Friday, 5 November 2010

A Pair of Shining Examples of What Not to Do

Yesterday as I was cycling through my list of interesting blogs, I came across John Scalzi’s post regarding Judith Griggs, the editor of Cooks Source magazine. You can read that here.

There are two reasons this situation regarding plagiarism caught my attention. First, I often bang on to friends about the intricate ethics involved in working as an editor. Quality aside, I see the work of many people on a regular basis and those people have taken a leap of faith by trusting me not to steal it. I also have very strong feelings about professionalism as well as commitment, to the authors that I work with. Ms. Griggs would appear to be severely lacking in either of those departments. Turning around to berate the author in an attempt to extract gratitude is extremely poor form especially when the majority of so called ‘edits’ were to correct deliberately included archaic spellings. Talk about disregarding the author’s intent, sheesh! The waving of credentials paired with supposed fatigue is also pretty shameful. Thirty odd years of experience should only lead to actual care and competency in the craft rather than a smug sense of entitlement. ‘My bad’ doesn’t even begin to cover the amount of fail in this situation. Public apologies and financial compensation are both just the tip of the remuneration iceberg in what has become a very public scandal.

The second reason this situation pushes my big red button is that the company I work for, Daverana, is involved in a confrontation with yet another plagiarist on the behalf of one of our authors. You can read the details of that here and here

David Boyer is pretty damned despicable in my eyes; he has not only tarnished the title of editor by cheating people out of money left and right but he went one step further by stealing their work and putting his name on it. He has also made a habit of threatening and bullying folks that try to call him on his bullshit. This side of him is being documented in detail over on The Rusty Nail as well as on Writer Beware. So not only is he murdering the trust implicit in author/ editor relationships by stealing work as well as violating agreements or contracts in regards to payment, he is a cowardly bully.

I admit that working with authors is difficult. Ego can be a huge factor on both sides of the relationship along with misconceptions about the industry and at times sheer bad luck or honest mistakes. However there is never a reason or situation in which full out plagiarism becomes or is an acceptable course of action. People like Griggs and Boyer place smaller publishers and publications in a really negative light. They generate horror stories that instil more fear in new authors which makes them even less likely to take a chance with a smaller press or a low paying market like Flashing Swords. There has also been quite a lot of talk about the profession of editing in general lately, most of it being pretty negative. I feel that morally and ethically corrupt individuals like Griggs and Boyer put more pressure on the rest of us to perform above and beyond the bar of what would normally be considered an acceptable standard.

I’m not only angry at Griggs and Boyer on a professional level; Jane Timm Baxter is well on her way to becoming a good friend of mine. It’s hard not to care about the person behind the project that you spend long periods of time, up to your elbows in the literary guts of, on a daily basis. Boyer’s actions and false accusations have caused her a lot of stress and grief which I resent. When an author does agree to work with me, I do my very best to treat them fairly not only because it is important to me on a personal level but that I want them to feel good about partnering with Daverana as a whole.

*edited at 17:10 BST to fix my link-spam!


  1. Thanks for the passionate and cogent account of why good editors would never do what these plagiarists and cheats do to writers. This is a question I tried to ask back in November too, so thanks for this contribution to the discussion. It's important for reputable editors and publishers to make this clear.

  2. @Djibril:
    I just noticed your comment this morning, thank you!