Signet and Cassie Edwards Part Ways

Part of a series: Cassie Edwards 1: The First Post | Cassie Edwards 2: Savage Longings | Cassie Edwards Part 3: Running Fox | Cassie Edwards Part 4: Savage Moon | Cassie Edwards Part 5: Savage Beloved | Follow-up: Penguin (Part 1?) | Official Statement from Signet | AP Article Contains Response from Edwards  | RWA Responds to Allegations  | A centralized document for the Cassie Edwards situation

Thanks to the many, many readers, the first of whom was AnnaPiper, who sent me this link to late breaking news: Cassie Edwards and Signet publishing have parted ways due to “irreconcilable editorial differences:”

Romance writer Cassie Edwards and publisher Signet Books have decided to break up after allegations emerged in January that in she lifted passages in several of her books from other sources.

“Signet has conducted an extensive review of all its Cassie Edwards novels and due to irreconcilable editorial differences, Ms. Edwards and Signet have mutually agreed to part ways,” the publisher said in a statement Friday.

“Cassie Edwards novels will no longer be published with Signet Books. All rights to Ms. Edwards’ previously published Signet books have reverted to the author.”

The news article, which was written by AP writer Hillel Italie, who covered the original story, gives a summary, and there is no comment by Edwards for the article.


General Bitching...

Comments are Closed

  1. Arethusa says:

    Awwww. I feel some remorse for being so snarky before. I respect you for your second sincere apology, SAM, and I appreciate the fact (now) that you truly didn’t understand the nature of our complaints, and you took steps to do so. We’re pretty frank around here but I hope that you at least feel free to lurk around even if you don’t join the discussion. 🙂

  2. Robin says:

    They can’t have been easy to write after the hostile tone this board took, and I respect you for writing them anyway. Especially because many people would just have vanished back into the Internet or come back under a new name and never bothered to apologize at all

    No kidding.  ITA.  I know I’ve been uncomfortable with some of the comebacks on both sides, but we’re not an easy bunch, which IMO makes an apology even more difficult to deliver.

  3. Tsu Dho Nimh says:

    I guess what I don’t understand is if someone writes a book to be used as research and another author uses that information why is it wrong?  Is it because the sources were not listed?

    I am a technical writer. There are huge chunks of user manuals where something so common and so standardized is being described that it’s impossible to come up with a fresh and original way to describe it.  How many ways are there to tell someone to plug thr cable into the printer?

    Using the facts is OK. Using the facts is GOOD, not just OK.

    But, taking the way I explained the facts – outside those narrow and boring areas – and using my words in your own work is not OK.  Especially not for fiction.

  4. Rachel R. says:

    Especially because many people would just have vanished back into the Internet or come back under a new name and never bothered to apologize at all

    Indeed; I’ve seen that behavior many, many times on other boards.  It’s very easy to disappear, and very difficult to stay and apologize.  SAM, that couldn’t have been easy to write, and you certainly have my respect for posting it.

  5. Bonnie says:

    SAM, it’s good to see you come back and try to understand this whole thing.  It’s not easy.  I’ve learned a lot about this issue in the past few months from reading here and at DA. 

    What’s worse for you is that you are clearly a big fan of CE.  That’s tough.  I’d be pretty damn bummed if something shitty came out about Nora Roberts.

  6. Goblin says:

    I have to say, SAM, you’ve earned my respect back. Thanks for being willing to listen to what other people think, for being open-minded enough to change your mind, and for having the class to admit that fact after such a long and acrimonious discussion. Please stick around.

  7. Now that the drama is over, I’d like to say that I won’t sue anyone who uses my trademark word ‘hambergasm.’

    I’m glad you came to your senses, SAM.

  8. joanna bourne says:

    It’ll be interesting to see what Dorchester Leisure does, now that Signet has set such a good example. Should I be optimistic?

    I am struck by an irresistible urge to go out and buy a Signet book.

  9. Qadesh says:

    Joanna, I was wondering the same thing.  Her other publishers are Dorchester and their imprint Leisure, is that correct?  Here is hoping that they do the correct thing as well.

    And might I suggest for anyone who doesn’t know the depth of this fiasco, go to the third column on this site and click on the first one under the Cassie Edwards header that says, “A centralized document of the Cassie Edwards texts” to see what all the hubbub is about.  (Hey, someone may have been under a rock and might not know.)

  10. EJ McKenna says:

    I have a headache from reading all this.

