Monday, March 30, 2015

Collecting My Thoughts

So, the announcement that Jane Litte of Dear Author was also author Jen Frederick came across my feed pretty quickly last week. Reaction was mixed.  There have been a lot of posts about it include Wendy the Superlibrarian and Olivia Waite and the Passive Voice and this post from Book Thingo which rounds up a goodly list of the posts as well as has some great reflections.
First, I think using pseudonyms is fine.  People have day jobs, lives, kids, they may wish to keep separate.  All cool.  Using multiple pseudonyms with a level of separation between them, also can make sense.  Often authors writing under multiple names out themselves after a bit, both because it becomes unwieldy and because the idea isn't (usually) to trick readers or fellow writers, but to say, the person who writes these things writes gritty mysteries, and this person writes literary, or this person writes romantic suspense, and this person writes young adult.  I have met people using one name for erotica and another for children's books.  They tend not to out themselves for somewhat obvious reasons. So basically I can envision scenarios where you would want to make the reasons for the separate pen names clear, and those where you would expect little to no crossover in your audience and not want to advertise the relationship between those names. 
In this scenario, there was obviously huge overlap in the audience.  Again, I get why Jane wanted to keep her blogger self separate from her author self in order to prevent the appearance that she was using one to launch the other.  But, it does fundamentally change the appearance of things.  There are plenty of author/bloggers and reviewer/author/bloggers.  But just like FTC requirements ask for bloggers to disclose if they got a book for free, you want to know where you are.  Are you at a site run by a blogger/author or run by a blogger/reader? 
And, as the Bookthingo post points out, this points to the limited number of places that readers have to go to for broad discussion of the business of romance books.  One of the reasons so many people were upset at the lawsuit over a Dear Author blog post about goings on at a publisher was that Dear Author is one of the places people go to for such information.  (It got picked up more widely only after the lawsuit.) Another big place for such news is Smart Bitches, who, well, knew about this already.  (Yes, I realize that not all the reviewers at Dear Author knew, and likely, many of the crew at Smart Bitches didn't yet either). This discussion about things that people wish had happened differently is overall (I'm sure there are pockets where it is not) about where the problems lie. 
So. Is the world broken? No.  Are some people understandably hurt or concerned? Yes. And, as Olivia's post pointed out, the biggest loss is to readers, who have lost what they thought was a reader focused site.  There are still plenty of reader focused sites.  But Dear Author was a giant site, that got that way over time, and so it may take time for some of these other sites to get to the size or breadth (assuming that is even their goal).
Also, while I haven't talked much here about the lawsuit, I think the idea that a publisher would spend it's money suing a blogger (even if it's a blogger/author) who posts concerns about their business drawn from multiple sources is a best an interesting financial choice and at worst an attempt to quell free speech.  That this news reveal was forced as a result of that does nothing to change my opinion on that.