I’ve noticed a lot of talk recently on the subject of public vs. private personas, specifically as they relate to people in the publishing business, and over at Dear Author (a place which I tend not to frequent, as they’re exclusively a romance site, which isn’t really my bag) they’ve got a doozy of an example. The fun started with a post about Ellora’s Cave’s million dollar lawsuit against Borders (man, Borders just can’t catch a break with people lately); the post explains the suit, but to summarize quickly, EC (a well-known romance E-book publisher which recently opened a print division, with mixed results) is suing Borders for deliberately ordering too many books so as to create more returns, which in turn allows Borders to build a credit balance with EC. Knowing very little about the romance market or the specifics of the EC/Borders relationship I won’t comment further, except to say that this seems like an awfully complex scheme to suspect from a bookseller with bigger problems.
But what makes this really interesting is what follows in the comment section below. First you have the people questioning the point of this kind of a lawsuit. Then you have the people questioning the point of EC. And then you have the publisher itself attacking both of the first two groups.
Yep, that’s right–the owner of EC comes on and essentially demands that the anonymous (and non-anonymous) commenters prove their claims. Said commenters suggest that doing so (and revealing their identities as a result) would expose them to the same kind of attacks they had just seen. EC owner says they shouldn’t be allowed to spread gossip, and on it goes. Now again, I don’t know and won’t get into the merits of either side, since I just don’t have the background info to do it. But what fascinates me most about this exchange is the anonymous part–Anon, Anon Y. Mouse (cute and common), Mysterioustoo, the fake handles were flying in this thread. Now true identities have been hard to come by in the publishing world for years–pseudonyms are as common as real names (some authors take one for the fun of it), and there are lots of people who go the anonymous route. But reading through the comments, I was reminded again about how utterly public the Internet really is–a simple Google search can turn up threads, comments, anything on a given author, publisher or agent…and without further information, those things can become a critical part of someone’s first impression.
All of which is an important reminder to all of us working in the writing world–in many ways it’s an awfully small one, and we forget that at our peril. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to fashion a suitably protective code name. I’m thinking something like Nosliw Gerg.
That oughta work, right?