There’s this crazy thing going on
It’s over now, so I can talk about it. I began this post about 9 months ago and shortly after just went stealth.
In amongst my author friends, there’s a buzz, an undercurrent of dis-ease. It all comes from something another independent author did to promote her book series.
Now, I’m not independent. I have a publisher (hi, Salt of the Earth Press!) but most of the authors I know are doing everything that needs to be done on their books all by their lonesome. Some might hire a cover designer, and others may pay for editing, but overall, they make all the decisions and the buck stops with them.
One author who writes steamy romance – that’s conjecture, I have never read her work – decided to up the ante and game the system. She trademarked a word that appears in her titles.
Before we go any further, what I thought a trademark was for was to protect your business entity branding. Like, Coca-Cola with it’s distinctive and unique phrase and font, or Libby’s brand of foods. It makes sense that a business would want to do that. Another soft drink company putting Coca-Cola across their cans would be confusing and take away from the original company’s profits. Likewise, to trick someone by labeling a canned drink Cola-Cola, not the same name, but in the same distinctive font, would be deceptive as well. But, as you know, there are other colas and other instances of the word coca. Those are commonly used words. The Coca-Cola company can’t stop other businesses from using common words, nor should they.
Here’s where the whole author trademarking a word thing gets weird. She trademarked the word “cocky.”
Her series name includes that word as part of a phrase, and each title includes that word along with other words. She contacted other authors whose books have that word in the titles to tell them to take their books down or retitle them. She contacted Amazon and demanded the books be removed from their catalog if the title or even the reviews included that word.
And authors went mad! Now, she’s not the only one. The publisher Entangled has trademarked a couple single words as have other authors.
But I can look down this road and see what this crazy trend means.
- An author who has the phrase “Mail Order Bride” on every cover of a series of books trademarks the words and then stops other authors from using that phrase on titles, in descriptions, and in advertising. Not only would it cripple a lot of fine writers, it would make it very hard for the most important people, our readers, to find books they want to read.
- Books not your thing? How about this? What if a company that designs and publishes games trademarked the word haunted, or danger, or virtual?
- What if a huge bakery trademarked the word bread?
Are you seeing what I’m seeing? There must be some other criteria for trademark beyond the applicant saying they need it to protect their brand. Lawyers are on it but the line has already been drawn in the sand within the indie book publishing community. Those who support this method of marketing have posted profanity and insult-laden, almost incoherent ravings in video for all to see, and boastful posts on Facebook full of cuss-words.
I am not impressed with them, nor their tactics.
Amazon might pull your favorite authors from their system, and some writers might quit because the minefield of publishing just got a whole lot more dangerous. If you want to read more about this go here: https://medium.com/@CeeEmStone/how-indie-publishing-got-all-cocked-up-1731733d0340
Please continue to support Indie Publishers and small publishers who just want to write engaging stories for their readers. I appreciate every single one of you.
UPDATE: A judge ruled against the author and she was unable to continue with her trademark for the name “cocky.”