Rumors are flying, and you know here at PBW we like dealing with the facts. So I decided to go after it, contacted author Ann Jacobs and asked if she would tell me exactly what happened to her at BEA. I received the following response:
When I decided to attend BEA as an Ellora's Cave author, I sent in a request (and the requested fee) to sign A MUTUAL FAVOR, my 2004 Golden Quill winner for best hot, sexy and sensuous romance, at RWA's booth. I heard nothing about this request until two or three days before the start of the convention, when Allison Kelly called me and said I could not sign that book because it didn't meet RWA's new graphical standard, which she then read to me.
I don't believe my cover (I've attached a .jpg of it) violates the letter of the standard as written, and I mentioned this along with my thought that it was a rather late date to be advising me that RWA would not allow me to sign the book in their booth. I also mentioned that I had three other Ellora's Cave print books, any of which would unquestioningly meet the new graphical standards.
To be honest, nothing happened to me *at* BEA. I happily signed books--the one I'd have signed at the RWA booth as well as two other titles that my publisher provided-- at the very well-placed and well-attended Ellora's Cave booth. (If my publisher had not attended and scheduled me to sign in its booth, and I'd planned attending BEA for the sole purpose of signing books at the RWA booth, however, I'd have been out several hundred dollars in travel and lodging, for nothing.)
The late notification by RWA was wrong. My first reaction when I was read the new graphical standard was that morality policing by RWA smacks of censorship, which most writers I know find abhorrent in any form. My second thought was that I was being penalized by the organization to which I've been paying dues for fourteen years, because of something over which I have little or no control: the cover art my publisher placed on my book.
I'm a very nonpolitical soul who wants to write and sell books, not mold the policies of writers' organizations. This issue, however, is one that may bring me onto my soapbox. RWA has no business trying to dictate morality to its members, though, so I may have to pull out a proxy and give it to someone who thinks as I do since I'm not attending the RWA conference this year. I don't want to quit RWA, but I don't want my rights as a general member abridged-- and I certainly don't want to have my webmistress replace my "too hot" covers on my website with plain brown-bag type covers marked "Censored by RWA".
My thanks to Ann Jacobs for taking the time to respond to my request and get the facts straight.