Some days it feels like the publishing business has endless debates and choices where people want us to take sides. Plotter vs. pantser, plot-driven vs. character-driven, traditional publishing vs. self-publishing. Ugh.
I don’t like taking sides because one answer doesn’t apply to every situation, much less every person. With my whatever-works-for-you attitude, I try to tweet links from both sides of any debate. But sometimes people still think I’m taking sides.
I once tweeted a link to an article about how pantsers could try a low-key form of outlining. A pantser angrily replied back to me asking why they’d ever want to do that, as if thinking I was saying that everyone should do it. Nope.
Similarly, I tweet links for how to self-publish and how to get an agent. Does that mean I’m advocating one publishing method over another? Nope.
I guess in this role as “sharer of information,” I see myself as a broadcaster. People have the choice of whether to click on the links I share, and then they have the choice of whether to let that information affect them.
This stand of mine was put to the test yesterday.
I came across a blog post that put a new e-publishing company in a bad light. I know people who work for this company. I have several friends publishing with this company and countless others submitting to them. Heck, someday I might want to submit to them.
So I found myself in an uncomfortable position. I had to ask myself: Will tweeting this link make it seem like I’m aligning with this post and against this publisher? If I don’t tweet it, am I playing favorites?
As I mentioned in my post about plagiarism, I didn’t state that Terrell Mims was a plagiarist without vetting the accusation first. The link I gave to the original source was my most clicked on outgoing link ever. I’m proud of my readers for not taking my word for it, but checking the proof for themselves.
In other words, when it comes to controversial information, I think we want to verify it before passing it along.
Great. Except how do I verify information in a he said/she said situation? Especially where the “she” is the owner of a publishing company unlikely to answer questions from a random person, and my contact in the company hasn’t heard of the issue before. How much work should I go through to double-check information before doing one measly little tweet?
My fingers hovered over the keyboard while I debated. I’ve had tweets go viral and be retweeted by agents. I know how far words can travel. I shouldn’t have to worry about being blacklisted because of retweeting one link, but crazier things have probably happened.
So what did I decide to do? I decided to include the links here, where I can explain my thought process, concerns, and impressions in more (a lot more) than 140 characters. *smile*
Several months ago, Jeff Mehalic was a featured guest poster at Pitch University, where he analyzed publisher contracts from a lawyer’s perspective. One of the contracts he analyzed was for Entangled Publishing. After they complained that the subject contract was old and never in use, his articles were taken off Pitch University and he reposted them in their entirety (including original comments) on his blog with an offer to take a look at their current contract.
No doubt his reports didn’t make publishers look good. He said Sourcebooks’ contract should be shredded, Crescent Moon Press’s contract should be burned, and Entangled Publishing’s contract should be shredded. And I can certainly understand that if the contract someone provided to Jeff for Entangled Publishing wasn’t their final version, they wouldn’t want to be judged by false information.
Then yesterday, I saw Jeff’s post about Entangled Publishing’s response to his offer to review their current contract. And now I don’t know what to think of the situation. (I’m not going to quote the point of the post here because while Jeff might feel comfortable quoting private email, I am not. Instead, I refer you to his post.)
Are there uglier things going on behind the scenes that we readers aren’t privy to? Do they not trust Jeff to play fair with their real contract? I don’t know.
Yes, Liz Pelletier of Entangled Publishing might have a point that Jeff is doing this to drum up business. And maybe they don’t like how they were singled out, or who they were singled out by. But they can’t rewind time.
Whether they agree with Jeff’s take or not, writers are watching how they handle this situation and making judgments. As authors, what matters to us is how we’re going to be treated by publishers, and contracts are just one way to predict a company’s behavior. Entangled Publishing needs to figure out how to handle this situation going forward in the best way for them from a business perspective.
I hope bringing this up helps the parties clear the air. I don’t want to throw fuel onto a fire. I wish them both luck in straightening out this mess. But maybe this can be a lesson to us all that the social-media-connected world is smaller than ever, and our reputation will precede us further than we think.
Had you heard of this situation with Entangled Publishing before? Have you ever decided against sharing information because it was controversial? Or do you like taking sides? How much do you verify information before sharing it? Have you ever shared a link or information and then regretted it?Pin It