Saturday, 28 March 2009

Tainted By Association

A little while ago I read a post on the Authonomy message board in which information was requested about a particular London-based publisher. Was it a legitimate publishing house? I did a little digging and realised I’d already checked out the same publisher for someone on the Absolute Write message board last summer.

On reading the publisher’s website I got the distinct impression that they were a pay-to-play publisher, although prices weren’t mentioned. Most of the site focussed on advising writers how to submit, and how to prepare their work for submission: but surely a publisher should focus on promoting the books they’ve already published? I emailed the publisher to find out more and their reply confirmed to me that they were, in fact, a vanity press. I posted this information at Absolute Write and thought no more of it until a few weeks later, when I received by email a threat of legal action against me. The person who made the threat worked for the publisher concerned, and was upset that I’d put his name up at Absolute Write.

I was happy to edit his name out of my original post: my objection wasn’t directed at him, but at the publishing company he worked for, which was charging writers to publish them; and I do prefer a quiet life. However, I did find it intriguing (and still do, hence this post) that while he asked me to edit his name out of my post, he didn’t make any objection at all to my identifying the company he worked for as a vanity press.

Now, why do you think that might have been?


JP_Fife said...

The bad guys like anonymity and they will always justify what they are doing no matter how bad it is. Isn't there a saying about how evil men never consider themselves evil? Not wanting to be associated with bad things though, might be a hint that they know on some level they are doing wrong.

Anonymous said...

Cynicism says he was looking for another job, possibly in legit publishing and therefore wanted to dissociate himself from vanity pub?


Bradley Robb said...


I wouldn't say that was cynicism at all, I'd say that's probably the truth.

After reading the thread on AW, it was funny just how quickly someone actually mentioned the parts of the Data Protection Act and showed just how thin the threats actually were. Especially as the servers which AW is hosted on are in Washington State, and the DP Act of 1998 is legislation in the UK.

Jane Smith said...

I was never worried that I was going to be sued: it was clear to me that I'd done nothing wrong and to be honest, I could almost certainly have left the guy's name up over at AW and still had nothing to fear. Nevertheless he did seem very worried by his name appearing online and while he told me it was because he was worried about Nasties On The Internet (in much the same way as my aged parents in law worry that Paedophile Hackers Will Find Out Immediately if they let my sons play on their computer), I suspect that you've all come closer to the truth here today.

I can only imagine how stressful it must be to have a job where you know you're doing things in an not-particularly-ethical way. I'd hate to be in that situation.

And Bradley, AW is a brilliant place to go for reasoned discussion. It can get heated, but there's a higher level of intelligence over there than you'll find on a lot of other sites for writers, and people tend to be very well-informed there, too.

Bradley Robb said...


I'm glad you like AW. I've never been there, but I hope my comment didn't come off as disparaging. In the time I've spent on message boards over past fourteen or so years, the folks at AW seemed to handle the situation quickly. It was a bit of a left-handed compliment.
I'll certainly keep it in mind as a source.

Jane Smith said...

Bradley, I didn't think your remarks were disparaging at all--don't worry. It's difficult sometimes to get the tone right on this internet thing, though, isn't it?

Bradley Robb said...


Too true. Perhaps the reason why so many writers struggle with dialogue is because so much of spoken language translates so poorly to the written form.

catdownunder said...

There are also cultural and generational differences in language that add to the problem Jane!

Anonymous said...

Gee, I wonder if it the inquiring author at Authonomy who emailed me about this company... yikes.