I am pissed, and I need to rant. Today's rant is not steampunk-specific ... it involves the spheres of authors, publishers, artists, and theft. It involves professional responsibility, honesty, and integrity. And the lack thereof on the part of one small e-publishing house, which has harmed several authors and artists, including one author whom I value as a friend and as a favoured author.
Previously, in this blog, I gave an early review to an up-and-coming piece of periodic fiction, The Sauder Diaries, which was being released episodically at that time, on Scribd. In December, I was delighted to interview the author, Michel Vaillancourt, on the eve of the completed work's e-release on Amazon Kindle and Barnes and Noble's Nook, via a small publisher, Trestle Press.
O, Trestle Press.
|The Logo under this barred circle belongs to Trestle Press, not me, and I will remove this image if asked.|
Yesterday, Mr. Michel Vaillancourt had to ask Trestle Press to remove his book from sale, upon discovering that they had not obtained permission to use the artwork they selected for his book. His discussion of this can be found on his blog, here. As a result, I have also had to remove the contentious artwork from my interview.
In point of fact, all hell has broken out online, regarding Trestle's wholesale thieving of artwork for many of their titles, creating a virtual Trestlegate over the past 4 days, seemingly starting here.
If you google the phrase "Trestle Press art theft" you will be amazed at the number of links you will find. Authors are leaving and complaining in droves, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here, either because they have found their artwork belongs to an artist who didn't give their permission (and in most cases I've seen online, they weren't even asked), or in solidarity with other authors, and not wanting to be tainted by the (at most generous) negligent actions of the publishing house (at worst, it's theft - clear, obvious, theft).
I'm writing this because this is hurting both authors (who now have to find other publishers, not a simple chore) and the artists. It's hard enough to get a publisher these days, one should be able to trust them to perform their due diligence.
I wouldn't have thought it was rocket science. I'm not a publisher, and even I know that it is NOT OKAY to freely snag someone else's artwork and use it to sell your own product. If you are a publisher, you have a professional responsibility to your authors and to the artists whose work you use. A publisher's job is to edit the author's work effectively, arrange cover art (if the author hasn't made their own arrangements), and in either case, ensure appropriate permissions are obtained. If you can't reach the artist and gain their permission, it's not yours to use. That's pretty simple.
I am also writing this because I want to tell people - don't deal with Trestle Press. Don't publish your works through them - they have proven they can't be trusted. If you do publish through them currently - check your artwork - it may be stolen; also, consider doing what other authors have done, and leave them in a show of solidarity with the artists and authors who have been harmed by Trestle's Personally, I won't ever buy a book from them ever.
Finally, I am also writing this because I am personally pissed. Michel Vaillancourt is also a friend, and I do not take it kindly when someone hurts my friends.