30 August 2007

We write sensual and erotic books. That means a couple of things. It means we get to be show-offs and have fun sites. It means we appreciate the sexuality of humans.

It also means we're vigilant about our private lives, to some extent. We don't go around sharing our home addresses. In some cases, we use a pen name AT ALL TIMES we're the author persona, we don't tell anyone where we live, past a state...which may not even be true, because some of us live in areas or have family that would skewer us socially for writing sex or even romance...and some of us would conceivably lose our jobs over what we write.

Now, I've always been an advocate for using a pen name, even on your copyright page (and I will not sign with a publisher that won't allow me that). I've always been a proponent of having a PO Box, though that's not always a help in a small town, admittedly. I've always suggested putting your pen name as a "business name" on your checking account, because you can accept money orders made out to the pen name, if you do. I've always believed this would give authors an opaque though not completely solid wall of protection. And, it does...until someone does something stupid.

Such stupid thing started for some authors when one of the two indie/e publishers to recently do so filed bankruptcy.

Now, I won't rehash my feelings and the flawed essence of the current bankruptcy laws and how they negatively impact the rights of authors to earn a living. That is something that really needs to change, and the only way it's going to change is by authors contacting their congressmen and senators with demands for changes in the bankruptcy laws, but that's not what we're here to talk about today.

We're here to talk about the "veil of a pen name" and how that veil can be ripped away and irreparable harm done to authors, in the process.

Step one: The publisher files bankruptcy and lists authors as creditors. The authors are owed money from the publisher, so this has to happen. Authors are further named under the "assets" section, since their contracts are tied up in the bankruptcy. The courts are going to insist that the legal names and addresses of the authors be listed in the court paperwork, which is admittedly a public record.

HOWEVER, those records are not searchable by Google or other search engines, so the author still has a modicum of privacy, in that the someone would have to go into the database, pay to access the records, know which records they want and know how to interpret everything to find the authors. Not impossible but expensive and time consuming.

Step two: Some eager-beaver blog that purports to "protect authors" has to have its collective head so far up a spacious posterior as to think it's a "good idea" to download said legal documents and post them, in their entirety, to their blog site, in an effort to "protect authors."

You read that right. In order to "protect authors," this site, which I will not name, out of courtesy to the authors still attempting to get the Google trail of this idiocy removed, because I know what protecting an erotic author means... It means you don't OUT them. You don't risk their jobs and personal life by posting their information on a searchable forum. It means that just because you CAN access it, doesn't mean you SHOULD post it for the world at large.

What I find most amusing is that the bloggers involved feel justified in doing this, because they are "protecting authors." In fact, there was nothing about protecting authors in this act. They certainly weren't protecting the authors of the defunct publisher, since outing them is patently dangerous to them, in some cases. And, there was no way that the names and addresses of the affected authors was information that would have helped any other author out there.

They feel justified--or did, until they'd had enough complaints to open their eyes that the decision to post the information was a highly unpopular one with authors--because the information was already "public record." As I said, just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD.

So, no matter what steps you take to protect your identity, always be aware that there are those who don't think before they act. Not that I would tell anyone not to write what calls to them, but this fiasco has been an eye-opener to many authors, and I hope the learning experience will stop other blog-owners from doing something equally ill-advised.

That said, what's new from me? FAIRY DREAMS is on pre-sale at Mundania. FORBIDDEN LOVE: SACRED BANDS will be releasing from Under The Moon/Final Sword Productions on Sept 6th. And, I just learned that THE LAST OF FION'S DAUGHTERS will be releasing in print in Feb 2008 from Phaze!

Oh, and don't forget that the EPPIE (for published e-books) will open for entries on Sept 1. You can read the new guidelines at this link. Shortly after EPPIE closes, the QUASAR (for e-book cover art) will be opening. You can find out about QUASAR at the same link.

Happy writing and publishing!

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