I got an email early this afternoon from one novelist who took exception to my judicious description of what romance writer Cassie Edwards has done in her books as repeated echoing” of other writers. “I think the word ‘echoing’ is too soft,” she wrote. “Edwards didn’t ‘echo.’ She lifted sentences verbatim—and this was found in just a cursory review of a few books that the [Smart Bitches] had around.” She also wonders if the rush to defense from Edwards’s publisher, Signet, is indicative of a double standard when it comes to dealing with plagiaristic authors—as in, a bestselling author like Doris Kearns Goodwin or Janet Dailey is going to find redemption much easier to come by than an unproven newcomer like Kaavya Viswanathan.
Meanwhile, the vocal dissatisfaction with Signet’s “nothing wrong” response to the allegations continues. Jane Litte, the blogger whose direct inquiry provoked that response, reacts today with an open letter to Penguin Group management:
“While it might be true that what Ms. Edwards did is not illegal, it still appears to be ethically incorrect. I disagree with the idea that there is a different ethical standard for academia and commercial publishing. It all boils to intellectual and creative honesty. I can certainly accept that there are different interpretations of the standard. What I cannot accept as appropriate is the condoning of the pattern of repeated offense as shown by Ms. Edwards in Shadow Bear.”
“The public affirmation of Ms. Edwards may endear her to your house and ensure that she remains with you for a long time,” Litte continues. “However, your actions cast a shadow of doubt over the ethical standards of your editorial department… I urge you to reconsider and ask yourself whether you want Penguin to be known as the house that supports plagiarism because, in my mind, that is what you have become.”