And so it comes to this – enormous, rigorous facepalming, basically – regarding Lenore Hart’s blatant plagiarism and St Martin’s Press’s continued la-la-la-I-can’t-hear-you response to it.

It’s annoying, because it seems so inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. But it does matter, in its own small way. I’m someone who makes their living from writing, and it fucking pisses me off no end that a major publishing house – the kind of company I occasionally waste my time arguing remains worthwhile and relevant in the digital age – appears perfectly and cynically happy to profit from material they must know full well is plagiarised for as long as they can get away with it.

You assume they’d be unhappy if you suggested pirating their material – derr derr derrrrrrrr! – but, as things stand, they certainly wouldn’t have any moral high ground to argue that from. Unless, I suppose, their argument was that profiting from stolen material is acceptable so long as the victim of the theft is dead.

If you’ve been following it, you know the details. The latest is that Jeremy Duns has some comments from Lawrence Block here. The posts below that one explain the background, and I suppose you can read them and judge for yourself how warranted my frustration and annoyance is.

In the meantime, if you’re interested and want to have your say, St Martin’s Press will totally fucking ignore your comments here on Twitter and here on Facebook.

Although that’s obviously no reason not to make them.

 

This entry was posted on Friday, December 16th, 2011 at 11:46 pm and is filed under General, Lenore Hart, Plagiarism, Rant. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

 

5 Responses to “St Martins continue to fail to … oh for the love of god.”

  1. Sarah Says:

    Obviously I’ve been paying a lot of attention to L’Affaire Lenore, as I like to think of it in my head, and have also been shaking my head at SMP’s general ostrich-like response. But as I’ve half-joked in the past, the two most important aspects of publishing are contracts and lawyers. I’ve no doubt the latter are involved, and if that’s the case, the public can scream to high heaven and it won’t really matter because lawyers are involved. As for contracts, it would be interesting to know if RAVEN’S BRIDE was the beginning or the end of her contract, and if cost/benefit analysis based on how much the book actually sold* means it would cost more for SMP to start pulling books than to simply let the book fade out of print, even if fading seems damn near impossible at the moment.

    *let’s just say even post-controversy, nobody’s really buying a copy.

  2. stevemosby Says:

    Sarah – fair points, and you could be right. (I’m sure you’re right about the lawyers and contracts). I’d be more inclined to give SMP the benefit of the doubt if they hadn’t (finally) said they were looking into it and then released that statement saying they take plagiarism very seriously but, having investigated, were fully satisfied with Hart’s explanation. It seems to go beyond letting the book quietly fade away and into the arena of outright support and endorsement. Sends the wrong message for me. And makes them look stupid – or as though they think their readers are. And, of course, there’s also the issue of her teaching career…

    I love ‘L’Affaire Lenore’ by the way. Wonderful.

  3. Jeremy Duns Says:

    Sarah, a massive corporation failing to do the right and responsible thing and insread making its decisions based on a cynical cost/benefit calculation? Colour me shocked! 🙂 The lawyers are of course suggesting this absurd line of action – but the lawyers are also very clearly wrong, and would never hope to win. There are multiple *verbatim* lifts from an unacknowledged earlier novel. It’s open and shut, and this is why I and many others are saying quite openly that it’s plagiarism, because it self-evidently and incontrovertibly is. Even if lawyers representing the company concerned say otherwise.

    I also think you’re missing part of the story, which is why is Hart still selling so very few copies of her books this far into her career with St Martin’s and ICM? Why have they stuck with her even before this scandal erupted? Her husband, David Poyer, is also with St Martin’s and is also represented by ICM: look at his Nielsen numbers across his career. I think St Martin’s is worried that if they cut Hart loose, they will lose her much more profitable husband. I think they’ve lost him anyway, though, because they clearly won’t be able to publish Hart’s next novel even if they never admit she plagiarized The Raven’s Bride – and how will the convincingly break that news to Poyer?

    We’re in a Catch-22 situation, though, I think. The media were very happy to report on Quentin Rowan, and opine at length about how very obvious his plagiarism was, how could a major publisher fall for it, how could people like me and Greg Rucka and Duane Swierczynski read it and fall for it and endorse it. They were very happy to do that. And yet with Lenore Hart… not so much. Not a single media outlet has called her a plagiarist, even though there is no more doubt about it than there was with Rowan, and many writers have stated that she has copied the earlier novel, including myself, Steve, and now Lawrence Block. It’s not because the case is borderline. It’s because St Martin’s haven’t yet admitted it, as Little, Brown did with Rowan. Once St Martin’s do, the media will then gladly report on it at great length and point out how completely obvious the plagiarism is. But until they do, St Martin’s aren’t under much pressure. So the media is waiting for St Martin’s to say it is plagiarism, because then they can report it without any fear of lawyers aguing black is white, losing advertising revenue from one of the biggest publishing conglomerates in the world, etc. But unless and until a journalist with a big paper investigates and report that it is plagiarism – like journalists would have done in the old days – St Martin’s aren’t under pressure to admit that.

  4. Jeremy Duns Says:

    A correction to the above: The Raven’s Bride is only Hart’s second novel with St Martin’s, but she was previously published by Penguin and is an old-timer now: her first novel, Black River, was published by Berkley under the pseudonym Elisabeth Graves, in 1993: http://www.amazon.com/Black-River-Elisabeth-Graves/dp/0425140075/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_1/185-6826189-9875620 But my point still stands, I think – if it’s true, as Melville House has reported, that The Raven’s Bride has only sold 548 copies according to Bookscan, I wonder what her previous sales were. If they were not significantly greater, I wonder how she managed to get representation with ICM and a deal with St Martin’s. If the sales of her previous books were significantly greater, why were The Raven’s Bride’s sales so much worse? It couldn’t be, could it, that SMP publish her to keep her husband sweet, could it?

    I also think that while we are in something of a Catch-22 situation it is possible to circumvent it, and if the media continue to merely commentate on others’ investigations from the sidelines rather than investigating this themselves, I’ll carry on trying to do that until the book is withdrawn.

  5. Kelly Says:

    It really burns my butt that she gets to gloat about this.

    I think the fact that she’s sold so few books is part of the reason for St. Martin’s stance. It matters little to them, so they just want it to go away, maybe?

    Is there anything you recommend we can do to make a difference? Write St. Martin’s? I might add another blog post to the mix, FWIW.

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