So a Thing Happened…
I posted a little tweet with my personal feelings on the #cockygate trademark scandal, and somehow lots of people like it. Thank you! I had no idea my two cents would touch so many. That being said, I do want to say a bit more on the subject and a few others, but that bit needs more that a tweet will allow.
So once more unto the breach.
First, I, like so many others, am currently wading my way through Friday’s hearing transcript (thank you, Courtney Milan!) Despite the positive results on Friday, I am still so incensed by the situation, and by Faleena Hopkins’ brashness in playing the victim after attempting to bully other authors into compliance, that I have a few more cents to toss into the ring.
Trademarking a common-use word is like blocking off a mall parking space so it can be yours exclusively. Get over yourself. No one has exclusive right to a public parking space, and marking it for your own use is about as arrogant as you can get. Attempting to do so is likely to result in an unpleasant confrontation with other angry shoppers. In my opinion, Ms. Hopkins’ trademarking “cocky” rises to that same level of arrogance. An attempt by a relatively unknown author to become an IMPORTANT PERSON. Unfortunately, in all the brouhaha, she’s sort of become what she wanted, though it’s possible she won’t have much of a career once things are over and done with.
In other news that’s been a bit less noticed, there’s #tiffanygate. Seems there’s a problem out there with what’s essentially a bait and switch game designed to maximize clicks and pages read to cheat Amazon’s KU algorithms and cash in. Book stuffing and high-dollar incentives for reviews. Amazon has already made changes, and maybe more are on the way. I’m still reading up on this bit of nasty business, so I’ll say more on that subject later.
To my mind, however, the most unfortunate issue in all this kerfuffle is neither the arrogance of Ms. Hopkins, nor the unethical attitude of those behind book-stuffing, paid reviews, and algorithm cheating. Romance writers fought long and hard–and still fight–to be recognized as “real” authors. How many of us have heard the tired phrase “yeah, but why don’t you write real books?” or heard our hard work derided as “bodice rippers”, “housewife-porn”, or “trashy” no matter how much research, craft, and deft wording we put in?
Now we have an author making a rather public stink, and other authors clearly so willing to rake in the money that they’ll cheat other authors to do so. For those of us who have struggled to eliminate the negative opinion of the romance genre, this type of unethical behavior leaves us all with mud on our faces.
On the other hand, by banding together and vocally opposing such bad apples, we can prove to the world at large that the true romance author community, from publisher to reader, will stand up for what is right. We can show that we will do our utmost to root out those rotten apples trying to spoil our barrel. That we are a united community, precisely because we fought so hard to have our efforts recognized as “real”.
Writing is hard enough. Writing under a constant cloud of judgment is harder. But writing while having your career undermined by someone from your own circle intent on cheating their way to the top is hardest of all.
As as said in my tweet the other day, a win for Faleena Hopkins is a LOSS for us all. That applies to any author, romance or otherwise, who tries to cheat the system, whether through trademarks or algorithms. We should all be in this together, not finding ways to claw our way to the top over each other.