Any Publicity Is Good Publicity?

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I’m sure you’ve heard about the latest scandal rocking the romance world this week. As awful as the whole situation is, it is providing an excellent opportunity to discuss publicity and even audience.

Just in case you aren’t in the know about #cockygate, an author recently decided it would be a good idea to trademark the word “cocky”, contact Amazon, and have them pull any book with “cocky” in the title so only her books would be available. At least that’s the version of events I know. More has happened over the past few days but I haven’t successfully kept up with the story.

In any case, you can’t successfully trademark a common word, but it will take over a year for the legal mess to fight the trademark to wrap up. This means a lot of other authors will be hurt and have to put in a lot of time and effort so their sales don’t suffer.

Which leads me to the question: Any publicity is good publicity, right? No, no it is not.

This is obviously a big stunt designed to get this author’s search and sales numbers up. Whether it was her own brainchild or she was advised by someone I do not know, and honestly I do not care. It’s one thing to pull something to get attention, to get your name out there, it’s another thing to pull something malicious and hurt your fellow authors.

What especially blows my mind here is the group she attacked. Not only did she do this within the close confines of the romance community, she did this within the erotica community, one that is small and highly tight-knit. Romance and erotica writers always have each other’s backs, you hurt one, you hurt them all, and they are incredible when it comes to supporting one another. When you factor in their fans…it’s a behemoth she’s taken on.

My initial reaction to this story was shock, this woman has completely destroyed her career within romance, I don’t think there’s any coming back from something like this. She’s officially a pariah. Granted, this ended up working out for James Frey, but you don’t see his name on a lot of books these days.

What’s more, this author has proven she isn’t at all community minded and she’s willing to step on other authors to get what she wants. That’s the image she’s painted of herself—it’s not pretty. This is a prime example of when someone does not know or understand their audience.

Speaking for myself, I much prefer to stand on my own two feet and compete the honest way. If I don’t stack up to the competition that means I need to grow as a writer, not take down those around me. Perhaps I’m naïve, but that’s how I operate. I wouldn’t want to be known as the author who tried to ruin others. I’m all for a good marketing campaign but I don’t want to be known as a bully. I don’t even know that I would want fans who thought positively of such negative actions.

This entire thing baffles my mind. What’s your take on this scandal?

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