It’s always a good thing when Gronkerotica makes national headlines since it serves to remind the rest of us that yes, there are steamy books available that offer fun word play on terms and phrases like “tight end” and “the receiver was wide open.” The fact that the title character (spoiler alert) doesn’t get to have sex in the erotica title he stars in is unimportant to this news.
Unfortunately, the national attention aimed at the erotica title A Gronking to Remember–yes, erotic short fiction starring the New England Patriots’ own Rob Gronkowski–isn’t such a great thing for its author, presumably pen named Lacey Noonan. As it turns out, the image of the adoring and quite photogenic couple on the cover isn’t The Gronk and his girlfriend–which would probably still not be legal since it was used without permission–but is instead an Ohio couple who’s positively mortified that their engagement photo (yes, the photo they shared with the world to announce their undying love) has been made into the laughing stock of the football/literary world.
This isn’t the first time Noonan or this book have been in trouble for the cover art. The NFL compelled the author to remove an unlicensed photo of Gronk from the original cover over copyright issues. The actual underlying cause may have been the photo that was chosen; in the picture, Gronk is wearing a uniform that prominently features a patch with the initials of the team owner’s recently deceased and widely beloved wife, a gesture the entire team took on in order to honor her memory.
Now that the book has garnered national media attention and has been the subject of widespread ridicule, the couple is suing the author for using their picture without permission. The author has replaced the cover once again with a different couple and an awkward drawing of the famous athlete’s face.
This serves as an important reminder to self-published authors about the fair use of photographs and other artwork. Ironically, the same authors who think nothing of grabbing a stock photo or a found image for the cover art would be the first in line to cry foul if their books were pirated. The real shame of the entire saga is that this is the kind of book that, despite the poor reviews that state it is poorly written and barely erotic, is exactly what self-published authors have benefited from in a big way. There is a market for every imaginable type of erotica, and it could have been smart money for Noonan if she’d continued the series in a more legally appropriate way.