Guilt By Association

Unless you’re a fan of one of the authors involved in what I’m about to address and read their blogs or follow them on Twitter, you may not know about this particular debacle.

Then again, you may have heard about several authors withdrawing their stories from a particular anthology.

Here’s the original post that brought the main issue to light. It’s important to read that link so you’ll understand the rest of this post.

Go on, I’ll wait.

Finished? Good. Now go read the follow-up here.

Now, as far as I understand things, Jessica Verday was the first to withdraw her story and support from this YA anthology, and others in the same anthology who felt the same/wanted to support Jessica followed.

Now you all know I’m not all political and activisty, but this isn’t about politics or activism.

This is about writing and support of writers.

I will say now that I applaud Jessica Verday, Karen Mahoney, Lisa Mantchev and the many others authors who have withdrawn their stories from the anthology. I stand with them and support them wholeheartedly. I will do the same for any other author in this anthology who does the same.

Again, it’s NOT about the politics. It’s about support for my fellows and their work. I know withdrawing their work has been a hard decision for all of them – some more than most – and support helps. Sometimes, even though you know it was the right thing to do, it is still hard, and still hurts to do. Sometimes, even though you know it’s the right thing to do, you don’t want to do it, but you do anyway, and THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is what makes a person go from ordinary to extraordinary.

These writers are extraordinary people and I applaud them for their decisions. Let that be known up front.

To paraphrase Ann Aguirre, who has withdrawn her work from a future anthology with the same editor, I do not support or condone censorship, OR prejudice against sexual preference.

I also do not support people sending angry letters and such to the publisher – MY publisher – when they HAD NOTHING TO DO WITH THIS.

The decision to ask Jessica to alter her story was THE EDITOR’S ALONE. It’s made very clear there in both of Jessica’s posts that the original decision to withdraw her story was Jessica’s, due to a decision made by the editor.

Running Press/Constable & Robinson are both LGBT-supportive publishers, and they are not responsible for this event. When people tell them “oh, you’ve just lost a customer” or say “I’ll never buy anything from them again,” you’re basically choosing to punish the wrong person. That’s called “guilt by association,” and that’s not fair.

As I said, I’m published by RP/C&R. My work is found in the anthologies complied by the editor in question long before all this happened. People choosing not to buy those works (or any of the other wonderful work put out by RP/C&R) because of her actions of late are punishing me and every author in those works with their choices.

Again, that’s fine. Utterly fine. I understand completely. It’s your money, and yes, a small percentage of it will go to the editor of the anthology. I understand that you don’t want that happening.

However, by doing that, you’re also punishing me (and the other authors that you love) for being associated with both the editor and my publisher, and I haven’t done anything wrong. I find this whole thing abhorrent, and I do feel guilty by association, even though I know I shouldn’t.

I’m slightly concerned about the impact this “guilt by association” thing will have on my future as a writer (if any), and on the futures of those other writers involved with them/the editor in question. I would be arrogant to assume that this whole thing has “nothing to do with me” since I’m not directly involved with the WICKED PRETTY THINGS anthology or its editor. The writing community is very small and – as the blogosphere/Twitter has shown – things come out and people get hurt. I would be stupid not to realize that my former association with this editor could have an impact on any future writing career I hope to have.

But all is not lost, and here is why:

Writers have little to nothing to do with the personal lives/issues of their editors. Everything is handled through agents and contracts and so on – neither agents nor an author has time to question an editor about their personal issues or politics. Once a situation like this occurs, however – that’s when choices must be made. It’s kind of a “now I know” thing. Now that it’s known that this editor has this particular bias, and the publisher’s reaction to it is public, writers have information to access – should they choose to do so – about who they’re involving themselves with.

Again, though – writers have very little to do with that. When I was asked to contribute to these anthologies, I had no idea who would eventually be publishing them. I’m sure there were ways for me to find out, but I was too busy writing to ask. The editor – the person who complied the anthology for the publisher she was working for – asked me to contribute. I could have, at any time, asked who was publishing it, and I didn’t. If anything positive has come out of this situation at all, it’s that I – and hopefully other writers – have learned to ask more questions. Again, though – some things only come out after they happen, and only if someone knows about them. RP/C&R say right there that they had no idea about this, and would have been fine with the story as submitted had they known about it. The editor didn’t even give the publisher a chance to know about it – she just made a (bad) decision on her own.

This entire situation is very disheartening to me because, as I said, I’ve been in four anthologies complied and edited by the editor in question, along with a whole lot of other, wonderful authors who DO NOT SHARE the views of the editor.

Participating in those anthologies was about writing stories, not about our agreement with the politics or views or issues of the editor. Now that the politics of the editor are clearer, however, more writers may choose not to work with her again or at all.

Guilt by association is awful, and I’m asking everyone to please not demonize/punish the authors who had no clue about the editor’s personal opinions.

How this editor handled this – from the initial rejection to the lame attempt at an apology on Jessica’s blog – was childish, unprofessional and completely wrong. I agree with one of the commenters on Jessica’s blog who said something along the lines of “it seems like a case of the right hand not knowing what the left hand is doing.”

I agree that RP/C&R should have a better supervisory grip on their editors/anthologists if they’re going to work with them/”stand behind them.”

I understand that they stand behind the decision of the editor because of previous successful publications (a few of which I’m part of, remember) this editor has complied.

I don’t understand why they don’t keep a tighter grip on their editorial staff, or why this editor didn’t bother to clear it with the publisher before she made her decision, but that’s their problem, not mine.

The last few days have shown exactly what one careless, flippant, off-hand or blasé word can lead to, and how many people it can affect. What this editor did has affected – and will continue to affect – me and countless other authors in various ways.

The editor in question not only lost a fantastic addition to her anthology with Jessica’s story, but the same with other awesome authors.

This will have long-lasting and far-reaching repercussions, not only on this editor’s career, but on the careers of those writers (like me) who have been associated with her in the past.

Please do not judge me or any other author in any of this editor’s prior work guilty of sharing her views based on the fact that we worked with her before.

Please don’t punish us through our publisher (who, again, was not at fault here).

This was, in my opinion, wholly the editor’s fault through a combination of bad judgment, carelessness, an unprofessional approach to the situation and then a nonchalant attitude when it came to making reparations/owning up to her very large and very insensitive mistake.

I, among many others, will decline to work with this editor ever again. I will not, however, do the same to RP/C&R, should I be fortunate enough to be offered a future publishing contract from their house or an imprint.