PublishAmerica and J.K. Rowling: Retractomancy

Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware

Writer BewareI blogged Tuesday about PublishAmerica’s now-infamous J.K. Rowling promotion, which promised, for just $49, to bring PA authors’ books to Rowling’s attention during PA’s upcoming visit to Scotland. (The promotion, which has set the blog- and Twittersphere abuzz, has also been covered by a variety of news sources, including the Associated Press, The Bookseller, and Publishers Weekly).

Also on Tuesday, a Rowling spokesman labeled the promotion’s claims “completely false,” and promised that “appropriate action” would be taken.

Apparently, that action involved a letter from Rowling’s lawyer, demanding that PA cease and desist the promotion (as of yesterday, the promotion had been removed from the PA website).

Now PA has responded…with a “tone” letter. Penned by PA’s lawyer Victor Cretella, the letter is posted on PA’s website. Here is my favorite part:

Not only is your letter replete with factual errors, but it is built upon a false premise. In the caption at the beginning of the letter, you indicate that your letter is “NOT FOR PUBLICATION”. This creates the impression that you were looking to resolve this matter confidentially. But no sooner had you sent the letter than your client’s spokesperson, Mark Hutchinson, published a false and defamatory statement to the media, indicating that PA had been cited by industry watchdogs for “allegedly deceiving authors.”

Of course, there are no legitimate industry watchdogs who have ever said anything of the sort. The ones who have made such representations have been totally discredited….No reasonable person would ever rely upon anything they said. By doing
so, your client and her representatives have subjected themselves to a defamation suit.

In light of the above, PA requires that your client issue a retraction immediately. “Our client’s approach . . . to damages . . . will be determined by the speed and nature of your response to this letter.” In any event, PA reserves all of its rights in the interim. However, it will be more than happy to discuss an amicable resolution of this matter.

In fact, it seems pretty clear from the AP article in which Hutchinson is quoted that the watchdog statement was made by the writer of the article, not by Hutchinson.

This is turning into quite a drama. Stay tuned.