Writings: Acacia Moon Publishing Shift

Ana's Note: A slightly different version of this went out to authors on the AMP catalog roll today. 

Shorter Version

Due to health, legal, and ideological reasons, the goals of Acacia Moon Publishing as a business entity have shifted.

The current offer to publish authors other than Ana Mardoll, founding member, must be rescinded, to be possibly reinstated at a later date on a case-by-case basis. Existing authors are welcome to leave their works on the AMP catalog rolls, or can be marked as “unavailable” in the Bowker catalog to signal that the title has officially moved to a new property. The AMP website will be markedly changed over the coming days to reflect this.

I want to offer my sincere apologies for the change of direction for AMP. This decision has been informed by drastic medical issues both for myself and my extended family, as well as some recent actions that have clarified my philosophy on publishing.

~ Ana Mardoll

Longer Version
Content Note: Rape, Racism, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Surgery/Disability

When I started Acacia Moon Publishing, my initial thought was to publish anything/everything submitted with no internal content checks, no screening, and no censorship. The idea was a “self-publishing” venture where authors published anything they desired, and we just supplied the ISBN and nothing else.

In the past month, I have been approached by an author wishing to publish his book with us. Everything sounded good, and the author was articulate and polite. I would have handed over an ISBN without thinking twice, except that there was a racial slur in the title of the book. That made me uncomfortable and I chose to turn down the author for inclusion in the AMP catalog, which is not something I initially expected or intended to do. Ultimately, I did not feel comfortable willingly hosting racial slurs on the AMP website, even within the title catalog.

As of this morning, I have had to lock a thread on the AMP forums because another contributor – whose work we have not published, but who I had assumed we would at some future point publish – engaged in behavior that I consider to be “rape apologia” and this left me in a triggered-and-shaky PTSD episodic state. This is my own issue as a rape survivor and no one else’s, but it’s something that I have to deal with nonetheless.

I do not wish to discuss whether or not these specific incidents are problematic, because ultimately it doesn’t matter to this email. This is background, not justification. Also as of this month, I have received a troubling email from my lawyer and another from my doctor, which I will come to in a moment.

Ultimately, I have come to the realization that I personally cannot publish anything-and-everything that comes to me – not because it’s morally wrong or anything philosophical like that, but because I simply, personally, cannot do it. It was foolish of me to not see that in the beginning, and I apologize for taking so long to come to that realization.

Further, I do not have the ability or the inclination to proofread everything that comes our way to satisfy my personal content needs, even if authors were willing to submit to a detailed screening process. My recent surgery has left me more disabled than I had expected going in, and my doctors – whom I am now visiting on a literally weekly basis – are increasingly uncertain if I will recover to the level that they had once expected. I’m not healing as expected, and I’ve been medically advised to cut back on a lot of activities, including publishing. Additionally, I’m looking at seriously cut hours at work, which means seriously cut income, which means that buying ISBNs and editing and covers and so forth is going to be increasingly difficult anyway.

Here are the facts:

  • Self: I am rapidly heading towards a diagnosis of a degenerative illness, and I have increasingly less time to work on projects. In a choice between being a writer and a publisher, I know that the former is something that I can do and the latter is something I cannot.
  • Business: I own and cannot-extricate-myself-from the Acacia Moon Publishing name; the business is registered in my name, by my lawyer, on my taxes, and Bowker has my credit card number for all the ISBNs purchased and used thus far. I cannot remove myself from AMP, so I cannot simply hand over the company to someone more capable.
  • Legal: The legal status of AMP has suffered a serious knock, as my lawyer has informed me this month that our trademark application has been denied. My lawyer is filing an appeal, but the court has apparently determined that there are too many companies with the word “Acacia” in the name and logo already. It is unclear how this will affect the company as a whole if our appeal is denied. I do not have the energy to rebrand everything if the appeal is unsuccessful.
  • Libraries: Smashwords has announced today that they are interfacing with libraries to sell indie novels to them directly, which undercuts one of the main reasons for AMP as a group franchise. (I.e., to work our way around the “X titles to ride the ride” gates put up by Overdrive.)

