Why would you even want to?

Trademark Symbol.

The more I think about this insane trademark saga in the publishing world (actually, now there’s more than one word at stake), the more I think some authors are totally misguided.

Why would you want to steal a word from everyone else? Even if you write twenty books using the word in the title, people aren’t only going to want to read YOUR books.

People want variety. Even when they’re sticking to a particular genre, they still want variety! If I read a great book with a certain theme, I go looking for books by other authors with similar themes.

So, what if someone else has the word “cocky” in their book title? So what if I read another “cocky” book first? What if once I’m finished reading that one I search for the word and discover yours?

It’s a GOOD thing to have many options. Readers (and romance readers more than others) read so many books they go to social media platforms to beg for help finding MORE of the type of book they want!

I don’t just want ONE romantic suspense book about a reunited couple; I want THOUSANDS. I don’t want ONE historical romance about a Victorian self-made man; I want THOUSANDS.

Literally the only reason to trademark simple words and force others’ books to be removed from sale is greed. But it’s counterproductive.


Cocky Rebellion cockygate rebelliongate trademark Nika Dixon

Credit to Nika Dixon

Just in time for the weekend!

Less than a week after the drama of an author trademarking the word “cocky” spiralled out of control, sparking Twitter hashtags like #cockygate, we now have #rebelliongate.

Yep, that’s right. Now there’s an application to trademark the word “rebellion” not just for books, but across all kinds of media and all kinds of products. The people who were mocking the romance genre and women in general this past week are now scared their own genre is under attack.

Trademark Symbol.

Follow Kevin Kneupper for information and updates on both cases. Not just a writer, he is also a lawyer who came out of retirement to fight this pro bono on behalf of everyone.

These trademark stories… there’s so much greed behind them. I keep thinking of the American company that commandeered the Ugg Boot – an Australian icon. Or that Kardashian who tried to steal Kylie Minogue’s name!

Copyright and Book Covers

Henry Cavill in The Tudors

I don’t mean to do this to shame an author (which is why I’ve cut the bottom of the book cover below off), but I have another thing to say about authors and copyright.

Authors: putting a promotional still of a Hollywood actor Henry Cavill on your cover is illegal. A copyright violation. Totally not allowed. People have been taken to court and forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars for doing less than this.

You CANNOT make money off something you have no legal right to.

I was browsing review books the other night, and did a double-take when I saw this cover:

Compare it to the image at the top of this post.

Google image search doesn’t mean images are a free-for-all. I’ve had people download my pictures from Canberra (some from my own garden!), upload them all over the internet as their own pictures, and say they’re Sydney! Apart from the fact I sell some of those images, and so REALLY don’t want other people taking an income away from me… Well, actually you can figure out why I hate people stealing my things.

This book cover is no different. You can’t just find a pretty image and use it. Authors would be horrified if someone stole their writing, but some are okay stealing someone’s pictures. It’s especially odd if its an image of a person who has no idea their face is being used to promote someone’s work.

This happened here recently. A teenage girl walked into a popular clothing chain and discovered one of their designers had downloaded a photograph OF HER from her Instagram account and put it on their products. Imagine if that was you.

These days there are heaps of websites where authors and publishers can find legal cover images. However, promotional stills of the gorgeous Henry Cavill in the supremely trashy and anachronistic The Tudors is not an option.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the producer of The Tudors is the author’s son, or close, personal friend, and gave her permission to use it. Somehow, though, I doubt it.

Your book is like a toaster.

Goodreads Logo Banner

Obviously, this is about SOME authors, not all authors.

There have been a few things that happened recently that have me flabbergasted. Of course there is no rulebook for how involved an author should get with readers and with review sites (however, review sites DO have rules!), but I would have thought common sense would fill the gap.

Author sites like Romance University dish out a lot of good advice, alongside some utterly WRONG advice. Sometimes I wonder if authors remember they are also readers, and were readers first. They need to think about the product they’re selling, and think how a customer would feel about their behaviour.

I’ve been coming across some truly appalling advice recently, and have also seen and experienced it in action.

