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I was talking with my friends Steven King, Jody Piccoult, and Stephanie Meyer…

June 15, 2012

Smart Bitches Trashy Books: Chick stuff, yes, but I like too.

Smart Bitches Trashy Books is part of my Facebook feed. Relax, I get to keep my man card; Sarah Wendell’s blog is mostly about romance, but sometimes does great work on general items. If it’s not part of your normal walk around the Internet, it should be, even if you like beer, Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, and The Three Stooges.

This week, Wendell almost single-handedly identified, exposed, and stopped a shady operation selling books by an author named Nora A. Roberts.

Not Nora Roberts, whose work is well-known among romance readers, and whose books written under the pseudonym JD Robb also attract lots of readers. Both names are actual pseudonyms for a woman named Eleanor Robertson, who lives in Silver Spring, Maryland and also writes as Jill March and Sarah Hardesty. Eleanor has worked very hard to build two brands and has found great success doing so.

She doesn’t, however, write under Nora A. Roberts, though you were able to find books under that name on, courtesy of a publisher called Southern Pied Media. In fact, Nora A. Roberts Spellbound Cafe was on the Barnes and Noble self-published best-sellers list.

The real Nora Roberts

At this point, Wendell’s blog post about the whole matter turns into recounting Internet history, as most references to Southern Pied and Nora A. have vanished. Southern Pied still has its website, a Blogger blog with no reference to Nora A. or any of their statements about the intellectual dishonesty that Sarah Wendell published and linked to.

Southern Pied Media’s rightful logo?

Essentially, it boils down to this: Southern Pied Media published works by a Nora A. Roberts. When people noticed that Nora A. wasn’t Nora, they complained and Southern Pied reacted, first changing the “pen name” from Nora A. Roberts to Lora Roberts. Second, they said they were just trying to draw people to their books via the description. As part of that same post, they said they thought “that readers would be intelligent enough to realize that Nora A Roberts is not the Nora Roberts…”

If you’re scoring at home, they can’t be held responsible for the fact that their readers are morons. It’s sort of like if I published under the pen name Stephanie Meyer instead of Stephenie Meyer. You’d have to be an idiot to buy my book looking for angst-ridden teenaged vampires, right?


Apparently, justice has prevailed in this case, at least partially. Southern Pied’s website is down to one blog post, saying how they think e-book prices are too high and that they “provide entertaining, engaging books at honest, affordable prices. (emphasis theirs).” Except there are no books.

In short, with all the uncharted territory in publishing these days, there’s plenty of room for unscrupulous operators to fleece people with dishonest work, then vanish. Short of paying attention and reacting, there’s little to be done about it. Nora A. Roberts is gone, but the people who paid for a book thinking they were getting Nora Roberts probably won’t get their money back. And Southern Pied may be history, but could show up next week as Chicago Pizza Media, selling books by Steven King and Jody Piccoult.

For its part, Media Bistro has said it’s cracking down on such nonsense: “Going forward, our self-published bestseller list will not include writers attempting to game the system by using the names of famous authors.” The Nora A. Roberts books are gone from Barnes and Nobles website, as well.


  1. June 15, 2012 6:47 am

    It’s not just “Let the buyer beware” on bookstore sites either. In the past month or two I’ve run into two new writers who have fallen into the clutches on unscroupulous “publishers” (read “vanity presses”) who promise editing, formatting, consultation, and, oh yes, 100 books, for only $3,000 up front. These companies wouldn’t even do corrections found in the proofs unless the writer paid an extra hourly fee ($65!). (I advised her not to pay since they were supposed to do this according to their contract). I in each case I’ve investigated the websites online and found no mention of what type of publisher they are … just that they have satisfied customers. They don’t even offer placement on Amazon or B&N websites and other .coms. In one case, when the 100 books arrived, they were full of mistakes, and had shoddy covers. In other words, un-sellable books!

    Unfortunately, neither of these two writers had joined a critique group that could have steered them clear of this kind of charletanism until after their troubles with these publishers began. Thank heavens for FWA. Never has “Writers helping writers” been more needed than these times.

    • Chris Hamilton permalink
      June 15, 2012 7:03 am

      There are some great websites out there to help with that kind of things–Preditors and Editors and Writer Beware come to mind.

      • June 15, 2012 9:46 am

        I know, but new writers don’t. That’s why joining FWA and attending local chapter critique groups is so important!!

      • Chris Hamilton permalink
        June 15, 2012 10:02 am

        Aside from screwing with the colors, I have added a bunch of links, including Preditors and Editors and Writer Beware.

  2. June 16, 2012 6:00 pm

    Just surprises me that people would fall for such scheme.
    Nora Roberts has a legion of followers and readers that know what she’s writing – right now – and the dates, up to the minute, of her books’ releases.
    Some prayers are said, regularly, so whe can return to some known series and give us more, and when a excerpt of a new book comes out is read in such an avid way that the A among Nora and Roberts wouldn’t go unnoticed.

    • Chris Hamilton permalink
      June 17, 2012 7:27 am

      Not everyone is an avid fan. Some people just like her work and figured they’d pick something up. Either way, it’s a crappy way to do business, and no surprise that their website lays fallow right now.

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