Book Review Blackout

I was going to publish my week-late TBR Challenge review today — I was traveling last week and couldn’t post. Instead, I’m holding off on that review and all others that I have thought about writing or started writing. Recent events in publishing have made me, like many others, sad and angry about the treatment of and attitudes toward readers and amateur reviewers by most publishers, some so-called journalists, some agents, and too many authors. Not all, not most, but the chorus is too loud for me to continue believing that “badly behaving authors” are really outliers.

I’m not going to stop reading, or talking about books on Twitter and in other discussions online. But I won’t be getting advance copies of books, posting reviews on Amazon, or spotlighting titles here for a while. When I do go back to writing about books, I think I’ll be more interested in writing about books that others have already read and doing more “On the Same Page”-type read-along features.

I have some ARCs that I have read or planned to read of books being released in the next couple of months; I haven’t decided yet what to do about those. Mostly they are books by authors whom I admire and respect, as writers and as people, so I’ll be thinking about how to support them without feeling like I’m shilling for an industry that by and large does not respect me or what I do.

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Ethical Conflict: When My Principles Collide

Most of you who visit my blog are probably well aware that publisher Ellora’s Cave is suing Dear Author, and Jane Litte, for defamation because of her blog post reporting on the publisher’s business difficulties. I agree with Sunita that this lawsuit is intended to scare bloggers and authors, and I greatly admire Courtney Milan’s #NotChilled responses. It’s been amazing to watch the community of romance readers, bloggers, reviewers, authors, editors, et al., come together in amazing support of Jane in this.

One recurring theme in all of the support has been a request for Jane to accept help towards the legal bills that fighting this lawsuit will entail. A lot of us want to be part of that, and today Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, announced a legal defense fund for Jane through Go Fund me. Last I checked, the donations were more than $30,000. In less than 12 hours. That’s how strongly people feel about this. And while I think that’s terrific, I haven’t been able to push that donate button, because I have been boycotting Go Fund Me for a while now.

Go Fund Me has had a lot of issues. There was the problem over abortion rights — Go Fund Me encourages people to use them to raise money for medical bills, but it has adopted a policy that excludes abortions from the category of medical expenses. They classify abortions as “terminating life,” and they won’t allow funds for that to be raised on their platform. But it’s okay to raise funds for anti-choice intiatives. I can’t support that.

Then there was the Ferguson problem. Go Fund Me was the platform used to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for Darren Wilson, the officer who killed Michael Brown. (Money that I’m not sure is even needed, since he is on paid leave from his job and so far faces no charges.) Worse yet, in my opinion, when Go Fund Me was challenged by a civil rights group over this issue, they threatened to sue the organization to stop the criticism. That to me was the ultimate irony, given that the legal fund for Dear Author is to fight just such a lawsuit.

Go Fund Me takes 5 percent of all funds raised as their payment, so any payment I make through them is directly helping to support their policies and practices. As much as I want to support Jane and Dear Author, because I believe they are on the right side in this and I want to be part of it, I joined the Go Fund Me boycott a while ago and have as yet seen no reason to reconsider my opinion of their stance or tactics. I have said no to other causes because of this as well, but this one bothered me the most.

Fortunately there’s a silver lining here. Although Go Fund Me has gained, as of this writing, more than $1500 from this, none of it is mine. And Sarah has shared a PayPal address (jane AT dearauthor DOT com) for donations (which should be earmarked “JL/DA Defense Fund”). I donated that way. And Sarah invites others who want to donate, but won’t/can’t use Go Fund Me or PayPal, to email her (sarah AT smartbitches trashy books DOT com); she’ll respond after Yom Kippur.

I just wanted to put this all out there, in one place, to flesh out the Twitter conversations and other discussions I’ve had with various folks.