These are the only potential possibilities that I see as viable, given these facts:

1. The original concept of AMP (either “publish everything, no censorship” or “publish most things after community vetting”, either way) can be spun off under another name(s) and under the guidance of someone who has more energy to assume command. A new site could be founded, the forums could move there, and the anthology efforts could continue there as well. I could still gladly contribute story material to the anthologies as my life allows, but I would not be in a leadership role. People with titles currently under AMP could move to this new group, as they so chose. I would genuinely love to see this happen, however it would require someone willing to step up and manage this. Since I cannot, and since I cannot volunteer someone else for this position, I have no control over whether this happens or not.

2. The existing AMP name and business, while it lasts and assuming that our trademark appeal is not denied, will remain under my name. I will use it to publish my own books for as long as the name and business are viable, at which point I . . . suppose that I won’t. I can’t see that far for the moment, to be honest.

I will be scrubbing the Acacia Moon Publishing site over the next few days to reflect these changes. I cannot apologize strongly enough to everyone who contributed to AMP as a group and who shared this vision. I am terribly sorry that I have been forced to withdraw in this manner, and I hope that I can have your forgiveness.

Ana Mardoll


Marie Brennan said...

I haven't been involved with AMP at all, but on the more general side of things: I am so, so sorry about your medical situation, and the ripple effects it's having on your life.

chris the cynic said...

I cannot apologize strongly enough to everyone who contributed to AMP as a group and who shared this vision. I am terribly sorry that I have been forced to withdraw in this manner, and I hope that I can have your forgiveness.

Not sure how much I contributed, but I did share the vision and in that capacity let me say: You're forgiven. Without reservation, you're forgiven. And I hope that the various medical problems somehow turn out better than expected.

Ana Mardoll said...

Thank you. I foresee being fine in my usual manner, but we are very worried about the other members of the family, so these well wishes are appreciated.

Really, we've had a bad year for medical stuff. It's weird. o.O

Jenna Moran said...

It feels arrogant and weird to offer forgiveness, but it also feels like it would be helpful to say it. So, as one random person vaguely involved:

Absolutely forgiven! This is all totally reasonable. I wish I had the spare spoons to help with the loose ends.

Aidan Bird said...

*offers hugs*

You need to do what's best for you. All you said here is completely reasonable, and no need to worry. I wish I could help you out somehow with this, but don't really know how right now. I hope things improve and that you're able to keep the name intact. You're most certainly forgiven, and thank you for all your wonderful encouragement and inspiration. You've inspired me for certain.

Ana Mardoll said...

Thank you, Jenna and Aidan. :)

graylor said...

Ealier today I was ambling about the internets, as one does on a Saturday afternoon, catching up on Captain Awkward, specifically letters 322 and 323. Which were both about creepy mccreepersons using rape culture to their advantage. Then, as a break, I decided to check your forums and noticed your love spell story (which I really liked, btw) and clicked on it so I could get the link to send to a friend.

Then I read the comments and had a 'dude, what did I just read?' moment. Um, yeah, stds and unplanned pregnancies can be bad things, but... er... those things aren't what makes rape wrong. Why does that even have to be stated?

And then I looked back at my open Captain Awkward tab.

Then I finished knitting a dishcloth. At least that doesn't feel like bailing water with a sieve.

I'm so sorry you had to deal with that bit of rape culture, exhibit A. Best wishes and may your spoons multiply.

Ana Mardoll said...


Oh ye gods, yes! The two are completely related. Because ... there's just no other way ... I mean ... buh.

To come out swinging with "oh, but if she's heterosexual and if there's no STDs and if she can't get pregnant and IF HE LOVES HER" in a thread about Rape Is Bad, mmkay, that just ... blind-sided me. Like, I thought I was done being triggered over rape threads. Rape in movies, rape in books, rape on television. Whatever. Bring it on. And then someone I sort-of know on the internet, someone who has actually author interviewed here, someone who is a REAL PERSON IN REAL LIFE SOMEWHERE hits me with the galling idea that "if !(STDs) && !(Pregnant) && male(Love) then !(rape)" and I'm all BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH RAEG. Because, seriously? You want to fucking defend this? THIS is where you cross the line and say you're going to make a stand? HOW DO YOU NOT SEE???????????


