Yesterday, Jane Litte revealed on Dear Author that she was New Adult romance author Jen Frederick. The reaction has not been universal love, however.
The post comes on the heels of being deposed in the Ellora’s Cave lawsuit, with the implication that she’s letting the word out because it came up in the deposition, and controlling how the word gets out. (I have no problem with controlling how the word gets out.)
There was some backlash, perhaps best stated in this post (and its comments) on The Passive Voice:
Now that I know better, I make sure that, if I vent at all about anything industry or book related, I vent to trusted friends and colleagues and in loops with other authors. In those private loops (and yes, I’m aware nothing online is ever truly private) likeminded authors speak more freely. Because you have to understand, we don’t have an after work softball team, or a water cooler, or a birthday cake for Sally on Tuesday where we get to bitch about old Mr. Jennings and how he’s really busting our hump at work that day.
We just have each other and those loops. Most of us never see another author face to face more than once or twice in a given year, if that.
In those loops, we talk industry and strategy and marketing and pricing and trends and hard sales numbers. We talk about the writing process and how hard it can be sometimes, and acknowledge that the muse doesn’t necessarily pepper our dreams with glittery ideas for bestsellers and that it’s a freaking GRIND sometimes, or how we just HATE our current manuscript and are terrified our readers will hate it too, and what a struggle it’s been, and yes, some authors talk reviews. It’s the place that we get to speak freely and treat our business like exactly that. A for profit business. A place where we don’t have to wear our public hat that, by necessity, requires us to stifle ourselves to some degree or risk ostracizing our readership. A place where we take our bra off and stretch for a minute with other braless writer-types. Not that I’m pretending to be someone else on open social media, but there are definitely things I say to authors in “private” that would pull back the curtain, so to speak, in a way that would make me uncomfortable in public, not unlike a school teacher talking politics on Facebook or something.
Imagine my surprise, then, to realize that Jane is on more than one of these loops with me as Jen Frederick. I find myself…not okay with that.
As an author who’s been on some of those “among author” conversations, and as an author who’s also had a different role (convention runner) in the greater fandom, here’s what concerns me:
How much of what was posted on The Curious Case post was told in Jane Litte’s hearing vs. Jen Frederick’s?
As an author talking privately to other authors, I’ve heard all kinds of horror stories, like the agent who spikes a book, the solicited manuscript that winds up sitting in the editorial office for years, the (now former) editor dissing an author behind his back.
As a convention runner, I hear different things, like who has a restraining order against whom, who will (or will not) speak with whom, and who will or will not get in an elevator with whom (for real).
Running this series of posts about the EC v. DA lawsuit, I’ve heard enough privately that I believe that Jane Litte’s claims in her Curious post were substantially true.
But…now that I know the two people are the same, I have to admit that a lot of what I read on the Curious Case post sounds like the kind of thing authors would say privately to other authors.
Not that this makes the underlying claims seem less legitimate; quite the contrary. But I wonder how much of the information was intended to be public, and how much of it was things the authors would rather not have to back up in public in the resulting court case.
Does this Change How I Feel About the Dear Author Case?
In short, no. The case always seemed like it was intended to bully those who spoke out—whether intentionally or not—and I’m just as opposed to that as I always have been.
Also, I’ve been around the lawsuit-watching rodeo myself, and I’m aware that generally neither party looks very good when all is said and done. I had no expectations this case would be different.
One commenter on the TPV post said she’d have felt differently about donating to the legal defense fund if she’d known Jane had a book deal and a movie deal pending. I can speak to this as someone who’s had a movie deal before (that didn’t turn into an actual movie):
- Jane did say she had twenty grand to contribute to her defense. That’s possibly where it came from.
- The movie deal in question was probably an option, which pay very little money until the movie is actually ready to produce. Far less than twenty grand. I wouldn’t be shocked if we’re talking on the order of $1,000-5,000.
- Book deals aren’t a bunch of money all at once, particularly not for a relatively new author like Jen Frederick, even with a better-known co-author.
I think the free speech issues are larger than how I feel about Jane Litte/Jen Frederick. Or Ellora’s Cave, for that matter.
On the Other Hand
Because Jane Litte has recommended some NA books I’ve loved (e.g., Sarina Bowen’s [popup_product]The Year We Fell Down[/popup_product]), I figured I’d probably like her books. So I picked up the first one (which is free, btw), and I’ll read it when I get around to that part of my TBR pile. However, I’ll not link to it here.