Humility and the high road for Indie Authors

FLYING SOLO in the window at Barnes and NobleShock and disbelief are the two verbs that resonate related to the “angry mob mentality” that has characterized the recent LendInk debacle.   It illustrates how the exponential power on the internet placed into the hands of a crazed set can be turned spiteful.   Two bloggers,  one an Indie author herself,  recently blamed the dismanting of LendInk, a questionable book lending agency, on Indie Authors.   Soley, on Indie Authors.   Yet, many of the authors who complained about the fact that they were not informed of about their books being lent on this site were in fact published in the traditional fashion.

Myths and mayhem ensued;   including libelous comments and infantile name calling.    The community of authors, whether self published, Indie published (and there is a difference) or traditionally published should ignore this blatant, angry rant.   Unfortunately, when the livlihood of their sales is threatened, as is in the recent blog post by A.B.DADA that is hard to do.

Any author knows the painstaking work they applied to their material.   Their book is their baby.  Cherished and held in a hopeful regard that a reader will find it interesting.   How cruel, for a few bloggers to slam and threaten Indie authors as a whole by posting on their blogs how they intend to post bad reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, put pictures of writers books on their blogs and recommend not to buy them.   There have already been such postings.

Here is my attempt to take the high road.    All the facts need to be on the table.   Authors were crying out to the owner and manager of LendInk and other such sites to come clean about their business practices, inform authors how they were able to obtain the books.   Some bloggers quoted the FAQ section of Amazon Kindle (KDP) Select and Amazon Prime.     These electronic sections give very little explanation to exactly what is considered a “lend.”    Is a “lend” from one KDP user to the next?  A one time thing?

It appears for many authors, me included, that was our understanding.   If misinformed, we quickly got the facts.    When royalties are so scant on ebook formats, sure the hair is raised on any author’s back when hearing about a site possibly lending books without permission.    Most were horrified.    Despite the valiant efforts of some bloggers to explain the “lend” phenomenon, it is still not clear.

What is clear, is that  higher road must be taken.   I sincerely apologize if I was misinformed.   What I sought was answers.  Concrete explanations from the owners of these sites.    If I was wrong, I am the first to admit it.    Do Indie authors as a group deserve to labeled an angry mob?   “Ax wielding, #ssholes?”   A resounding “NO!”    Just FYI, slander is of the spoken word in a public forum,  libel is degradation in a written domain.     Blogs that have slammed and childishly called Indie authors by name degrading adjectives are committing libel.

Stop.  Just stop.   Let’s work together as a cohesive and worthy force.   For none other reason than to bring together delight in a reader’s eyes at your written word.    Take a deep breath.   Pause.   Hug a fellow writer.    Let’s better understand copyright, and lending policies.   There are some good people and great writer’s out there.

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18 thoughts on “Humility and the high road for Indie Authors

  1. This reads like a non-apology: ” I sincerely apologize if I was (sic) misinformed.” “If I was (sic) wrong, I am the first to admit it.” My goodness, how difficult is it just to say “I sincerely apologize BECAUSE I was misinformed.”

  2. michaelldennis says:

    Just read about the original misinformed mob that, to mix metaphors, smelled blood in the water and attacked with very little independent review of the situation. Completely agree that real piracy of works isn’t in the best interest of the author or reader. I have multiple e-reader devices and have bought multiple books, including those I have originally borrowed either through a library lending option or via similar websites that match people who have purchased the book (and who have 1 2-week lend available) to those who want to read the book.

    I have also read some of backlash which I feel has gotten *far* out of hand. Do authors who blindly jumped on the bandwagon need to equally promote the retraction of their words? Yes. When this kind of thing happens, an apology has to be louder than the original statement and must be perceived as heartfelt. That doesn’t mean just hiding their original blog posts or deleting tweets which I have heard some have done.

    I suspect for many authors this was an unfortunate mistake rather than not. At some point, folks are going to have to forgive that mistake. Whether it can/should be forgotten, especially for those authors who seem to be reveling in their actions even now with the truth upon us…?

    I am not a writer, but rather a reader, but I think I can understand that an author’s work is part of themselves — that he/she has essentially given birth to something they want to protect, but also be appreciated, lauded, a success out in the world. And, I agree that authors should be compensated. But, I think this incident ultimately became about an attack against readers — and that hit a nerve. And, now the name calling backlash is as bad.

    Just some thoughts. I’m probably not going to comment on any other author blogs — yours came up somewhat randomly when I was researching the lendink situation — but wanted to get this off my chest.

    I wish I had some great idea just to fix this.

    Regards to you.

  3. Tom Maddox says:

    Just as an FYI. Here is the link on Lending For Kindle

    https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A2JGI9S4FDM39Q

    It was easily found with a Google search. It also gives information on the terms of lending (only once for only 14 days).

