#CockyGate

Oh, Twitter. For those of you not following the roasting of a certain author on Twitter this past weekend, you missed a fun time.

And, also a scary one.

#CockyGate: A romance author sought and received a trademark on the individual word “cocky” in all forms using a stylized font, enforceable in the romance genre. Now, on the surface most people don’t see the issue with this and that’s cool.

What the author did next, however, isn’t. She proceeded to email cease and desist letters to multiple romance and erotica authors published through Amazon demanding they change their titles because it violates her trademark. If they refuse, these letters express that she could and would take them to court and seize all money they’ve made from their books.

Some of these titles were published months, sometimes years before she filed application. When people, mostly other authors, point this out to her, she began to target them, to the point of giving out their names to her fans.

Seeing the problem yet?

An indie author trademarked a single word and then threatened the author community at large for disagreeing with her.  This one woman did multiple things: alienated the author community and exposed something most of us didn’t know was a risk in the first place.

When #cockygate flitted across my Twitter stream, I was curious, but not enough to click the hashtag. Once I’d seen it multiple times, I figured something was up and off I went into the rabbit hole. #Cockygate exposed something. It showed us someone can trademark a word and enforce the trademark, but that’s not what I want to focus on.

It also showed us that the author community sticks together.

It showed that the authors of Twitter pay attention to each other.

It showed us that authors can be a major force online when we have a common enemy.

#Amwriting Twitter stepped up in a big way this weekend and I watched, fascinated as writers across the world joined together to promote targeted authors, to set up buy links. Designers offered to remake covers of affected books. Some sneaky ones posted new books to Amazon poking fun at the issue. It was amazing and inspiring to watch.

This author threatened people. She belittled them. She tried to play victim when things didn’t go her way. Romance authors on Twitter stepped up and I honestly wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it all myself.

Despite the situation, the outcome of #cockygate gives me hope. In this climate of disagreements and turmoil, authors stuck together. Authors helped each other for no other reason than that one of their own was being attacked.

That is amazing. That makes this career worth it all.

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