Thank you. Honestly, this was really just the straw that made me say, "Ana, even if your health was perfect, you can't keep up with this", so it was less a bolt from the blue and more a ... moment of perspective. But thank you.

On the plus side, I got a good ranty post out of it. WHEREIN I SAY OBVIOUS THINGS THAT APPARENTLY NEED SAYING. And that Captain Awkward thread is now a Recommends in a few weeks because ... wow. Great thread, terrifying that it needed to be said.

But, you know, depending on how you define "rape", I've been raped three times by two different men. And I've never been raped by a man I didn't trust. And they had lots and lots of guy friends, most of whom I'm sure wouldn't have listened to me or cared even if they had. Rape Culture SUCKS.

graylor said...

TW: rape

That is horrible, Ana, I'm so sorry. Jedi hugs?

The whole cultural narrative about rape is fucked. Let's all talk about the stranger in the bushes, not the the significant others or the casual acquaintances. Let's not talk about how we can misjudge people and how some people seriously enjoy betraying others and are good at gaining their trust. Let's not talk about how female consent is framed as something a man drags out of her and how maybe that's a really damaging framing for everyone. That would be scary: we'd have to face that it might happen to us as opposed to those others who are just ___.

Predators don't want to work any harder than they have to. Most predators don't have the time, inclination, or nerve to hang out in the bushes and attack people: there are a lot of variables in that scenario that the attacker can't control. While building trust is slower, that kind of crime offers a lot more control of the environment and victim--and, hell, they've got a good chance of not being reported at all or getting off if they are, unlike mr. lurksinbushes who is likely to be reported even if he's not caught and prosecuted. But no one in the mainstream seems willing to talk about that because it opens up all kinds of trouble. If x out of y men are rapists, then could my __ be a rapist? And how safe is my Derringer going to keep me if it's my __ who attacks me rather than a stranger? Could I really shoot my ___? It impacts all of these narratives that run through this culture.

I don't know. I do know that there's a lot of things from discussions over here that are turning up in the ...thing... I'm writing now. So maybe with time little ripples will bring about some change.

Ana Mardoll said...

Yes, so much this.

Actually, the "keep a gun!" mentality that I run into from men around here (this is Texas. People talk about their guns at work. A LOT.) pisses me off so much. Because, as you say, if I'm raped again, it will almost certainly be, again, by a man I trusted enough to let into my home. And once I know his name, if I shoot him? The courts will NOT back me up. Because we don't take rape seriously. (Melissa McEwan's posts on this have been so awesome, btw.)

Tying the Creeper Letters back to Love Potion Apologist Guy, I wonder sometimes at the mentality of Mansplainers who have taken on board that rape is about power, but have completely failed to understand what that MEANS. It doesn't mean that Rape == Leaping Out Of Bushes Because Power. It's so much more complicated than that.

You know what? Off to write a post.

chris the cynic said...

There seems to be a thing were people don't care about consent or autonomy that often comes up in terms of fictional things (mind control, love potions, etc.) and things that are not remembered.

It reminds of me of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the books I think, when the discussion of removing Arthur's brain is brought up. Everyone else thinks it's fine because they'd replace it with another (an artificial one) and all would be fine because no one would notice, Arthur insists, "I'd notice!"

And someone responds, "No, you'd be programmed not to," as if that solves everything.

Moral of the story from those people's side is that if the violation leaves you unaware, or not caring, that you were violated then it is fine. Moral of the story from Arthur's perspective, "I have to get out of here because these people are monsters."

If it were restricted to just things that can't happen in real life it might be just some strange quirk of human behavior that we could dispassionately examine. But given that it does show up in real life, in the most sickening possible ways (a violation isn't a violation if you were unconscious and don't remember it, according to some court case), it's downright evil.

Korou said...

I'll say the same as Marie Brennan. And add, since this is the first time I'm commenting, thank you very much for the wonderful reviews you write, which have helped me to see things in a new light.

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