    This is not the same as the Kindle Online Lending Library which it seems many authors are confusing it with. In that case the book is loaned directly by Amazon and no other site can offer this lend. In fact it would be nearly impossible since these types of loans can only be initiated from the Kindle device and not the web browser.

    While I don’t agree with the practice of giving one star reviews for books that have not been read I must say that in this case that it is tough to have much sympathy. It seems to me that rating a book without rating it is similar to threatening lawsuits against a website without first doing some due diligence.

    • Some good points. Actually, it would have been great for the owners of these sites to have contacted the authors directly. Which they never did. Also, many authors just wanted their books off of the site. That simple compliance would have sufficed I think. As an author, many wanted the choice of where their book was sold or lended.

      • jj2339 says:

        But you don’t have that choice through Amazon. You either allow lending, or you don’t allow lending. This site merely facilitated the lenders finding the borrowers. And e-books can only be loaned once. It’s no different than the (admittedly cumbersome) paperback trade groups out there. It was a match-making site, that also led to sales of books (since it would like you back to Amazon to purchase a book if no lenders were present).

        In a nutshell, the website had no duty (legally or morally) to ask the authors for their permission. It faciliated a transaction through Amazon that you yourself agreed to when you signed with Amazon. That’s it.

        I think many authors (such as yourself) are only digging yourselves deeper and deeper by trying to Monday Morning QB the situation. And your blogs and posts continue to be linked into discussions around the web. I’m not going to 1-star review your book, that would be sinking to the level of what you and other authors did against Lendink. However I just continue to be fascinated by the excuses being given for how you guys were justified! Just admit it was a mistake, most people are going to forgive you if a heartfelt apology is rendered . But these constant justifications and shifting of positions renders any kind of apology (and this one above was barely an apology, as has been mentioned across multiple tech sites) at best incomplete.

  4. How about looking at it the other way around?

    A guy had a legit website running for 19 months, allowing readers to legally lend and borrow books. If a book was not loanable, the borrower was proposed a “buy” button. And all this was done by the platform (Amazon/B&N) the book was registered on, by the author. Even the cover was taken from there. All this respecting the authors’ choices, without any money loss, and even with a gain for the author, depending of his choices.
    The guy wasn’t hiding, you can still get his personal phone number and address in California in a few seconds, which would be a stupid thing to do if you want to have illegal activities. The site was used by about 15000 users. Users, not pirates. Pirates don’t borrow books in a library, they steal them, and it’s different.

    Here comes an uninformed author, who doesn’t take the time to read the FAQ and understand how all this is working. And this author tells other authors what he thinks is the truth, that he has found a pirate site, that legal actions must be taken to take it down and get some money after a trial. Exciting.
    And here it goes. The “piracy!” shouts are forwarded, retweeted, encouraged by a core of hysteric authors. Without any verification.
    And a lot of them complain, to the guy first, then to the hosting company, and send Cease&Desist letters, and send DMCA notices, which cannot be ignored by the hosting company, which MUST close the site (or they can be held responsible for the content). All this has more power than all degrading adjectives and names angry readers could say in return. It’s an abuse of power. Legal actions used against a legal activity is an abuse of power. And it can’t be excused by an “I didn’t understand” behavior.

    As a result, you have regular readers, registered on a legit web site, doing legal things, potentially giving money to the best authors, at least giving them a visibility, taken down by hysteric authors because these didn’t understand what was going on and whence concluded it was evil. This is how this witch hunt happened.

    These authors deserve a slap back. Honestly. DMCA counter-notices could be started by the owner of the site only, and he could then restore his site, but you couldn’t blame him for not trying to build this again. That’s a lot of bargain, some authors still don’t understand what they did wrong, and the site’s owner didn’t get money from all this, so why spend additional work on it when it can be brought down so easily?
    That’s why I support negative reviews on the most hysteric authors. It’s a tradeoff between inefficient insults and impossible legal actions.

    So you’re asking for a “cohesive and worthy force”. Some of the most influent authors, the most hysteric ones, have either deleted most of their posts, or deleted their accounts, or act as they’re now a victim, or are simply blocking whoever tries to contact them. One even talked about downloading a movie. That’s not fair.

    I tried to contact them. I only managed to engage one dialog, by email. Something kind, calm, with someone willing to exchange views. Just one.

    Fuck all the others. Really.

    • I think that is a pretty blatant statement to lump everyone in with an expletive flip off. I posted your comment because it did take some new view points. Readers should have some choices, but feel that they are purchasing or lending from legitimate sites. Also, Amazon, Amazon Prime, and KDP also need to make their information more crystal clear to their authors.

