what we see of others’ behavior.

    When we see publishers lashing out and threatening authors because they don’t like negative reviews? That IS the ‘public’ story. There was a negative public review. Decadent lashed out with the public rebuttal of ‘would you like out of your contract.’ So the public story, without anybody having insider knowledge, and we just don’t…. all we know is… somebody at DP decided to ‘threaten’ somebody at this blog.

    Now if there’s more going on, and there well be, but nobody is coming clean, so all we can know is what is seen by both DP and this blog, all we know is what played out at this blog… we have a blog, an unknown author, and publisher who threatened the blogger.

    For those who are observing, that’s enough ‘evidence’, in my opinion, to form an opinion. Whether you decide to favor the publisher, the author, the reviewers, it’s all up to you.

    Now… none of us will ever know what really happened, I suspect. I don’t, nor do I honestly care. I just see a publisher who is sniping out publicly, and it’s so beyond UNPROFESSIONAL, I can’t decide if I want to laugh or just feel sorry for them.

    Readers, though… well, many are appalled. I saw enough of that on twitter.

    Not all, mind you. Some don’t care. That’s a given. But others do. Those who do?

    Perhaps it should serve as a reminder to all in the publishing profession-act a professional. DP did not.

    When they made their very first comment, which came across as a veiled threat, publicly asking an author if they wanted out of a contract on a blog, and then it snowballed… they then started a bit of a landslide.

    As Nicole said, she’s not posting as anything other than a reader. And that’s a lovely thing, IMO. She doesn’t need to have facts. She just has to post what turns her off. DP turned her off.

  5. Thanks Shiloh!

    I will say there is a lot we don’t know, and as Shiloh pointed out, we’ll never really know. However, my (and it is strictly my opinion) decision to not buy anything from DP is based on what comments I saw them post on the blog in question. It was clear, to me, that there had been a not so nice exchange and DP was trying to bully or threaten one of it’s authors and the original poster of the review. Like I said, negative reviews happen…in publishing and pretty much in any profession or trade. It wasn’t their job to intervene. Even with that lapse in judgment to intervene in the manner they did, IMHO, very unprofessional.

    Just based on what is out for public view makes me very concerned about what transpired that we have not seen. Best thing I can think of to do to take a stand and send a message to not only DP but others who would think such course of action is “correct” is to boycott. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. Just my own thoughts and views.

  6. @ Nicole, well I do plenty of reading/buying. I also do plenty of just plain reading from friends that turns into promo bits for those friends here on the blog when I like what they’ve sent me. None of that will happen if the books are DP books. It just won’t, not unless DP can get their act together.

    I’m also a reader. A lot of people, I know, think the author can’t separate herself from the ‘reader’, and that’s fine. But I know I prefer to support pubs who can act with some standards and I sure as hell won’t support a pub who’d publicly make a threat a like that. I’m so very disturbed by the possible release of personal information, although that’s never been confirmed. Also disturbed by the veiled/unconfirmed threats of piracy which also were alluded to. There’s just a mess altogether, and all of it tied to DP-none of which would have caught my notice if that they hadn’t publicly lashed out and threatened an author on a reviewer’s blog.

    A public apology might make me change my mind. Seeing them get their act together might make me change my mind. But that would a slow process. If that can’t happen…? Well, plenty of pubs in the sea…

  7. I totally agree with you, Nicole and Shiloh! This is definitely a case of the wrong kind of publicity. Before this incident, I had no knowledge of the publisher or the author. Now I know them, and that’s not a good thing. I will definitely not be seeking out DP or the author. I am also confused by the author’s blog response to the brouhaha (I like that word!).

  8. Hey, Barb, it is a FACT (that everyone can see on the blogs concerned) that DP acted wrongly. Period. It doesn’t matter what happened in the background. What was publicly published on the blogs is what counts. I agree with Shiloh and Nicole in their opinions of this situation and the writer and publisher. I won’t ever buy from them.

  9. Great post! I feel terrible for the other authors at Decadent not involved in this mess. I’ve been keeping up with this fiasco mostly through posts from romance authors and bloggers on Twitter. As another reader, I also can’t let a single dime of my $$ get into their hands: I’m done with anything published by Decadent, too.

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