Books | Mormon | Utah

Utah Publisher Cancels Novel Because Author is Gay

David Powers King and Michael Jensen collaborated to co-author a young adult book titled Woven, and sought out Cedar Fort Publishing & Media to publish their book. Preliminary reviews were good and Cedar Fort expected it to be a major seller once it was released on October 13th. On August 2nd, Mr. Jensen received a proof for Woven's final cover and noticed that his bio was incomplete. Specifically, the line "He lives in Salt Lake City with his boyfriend and their four dogs,” had been removed.

CedarfortWhen Jensen reached out to Cedar Fort, the situation devolved rapidly. He was explicitly told that any mention of his boyfriend, even with the gender-neutral "partner," was forbidden as Fort Cedar did not want to damage their relationship with LDS-church–affiliated Deseret Book and Seagull.

Jensen was told he could call the owner of Cedar Fort, Lyle Mortimer, and take it up with him. During the phone conversation, Mortimer allegedly began throwing accusations of Jensen trying to destroy families with his 'agenda' and told him that God gave him a penis for a reason, eventually threatening to publish the book without either author's name or bio and that they would have to buy the rights back if they didn't want that to happen.

Cedar Fort has now canceled the publication of Woven and returned the rights to Jensen and King, who are presently trying to find another way to publish their book.

A transcript of the email conversation between Angie Workman, Michael Jensen, and Lyle Mortimer can be read AFTER THE JUMP...

[h/t Nicholas Rupp]

From: aworkman@cedarfort.com
Subject: Fwd: Full Cover For Woven
Date: Thu, 1 Aug 2013 17:34:59 -0600
To: xxxxx@gmail.com; xxxxxx@hotmail.com

Here's the full cover. The designer thought it would look better if the map were colored to match the cover. Let me know what you think. 

We'll be leaving in the BW map because the colored map will have a crease in it from it carrying over onto both pages.

Thanks!

 

On Aug 2, 2013 at 8:54 AM, Michael Jensen wrote: 

Wow, Angie! It looks fantastic! Thank you so much for all your hard work on our behalf. The only problem I see is that is not my current bio--I sent Melissa an updated one on Monday. Can we please get that updated? Otherwise, I think everything is perfect!

-Michael

 

From: aworkman@cedarfort.com
Subject: Re: Full Cover for Woven
Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2013 09:08:37 -0600
To: xxxxx@hotmail.com

I was concerned about your bio and wondered what effect it would have with our LDS buyers, so I spoke with Lyle about it. He says we can't risk ruining our relationship with them by stating you live with your boyfriend, so we need to cut that part out. We will have much better sales if we can get into Deseret Book and Seagull, so that's what we need to focus on. I hope you can understand our objective with this.

Thanks! 

 

On Aug 2, 2013, at 9:20 AM, Michael Jensen wrote:

Okay we can change boyfriend to partner since that was there in the original bio.

MICHAEL R. JENSEN spent ten years developing the concept behind Woven before he met David Powers King—who expanded on Michael’s vision and made it a reality. A graduate of Brigham Young University’s prestigious music, dance, and theater program, Michael taught voice at BYU before establishing his own vocal instruction studio. In addition to being an imaginative storyteller, Michael is an accomplished composer and vocalist. He lives in Salt Lake City with his partner and their four dogs.

Michael 

 

From: aworkman@cedarfort.com
Subject: Re: Full Cover for Woven
Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2013 09:25:05 -0600
To: xxxxx@hotmail.com

I noticed that when you first sent in your bio and asked them to delete that. It must've slipped through somehow. We'll need to take that out as well. Sorry. 

 

On Aug 2, 2013, at 9:26 AM, Michael Jensen wrote:

You do not have permission to remove that. I'm sorry but you do not get to make those changes.

Michael 

 

From: aworkman@cedarfort.com
Subject: Re: Full Cover for Woven
Date: Fri, 2 Aug 2013 09:28:23 -0600
To: xxxxx@hotmail.com

Lyle said you can call him if you have a problem with this. 

 

On Aug 2, 2013, at 2:43 PM, Michael Jensen wrote:

Lyle and Angie,

The only biographical information ("bio") I authorize for publication is below---in its entirety.

MICHAEL R. JENSEN spent ten years developing the concept
behind Woven before he met David Powers King—who expanded on Michael’s vision and made it a reality. A graduate of Brigham Young University’s prestigious music, dance, and theater program, Michael taught voice at BYU before establishing his own vocal instruction studio. In addition to being an imaginative storyteller, Michael is an accomplished composer and vocalist. He lives in Salt Lake City with his partner and their four dogs.

