Episode 88

Authors Behaving Badly

This final episode for 2023 is a short one but a juicy one. We are looking at corporations behaving badly, authors behaving badly, and readers behaving well. Because we know readers can do no wrong.

Music licensed from Storyblocks:

“More Jam Please” by Raighes Factory

"Atmospheric Auld Lang Syne" by Humans Win

"Stay Right There" by Humans Win

Rosemi Mederos:

If you have plot bunnies coming out of your plot holes, it’s time for a writing break.

This final episode for:

The Writing Break cafe is open, so let’s grab a table and I’ll fill you in on some publishing news.

In the ongoing copyright infringement lawsuit against Meta, it was revealed that Meta’s lawyers warned there could be legal trouble if the company used copyrighted books to train its AI models. As we know, Meta did it anyway.

d the right literary agent in:

As to why Dalgliesh decided to transition from self-publishing to traditional publishing, he said, “I’ve gone as far as I can go. I’ve got three series of police procedurals that are doing very well, but when you’re an indie and you’re advertising largely in the digital world, you’re closing off an awful lot of other avenues where readers are.”

In another happy little article by the BBC, a self-published author and an independent bookshop owner discuss how BookTok enabled them to succeed. Check the show notes for a link to those feel good stories and all of today’s news stories.

Now let’s head over to the Overthinking Couch for not one but two accounts of authors behaving badly.

First up on today’s authors behaving badly segment is an author named Demetrious Polychron who published The Fellowship of the King, a book he called “the pitch-perfect sequel to The Lord of the Rings.” This would be classified as fan fiction, I suppose, and that might have been the end of it if he had not decided to then sue Amazon and the Tolkien estate. Here’s what happened. Polychron watched Amazon’s TV series The Rings of Power and decided that Amazon and the Tolkien estate had infringed on the copyright of his book and he filed suit. The courts ruled that it was Polychron’s book, in fact, that infringed on Tolkien’s copyright. He was ordered to pay $134,000 in attorneys’ fees to the Tolkein estate and Amazon after the judge found his case to have been filed “frivolously and unreasonably.”

So after Polychron lost, the Tolkein estate hit Polychron with the Uno Reverse and sued him. Polychron lost that case as well, which means that he can ever again distribute “further copies of The Fellowship of the King, his planned sequels to that book, or any other derivative work based on the books of J R R Tolkien. He is also required to destroy all physical and electronic copies of his book and to file a declaration, under penalty of perjury, that he has complied.”

xPolychron published The Fellowship of the King in March of this year, so I wonder what would have happened if Polychron had never filed suit. Would he have been left alone? Would he have simply received a cease and desist letter? How much worse did he make the situation by starting the fight? What was he thinking in filing his lawsuit? Was it just a promotion tactic? Did he really think they read his book and copied him? Did he really think he had not infringed on the Lord of the Rings copyright? Is it possible he thought he would win his lawsuit? This is the kind of thing I enjoy overthinking about. What are your thoughts on the matter? Send me an email and let me know.

Polychron’s behavior is confusing, but then there’s Cait Corrain.

Cait Corrain’s book, Crown of Starlight, debuted this year and was doing all right. It was published by Del Rey Books, and we all know by now that self-published and traditionally published authors alike are expected to participate in the marketing of their books. However, Cait’s marketing strategy was a unique one. She created several different Goodreads accounts and began giving one-star ratings to her fellow authors, including authors published by her publishing company. In addition to one-star ratings for those authors, she gave herself five-star ratings and upvoted her book on several Goodreads lists. Worst of all, Cait, who is white, focused her one-star reviews primarily on books written by nonwhite authors.

Once the evidence started to come out, she doubled down. She said that it was not her but rather a member of an online group who was not really a friend, just an overzealous fan trying to help her out. She even went so far as to share screenshots between her and the culprit. However, the timestamps on these screenshots were off, showing the conversation breaking the time continuum. No one was buying her story, and the investigation continued. Eventually the truth came out. Cait’s publisher and literary agent dropped her, and she admitted to review bombing her fellow authors, targeting BIPOC authors, and faking a conversation between her and her supposed overzealous fan.

I know marketing books is not everyone’s favorite thing to do. I know that jealousy can be hard to overcome. But the time and energy Cait put into everything she did would have been better spent engaging with potential readers and promoting her book on BookTok.

So as we head into:

Thank you for listening, and remember, you deserved this break.

If you would like us to visit your favorite independent bookstore, feature your favorite independent author (even if it’s you), or discuss something you’re overthinking about, please email me at podcast@writingbreak.com.

Thank you for making space in your mind for The Muse today.

Writing Break is hosted by America’s Editor and produced by Allon Media with technical direction by Gus Aviles. Visit us at writingbreak.com or contact us at podcast@writingbreak.com.

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Rosemi Mederos


Rosemi is the founder of America's Editor, a book editing company.