Last week’s Big Brouhaha in romance, which has been dissected elsewhere, was Jane Litte’s disclosure that she had published New Adult romance under the name Jen Frederick. Apparently the disclosure was prompted by the pending EC lawsuit against Dear Author, but Jane seems to have pretty effectively partitioned the JL/JF activities.
I’m mostly amazed that she manages to be a lawyer, blogger, parent, and writer. Her time management skills and energy must be absolutely ridiculous.
As a reader, I don’t feel betrayed by Jane’s jump into writing romances. I don’t feel like her advocacy for readers or being a reader-blogger foreclosed other professional options.
I’m kind of side-eyeing the writers wailing about her infiltration of “author-only” loops. That’s a misnomer if ever there was one, I think, as nearly all working writers aren’t just authors unless they are extremely successful. And absent a survey of every “author” (and all their pseudonyms) on a loop, I’m not sure how or why any participant could possibly assume that every participant was a single-role “author only”.
Ironically, the thing that keeps popping into my head is a line from a securities class I took once: there is no general duty to disclose. (The caveat to that is while there is no general duty to disclose, there are some specific disclosures prescribed by the 33 and 34 Acts and their Rules, but that’s not really relevant here.) But. BUT. There’s an important case named Par Pharmaceutical (733 F. Supp 668 (1990)) that keeps coming to mind. [A grossly simplified summary follows, and people with disclosure experience would cringe reading it, since disclosure is a complex, nuanced, heavily-litigated area; take it with a huge grain of salt.] Anyway, Par bragged about its skill getting FDA approvals, but it turned out it got approvals by paying bribes; in shareholder litigation, the court basically said that once Par made statements about its skill getting approvals, those statements became fair game and could be alleged to be false and misleading (at least at the pleading/motion to dismiss stage). There’s more to it than that, but the take away was that if the company hadn’t touted its legal/legitimate skill getting approvals, if they had been silent, Par would have had no duty to update or correct or disclose later investigations related to the bribery. Circling back: I think Jane had no general duty to disclose that she had published romance novels under a pen name. Does her stance on conflicts of interest and transparency for author-bloggers make a difference, or create a duty to disclose? Was it information that a reasonable reader would find material to the total mix of information available when selecting book recs or otherwise interacting with Dear Author? Maybe, but that’s a question for the trier of fact/reader.
My own disclosures: I’ve exchanged tweets emails with Jane in the past about things like fan fiction. I think I submitted a review for a favorite category novel several years ago. I remember when Dear Author went online, and when Smart Bitches went online. I still check DA periodically but don’t comment much there for a variety of reasons. I stopped checking SBTB several years ago when it went through a long patch of video posts and little meaningful content (I think that was about the time Candy left and also when SBSarah was either writing a book or maybe doing some kind of marketing thing). Both blogs are big enough and influential enough that they feel like industry participants to me now, even if they don’t have a traditional role in the publisher-author-reader relationship. Also, I read Jen Frederick’s Undeclared in 2013; my notes at Librarything.com (two stars) are that it needed a good editor and coherent character arcs — I remember thinking both the hero and heroine were twits.