Monday 12 February 2024

Defending My Reputation - And That Of Moon Books

It's upsetting when people publically state defamatory untruths, but that's what's happened. I feel my reputation has been personally affected, as well as that of my publisher, which is the reason I'm writing this post.

I'm a Moon Books' author. Moon Books is an imprint of the publishing company CollectiveInk. Some people with a large online following posted several criticisms of Moon Books, which I'm going to address. The remarks that most upset me were the suggestion that CollectiveInk is a vanity publisher and that authors pay lots on money to have their books published with its imprints. This is untrue.

Moon Books is not a Vanity Publisher

I've never paid to have any of my books published. Full stop. Moon Books does not offer a vanity publishing service. Where the person making the criticism might have got confused is that CollectiveInk does offer two types of contract: most are on the traditional publishing model in that CI shoulders the financial risk of producing the book. All the contracts I have signed for my books are in that category.

If CI gets sent a manuscript the editors really like, but they feel the market is limited, they sometime offer a co-publishing contract and ask for a small subsidy towards production. According to the CI website, about 15% of its titles use these contracts, mainly for fiction. You can check that statement here:

This is still not the same as vanity publishing. I suspect the people making criticisms didn't understand the difference between the various publishing terms and models. I would also assure my readers that my own first novel, Erosion, has a traditional contract with Moon Books. I did not pay anything towards having it published.

Moon Books Will Never Replace Its Authors with AI Writers

Online critics then asked: "How long before Moon Books does away with authors and uses AI to write its books?" 

Moon Books editor Trevor Greenfield replied: "Never." I believe him. Moon Books just isn't like that. I've been working with Moon since the imprint began, over a decade ago. First I was employed as a freelance copy-editor. I then wrote entries for community books including Paganism 101. After that, I submitted a proposal for Candle Magic, in the Pagan Portals series. I was offered a traditional contract and it was published in 2016. It's now a best-seller. 

Since then I've written four more Pagan Portals titles: Poppets and Magical Dolls, Scrying, Guided Visualisations and Rounding the Wheel of the Year.  I also edited the community book Every Day Magic

You can find those titles via my Moon Books author page. As I mentioned earlier, my first fiction title is Erosion and you can also find that on my author page.

I am very much opposed to authors using AI to produce books and then claiming they wrote them rather than a bot doing the work. I will never do that.

Moon Books Does Not Crowdfund Anything

A further untruth was the suggestion that Moon Books crowdfunds its anthologies. Trevor said: "We never have. We never will."  I have both written for and edited anthology-style community books for Moon, and I can confirm the publisher paid all the production and printing costs. It did not seek any crowdfunding money.


A bizarre claim by the critics was that authors are told by the publisher, or even contracted, to endorse other authors's titles, even without reading them. Erm, no. I can assure you that's not true. What happens is that Moon Books authors will often ask fellow writers to read their manuscripts and, if they like them, to endorse them. We're a friendly bunch and regularly chat online and read each others' books. No one is forced to write endorsements though, and I can't imagine anyone writing an endorsement without having actually read the manuscript.

Sex, Lies and Videos

Apologies for paraphrasing an old movie title for that heading. It felt pertinent. The online critics made some comments about Moon's videos:

  • Moon Books uses AI to create the scripts for videos (false)
  • Moon Books uses a robo voice to narrate them (false)
  • Moon Books deliberately sexes up videos for men to watch (false)
  • Moon Books uses AI images in some of its videos (true)

The video scripts are written and narrated by a real person. I'm a bit baffled by the suggestion that the videos are sexed up for men to watch. 

However, apparently Moon Books has used AI to create a few images in some marketing videos. This is the only true criticism in the list. I wasn't aware of it. When I learnt Moon used AI in any way I asked them to stop, as did several other authors. This situation is currently being reviewed and authors can now refuse to have AI images used to market their books. I will be asking that AI images aren't used in any way to market mine. I do not use AI to create my books or create marketing material and I am opposed to the use of AI. 

I would add that I take the photos for the covers of my Pagan Portals books and the cover image for Erosion was painted by a real artist. I hope this post clarifies the situation. If anyone has any questions about it, please leave a comment and I will answer to the best of my knowledge.

The pictures show me signing copies of my books, cover images and the endorsements on the back of Rounding the Wheel of the Year.

Note: this post has been edited as it has been pointed out to me that the comments were made by more than one person in a thread.


Anonymous said...

You are a valid author, straight, no gimmicks! There are toxic people in the pagan publishing world motivated by jealousy and greed. Small people who think you have to knock the opposition to win. This belies their lack of ethos and talent. Keep going Lucya, you are doing it right!?

Jenny Luddington - All Heart Led said...

Jenny here, we interviewed a lot of Moon Books Authors on The Wheel Podcast and can testify that they're all 100% human, lovely and really knowledgeable about their subject areas. AI can't make and share an anecdote about scrying off a dog shaped bauble!

Moon Book Authors are a tight nit community, but also a very welcoming one. The first Moon Book author I reached out to was Rachel Patterson and she was very generous with her time and introducing us to her network of authors and publisher.

Ellen Evert Hopman said...

I have been an author with Moon Books since 2016 (My book "A Legacy of Druids" (foreword by Philip Carr Gomm) is with Moon Books. I certainly did not pay to have the book published. One of the best perks of being with MB is that the authors are a community. We share speaking opportunities, magazines that are looking for articles, ideas. I am glad to be there and I have also told them how I feel about AI - a loathsome process that rips off artists, writers, musicians and actors with no permission or compensation. And they listened!

Pitch313 said...

The titles that I have read from Moon Books--Pagan Portals--are all useful, interesting ones written by human authors. I didn't give much thought to contracts and such because backstage details may not tell a reader much about the front stage book.

But Moon Books never struck me as any sort of vanity press. Authors and publishers may make a variety of arrangements concerning publication, of course, including co-publishing ones.

It is the case that publishers are businesses, and so behave like businesses. (Worked in the book world. Got the carry bag.)

Tamara Sellman said...

I feel like small presses are getting a big hit because writers are finally seeing their value in light of publishing consolidation. I wouldn't be surprised if this is all because the big 3 or 5 or whatever are finding out that good writers are finding other places to publish their work because these other places serve their needs as authors far better.

Please send me your EROSION information via my contact page, if you would . I want to read your book and will happily promote it in my own author newsletter; Feb 20 is the next drop date.

Tamara Sellman, author (INTENTION TREMOR; MoonPath Press 2021 & CUL DE SAC STORIES; Aqueduct Press 2024)

Badwitch said...

Thanks to everyone who commented for your words of support. It means a lot to me.

Anonymous said...

I have bought several titles from a few different authors published by moon books, (including Lucy) and I generally do some background research on any author before I buy a book. Never thought any Moon writers were AI bots!

Jane M said...

Your well-earned reputation goes before you, Lucya. You have nothing to fear!