    I learned in early high school that if you want to use facts or other people’s research in an essay, go for it – just make sure you acknowledge it!
    Nobody’s going to expect a teenager to have done personal research on the mating habits of salmon on their own. The teacher will expect they’ve got the information from a book. So you source it. You either put a number at the end of the quote and include a list of footnotes on the bottom of the page or at the end of the essay. Or you quote the author of the source material as you go.

    You don’t pass someone else’s knowledge or unique phrasing off as your own.

    (In a spooky coincidence, my current book has a ferret hero and footnotes. I finished the book long before the Cassie Edwards case came to light, now I’m waiting on a publisher to pick it up. Wonder if Signet might be interested?)

  11. Nora Roberts says:

    I appreciate the apology, Sam, and hope you stick around.

  12. Jackie says:

    Just checked in after an RT hiatus, and ZOMG, lookit all the comments. Yow.

    Kudos to Signet.

  13. Tara Parker says:

    I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a troll backpedal before.  Interesting. 

    Congrats to the SB’s for a job well done!

    I’m very happy to see that Signet has thoroughly reviewed this and actually had the balls to make a clean break with CE. 

    And for Nora Roberts – If my grandmother and I didn’t already own 95% of your currently published books, you can damn well be sure that I’d be at the bookstore getting them now.  It’s been a pleasure reading your comments and I admire your courtesy and restraint.

  14. Kismet says:

    Wow, I go away for a weekend and have to see what all the fuss was about. I’m glad to hear that Signet fully investigated the issue and made their decision. I think that was the ethical thing to do (although I know some had hoped for lightning bolts to strike hard and fast).

    SAM – I know it took a lot to come back and try to figure everything out and apologize. Welcome.

    EJ McKenna said:

    In a spooky coincidence, my current book has a ferret hero and footnotes. I finished the book long before the Cassie Edwards case came to light, now I’m waiting on a publisher to pick it up. Wonder if Signet might be interested?

    Hmmm, a Catherine Coulter book (Rose-somethingorother) had a ferret… I wonder how she used her info. If nothing else, since this whole thing started, I have become very interested in how fiction authors incorporate research… I’m sorry I missed the RT workshop 🙁

  15. Chrissy says:

    Was that the medievel romance with the Martin?

    Anyway, I’m getting ready to market my first YA, which features a ferret, too.  But it predates any of the kerfluffle.  I had ferrets for many years and they’re fun.

    I know everyone is referring to recent stuff in romance as “negativity,” but I think the outing of both Edwards and, more recently, DAM (see Dear Author) was healthy.  Cut the cancer OUT.  Don’t pretend it’s just a nasty cut and cover it with a bandaid.

  16. CJ England says:

    Hey Chrissy,

    I’m a long time ferret mom and I have written several books with ferrets in them.  In fact my first release showcased my ferret Crikey!  LOL They are fun to use in a book.

    Good luck with the marketing!

    And I agree about the cancer.  Excellent analogy.

  17. Justin says:

    I’m late to this and mostly just a lurker but I still wanted to comment on something. While I agree that what Cassie Edwards did was wrong and think it’s important that it be dealt with I don’t know that I agree Signet should be given too much love for dumping her. I haven’t read Romance for a couple of decades and I mostly come here because you Smart Bitches ars FUNNY.
    Signet published CE’s work for a loooonnng time. They made a lot of money as well. I know that her’s was the actual bad act, but Signet has some responsibility for the fact that their editorial process never did anything about her work. I think that may have a lot to do with the fact that in the 80’s publishers were printing just about anything submitted that was even barely readable. The market exploded and they all wanted in on it. If they didn’t figure out in 25 years what was going on they’re really incompetent. My suspicion is that they knew and they kept releasing her work because it continued to sell.
    Good for them that they’re doing the right thing now, but it seems pretty unfair to make them out as heros now that they’re dumping a really old lady with the bad fallout.

  18. Nora Roberts says:

    What difference does her age make?

    Once again as this was covered numerous times in the original threads, no publisher, no editor can possibly vet every book to check for copying. It’s impossible. And every author signs a contract—a legal document—that states what they are submitting to said publisher is original work.

    The very fact that Signet has made money off these books should then lead to the fact they would continue to make money. Instead, they examined, reviewed, and placed integrity and ethics above that profit.

    I can’t see how they can be blamed for not doing it sooner—or why they should be ‘suspected’ of knowing and publishing her anyway.

    Signet hasn’t published Edwards for 25 years. I believe there were only 7 books by her involved in this published by them. She also has two other publishers.

    This is not the genre’s fault. This is not the publisher’s fault.

