REPLY TO The Report from the Field about Eyewear

September 10, 2018

REPLY TO The Report from the Field about Eyewear

We were very saddened to read The Report from the Field about Eyewear as it contains a number of serious inaccuracies and false allegations which VIDA should address:

1. The report writes that certain poets “were reproached" - this is not true. Eyewear has never named or shamed any of its authors on social media. Eyewear did make a general tweet (which is screen captured and featured in the article) about our regret concerning poets going elsewhere but was careful not to name anyone. Even then the general tweet was deleted. Eyewear did issue an apology.

Please see the link

2. The report states "it was awful to see authors faulted. Even when they were not contractually obligated" - Like the majority of literary publishers, some Eyewear contracts do require a right of refusal for a second book or a requirement to hold off publishing another book for 12 months. This would be a matter between us and the author.

3. Swift "deleted evidence once they sparked attention and blowback". The Tweet was deleted because we regretted it. Unfortunately with screen captures it went viral in any case.

4. The report states that [Swift] "had been verbally abusive to many writers in the past" and is a "known bully". This is false and defamatory - yes we have a lot of robust conversations but we are not abusive at Eyewear. One accusatory post from a poet does not constitute evidence of ‘abusive ways’. The poetry community is wide and diverse and we try to promote our vision and do get into conflicts as a result. Debate and argument, especially regarding editorial decisions, are traditional modes of intellectual discourse, not abuse. Eyewear has frequently acquired manuscripts which were deemed too experimental and "not marketable" by other publishers; thus vigorous editorial dialogue may be required prior to publication.

5. The point is that Eyewear like many a small business in post-Brexit Britain is always ‘in peril’ and that puts a lot of stress and strain on the people working for it. This strain manifested itself on Twitter in July. We can’t take it back but we are trying to repair. The only thing we have is our reputation and ambition (we may be too ambitious, our output is overwhelming) which the report gives Eyewear little credit for.

6. The report claims that Swift "reached out to poets not from the UK" because they were less "likely to discover Swift's reputation" - this is a false statement. Todd is Canadian and started out in the slam scene across North America in the mid nineties. He has been known as a poet and editor for over 30 years in North America. In addition, Eyewear has acquired a number of American authors through their unsolicited submissions to our international prize competitions. We are proud that English-language authors from many countries, including the United States and South Asia, frequently submit to our competitions.

7. The report states that "I would likely have to pay for my own bound galleys" - we have never required this. Of course we expect our authors to promote their books. But we do market them. On average we send out (paying ourselves) 20-50 review and prize entry copies of each title we print.

All smaller literary presses expect their authors to actively promote their books. However, this is by no means a requirement for publishing with Eyewear. We have some authors who informed us of their limitations, such as inability to travel, and we work with them to develop other promotional approaches

8. Generally there are no contractual expiry dates, so this is false, when mentioned in the report as being in the writer's contract.

9. We did move publication of titles by several months to address money and resourcing issues, such as increasing paper costs. This is life as usual for many small presses. Again we are trying to manage. We regret some take it badly but we think the article is unfairly slanted given all the time and effort we spend on publishing and keeping above water to support many fine poets and writers.

Primarily the article fails to mention that Eyewear has issued an apology and has reorganised to try and reallocate the strain that comes with lack of time and money.

We have tried to move forward but the mud-slinging does not help us in our endeavours.

The power and reach of VIDA's online presence should ensure there is balanced commentary and we have asked that the above issues be addressed as soon as possible.

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