Dear Jane

Posted March 24, 2015 by Meoskop in Opinion / 17 Comments

Well, I suppose I should say Dear Author but that’s really your thing. First, let me apologize for all the construction. We’re not opening for a few weeks. As you can see, my designer has chosen Tweak Me to be the shell for our eventual look. Most people put the visual up first then work on the content but I’ve always been more about the message than the package. Anyway, back to you.

I’d like to thank you for your column today. Sincerely. I really understand our break up now. It was confusing. Knowing there was a third party in the relationship clarifies a lot of your actions. What I saw as hypocrisy I now see as conflicted loyalties and good business. Listen, you’re a smart and savvy woman. Marketing yourself as a new author was the way to go. It gave you the room to explore creatively without visual damage to your other brand. It also freed you of the blogger to author backlash that your anthology had to contend with. From a business standpoint, it was really your best call.

Jane (Jen), you’ve also handled the delicate merging of identities well. Both the timing and the stance taken will help push both brands forward. You understand this market. I want to recognize that. The suggestion that this revelation is driven by the court proceedings is regrettable. Did it force your hand? Probably. If it was completely driven by the litigation I think you might have made your move a bit earlier, perhaps during the cards-on-the-table moments DA had for the fundraiser? Look, I don’t mean to make light of the EC situation. I’m on your side there. EC is completely out of line. As someone who blogs under an internet handle for personal safety, I would never say you had any obligation whatsoever to reveal identifying information. (Wait, are you Author On Vacation? You know what, never mind. Sorry, that’s not the issue here.)

I wish you’d taken a bigger view. Over the last few years I was not the only member of the community who sensed major changes in tone and focus. The suggestion that this was imaginary is now disproven by the revelation that your goals had indeed shifted. The fundamental basis of your relationship to the community was no longer one solely of fandom but of profit and profession. There’s no shame in that game unless you use the game to shame. (Finally I understand why New Adult became your Fetch.) If this statement had taken a step outside of yourself to encompass the whole of DA’s former audience I would be throwing a parade. Instead we’re here, blogger to author, acknowledging closure. (I hope everyone who wrote for DA was aware of your dual identity.)

There are a number of excellent writer driven blogs I read. I prefer to comment on reader driven ones. Knowing what we do now helps me understand why I stopped feeling welcome to comment at DA. I’m unlikely to come back. You’re unlikely to miss me. It is what it is. Please believe that I wish you the best, because I do. We grew apart! My only regret is not knowing the full situation earlier. That’s the nature of a break-up – one side is always in the dark. It’s a very rare community where everyone is brave enough to be honest through the entire process. (I’m thinking back to Alexis Hall now and what a wonderful opportunity for the same that would have been.)

The people who will be disturbed by this revelation have already (largely) left your community. The people who embrace it will be happy to support your not-exactly-new path. This is as it should be. I’ve missed the substantive conversations with Robin, the back and forth of genre history, the intellectualization of emotional responses we once had. With your revelations I can let all of that go. It was never me, it was always you. The doubt is what eats at a person, not the change. Change is good. It frees people to new vistas and new experiences. I’m not worried about either of us. We both know what we want. We’ll be fine. Thank you again for the time we spent together. May your path always lead to the destinations you’ve mapped out and may you be victorious in court.





17 responses to “Dear Jane

  1. Sam

    I feel the same as you. I wish her well. I am not a blogger or author, just a reader and I have a deep love for the romance community. With that said; I felt like I was slapped in the face. Whatever her reasons, when she hit publish on her book it should have been disclosed.

    I had also noticed the hard stand on New Adult and the tone over there was a bit of a turn off. I had always thought it was a great place for different opinions (with the every now and again flaming) but, overall some pretty smart conversations. I too, will miss reading Robin’s essay’s. I will no longer visit Dear Author. To be honest, I won’t be visiting SBTB, or probably any other romance blog site. I just don’t trust them anymore.

