Open Letter to Publishers on Virtual Event Harassment | by New Leaf Literary & Media | Aug, 2020

Open Letter to Publishers on Virtual Event Harassment | by New Leaf Literary & Media | Aug, 2020

New Leaf Literary & Media

August 24, 2020

Dear Publisher,

You may or may not be aware of the recent series of hateful attacks being made toward authors during virtual events over the course of the past six months. In most instances these events were coordinated by their publishers. Sadly, these occurrences are not only happening during store-coordinated events — we’ve seen similar incidents happen during festivals and school-sponsored events as well.

In many cases, these attacks are racist (slurs, racially charged and out-of-context music or sound effects, etc.). If we as an industry are committed to the principles so many of us have espoused, especially in the wake of this summer’s protests, we must take action to protect our creators of color from these incidents.

But in every case, these attacks are hurtful, violent, humiliating, and terrifying. This is true whether the authors experiencing them come from a marginalized community or not. Attacks like this can also be triggering to the authors and illustrators being attacked, as well as to attendees in the audience. It’s unacceptable, and we demand that our publishing partners take action to ensure safety and security for all promotional activities requested of authors and illustrators.

Going forward, we must insist that publishers guarantee that the following actions — at a minimum — are taken when planning virtual events:

  • The publisher must commit to a zero tolerance policy for harassment or intimidation of any kind toward its authors and illustrators. This harassment includes, but is not limited to: vulgar, obscene, and abusive language; name-calling; taunting; and any conduct that demeans a person/group on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, creed, age, or disability.
  • The publisher must further commit to enforcing such zero tolerance policy among staff, social media followers, event attendees or others by providing public statements, removing staff from campaigns or attendees from events as needed, and by ensuring the hosting venue commits to the same.
  • A clear code of conduct must be developed and include this zero tolerance policy, which also must be stipulated to any hosting entity, whether it be a store, school, festival, library, media platform or other.
  • The Code of Conduct must appear on the event page itself, the registration page for the event, and that all attendees must agree to follow the Code of Conduct when registering for the event.
  • If a violation of the Code of Conduct occurs, the author or illustrator will have the right to terminate their appearance without consequence to themselves, their careers, their business or the return of any honorariums or speaking fees.
  • All events must include formal registration and will be held via a secure platform with a non-public link to attend.
  • All events will have a host assigned, and the host’s duties will include: managing the chat room, immediately deleting any language that would be considered harassment or intimidating, immediately removing and blocking the sender of such language from the event, and screening and monitoring all questions for the participating authors and illustrators. This must be a separate staff member than any moderator who might be acting as interlocutor.
  • Under no circumstance should any virtual event attendees have audio or video access of any kind. The authors and illustrators should only be able to see the host and their conversation partner(s).
  • A breakdown of the steps that will be taken to ensure a safe and secure event will be presented to the author and/or illustrator at the time the opportunity is presented. This must be a consideration of their participation in the first place. And both the publisher and hosting entity must consider and address all questions and/or concerns about safety and security being voiced by the author /illustrator participating in the event.

All of these criteria are easily met given the platforms available on the market for virtual events. The fact that these weren’t already being done is a deep disappointment thus far. To not correct this going forward in light of the clear evidence before us on the matter would be completely irresponsible.

We demand you protect authors and illustrators when they are promoting under your purview. Otherwise we will have to inform our clients and author/illustrator colleagues of the house’s decision not to take these necessarily protective steps.

To our colleagues, from any aspect of the industry, who would like to add their signature, please do so in the comments. Include your name and, if desired, your affiliated organization. And feel free to share with others who might like to add their voice.

Best,

Joanna Volpe, President, New Leaf Literary & Media

Suzie Townsend, Vice President, New Leaf Literary & Media

Meredith Barnes, Business Development, New Leaf Literary & Media

Jennifer Udden, Literary Agent, New Leaf Literary & Media

Stephanie Kim, Literary Agent, New Leaf Literary & Media

JL Stermer, Literary Agent, New Leaf Literary & Media

Jordan Hamessley, Agent, New Leaf Literary & Media

Kathleen Ortiz, Agent, New Leaf Literary & Media

Kate Sullivan, Content Development, New Leaf Literary & Media

Abigail Donoghue, Literary Assistant, New Leaf Literary & Media

Jordan Hill, Literary Assistant, New Leaf Literary & Media

Dani Segelbaum, Literary Assistant, New Leaf Literary & Media

Jenniea Carter, Literary Assistant, New Leaf Literary & Media

Jenny Bent, The Bent Agency

Molly Ker Hawn, The Bent Agency

Patricia Nelson, Literary Agent, Marsal Lyon Literary Agency

The Andrea Brown Literary Agency Staff

Kristin Nelson, President of Nelson Literary Agency

Quressa Robinson, Nelson Literary Agency

Danielle Burby, Nelson Literary Agency

Joanna MacKenzie, Nelson Literary Agency

Tricia Lawrence, Erin Murphy Literary Agency

Ammi-Joan Paquette, Erin Murphy Literary Agency

Marietta B. Zacker, Co-owner and Agent, Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency

Gemma Cooper, The Bent Agency

Christy Fletcher, Fletcher & Company

Jim McCarthy, Vice-President, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret

Victoria Marini, Irene Goodman Literary Agency

Diana Fox, Fox Literary

Kate McKean, Vice-President & Literary Agent, Howard Morhaim Literary Agency

Lucienne Diver, The Knight Agency

Michael Bourret, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret

Peter Knapp, Park & Fine

Juliet Mushens, Director, Mushens Entertainment

Patrice Caldwell, President of People of Color in Publishing, agent Howard Morhaim Literary Agency

DongWon Song, Literary Agent, Howard Morhaim Literary Agency

Barbara Poelle, VP Irene Goodman Agency

Beth Phelan, Founder of #DVPIT and Literary Agent at Gallt & Zacker

Linda Camacho, Agent, Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency

Tara Gonzalez, Erin Murphy Literary Agency

Erin Murphy, Erin Murphy Literary Agency

Miranda Paul, Associate Agent, Erin Murphy Literary Agency

Steven Chudney, The Chudney Agency

Tracey Adams, Adams Literary

Josh Adams, Adams Literary

Jessica Faust, President, BookEnds Literary

Jessica Alvarez, Bookends Literary

Laurel Symonds, Agent, The Bent Agency

Natalie M. Lakosil, Bradford Literary Agency

James McGowan, BookEnds Literary

Rachel Brooks, BookEnds Literary

Moe Ferrara, BookEnds Literary

Emily Forney, BookEnds Literary

Amanda Jain, Bookends Literary

Tracy Marchini, Literary Agent, BookEnds

Naomi Davis, BookEnds Literary Agency

Kate Testerman, President of KT Literary, LLC

Sara Megibow, Senior Agent at KT Literary, LLC.

Hannah Fergesen, Agent at KT Literary, LLC.

Hilary Harwell, Agent at KT Literary, LLC.

Renee Nyen, Agent at KT Literary, LLC.

Kelly Van Sant, Agent and Contracts Manager at KT Literary, LLC.

Chelsea Hensley, Associate Agent at KT Literary, LLC

Aida Z. Lilly, Associate Agent at KT Literary, LLC.

Jas Perry, Associate Agent at KT Literary, LLC.

Kate Linnea Welsh, Royalties Data Manager at KT Literary, LLC.

Rosemary Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio

Peter Ryan, Stimola Literary Studio

Nick Croce, Stimola Literary Studio

Erica Rand Silverman, Stimola Literary Studio

Allison Remcheck, Stimola Literary Studio

Alli Hellegers, Stimola Literary Studio

Adriana Stimola, Stimola Literary Studio

Claire Draper, agent, The Bent Agency

Elizabeth Bewley, Sterling Lord Literistic

Ayesha Pande, Ayesha Pande Literary

Anjali Singh, Ayesha Pande Literary

Laura Bradford, Bradford Literary Agency

Kari Sutherland, Literary Agent, Bradford Literary

Whitney Ross, Irene Goodman Literary Agency

Eddie Schneider, Vice President, JABberwocky Literary Agency

Kim Lindman, Stonesong

Pam Gruber, Irene Goodman Literary Agency

Amy Stapp, Wolfson Literary Agency

Michelle Wolfson, Wolfson Literary Agency

Brent Taylor, Triada US

Regina Brooks, President, Serendipity Literary Agency

Savannah Brooks, The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

Yfat Reiss Gendell, Foundry Literary + Media

Chip MacGregor, MacGregor & Luedeke

Penny Moore, Aevitas Creative Management

Roseanne Wells, The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

Jennifer De Chiara, The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

The Pippin Properties Team

Erin Clyburn, The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

The Book Group

Folio Literary Management

Sarah Landis, Sterling Lord Literistic

Zabe Ellor, The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency

Janna Morishima, JANNA Co.

Mandy Hubbard, Emerald City Literary

Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency

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