It’s been an interesting week in romancelandia, eh? I’ve been pondering whether to post on the whole Jane Litte/Jen Frederick thing, because there are a lot of opinions out there already, and I don’t think I’ve any additional insights to add, but hey, my two pence FWIW.
Like a lot of DA readers, the news caught me by surprise – I was already impressed by how Jane managed to run a large blog, on top of her day job and family commitments. Add to that the fact she’s been writing (and selling) books in her spare time – I’m doubly impressed.
I personally don’t have an issue with the fact she’s both an author and a blogger, nor with the instances cited where Jen Frederick’s books have been (peripherally, IMO) promoted via DA. I can completely understand why she did what she did – it was a bit of a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” dilemma for Jane when it came to coming out as an author.
Some people have argued that the DA tagline “for readers, by readers” should be changed. I disagree – so because Jane’s an author, she can’t be a reader? I know there’s been a lot of discussion around reader/author spaces (and ironically, a lot of that has probably taken place at DA) – this is where I don’t always agree with DA’s opinion posts (and also acknowledge that DA doesn’t speak with a single voice). Quite a few of the reviewers I follow at Goodreads are authors, and I love the way they dissect books with their reader hat on. I think it’s perfectly valid for authors to interact as either writers or readers, but acknowledge that it’s not an easy line to follow.
As for promotions, if you visit any of the larger blogs (romance or otherwise), it’s obvious that blogging’s a business nowadays – they have established relationships with publishers (I’m including self-pubbed authors in that category), whether that’s only via the provision of ARCs or if it includes advertising and so on. Honestly? Regardless of whether disclosures are made or not, my starting assumption is there’s always going to be some bias. We’re human beings. We’re naturally inclined towards bias. As to the effectiveness of said placements, I vaguely recognised Jen Frederick’s name. I’ve had a look at my mountainous TBR and I haven’t bought any Jen Frederick books – I recall checking out one of them (which wasn’t one of those mentioned mentioned on DA, so it must have been another blog) and passing on it, as the plot sounded way too angst-y for me.
And as for the OTT claims around DA promoting NA and killing off historicals as part of a bigger conspiracy to promote Jen’s books *rolls eyes*
I think the lines blur where Jane/Jen had relationships with the same person without revealing she was one and the same. I don’t have a personal relationship with Jane/Jen. I do read DA posts (and am a very occasional commenter, though probably more on the other contributors’ posts as her tastes don’t match mine), and we had a brief exchange of emails when she thanked me for my contribution to the DA/EC legal defence fund. I completely get that anyone who has had more frequent exchanges with Jane and/or Jen may feel very differently, and that’s on Jane/Jen’s plate to work out.
The other piece that made me think twice was the fact that Jen was being included in author loops that wouldn’t have admitted Jane. Jane did say (on the DA comment thread) that the author loops being referenced are large ones, with hundreds and hundreds of authors, which I think adds a different context on the initial claim. Again though, this doesn’t impact me personally so this is not one where I can really opine on.
To be clear, I don’t think Jane comes out squeaky-clean on this. I work in an industry where the focus has shifted so heavily to conflicts of interest that it’s not enough to have processes and procedures in place to prevent them. It’s not even enough to know that you’ve managed conflicts of interest appropriately – you need to evidence that you have. So while I do believe in Jane’s integrity – that is to say, I believe she drew the line between Jane and Jen in her head, and kept them separate, and that no information that Jen accessed was explicitly used in Jane’s blogger capacity – it’s because of what she’s built up over the years.
TL;DR – it’s complicated. For me personally, it’s not a big deal. For other people, depending on how they’ve been impacted, it is a big deal.