Utah Publisher Cancels ‘Woven’ Novel After Gay Author Includes ‘Boyfriend’ In Bio

Sweetwater Books, a division of Cedar Fort Publishing & Media, has refused to publish a gay author’s book after he listed his “boyfriend” in the bio section of the novel titled Woven.

The publisher was preparing to release Woven, a highly anticipated young adult fantasy novel but pulled out of the deal after realizing the author was into the male persuasion.

Authors David Powers King and Michael Jensen signed a publishing agreement with Sweetwater Books on January 15, 2013. The men then worked on the book series with the publisher for months, writing and editing as required. The final manuscript was set for press on August 1 but was abruptly cancelled.

According to Mr. King:

“Cedar Fort expected Woven to be very successful. They told me they thought it would be their best seller this year, and that the preliminary reviews were very, very good.”

On August 2, Michael Jensen received a proof of Woven’s final cover art and he noticed that his submitted bio was incomplete. Removed from his bio was the following sentenced: “He lives in Salt Lake City with his boyfriend and their four dogs.”

Jensen emailed the publisher about the omission, and acquisitions editor Angie Workman told the author that he could not tell his readers that he lives with a man.

The Utah publisher was concerned that their relationship with the LDS-church-affiliated Deseret Book would be ruined if they dared to tell people they supported a gay writer.

In a public release, Jensen says:

“David’s bio said that he lived in Utah County with his wife and their kids. I wanted a comparable, accurate sentence in my bio.”

Sweetwater Books was offered the chance to change the word “boyfriend” to “partner,” but they refused and removed any reference completely.

When Jensen called Cedar Fort’s own Lyle Mortimer to discuss the issue, he said an attack against his gay rights began:

“The conversation really devolved quickly. Lyle started yelling about my ‘agenda’ and how I was trying to destroy families. He even started saying inappropriate things about how God had given me a penis for a reason. It was very uncomfortable. Then he threatened to publish Woven without our names attached or without our bios at all—rather than print that one sentence. He told me that if he decided not to publish because of this, I’d have to buy back the rights to our book and reimburse him for his work so far, and that would cost me thousands of dollars.”

Two weeks after the men threatened to out the company — ironic isn’t it — they were given back full rights to their novel without any conditions attached. According to Jensen:

“They knew I was gay when they signed me. If they didn’t want to print the bio of an author who happened to be gay, then they shouldn’t have signed an author who happened to be gay.”

Mr. King adds:

“While we are disappointed that Woven won’t be published when we originally planned, ultimately we’d much rather be signed by a publisher who fully supports us—both of us.”

The book was receiving plenty of acclaim before it was pulled. Here’s a good example of the books testimonials:

It’s not often that you read a fantasy that feels as epic and original as Woven by King and Jensen. Clever, well-paced, and full of intrigue, it’s a superb read. Highly recommended.

—James Dashner, New York Times bestselling author of The Maze Runner

The men are currently being represented by Nicholas Rupp, and they are looking for a new publishing partner. Mr. Rupp can be contacted at 801-477-6987.

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