Following hard on the heels of the recent attempt by an author to snare exclusive rights to the common, everyday word “cocky” comes the news that embezzlement of writers’ earnings has occurred at a well-respected literary agency.
The writer of Fight Club has been swindled along with many other writers. The bookkeeper stole $3.4 million dollars. MILLION.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch has blogged her warnings about literary agencies multiple times. Read her thoughts here.
The font creator. He was on vacation, and now he has to deal with this as soon as he returns home. He thought he had protected himself. After all, the licensing agreement for his original font states that the font cannot be trademarked.
The other indie authors who have been writing and writing, who have books using “cocky” and have published these books long before that indie author (who shall remain nameless) did and have now been threatened by her with Cease and Desist letters.
The other indie authors, frightened by the C & D, who have taken down their books and lost potential sales.
The other indie authors, frightened by the C & D, who burned their swag for their books and are now realizing that the first indie author’s trademark claim will not hold up.
More indie authors who had their books and reviews taken down by Amazon. In taking down the books, Amazon thought it was in compliance with an official trademark.
Amazon, which has now discovered that it was NOT in compliance. The trademark issue is not resolved since the trademark could 1] not be issued on the single word “cocky” and 2] not be issued on a font that was not original to the indie author who trademarked “cocky” in that font. (See the font creator comment above)
Still more indie authors who have weighed in with reasonable logic.
And who are now being threatened with bad reviews by the indie author’s readers.
The indie authors who have now hesitated in their creative process.
I think the only people who must be celebrating are the vultures who thrive on train wrecks . . .
And the trad publishing world, eager to see brakes being applied in the indie publishing world.
My advice, if any advice can be taken from this mess:
1. Write the best book possible.
2. Know the vultures are out there. Know what you can and cannot do to combat the vultures. Even if you try to stop them, they will still be out there, swirling around, seeking who they may devour.
3. Know the Biz itself has problems and always will. Nothing is perfect.
4. Be kind to your readers and your fellow authors who are also struggling.
5. Consult with other pros–not family, not friends, not readers–before you start the engine on that train.
Romance Writers of America is now involved. Amazon, as RWA’s request, is no longer removing books and reviews that were purported to be in violation of trademark (which is impossible, since a single word cannot be trademarked).
Here’s more on the train wreck in progress.
Victoria Strauss on SFWA’s Writers Beware blog is “Weighing In”:
If you haven’t heard the c*ck-up about trademarking a word (which can’t be done, unless the word is used in a non-usual sense, like Apple Computers), then here’s a brief summary, courtesy of Courtney Milan’s twitter stream.