Monday, June 06, 2005

Ann Jacobs

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:

Hi, Sheila--

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".

Ann Jacobs

Cover art for A Mutual Favor by Ann Jacobs

My thanks to Ann Jacobs for taking the time to respond to my request and get the facts straight.


  1. doesn't look any worse or better or different than a whole lot of H/S books. Now that's an intriguing idea. RWA thumbing its nose at H/S standards.

    I hope this asinine behavior on RWA's part brings a lot of attention to Ann's book and even more sales. Yipee for publiciteee

  2. EC is being mighty gracious, too, shouldering blame for the nonsense about National (Raelene's letter's at my blog).

  3. Anonymous12:22 PM

    Someone needs to organize romance writers and create a new organization that doesn't punish the authors for book covers picked by publishers, doesn't tell them what they can and cannot write in the world of romance and doesn't discriminate against those that push the envelope.

  4. Anonymous12:29 PM

    First off - LOVED reading your books. And ... to the point: Woa. The word "rude" comes to mind for the way you were treated. But, humans are only human and I am hoping they apologized and ... well ... apologized?

    Things like this just shove your stomach right up into your throat, or at least they do that to me.

    If you need help getting your sense of humor back, let me know. I would be happy to help.


    Cindy Cruciger

  5. The late notification by the RWA was VERY wrong. If they knew in March that they were going to be implementing this new graphical standards rule, then they should have let authors know as soon as possible.

    And I agree with Kate--the cover isn't any worse than many H/S covers, and I'm not sure how this cover even violates the graphical standards.

    Exposed nipples? Nope. Exposed genitalia? Nuh-uh. Hands or mouth covering naked female breasts? Well the dude's mouth is too high to be on her right breast (and even if it was, it isn't shown,) and technically, her hand isn't covering her left. Her wrist is, but it's not COVERING the breast. It's blocking the view, not touching.

    Silly me, I'd interpreted the rule of hands and mouth covering breasts to mean TOUCHING the breasts. What's the difference between her arm hiding the breast or a blanket? Or bra?

  6. Anonymous1:06 PM

    I hope RWA board member Linda Howard didn't try to sign this book at the BEA booth:

    Definite hands covering breasts going on there!

  7. "Someone needs to organize romance writers and create a new organization that doesn't punish the authors for book covers picked by publishers, doesn't tell them what they can and cannot write in the world of romance and doesn't discriminate against those that push the envelope."

    I agree with Anon.'s post. Also would add---a new organ. which doesn't discriminate against the format author/member's work is published in--if it's out there earning money, it's valid.

  8. Scandalous! I DEMAND all Joanna Lindsay's out-of-print books (featuring Fabio with his hands fondling the heroine's breasts) be pulled from the shelves of used bookstores and retrofitted immediately.

    Also, all HQN *Blaze* covers with shadowy couples who appear to standing too close together must be recalled and the distance between the couples measured to ensure they abide by the graphic standards.

    In future, any attendees to RT, BEA, RWA National or any venue where RWA authors are signing books, will not be admitted to the function without first being handed a black handkerchief at the door with the instructions: "In Case Of Violation Of Graphical Standards, Fluff to Inflate and Hold Tightly Over Eyes".

    That'll fix 'em.


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