I’m a good girl. I’ve even heard myself described as a sweet southern girl. I don’t swear (in public), I don’t have a tattoo (not that there’s anything wrong with that), and I follow the rules (usually). I have never been red-flagged for anything (as far as I know). This is not to say my life is boring, as you can read in my book. I spent the last year or so writing Scarf Maven Ties One On. I decided to do a selfie (publish the book on my own), since I figured my main source of interest would be eBay, the site of my vintage scarf store. Also, working with a publisher directly, I assumed I would have full control of the entire process. But within just a few hours in the business of publishing the darn thing, I was “red-flagged,” which I learned is somewhat akin to wearing a scarlet letter. I had to be watched closer and scrutinized more closely due to my descended status.
When we signed with a publisher, I was relieved the decision had been made and the deed done. That very day, we got a phone call from Rachel, our Check-In Coordinator, who said the next step was to email both my manuscript and the front cover artwork to her. Their team of graphic artists would design the back cover. She was very thorough and followed up every conversation with a confirmation email. Rachel told me that after receiving my manuscript, she would get back to me within 3 – 5 business days for my approval on the back cover. But it was all settled quickly, the next day. We were moving along quickly.
Apparently I had no more decisions to make until I got a proof – final copy – of the manuscript which Rachel said would be in 5 – 15 business days. I was excited but also felt a great feeling of relief wash over me. My manuscript was finished and I had a week or two to decompress from the rush and stress. But the next day, Rachel called to tell me my project was “red-flagged” because of the word “eBay” in the title. The legal department would have to read and approve the entire manuscript. I got a note from Rachel later that day, referencing my eBay messages from customers, saying I needed to contact all of the customers and have them give permission to use their messages in the book. I said that was nuts! I also pointed out that I changed all my customers’ eBay names. “Well, you’ve been red-flagged,” she said, “so I have to ask you to put that in writing.”
A few hours later, I got another call from Rachel: the legal department wanted to know where I got the six recipes used in the book. All were either family recipes, passed down and doctored up, or I had made them up myself. I had to put that in writing. Oh, and by the way, Rachel also told me, almost as an afterthought, “You also have to get a letter of permission from eBay to use their name in your title.”
I had a minor hissy fit right there on the phone. I knew dealing with eBay would be long and drawn-out – probably an impossible task. Further, at a publishing consultation with a lawyer I had previously, I was advised as long as my book didn’t have anything derogatory to say about eBay, I should be at low risk for problems. Rachel said this wouldn’t sway the publisher’s legal team at all. I immediately told her we could shorten the title from eBay and Me: Scarf Maven Ties One On to simply Scarf Maven Ties One On.
Whew! Everything seemed settled and I thought I could have my stress-free week. But the next morning, I awoke to an email from Rachel telling me the legal department decided I could not have any references to eBay in the entire book. I guess after our last phone conversation, Rachel decided she’d best email me with this latest news. I wrote back to say I needed a few days to decide what to do, and I was even considering trashing the entire project.
When I calmed down (some chocolate-peanut butter hearts helped), I decided to rename eBay with the fictitious name VintageCartel.shop or V-Cart for short. Rachel’s legal department asked me to explain in writing how I came up with this name. Finally, everything was approved. We would soon have a book, though my status as a person “red-flagged” would remain. Always.