Although overwhelmed by the support, I was rather disheartened by the majority of the advice I received in response to my last post. The general consensus was that unless I had money to take it to court there was nothing I could do to force the image removal. I'd pretty much resigned myself to the fact but I figured I'd give it one last try.
In my initial research I unearthed a wealth of information about the other author involved, including postal addresses and social networking accounts. I had previously decided to stick to 'official' channels, but that was going nowhere. I dug up my list and began to go through it. I wasn't going to do anything untoward, just make use of the other methods to send the same message I had the first time and hope for a response. I started with Facebook and copied the exact wording I'd used in initial correspondence and sent it off.
Literally minutes later I received this reply:
I do not own or operate that site. I merely provide material. Nor do I select the graphics for any of it, the novels short stories or essays.Cordially,Name removed.
I'm not going to mince my words here. This pissed me off. The website in question is called 'By name removed', the address is the same. At the bottom of each and every page it states that the website is copyright to Name Removed and the entire site is full of his contributions and links to his social media and books. If a journalist is responsible for anything under their byline why would this be any different? If you had your name pasted across something wouldn't you be taking care to ensure things were above board? I had, earlier in the week, been offered the opportunity to 'name and shame' the author by a very popular blog. I didn't at the time, but this had be seriously considering it.
We went back and forth a few more times until he said he'd call the person in charge of the site. They've removed the image now, but it took a lot of resolve not to follow through and name him. Not once did he apologise for what had happened and his last words were:
"I do not like having my stuff used either but that sure hasn't stopped a ton of them doing it anyway, including the NY Times!"
I don't give a damn what has happened to him in the past. If anything, this makes it even less excusable. The morning after the images were removed, the artist got back to me. She had apparently not had internet access for some time. Although I'm annoyed she wasn't around, I want her to pursue this. Recent cases show she'd have a high chance of winning and if I have to pay to use it, so too should he.
Anyway. Let's move on, I need something to cheer me up.
Earlier this week, for some reason Amazon is unwilling to let me in on, they returned The Sphinx Project to draft status. Doesn't sound very cheerful yet, does it? It was actually a good thing. Until then I'd been too afraid to play with my prices in case I totally screwed them up and the book dropped into oblivion. Well, there's nothing to worry about now because it's already happened.
With this in mind, I decided I wanted to make The Sphinx Project free for a weekend to thank everyone who's been so amazing to me, but then I realised I couldn't do that. I refuse to join Amazon Select program because I object to their exclusivity clause. I want my book to be available to anyone who wants to read it no matter what ereader they use. Instead, I've decided to mark it down to 99 cents.
I know it's not quite the same but it's the lowest price Amazon will allow me to set without trying to muck around price-matching it to free. I've heard enough horror stories to know it's not worth the hassle. I could set it to free for good, but that would mean never releasing the sequel. My partner let me pay for book one out of our earnings on the condition that any additional books would be paid for out of book one's profits. Maybe one day I'll be able to give it away but for now it's not an option. I have to pay for an editor and cover art and soooo many other things to make sure the book is up to scratch.
So yeah, that's the good news. This weekend The Sphinx project will be available from Amazon and Smashwords (when you use the coupon code) for 99 cents. Make sure you spread the word and tell your friends. This is strictly for a limited time, as of midnight on Sunday I will be returning the price to normal.
Thanks for so much to all of the wonderful people who offered support and advice. I really, really appreciate it!