Second update: I’m eating some of my words.
Update: I’m closing comments and mulling a few things before I post something else–probably tomorrow morning. To find out why, read this as the Passive Voice.
If you read Dear Author regularly, this is not news for you.
If you don’t…well, prepare to go down the rabbit hole. (This is freaking long, even for me.)
Jane Litte, reader, reviewer and ‘mean girl’ extraordinaire, also happens to be a self published and traditionally published author of a number of books (all written in about two and a half years, apparently, some with another fairly well known author, Jessica Clare), who has enough success to put the whole “(something or other) best seller” under her author name–Jen Frederick.
Here’s my comment on that post (minus the editing error (i.e., “to all those people” *headdesk*)
Like others have said, my heart almost stopped when I saw there was a letter to DA readers–I was so scared you were going to announce the closing of the site, or something awful related to the lawsuit, or some such, I hesitated to read on.
And then…holy crap, what a wonderful twist!
No, I have not read your books–I hadn’t heard of your author pen name, actually–but I don’t care. I just keep thinking about all the sour grapes who bitch everywhere about Jane the mean girl, Jane the anti-author, Jane the anti-publisher.
To all those delicate special snowflakes who have cried, “you can’t review books unless you write them”–here you go, precious flowers.
To all those self published authors who cry that any criticism of their books is unacceptable (or that their books are their babies)–see this and weep.
To everyone who has ever (and will, because that’s people for you) accused you of lack of professionalism–take a step back and see what actual professionalism looks like.
Oh and RWA not renewing your membership whenever it was because you weren’t a writer? *hysterical giggles*
I’m going to be randomly laughing all day–hell, all week long.
Thank you, Jane, and best of luck with everything.
If you can’t tell, I’m tickled pink on several levels.
Also, I adore the fact that Jane didn’t talk about receiving “bad” reviews–she mentioned negative reviews. Yay!!!
(yes, it’s a pet peeve, so what?)
~ * ~
However, there is always at least one more point of view and there are obvious question arising from the revelation. First and foremost, was Jane the author kept completely separate from Jane the reader/blogger, and from Dear Author itself? Second, was the integrity of the blog compromised by any reviews/posts/promotions there that benefit Jane the author directly?
The answers are: no, and somewhat.
Super Librarian Wendy has put together a few things that can make a reader stop and take a second look. Wendy names three instances, though I’ve seen the number five mentioned a couple of times, in which Jane’s author name was brought up in ways that directly benefit her/promote her.
Still, those three/five instances are enough to make me a tad squirmy, and I do wish, how I do wish!, a different decision had been made. I wish that Jane had made it a rule simply for Dear Author that no books by Jen Frederick would be mentioned in any fashion.
(Whether or not that might have forced her to reveal to the other reviewers at Dear Author that she was writing under that pseudonym, or whether she should/could have just let them all think that she, Jane, had a beef with author Jen Frederick, is I think tangential to this discussion.)
For her part, Courtney Milan discussed on twitter how Jane reviewing a Berkley book after she was in talks/signed with them is a big no-no.
~ * ~
With that said.
Do I honestly think Jane deliberately used Dear Author to get ahead as an author?
You have to ask?
If Jane had wanted to use Dear Author to promote her writing career, she wouldn’t have even needed to use yet another pseudonym. Dear Author’s platform in 2012 was much larger and stronger than that of SBSarah and Candy Tan in 2009, yet they managed to get their book into a pretty large number of hands.
Or, if she was set on writing under a pseudonym other than Jane Litte, she could have been letting Dear Author reviewers review her Jen Frederick books.
She didn’t, so I lean towards thinking that those three/five instances of murkiness can be simple oversight; or in the case of guest posts, it may be feeling uncomfortable telling that person, “oh but you can’t include books by Jen Frederick in your post”–particularly if Jane didn’t want or intend to share her author identity with them for whatever reason.
Perhaps I’m too naïve, and yet I think it’s possible–because even the most sensible, careful, level-headed person has moments of ‘teh stupid.’ And while I like Jane, I don’t think she’s anywhere near perfect.
~ * ~
On the other hand, I saw some twitter conversations that disturb the shit out of me.
- Accusations that Jane has lied “about something or other since the beginning” (meaning what? since she started writing, since she started blogging, since she first wrote a review, since she was sued?) (and, lied about what, exactly?).
- Accusations that Jane set up the defense fund herself or manipulated/instructed SBSarah to do it for her (holy what the fuck, people? are we now saying that SBSarah is nothing but a puppet or some such shit?) (oh and what, are we thinking that Jane is profiting from the defense fund? anyone want to compare how much the lawsuit can cost her v how much was raised, and then come back with that particular brand of paranoia?)
- Accusations that Jane manipulated the reviews/reviewers at Dear Author to ‘seed’ the market for what she writes as Jen Frederick (you are forgiven if you think I made that one up–but I didn’t)
And the like.
Why do I find those disturbing?
Probably because, unlike SLWendy’s post, where she provided links and explained why she is saying what she’s saying, or Ms Milan’s reaction, where she articulated exactly where and how disclosure should have happened, in these other cases I don’t see anything supporting the statements.
Mind you, none of the people involved in those conversations owe me (or anyone, I would hazard) a point by point presentation explaining how they came up to believe what they believe.
However, as a bystander looking in, I can only process the information I have, and what I see? Doesn’t point me anywhere near “Jane is a liar who will do anything to get ahead.”
I understand that there are readers and authors feeling a bit betrayed because they didn’t know. They feel tricked–“what, you speak as a reader yet you are also an author! unfair! trickery!”–and while I’m a bit tired of the “we can be one thing and one thing only–ever” schtick, I cannot fault them for feeling somewhat betrayed. Hell, it’s a rather big secret and she’s managed to keep it for what? thirty plus months?
Those outright accusations of lying and Machiavellian manipulation and such, however? Well, that reaction goes far, far beyond SLWendy’s distaste–if that’s the word? uneasiness? discomfort?–over the failure to disclose a hundred percent; it also seems well beyond Ms Milan’s conflict of interest reaction; and falls heavily into fixation. Too much “I’ve never liked her, now you see how much of a bitch she is!” glee for me.
~ * ~
I find it interesting, if not surprising, that the people I’ve seen having these conversations believe wholeheartedly that they are the few brave, the unflinching few, who dare “speak truth to power,” while they contemptuously regard anyone who doesn’t vocally express outright disgust for Jane as, basically, sheep.
(No, I don’t think Wendy’s or Ms Milan’s clear-eyed and detached discomfort is enough for this particular group.)
Yes, by the way, I’m aware there are at least a few people participating in that conversation who think I exist solely to kiss Jane’s ass. Or perhaps I’ll be accused of being an alter ego or a sock puppet.
There’s a much simpler answer though.
Could be that I’m predisposed to believe that Jane is basically a decent person who occasionally will take a misstep, and that I would need ample proof that Jane would strategize for years to position herself where she is as both blogger and writer so that she could…what? use Ellora’s Cave defamation lawsuit to come clean or some such? before changing my mind.
(Seriously, doesn’t that sound more than a little Evil Overlord to you?)
I have not always agreed with Jane’s take on things, though I do more often than not.
The balance for me is that, in the almost ten years I’ve read Dear Author regularly, I believe she’s striven for decency and honesty.
Your mileage may vary, obviously.
~ * ~
What’s your take, oh readers?