Twitter blew up this week, just as it does every week, really. Specifically, book Twitter blew up a bit as a rather prominent debut author, Tomi Adeyemi, made a completely baseless claim regarding the titles of both her book and a book written by Nora Roberts. The claim and offending tweet can be found here. Now, before you go ahead and start commenting, if you’ve not heard about this yet, I’d like to take a moment to discuss it.
As a very brief introduction to the issue, the statement made insinuated that Roberts used an incredibly similar title to Adeyemi’s debut novel in an attempt to gain attention for her own book and resultingly make a profit from it. And Roberts responded accordingly in a very thoughtful way that, unfortunately, Adeyemi didn’t even consider giving her prior. If Adeyemi had simply done her research and had the forethought to be respectful, this never would have happened.
Now, getting into the intricacies of why this is ridiculous isn’t really that hard. For one, anyone who has ever spent a decent amount of time looking at books or even anyone who has merely put a book title into a search on Goodreads knows that there are often a massive plethora of books published with the very same or similar titles. This is a fact. Titles are often quite similar to others. The possibility that you will have a title that is wholly unique is pretty unlikely.
Secondly, book titles are determined far in advance, therefore a book that was published only a short time after yours could not have possibly a) anticipated the amount of attention your book would get and b) gone through the entire laborious process of changing their book title. Not only would that massively impact the advertising, the ARCs, cover costs and creation, and the release date of the book, but it is so ludicrous that it doesn’t even make sense. Not to mention the fact that a publisher would have to approve such a decision.
At the end of the day, what Adeyemi did was to post a knee-jerk, emotional reaction to something she clearly did not understand and incite a mess full of accusations and hurt. And I understand being angry with her. I understand losing respect for her. I lost a lot. And she definitely owes Roberts a much better apology than the one she gave. She also needs to tell her fans that attacking other authors, especially Roberts who has done nothing wrong, is not okay.
For all of us, those of you attacking Roberts for this ridiculously false accusation need to stop. Those of you who are boycotting Adeyemi’s books, I respect your decision but I would also like to say that Tomi is a young author. She hasn’t been doing this for long and she likely doesn’t know the full ins and outs of publishing. I imagine, very much so, that she was simply having a very strong emotional reaction and it’s no secret that those can occasionally ignore facts.
Emotions speak more to how we feel in the moment than to researched logic. And so, I hope she learns from this mistake. I hope she gives Roberts a proper apology. And I will still read Children of Blood and Bone as I intended to do because I recognize that sometimes people make mistakes. Perhaps Adeyemi will one day regain the respect that she lost from me, but that currently is yet to be seen.