    I wanted to comment on that post with the outing, but as the lone voice amongst the outpouring of love just made me angrier. That was a blog that reads “For Readers By Readers.” Bullshit. I feel duped.

    I also want to bring up the EC vs DA. I still stand firmly on DA’s side for writing about what other people were presenting to her. However, I do have a problem that there was a fundraiser and people thinking a READER BLOGGER was being bullied by the big bad. That’s not true. Wasn’t there an article about who holds more power? Readers or authors? I feel duped again, and that’s where my issue with Sarah from SBTB comes in. Everyone in the circle jerk was well aware of who Jen Fredrick is, except the people who count the most. The people who trusted a site to be transparent. The trust is broken and yes I am angry.

    I know I didn’t say my peace over there, I just wanted to let you know there are other people who are not as vocal on Dear Author that feel the same way.

    Thanks for letting me vent.

    • Meoskop

      Sam, you’re not alone at all. Twitter was rapid fire today. I hope you find some romance blogs you feel at home with – I think the community aspect is romance’s best AND worst quality.

  2. Erin

    I think there is another angle no one has touched on here. What about the NA authors Jane has consistently flamed, and those authors, the day of the announcement, realized they were online friends with Jenn Fredericks? That they had been involved in box sets with her, spoke with her often as a colleague and friend, while being roasted (and some felt harassed) on Twitter by Jane? What about the authors who had blocked Jane and found themselves friends with Jenn on Facebook? What was the agenda there? Was it to spy and use things that were said against them? Was it a “how funny would that be” to get these authors who wanted nothing to do with Jane to support Jenn’s books?

    Yes, Jane has made enemies in the literary world, and all anonymously, while the authors she targeted had their images and names smeared. As a reader, I found it disgusting. This announcement has pushed any negative feelings I had towards Jane Litte’s predatory behavior toward authors beyond disgusted. Let’s face it, this wasn’t all about being ethical to keep her author/blogger identities separate, because there are proven instances where she didn’t.

    I feel this wasn’t about ethics at all. Just the opposite.

    • Sam

      I think there are many layers. The reader side, those who read the site and supported by clicking (by clicking I mean spending $)on the deals or the books that were reviewed, they receive money for. The readers who took them at their word that they were transparent and readers who loved romance novels. Then we had a period where some reviewers beta read for a lot of different authors, I stopped reading their reviews because to me that’s a conflict.

      We have the author side who are in loops with her and they feel violated. I would too. But the NA authors vs Jane could go either way. I’ve watched some of the NA authors go batshit crazy on reviews, readers, bloggers. They’re not all saintly. I don’t want to start naming and shaming. Their hands are not clean either. Which brings me to; this whole situation is dirty business and in the end who does this hurt the most? For me it’s the community.

      • Sara

        What about the authors who’ve blocked her and she friended using her fake profile? How is this justified? Why would she need to lurk on their private profiles? Or the author groups she snaked her way in to to get info? How about the GoFundMe money that so many donated to now find out she had a bigger income than she disclosed (a pub deal that she had with the other pubs competition)? How about all of the competitors she ripped apart while pretending to just be a reader? What a joke. Who does it hurt the most? Everyone. I feel pity for those who spent money on her court case, more so on those who still don’t understand they were used. It takes all kinds.

        • Sam

          It’s not justified, I never said it was. I also donated to her fund because I couldn’t stand a corporation going after a book blogger. I had no idea Jane was writing as Jen F. If I did, I wouldn’t have donated. I actually think the way she went about it was grimey. I also think deceitful as well.
          I’m was a reader of that blog for a long time and I feel stupid and used. My point I was making regarding the dust ups with other NA writers were some of them were not innocent. That doesn’t mean I think Jane is right.