  5. rdrr123 says:

    This really does read as a non apology. In the very first paragraph you continue to call LendInk a questionable lending site when in fact it was a quite legitimate. Then the only items you state actual sorrow for is being misinformed, not the fact that you jumped on the band wagon and continued the smear campaign. Did you once check on the validity of the story before adding your call to that of the angry mob? Perhaps if you did then maybe a quick look at his site, or better yet if the original fire starters in the matter had, would have shown the accusations to be false.

    You later in a reply to a comment state that the owners of the site never contacted the authors, how do you know this? Is it in the same fashion that you were informed of the story that you picked up an ran with, simple hear say and accusations. Did the same authors who “misinformed” you tell you that he never contacted them? This is nothing more than pure speculation on your part and continues to show bias in the matter.

    Quite honestly the only thing that you appear to be sorry for is not understanding the Amazon and Barnes and Noble lending policies , not for the irrevocable harm that was caused to this persons business.

  6. @jeanettevaughan

    Ok, treating all the authors the same way is too much. I agree. In fact, after having discussed with that kind author (Douglas R Cobb), I still have anger, but only against the most vehement which are now hiding, probably in the hope that none will know. I don’t think you want names. Just to be clear, I didn’t insult them, I tried to contact them.

    I can understand the anxiousness of the authors discovering their books listed on a site they haven’t heard of, I understand that Amazon and B&N contract terms are not that clear, I understand that being a father/mother/wife/husband+worker+author+lawyer is not always possible. But nobody did ever forced you (as authors) to do this. You made this choice by your own. And you’re still liable when you’re using the legislative arsenal against someone (I don’t know if “legislative arsenal” is a common expression there, but it is in France, where I live). When using this arsenal (a DMCA notice, for example) wrongly, destroying someone’s job on false accusations, being overloaded with too much responsibilities doesn’t reduce your liability. You still MUST act wisely. Some authors did read the FAQ, did try the site, understood how it worked and that nothing was wrong, and tried to counter the hunt run by the core. But look at the time and effort it takes to explain, compared to small 140 characters retweets shouting “Burn those pirates!”. They were easily overwhelmed.

    Talking about readers, the ones that used lendink.com knew they were using a legitimate site, because for every borrowing or loan, they were redirected to Amazon or B&N web site to do the transaction. Again, nothing was hidden.

    And to come back on how it works, you expressed your desire to have the website owner to contact the authors first, and allow these to have their books off the site. You’re wrong, on several points.
    First, it was the readers who filled in the site with books titles they bought and were willing to lend. These readers bought the book, and as such, had the right to lend their copy only once, for 14 days only. I can lend books to my friends or colleagues without having to contact the author first. I can join a club to exchange books without having to contact the authors first. You could ask for some sort of “proximity” rule to limit the loans to your relatives, but this doesn’t fit the current market evolution (you’re selling your books from Amazon, not only from old school bookstores), and this “proximity” rule is not a requirement by Amazon or B&N.

  7. (This part was missing…)

    Second, asking for the reference of your book to be removed from this site is like asking for a library to remove your book from their stock, or asking readers who bought your book to never talk about it and promote it. That’s not something you want, and you don’t have the right to do it.

  8. Just because no one else commented on this part…

    >Blogs that have slammed and childishly called Indie authors by name degrading adjectives are committing libel.

    Technically no, as the name-calling would be an opinion and not a statement of fact and therefore exempt from being libel.

    • If you are attorney, your opinion is respected. Again, check the definition. A blog is a public forum if published.

      • jj2339 says:

        True. But I have a question for you. Does that extend to the authors who accused an innocent site of piracy?

        Cuts both ways. If people who call authors (who didn’t read a FAQ or understand their own contracts) childish names are cupable of libel, what does that make the authors (who didn’t era a FAQ or understand their contracts) who called an innocent business owner a pirate and got his website turned out due to fraudulent claims of piracy?

        Authors don’t get it both ways.

      • Far be it from me to speak for an entire world and community of authors. I can ony speak for myself and the small publishing company that brought my material to the world. The biggest concern here was the surge of mob mentality that grouped all authors, especially Indies, as idiots. That class action was atrocious and part of the existing bias towards Indie authors. I read the FAQ thoroughly, and missed how it worked exactly. I have a Master’s degree, some had PhDs. Does that make us stupid? No. What did come out is that there really is a grey line in understanding the term “lend” by whom and how many times. Thank you for your comments. Let’s move forward now.

  9. Future posts on this subject are now closed. I was wrong about Lend Ink and have apologized. That apology was accepted. Time to move foward. If you are interested in providing a guest post, you may contact me via ageviewpress.com or Twitter.

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