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 

Posted August 21, 2013 at 8:37am ETC by Christian Walters
in Books, Mormon, Utah