For example:

Authors spamming Goodreads.

Multiple articles on author advice sites actually TELL authors to spam the site. They tell them to add their own books to every Listopia they can find, tell them to comment under reviews of their books, tell them to send private messages to people who review their books, and so on.

Uh, NO. Do Not do those things!

Readers don’t like being harassed and intimidated by the creator of the product they bought. And a book is a product the same way a toaster is a product. Once you buy that toaster you can do whatever you like with it and say whatever you want about it. No different to a book.

Listopias are the lists of books on Goodreads. “Best Romantic Suspense”. “Best Cover”. Once upon a time they were spammed by Twilight fangirls, who ruined every list by voting Twilight and every connected book to the top of it, even though the book didn’t fit the topic.

Now the lists have been ruined by authors. People go there for recommendations from other readers, not to be advertised at! Apparently the list function has become very unpopular recently, because authors actively encourage each other to spam them, and then make deals to vote each other’s books to the top.

Commenting under reviews (especially on Goodreads) might seem like a good idea, especially if you’re thanking someone for liking your book.

However, it is often intimidating, and readers can’t have an honest discussion about a book if Big Brother is watching over their shoulder. I’ve had so many conversations silenced by an author who just couldn’t help themselves.

What if I want to ask the reviewer something like: ‘I hear this book has homophobic comments in it. Is that true?’

How am I supposed to ask that when I know the author is following the discussion and likely to get angry about it?

What if I want to ask the reviewer if the book is as good as the first one in the series? How in the world is the reviewer supposed to answer that question when the author is hovering over her?

There are exceptions, and there are some authors I fell I “know” well enough that comments are fine. But to do drive-by comments under reviews really is a terrible idea.

Sending messages to reviewers.

Talk about making me flabbergasted! Who in their right mind thinks it’s a good idea to harass your customers via private messages?! Contacting people for a review is one thing, but that’s where the transaction ends. Randomly contacting people you don’t know is a little creepy.

I had one author last year who thought that me reviewing one of his books was the beginning of a long and beautiful relationship, and I was bombarded with private messages nonstop for weeks. Weird. Really, really weird.

Arguing our point in someone else’s review space.

This actually made me rethink some of my Goodreads friendships. If I point out I don’t like something, STAY OUT OF IT. Unless I’m accusing you of being a Nazi, you can’t come in and ‘splain to me why I’m wrong – or evil.

Two recent incidents:

I said in a status update I think the “Street Team” concept is an unethical way to get your books out there.

The author retaliated by attacking me personally (WHY was she reading my personal status updates?! We weren’t even “friends”), and then setting all her fangirls from the street team on me too.

Another time, I commenting that I’m sick and tired of Australian books being written with American terms and expressions we don’t use here.

The author jumped in on the discussion and said something to the effect that US English is better and really popular. Well, sure, if you want to think that I can’t stop you, but it’s also WRONG for a book set in another country!

This all sounds like common sense, right? But apparently it isn’t, because authors keep telling each other behaving like this with their customers is fine. Honestly, I don’t WANT to know what people are saying about my work. I don’t know why authors set themselves up for disappointment by reading everything on the internet.

If authors want advice on how to interact online, they should be listening to readers, not each other.

It might be a good idea to think of your book as a toaster, and act the way you would if that’s what you had to promote.

The Week: 9th – 15th November

Paris attacks Canberra lit up in solidarity with people of France Australia 14th november 1024 National Carillon Night

The National Carillon in Canberra. One of the multiple buildings lit up here in the colours of the French flag on Saturday night.

Well, what a week this has turned out to be. Terror in Paris, Russian doping, more arrests after the terror attack here in Australia… The last time I was in Paris there were two shootings. One was in a school in the centre of the city, and the other was actually in Notre Dame.

It is frightening what is going on at the moment.

Sunset Tuggeranong Canberra Australia Spring Sonya Heaney 13th November 2015 Garden Sky Clouds Nature

Friday evening in Canberra

Spring Canberra Australia 6th November 2015 Sonya Heaney Oksana Heaney Garden Flower Nature.