    This is the fault of the person who copied other writer’s work then passed it off as her own.

  19. I’m kind of the mind that once a person is old enough to know right from wrong and understand the consequences, then age shouldn’t be used as an excuse, a rationale, etc.

    People of all ages make mistakes.  Unless there is consequence, nobody learns from them.

  20. Justin says:

    Thank you. I didn’t mean her age made so much difference. Just that it seemed from what I’d read that she had been rather celebrated for quite a long time.
    Much had been said about the difference in voice between her writing and what she had appropriated from other authors so I think that was what made me wonder about the publishers responsibility in her actions. I don’t know that much about editors and was wrong on that point.
    And I have nothing against genre, I read a great deal of it. Some of the best writers work in what’s considered genre, of all sorts.
    Once again thank you for the correction. I’ve followed the story because it did seem interesting that it was taken seriously. So much of the fiction I’ve always enjoyed doesn’t seem to be and it’s interesting how writers get treated depending on where their books are placed in the bookstore.

  21. Nora Roberts says:

    Justin, I imagine I sounded pretty snippy, so I’ll apologize.

    When this came to light there were a few who went with the: Feel sorry for her, she’s old. Or: The publisher should have known.

    To me, both these excuses or ploys diminish the act of copying. Which is the responsibility of the person who puts another’s words on the page and calls them her own.

    When I was plagiarized, one of the questions I was asked—several times—was why didn’t I know since it had been going on for so long. As if it was my responsibility that I’d been plagiarized for years.

    So hot button for me.

  22. Justin says:

    Not at all Ms. Roberts.
    I must admit my first response was “OMG I think I just annoyed Nora Roberts, I think I need to go hide under my bed”, but your points were well taken and I appreciate that this is both a hot button and that you certainly have the knowledge to back them up.
    While I don’t generally read romance I’ve read your work and I am certainly honored to have had the chance to converse with you.
    All the best.

  23. talpianna says:

    Incidentally, the book by Catherine Coulter was ROSEHAVEN, and the hero had a pet pine marten—which at one point sneaked into the cell where he was being held prisoner and grawed through the ropes!  I’ll never forget that book: it’s the one where they milked the billygoat.

    I wonder what the reaction would have been if Cassie Edwards had responded:  “I am horrified!  When I was in school, I was taught that what I did was legitimate research, not plagiarism.  I am very sorry; I apologize to all the writers whose words I used; and I shall publish a list of credits on my website.  And I’ll never, never, NEVER do it again!”  One might doubt her sincerity, but it would be an amende honorable.

    WV—myself22   Only in my dreams….

  24. R. says:

    they milked the billygoat.

    Gag, gag, gag!  Instant squick!!

    example26 – ohpleasenoidonotwanttoseethat!!

  25. AgTigress says:

    Tal said:
    “I’ll never forget that book: it’s the one where they milked the billygoat.”
    I have to say, in these days in which cross-species shape-shifting sexual congress is evidently highly popular, the visual I get from that is, well, a little eyebrow-raising.

  26. EGS says:

    When I was plagiarized, one of the questions I was asked—several times—was why didn’t I know since it had been going on for so long. As if it was my responsibility that I’d been plagiarized for years.

    Like you’re able to read every book in the world just to make sure someone isn’t plagiarizing you!  What a stupid question.

    I agree with Justin that it’s amazing that the publishers—that NOBODY—caught on to this after 25 years, but I think also that nobody really assumes a long published author would be plagiarizing to begin with.

  27. Kambriel1 says:

    I’m very proud of Signet for conducting their investigation and letting Cassie Edwards go.  This was a weighty issue that they were presented with and they took it seriously, far more than Ms. Edwards did herself. 

    What outraged me more than just the reveal of the plagiarism, was the author’s attitude.  It came across to me as, ‘Why get upset, it’s only romances.  They aren’t important!  They aren’t serious, they shouldn’t count.’  In essence, romances should be held to a lesser standard than other forms of literature.  That holds the art form cheap. 

    Romances are literature, and they should and do have an artistic standard to uphold.  What CE did wasn’t copying a paragraph in the encyclopedia in a report on the diamond mines during the Boer Wars because she was out with friends and didn’t get her report done in time for class.  She was lifting the writing of others, passing it as her own and profiting by it.  She made money off the black footed ferret article, Indian memoirs, and novels written by others.  Income, that the estates of the writers of the public domain works are not entitled to have, she gained.  She profited by others out of sheer laziness.  I find that despicable. 