I do not authorize any alterations to this bio; nor do I authorize the bio's deletion from the work.

Further, per the publishing agreement ("agreement") entered into on January 15, 2013, I request that my name be properly attributed on the work's cover as one of two equal authors. I also request that my name be included equally with my coauthor in any publicity and collateral materials associated with the work.

Removing my authorship from the work, or from promotions associated with the work, is in violation of section 8 of the agreement, as it would be injurious and detrimental to my ownership or rights in the work.

Michael Jensen

 

On 8/2/2013 4:32 PM, Lyle Mortimer wrote:

Sorry to hear this Michael.

If you would like to buy us out, you have until 8:00 a.m., Monday morning, August 5, to do so at the figure I stated verbally. Otherwise, we are going ahead without bios. 

 

From: Michael Jensen <xxxxx@hotmail.com>
Date: Fri, Aug 2, 2013 at 8:45 PM
Subject: Re: Full Cover for Woven
To: Lyle Mortimer <skybook@cedarfort.com>
Cc: Bryce Mortimer <bryce@cedarfort.com>, Angie Workman <aworkman@cedarfort.com>, Katreina Eden <kat@cedarfort.com>, "David P. King" <xxxxx@gmail.com>

Lyle et al.,

David and I are unable to seriously consider financial or business options that hinge on a vague reference to a "figure [you] stated verbally."

Further, your wholly inappropriate reference to my genitalia during the conversation this morning (amongst a number of additional inappropriate, unethical, inflammatory, and offensive comments) is disturbing, to say the least, and I am grateful for the "call record" function of my iPhone, should you choose to speak to me in that way again in the future.

Printing the work without the author biographies (which were included as interior book page 375 in the "author proof" of the manuscript sent to us by Melissa Caldwell on July 11) would be a substantive change undertaken without the approval of the copyright holders. If you would like to request a change to the manuscript under section 6 of our publishing agreement, please submit the requested change in writing and we will respond to the change request within the 15 days outlined in the agreement. Otherwise, we expect our author-approved bios will be included in the publication of Woven, as our documented exchanges with Cedar Fort staff have indicated all along. My bio has made reference to my partner throughout my interaction with Cedar Fort---including in the above-referenced proof from Melissa, and in the cover draft Angie Workman sent for approval just yesterday---and, frankly, someone at Cedar Fort should have mentioned this as a problem for you long before today.

Regardless, perhaps this situation will become a win-win for us both, as the media attention generated by your refusal to publish a biographical sentence comparable to my coauthor's is sure to bring attention to our work, as well---particularly since it will be obvious that the inequality comes from Cedar Fort, and not Deseret Book and other LDS-based book stores that already carry a number of works by gay authors.

In that vein, I would imagine that major national retailers, like Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com, might hesitate to continue dealing with a publisher whose practices are so egregiously incongruous with their own adopted corporate philosophies on the subject of gay equality (I'm sure you're aware that last year Jeff Bezos personally donated $2.5 million dollars in support of same-sex marriage in Washington state).

I am very sorry that one sentence (really, one word) has caused such a disagreement between us. I hope that Woven is successful on its merits as a quality, imaginative YA work, and not just because it is known for Cedar Fort's unfortunate and discriminatory choice. If you didn't want to print the innocuous bio of an author who happens to have a same-sex partner, you shouldn't have signed an author who happens to have a same-sex partner.

Michael 

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Comments

  1. Oh, my. Author Michael Jensen was given a penis by God in order to inseminate women only. Having a boyfriend is forbidden. I'm shocked.....shocked, I tell you, that a publisher affiliated with the Mormon Church would hold such a position. NOT!!!

    At least Jensen and his co-author got back the rights to their book from this homophobic publisher. Good luck, guys, finding a new way to get your book (which apparently has NOTHING whatsoever to do with homosexuality) published.

    Posted by: HadenoughBS | Aug 21, 2013 8:45:53 AM


  2. nothing much from utah surprises me. when the headline reads "new york musical closed down, gay singers and dancers suspected", then i'll be shocked.

    my best to the author on finding a replacement publisher, and a diligent attorney.

    Posted by: northalabama | Aug 21, 2013 9:22:42 AM


  3. God gave me a penis to stick other men with.

    Now that this is out, everyone will know that the author is gay. The shot themselves in the foot. Typical manufactured Christianist
    outrage.

    Posted by: Gigi | Aug 21, 2013 9:23:19 AM


  4. The publisher sounds ludicrous-- though he might have a copy editor who knows the proper use of "devolve." Look it up!

