Monday, August 25, 2008

The Maelstrom, Part Two

First of all, I want to thank each and every one of you for the overwhelming support and kindness I have received from you in the past 24 hours. The comments, the responses, the blog posts, the links--all of them have, quite simply, stunned me. And made me grateful to be part of such an amazing community. Thank you.

I was planning on waiting until tomorrow to write another post, expressing this gratitude, but tonight I received the official response and rebuttal from Cider Press by way of a friend, and I thought it best to address their points and claims and to set this "one-sided blog" straight.

So, for the record, I am posting the rebuttal by Robert Wynne, the formerly silent partner in the Cider Press Review:

Robert Wynne says:

We gave Stacey every single thing she asked for except a photo on the back cover (and we had originally offered that, but she refused to allow us to consider editing the blurbs so it would fit). We spent countless hours and more than $200 of extra money (including purchasing a special font and securing specific cover art) to make the book look exactly the way she wanted. There were certainly misunderstandings along the way, but each one was dealt with as it arose and the only thing we were aware that she was dissatisfied with was the placement of her photograph. In the end, she refused to allow us to publish the book unless we put her picture on the back - when we, instead, wanted to put it inside the back of the book where we deemed it would look better, particularly given the lengthy blurbs on the back.

During the process, Stacey became demanding about every aspect of the book's design, until she became unreasonable and even abusive. At that time we decided to revoke the book award. Since then, she has undertaken a campaign to 'get us back' in whatever way she thinks she can. First she went to a lawyer to assure that she would not have to return the prize money to retain the rights to her book, and we conceded that in an effort to put an end to this unfortunate situation. But she was still apparently unsatisfied, and so she agitated a writer at Poets & Writers (to whom we are providing detailed accounts of precisely what occurred, which may be used in a comprehensive story regarding the matter), and wrote her one-sided blog entry.

Based on her blog entry, she seems to have confused proofreading with editing, since we don't commonly "edit" prize-winning manuscripts but always work with the author to proofread the text for formatting issues only an author could recognize. And she certainly has preconceived notions as to the role of author vs. press, which we can certainly do nothing at this point to rectify. We continue to do what we do because we care about poetry, and want to put out a quality product based on our years of experience as a small press. We have had many good experiences with authors, and very few bad ones. We look forward to more good experiences, and more wonderful poetry, in the future.

I hope that will do the trick.

Thanks,
Robert Wynne
Cider Press Review

_____________________________________________________

That doesn't really "do the trick" for me.

They didn't once address what happened with the previous winner, or the pattern of unethical behavior that has been established in their dealings with their prize winners and has resulted in two consecutive years of legal action against them--and no books by the writers who were chosen by the judges.

They didn't address the whole website debacle and the fact that until I refused to pay Caron Andregg (yes, that's her name) to design my website, everything was fine. My edits and corrections of the editor's mistakes were helpful and great--until this happened. And then I was "becoming demanding."

I also noticed that they didn't address the fact that they insisted upon putting the five-sentence ad and guidelines for the book prize on the back cover *instead of* the author photo. In the Cider Press Review world, it's either chop up the eloquent blurbs of talented writers or ditch the author photo. Getting rid of the ad and guidelines is not an option. Which is why it isn't mentioned.

When each email begins with "With all due respect" and goes on to logically argue for the right to have my picture on the book that I wrote instead of being replaced by a redundant ad and contest guidelines, I'm being "unreasonable and abusive."

And when I ask for a compromise and say that I'm (and I quote) "not comfortable with a book that disrespects its author so blatantly," I am all of a sudden "refusing to allow them to publish the book."

Here's the skinny on that one: I wish I had that kind of power. I wish I could refuse to allow them to do anything. But the truth is, they didn't need my permission for anything. According to the contract we all signed, they had the final editorial say so on every aspect of the book. I couldn't stop them if I wanted to. But rather than respecting that agreement and either moving ahead with the book or working toward compromise, they chose the third option: breaking the contract and revoking the book award.