    I do amateur writing.  I’ve been accused of being elitist and a story nazi because I believe if you are going to write, you write your best, whether it is for a paycheck or simply your own and your readers pleasure.  To do less than that insults the art.  And art matters.  Which is to treat all of your writing seriously, with respect it deserves.  Despite it being a romance, a review of a porn film, a piece of fanfiction, a term paper on the poems of Rumi, or next ABA Book of the Year.  It is all part of the same artistic altar, this beauty and love of words.  The respect it deserves is something holy, the thread of connection, the link to the story telling of our ancestors, we embrace that large and small.

    Never sell that short.

    I know everyone else has lauded Nora Roberts with accolades, but I can’t resist to add my own.  Madame, I salute you.  It took courage to stand up and speak out on this issue.  There are many writers who might say something in private, but say nothing in public because it might affect their career.  By adding your voice, I have no doubt that it added to the storm and made sure something was done and this wasn’t swept away.  Thank you, and all the Smart Bitches.  We readers are grateful.

  28. Lynne says:

    Maybe the lawyers reading the thread can answer this. It occurs to me that a publisher like Signet would want to distance itself as quickly as possible from the plagiarist once the extent of the copyright infringements becomes apparent, because the damages for willful infringement are higher.

    Obviously, a person like Paul Tolmé could go after Edwards for infringement because his article is still under copyright, but would the publisher also be named as a party? And if so, would they be on the hook to the same degree as Edwards?

  29. Nora Roberts says:

    I’m not a lawyer, but I’d think the contract—the clause where the writer guarentees the work submitted as original—should protect the publisher to some extent. If that publisher continues to publish after infringement has been proven, that would be a different matter. I’d think.

    That’s logical to me, so not necessarily legal.

  30. Tsu Dho Nimh says:

    Nora and Lynne –
    Signet and the others have one chance to drop the hot potato, and Signet dropped theirs already. If Dorchester and whoever keep publishing, they will be buffet for the legal sharks.

    If they “were aware or should have been aware” of the plagiarism they are dead meat. Given the extent of the plagiarism we were finding, and the massive media coverage, they would be looking at triple damages for willful infringement and a serious loss of reputation.

    That said, I checked a couple of early and a recent book, and CE’s style has not developed at all. I don’t think she could edit them into publishable content because she hasn’t developed as a writer. Her books were: one basic plot, some stock scenes, and a lot of cultural detail from others.

  31. Sally Jane says:

    Wow. This thread has been rivetting. Never before have I been witness to such scintillating drama. May I paraphrase this for a scene in my next novel? I promise to give you all due credit, use proper quotation maks, cite this website as a source, and include laborious footnotes ;o) I think the works cited section of the novel might end up being LONGER than the novel itself, but no one will be able to say that I was not diligent.

    Kudos to you all for being such smart bitches and all around charming, intelligent, classy ladies. I am proud to be among you.

    *basks in the radience of the smartbitchery in all their collective glory*

    And Ms. Roberts, though you do not in any way require my two cents as validation, I quite agree that you handle a rather personal attack with grace and aplomb. *raises a glass to you* I will remember your example the next time I am ever told to shut up and keep my nose out of my own business. I am sure it will happen tomorrow at the very latest, as I too have a funny (and apparently offensive) way of standing up for what I think is right. Damn me, but I’m a bitch! At least now I can say I follow in the footsteps of the best :o)

  32. Sally Jane says:

    Doubtless I have chimed in too late….well, better late to a party than never invited, even if by the time you get there, everyone has straggled home, and all the cake is gone except for the crumbs, right? I can’t eat sugar anyway, ha ha.

  33. Cherisse Jones says:

    I don’t care what any of you say, or if Cassie DID steal. I still think she is the best romance author of our time. She had a way of gripping you in her stories and not letting go until you knew what happened in the end. Cassie is the reason I took up writing again, and I wish her all the best.

  34. Shauny says:

    My father, a poli sci professor, is driven nearly insane by this every time he assigns papers…and yes, he marks them up with demands for source material citations and docks their grades

    I know this is an old post, but I just had to comment…

    Your father’s students are lucky. At the university I attend, any student caught plagiarising gets an automatic fail and can be expelled from their program with a note in their academic dossier explaining the reason for the expulsion, which makes it hard to get back into any other program at any other university. My high school gave an automatic fail to any work in which the student had plagiarised, again with a note in their report card stating that they had been caught doing so. When I was in grade 10 there was even a section added to our school’s rule book concerning this and there was a crack down. It’s considered a very, very serious offense, as it should be.

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