  3. Concerned Reader

    I was excited for Jane but something nagged me all day yesterday and then I realized what it was. Meljean Brook posted about making Jen Frederick’s covers back in 2013:

    A few months later Jane was running a book club on the site for her:

    And more recently Jane gave glowing reviews to Brook’s serial. A lot of readers felt that the installments added up to an over priced read so I was really astonished when Jane, who has always been an advocate for lower book prices, chimed in to say that the series was designed in installments, implying that readers shouldn’t quibble over price of *this* book. It was so contrary to her position on book prices that I was struck by it at the time.

    Brook’s book is also in the DABWAHA. This seems like a pretty clear author quid pro quo here–Brook and Jane had a business relationship and were log rolling one another’s books–but I feel betrayed because I thought Jane was a reviewer and that DA was editorially independent.

    • Meoskop

      There are going to be a lot of ripple moments from this pebble. On a personal level, I feel much better knowing this information because I felt gaslit at the end of my DA interactions. On a blogger level, it does make it harder for the rest of us. I have no issue at all with authors who review – not even a bit – but author space and reader space are different cultures for a reason.

    • Mandy

      @concerned reader. You are not the only one who noted the heavy promotion of Meljean Brook’s serial on DA nor the fact that it is included in DABWAHA. I was one of those who commented on the original DA review about the high price and format and I was sternly put in my place. This revelation makes me really angry.

  4. Sage

    I guess it’s safe to say that many of us are still processing how we feel about this, especially in light of new revelations. (just a reader here, btw-it seems we have to clear that upfront).
    The more I read, the more fooled I feel.
    I really didn’t like comments on how “including book in daily deals” doesn’t matter because nobody is forcing readers who visit blog to buy those books”. It’s not forcing, but it’s exposure- you turned my attention to that book and many of us make decisions to buy something or not because reviewer we come to trust included that book in it’s selection.
    I also didn’t care for comments that are trying to undermine Jane’s influence on someone’s career. I remember fairly recent event:
    What she says about author or author’s work matters in many ways. She had to-she has to- know this.
    I don’t even want to comment on EC thing because I have a feeling this is constantly brought up by two types of commenters- Jade Black/Tina Engler supporters and those who are trying to take away focus from what Jane/Jen did wrong by creating false and wrong discussion environment where everyone who has troubles with what Jane did is immediately pro EC. I am perfectly able to have separate opinion on both things and to call both of them on their fuckwittery.
    I understand that disclosing information from the start would make her books a target for some authors who are holding a grudge..but let’s think about bigger picture here- are those authors only people who would read/rate/review/talk about her book? Hell, no. Many fans of blog and Jane and many readers would buy it and want it to read because it’s written by her. And what’s the point now? Her books are still going to be a target for those with a grudge- I just don’t want to read them ever. And I am sure I am not the only reader and blog visitor who feels this way.

  5. Nicely written. I didn’t actually know until I started reading a lot of indie NA romance that New Adult was also my Fetch. (Nice phrasing, btw.)

    Rather than reading her reviews, though, I’ve tended to follow the tweets about books she liked, and one of the ones I picked up was Sarina Bowen’s The Year We Fell Down.

    I think we haven’t seen all the cards on the table yet, so I’m still waiting for the story to unfold further.

    • Meoskop

      Thanks – I agree we haven’t seen the end. Since I wrote this additional information has come out that – well, it doesn’t help the situation. While the community ripples keep spreading my personal pool has smoothed out. I do feel real closure.

  6. Diana

    Are there any alternative sites to DA? SBTB and DA were my mainstays, with basically daily content. I’d like to take a break from them for a while, to process, but are there any similar sites? Googling had led me to nothing, really. Wondering if you ladies have any insight on reader safe spaces.

    • Meoskop

      I’ll put a blog roll together when I finish editing the old content I ported here for the rollout. It’ll be linked in the top bar and I’ll identify if they are author / publisher or reader run. If anyone has already started one be glad to participate in a crowdsourcing.

      If you want a site the same size, you’re looking at All About Romance (mixed) or Heroes & Heartbreakers (Industry owned) – the unique aspect of DA was it being reader owned and large. There are a lot of good small sites tho.