Mr. Wynne maintains that I'm "out to get them." I guess I understand why he sees his press as the victim here. After all, because I had the audacity to go to a lawyer to protect my rights, they didn't get their prize money back. And because I responded when the writer from Poets and Writers contacted me, I'm "agitating" him.

Please.

Yes, Mr. Wynne. I am dissatisfied. Immensely dissatisfied. And if you're going to issue a rebuttal, you could at least address the major accusations levelled against you.

As my lawyer made clear to both of you, you had no legal or ethical reason to do what you did. You see, breaking a legally binding contract is not an ethical option for conflict resolution--especially when one party has more than fulfilled her end of things. And you had no legal leg to stand on in trying to withhold my rights from me, or demanding a ransom repayment of prize money that I rightfully won. Obviously, your lawyer made this clear to you, or else I'm sure you wouldn't have signed the waiver, and this would have become a protracted legal endeavor--just like it did last year.

And no, Mr. Wynne. I am not confused about the differences between proofreading and editing. "Proofreading" is what *I* did to my own book. And "editing" is what the two of you didn't adequately do at any stage of this process. The problem is that I've saved all of our correspondence, so when you try to paint me as being unruly and difficult to work with, I have sheafs of emails that disprove those claims. I'd re-think that strategy if I were you.

But maybe you're right, Mr. Wynne. I guess in the CPR world, I *should* have been satisfied. I should have paid the $1200 ransom to get my rights to my own book back when, in fact, you never really owned them if you didn't actually fulfill your end of the contract. Or I should have paid my $750 bill for legal fees and just shut up about the whole thing.

I should have just rolled over and taken it. But instead, I chose to speak the truth in a way that last year's winner could not--because you and Caron made sure that she couldn't. Of the four contests you've collected money for, only half of the books selected by the judges have come out. And the poets who give you their money should know this--and know why.

But let me clarify one thing, and this is for the record--and for the woman who was named as the (new) winner of the 2007 Cider Press Review Book Award: I am proud of you, and your work, for getting to this point, and I know this is a dream come true for you. I wish nothing for the best for you, and I hope that this dream stays just that--and doesn't turn into what it became for me. And for the winner of last year's prize.

9 comments:

Collin said...

You actually summed up everything I was thinking while reading Robert Wynne's letter. It answered nothing and was a desperate attempt to save face. He acts as if what happened with your manuscript is one isolated incident, when it is widely known that CPR has history of questionable dealings with poets.

stacebro said...

Hi, Collin, and thank you for all of your comments. What's funny about this is that I said the same thing to him, back when I was being "abusive." I actually told him that the press had a questionable reputation and that this was their chance to do right by their most recent author. That's when the hammer fell. Go figure.

Lisa Allender said...

Stacie, I certainly hope you can have some PEACE, soon. CPR has a LOT of making up to do!

Dave said...

This almost makes me want to try and start my own press so I could show these bastards how to treat people right. If only I weren't already over-committed with online publishing... I sure hope you find a publisher out of all this, though I know that's not your aim. Thanks for fighting back and speaking out.

Ralph weeping for the end of innocence. said...

Stacie, my first time at your blog, but my heart is with you. I have a well-known poet as a mentor and she has warned me heavily about contests, while encouraging me to enter as well. On of the better ways to get contest information in my book is the CRWROPPS group moderated (the crud filtered out) by Allison Joseph. It is at:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/CRWROPPS-B

Best,
John

PS/That response from the press -- the way it sounded - the diction -- something off there. Not very eloquent for a literary expert.

Oliver de la Paz said...

Girl, you're on fire. :D

Christine said...

You are so brave for letting us know about this, and for standing up for yourself. I hope another press picks up your book very soon.

(I think their asking you to pay THEM for a website was when it started to get weird...)

Kerry Cohen said...

Also, if they only planned to proofread, what was up with giving your poems titles?

Keith said...

Those emails may eventually come in handy. It's great that you have them if push comes to shove.

I really, REALLY hope people never send them anything again. Either work for their journal. Or a manuscript for their contest.