    Posted by: Wil | Aug 21, 2013 9:25:17 AM


  5. Lyle has a Hotmail address. Nuf said.

    Posted by: Gigi | Aug 21, 2013 9:27:42 AM


  6. Beware of books! They are dangerous things.

    Posted by: Jack M | Aug 21, 2013 9:37:57 AM


  7. how evil these people are.

    Posted by: tbd | Aug 21, 2013 9:43:46 AM


  8. More proof that religion is evil.

    Posted by: Gregory In Seattle | Aug 21, 2013 9:48:09 AM


  9. Mormons are evil, sub-human scum. Nothing but an anti-human cult.

    Posted by: Steve | Aug 21, 2013 10:15:44 AM


  10. Unless an anti-gay clause was specified in the contract (and an IP lawyer should never allow a clause like that), the publisher cannot frivolously remove a line from the author bio because it "might" damage their relationship with another company. It amounts to a breach of contract on the part of the publisher and they had no choice in the matter except to return the rights to the authors and cancel the contract. Hopefully, they also forfeited any advance made to the authors as well.

    Fortunately, the authors have plenty of good alternatives to a traditional publishing house...and, in most cases, better alternatives.

    Posted by: AggieCowboy | Aug 21, 2013 10:22:43 AM


  11. https://www.facebook.com/lyle.mortimer

    Posted by: MARCUS BACHMANN | Aug 21, 2013 10:36:19 AM


  12. I posted a link to your article on their Facebook page. It lasted about 2 minutes. You guys could keep them busy.

    Posted by: Akrontru | Aug 21, 2013 10:52:22 AM


  13. You do business with religious wackos, you're gonna get screwed one way or another. What a surprise.

    Posted by: Onnyjay | Aug 21, 2013 11:01:34 AM


  14. The publisher just guaranteed a best seller and they gave up rights to it. The author will find another publisher. And the sad LDS publisher will sleep peacefully tonight, unaware of his bigotry.

    Posted by: Bill | Aug 21, 2013 11:02:50 AM


  15. If the book is for YA and has some sci-fi/ fantasy elements, they should reach out to Tu Publishing (An imprint of Lee & Low Books.) They specialize in YA fiction that has diverse and multi-ethnic characters. I have a friend that works there and they're always looking for good manuscripts!

    Posted by: Eric | Aug 21, 2013 12:27:30 PM


  16. Yahweh gave man a penis so that he could later take just the tip of it back, in exchange for an eternal covenant. Silly! Its in the bible, so it must be true!!!

    Posted by: andrew | Aug 21, 2013 12:33:57 PM


  17. "and told him that God gave him a penis for a reason,"

    OH
    MY
    FRIKKIN
    GAWD

    Posted by: DeeVee | Aug 21, 2013 12:59:26 PM


  18. I posted a link to your article on their Facebook page. It has lasted for about an hour and is still up! We can keep them busy.

    Posted by: dctopman | Aug 21, 2013 1:03:02 PM


  19. Why would the authors want the publisher to profit from their book anyway with that attitude? The best revenge will be success.

    Posted by: calpoidog | Aug 21, 2013 4:32:20 PM


  20. Amazing that this stuff is still going on!

    Posted by: jarago | Aug 21, 2013 5:39:18 PM


  21. http://www.kutv.com/news/top-stories/stories/vid_6427.shtml

    I'd do him.

    Posted by: Nate | Aug 21, 2013 7:32:22 PM


  22. BRAVO! That was an incredible takedown!
    Gays - 1, Bigots - 0

    Posted by: Marc | Aug 22, 2013 3:54:46 AM


  23. This 8-time published novelist is quite aware that there are plenty of publishers out there. In fact, one doesn't even **need** a publisher today.

    Posted by: Mark | Aug 22, 2013 7:13:14 AM


  24. Shame on you, Steve for your own hateful, bigoted comment:

    "Mormons are evil, sub-human scum. Nothing but an anti-human cult."

    I'm gay and I'm Mormon. And your narrow mindedly pinched comment is offensive to me and a lot of supportive, good human beings who happen to be Mormon. What did we have to do with the equally offensive behavior of this particular individual? You, Steve, are as bigoted, hateful and discriminatory as Lyle Mortimer.

    Posted by: Charlie's | Aug 26, 2013 5:02:23 AM


  25. Based upon the publisher's comment, I suspect that he would not publish copies of the Mormon Bible; or have all of the sexy parts of the Bible been deleted?

    Posted by: Jerry6 | Aug 28, 2013 4:29:57 PM


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