or: How My Decision was Made for Me
When I'm debating whether to get rid of a potential book (or two), I generally like to make the decision for myself. But sometimes things get so out of hand that you have no choice but to let it go.
There are quite a few book cataloging sites out there, with Goodreads probably being the most famous. One I haven't heard of until a few months ago (I'm going to call it "Grape" out of laziness) when someone on one of the Not Always sites told me about it. (I wish I could remember who it was, because it probably would've saved a lot of the drama I'm about to share!) It seemed pretty easy to join Grape and get my stuff listed, so I did, and was loosely involved in the site until yesterday.
When this person (let's call her "Amanda") found out about my work, she (helpfully) made a page for my debut novel, then made pages for two books I hadn't written yet–Emmeline and Elizabeth.
It didn't bother me at first. There was always the chance I'd write them myself, or pay for a ghostwriter to do them as I mentioned in Prequels, Sequels and Problems.
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn't a good idea. It's one thing to make pages for books I'm fairly certain I'll write (Dark and Dirty Games is an excellent example); it's another to make pages for books that I've publicly stated are low on my priority list, as it's not likely they'll ever be written.
After poking around in Grape's FAQ section and its help pages, I decided to ask for help in the forums.
To summarize the responses, the pages can't be deleted, and it's not permissible to ask Amanda to delete them, either.1
"But it's my work and my intellectual property! I'm the one that has control over it, not Amanda!"
"It doesn't matter if they're your books," the users argued. "Amanda posted the pages, they're her work, you have no rights to them and no right to contact her and ask her to remove them." (One user said that Grape isn't a bibliography, it's a catalog of books belonging to people on the site. But that makes no sense, because how can you claim to own a book that's never been written?)2
While I'm sure copyright law doesn't protect books I haven't written, I do know that you can contact sites and ask them to take down pictures and information they have of yours–that's why services that clean up your web presence exist! Which means that the whole "you can't contact Amanda" premise is bullshit.
You're right–I can't contact Amanda, but I can contact "Lambda", who I believe owns the site!
I told Lambda what was going on, argued that I should have control over my intellectual property, and asked her nicely to remove the pages, as I didn't want to file a lawsuit over something that could be solved with a simple email.
Her response? [*crickets*]
While I would've preferred a short response along the lines of "sorry for all the problems–the pages are deleted", not getting one means I don't have to worry about my anxiety being triggered. (Not to mention not having money for an attorney, should it go that far.)
As for the dead books? Why should I write something with so much negativity attached to it?
(I was going to go into detail about the ideas I had for the dead books, but I don't have the energy anymore. I’m just glad this is all–pretty much–over.)
1I honestly don't care about Grape's etiquette–if Amanda wasn't listed as a private user (thereby rendering her unreachable), I would've contacted her and saved myself a headache or seven.
2One user actually had the gall to say, "No one is going to read your books after you threw a hissy fit like this!"
"Ooo, big fucking threat! No one reads my books anyway!"
(They might not read my books, but I noticed an uptick in visitors on my site! HA!)