We had a few moments of sunshine and heat, but I’ve never seen so much rain in Canberra in my life (well, the whole country was raining). Hilarious that Prince Charles and Camilla came, and got rained on through a full day of outdoor activities. We’re not much for the monarchy here, and a little tired of being symbolically ruled by some people 17000 kilometres away.


They attended our Remembrance Day ceremony on the 11th. I’m astonished every year by how many people overseas don’t realise the date is commemorated worldwide, and not just in their own country.

Father Christmas waves to the crowd in North Terrace, November 14 2015.

WHY did Adelaide have their Christmas parade yesterday?? It was utterly bizarre to turn on the television and see people singing Christmas carols, and floats with Mary and Jesus and all that.

A little premature there…

I’ve been working 12+ hours a day to try and get things up for sale in time for Christmas. I’m so sleep-deprived, and have taken more painkillers than I should have because of all the headaches! However, people are already saying their Christmas shopping is almost done, and then you factor in shipping times, and consider why people shop so early, and… ARGH!

On top of that, I’m going to be away for a week in mid-December, so I’m trying to get more books read and reviews written and history posts prepared before I go.

The Clandestine Betrothal by Alice Chetwynd Ley

I read a really good traditional Regency (written in the 1960s) this week, but there probably won’t be a review up here until after Christmas! I do have a review on Goodreads. It really drove home what it is I’m missing from many historical romances being written at the moment.

British Writer Tracks Down Teen Who Gave His Book a Bad Review, Smashes Her With Wine Bottle.

British Writer Tracks Down Teen Who Gave His Book a Bad Review, Smashes Her With Wine Bottle.

Coming Soon

His Christmas Countess by Louise Allen

Cover Love

Laid Out by Sidney Halston

My review of The Rancher’s Christmas Proposal by Sherri Shackelford

The Rancher's Christmas Proposal by Sherri Shackelford

My review of Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward

Lover Eternal by J.R. Ward

My review of An Amish Noel by Patricia Davids

An Amish Noel by Patricia Davids

British Writer Tracks Down Teen Who Gave His Book a Bad Review, Smashes Her With Wine Bottle.

UPDATE: An article with more information.

I’m not going to explain this. I’m just going to post it.

However, I will say that in every article about it there are men underneath, joking about this attack. So glad they think viciously assaulting teenage girls is a joke…

British Writer Tracks Down Teen Who Gave His Book a Bad Review, Smashes Her With Wine Bottle.

British Writer Tracks Down Teen Who Gave His Book a Bad Review, Smashes Her With Wine Bottle.

A 28-year-old British man, Richard Brittain, most notable for his 2006 victory on the quiz show Countdown, tracked down a Scottish teenager who’d written a negative review of his self-published novel and shattered a bottle of wine on the back of her head. The aspiring author pleaded guilty to the 2014 assault in a Scottish court Monday, the Mirror reported.

Brittain, incensed at the one-star review, apparently tracked down Paige Rolland’s Facebook page, discovering that she lived in Scotland and worked at an Asda supermarket. He allegedly travelled 500 miles from London and found her at the store, crouching to stock a low shelf of cereal boxes. He hit her from behind with a full bottle of wine, leaving her unconscious and with a gash on her head.

According to the Daily Mail, this isn’t even the first time Brittain has been accused of stalking a woman online. The perfect princess of his novel, Ella Tundra, was apparently based on a woman he targeted, a creepy courtship he described in a blog post called “The Benevolent Stalker.”

Paige Rolland was brutally attacked after leaving a bad review of Richard Brittain's book online.

A teenager was hunted down and attacked by a crazed wannabe author after she left a bad review of his book online.

Paige Rolland, 18, was smashed over the head with a wine bottle by failed writer Richard Brittain in a brutal assault.

Brittain travelled 500 miles from his home in England to the supermarket where Rolland worked in Scotland to confront her after she criticised his book “The World Rose” online.

Stalker Brittain, 28, used social media to discover where she worked, before creeping up on her and smashing a wine bottle over her head, knocking her out.