Wow. French epistolary literature is beginning a new era. I bring you the first chapter: What French Women Know.
August 14, 2009
I finally found you! I'm an author with a new book coming out next month about French women ("What French Women Know: About Love, Sex, and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind"). A few years ago, while I was writing the book and talking to countless French women, someone sent me a copy of a blog post about flirting in France. It was a personal anecdote. The post didn't have a source. I thought it was a perfect representation of a fleeting moment of French flirtation (experienced by an American), and I quoted it in my manuscript. When it got time for serious copy-editing, no one (not me, not my editor) could find the source of the anecdote, and it was deemed officially off-line. (This is a windy road getting to my point...bear w/me!) Then just last month I was in Paris, met [name of Parisian blogger], she sent me a post she'd written about lingerie, which had a reference to a piece you'd written, which lead me to your blog, which led me to... the anecdote above.
All this to say, first, bonjour. Am very glad to have finally "met/found" you. I'd love to send you a galley of my new book, and also tip my hat to you in my blog. I finally got a new web site up (www.whatfrenchwomenknow.com) which will soon have a blog, though -- full disclosure -- I'm not much of a blogger. It will probably be more random/impressionistic than journal-ish. Still, I'll find a place to salute you.
If you sent me your snail mail address, I'll make sure you get a galley asap. In the meantime, hope you're doing well wherever you are. Perhaps one day our paths will cross in France.
Same day, reply. Blogger fawning over published author:
So good to hear from you. Your first book was kind of a bible of mine, so I may be a little biased when I read the next one. I think you won't mind... Sorry I never wrote you any fan mail -- I may have mentioned it in the blog.
I would love to read a galley proof of your book. So happy you have another one soon to be published. [here I inserted my snail mail address].
And let me know if you need any help with your blog. They're not obvious, and I spent my first two years in Paris going from zero to sixty on the blog learning-curve. At least I now have an extra transferable skill.
Keep in touch.
A full two weeks later. Too late to correct galleys? Bound book (not galleys) received chez moi August 27, with concomitant outraged What?! You Forgot to Credit my Blog!? post published. After twenty-four hours attempting to calm my rattled nerves, I wrote this:
August 28, 2009:
Dear Victoria [publicist at G.P. Putnam; cc'd to Debra Ollivier]
Yesterday I received an advance copy of "What French Women Know," published by G.P. Putnam and with an anticipated sale date of September 3, 2009.
And while I was pleased to start reading it and found the book had great merit, I was startled and upset to find that a long passage of my original work was printed therein without permission or attribution. I am the proprietor of all copyright in a literary/artistic work entitled "Polly-Vous Francais?" http://pollyvousfrancais.blogspot.com, which I began writing in May 2006.
The text on pages 25-26 of "What French Women Know" is identical to my copyrighted work. Since permission to use my work was not granted it therefore legally constitutes infringement of my rights.
In normal circumstances, an infringement of copyrighted material would bring demand that you immediately do one or more of the following.
1. remove all infringing content and notify me in writing that you have done so;
2. credit all infringing content to myself in a manner to be deemed appropriate;
3. immediately cease the use and distribution of copyrighted material;
4. undertake in writing to desist from using any of my copyrighted Work in future without prior written authority from me.
Not being litigious by nature, however, I would prefer as a first step to discuss with you and the editorial department at G.P. Putnam some positive and appropriate way to correct this ethical and legal wrong.
I await to hear from you at your earliest convenience, but by no later than close of business on Tuesday September 1, 2009.
Received Tuesday evening, September 1
Dear [Polly-Vous Francais]
I received your e-mail last Friday, August 28. It was my intention from the start to fully credit the passage that I used from your blog; as you know, I was unsuccessful at locating your blog in order to specifically attribute the passage at the time I was writing the book. I am pleased that I now have the opportunity to do so.
I have spoken with my publisher and they will include the name of your blog in future reprints of my book as well as in the paperback edition. So please let me know how you would like your blog credited; I will then pass that information on to my publisher. Thanks very much.
Hmm. Of course, reprints and paperback rights are an interesting offer, assuming the book gets to that point. But what about the current audio-book versions, e-book versions, and foreign rights, such as China? Methinks we need to reconsider.
I've been so touched that friends, colleagues, and peers -- including my wonderful readers -- have sent kind words of support. Some have sent reviews to Amazon mentioning the copyright flap. Curiously, all of those reviews seem to have been yanked by unknown powers. Keep trying!
Meanwhile I find myself in a bizarre David vs. Goliath pseudo-battle that I never wanted or anticipated.
My question is now: am I sabotaging my own efforts to some day get my own book published if I make a stink out of this? If so, that's my loss, I guess. But I believe it's the right thing to do.
I'm no Donna Quixote, but I just call it as I see it.
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