Hey, y'all! I know, it's been a while. I've been buried in the writing cave, and I've got some SUPER exciting news to share soon (and a LONG blog post to explain it).
But, in the meantime, I feel the need to add my two cents about the drama in the indie romance book world. I've been doing the indie publishing thing for a few years now, and I've unfortunately seen both sides of this world. I've met some absolutely wonderful people who have become dear friends, and I've also met some...not so nice people.
Before I get into this, I do need to note that my perspective on the current situation is not entirely unbiased. I met Andi Jaxon through some mutual friends several months ago, and she's one of the sweetest, most genuine people I know in the crazy world of indie publishing. I'm proud to call her my friend, and I stand by her 100% in this madness. I'm heartened to see how many people have rallied together to support her. It's things like this that give me hope for humanity again.
That being said, here's my two cents on the current book title drama that Andi has unfortunately found herself in the middle of. There's another reason I have a skewed perspective on the situation, and it's because of the way I've chosen to brand my work.
My Sealed With a Kiss series has some fairly unique titles that I've been using a formula for since book one. Those titles are part of a brand that I've worked to build, and I put a lot of thought into each and every one of the titles for this series to make sure that it's consistent with the series brand and that it fits the book's story line. Just ask my amazing alpha readers how much thought I put into the titles, because they've helped me come up with some of them. I've gotta say, I'm actually impressed that I managed to come up with so many "Sealed" titles. It definitely wasn't easy.
"My lips are sealed" and "my fate is sealed" are both common phrases independent of this series. They just happened to work perfectly for Zoe and Elijah's books. If someone wanted to take one of those common phrases and make it their own like I did, I would have absolutely no problem with it. If someone asked me if I was okay with them using the titles Falling Angel or What Doesn't Kill You (the names of my unrelated standalone books for those of you who don't know), I wouldn't care about that either. I don't own the English language or those phrases. I'd even suggest cross-promoting each other's books and come up with a clever hashtag like #titletwinning or something. (Actually...I really like that! Anyone wanna name their book Falling Angel, What Doesn't Kill You, My Lips Are Sealed, or My Fate Is Sealed so we can use that hashtag? 😂)
But if someone were to send me a message asking if I was okay with them using one of my more unique Sealed With a Kiss titles (like, say, My Heart Is Sealed or My Dreams Are Sealed) for their book? That's a different story. Those titles are part of the branding of my series and I've worked hard to build said brand. So, in that case, I would tell the person that I would really prefer it if they didn't use that title and explain my reasoning. HOWEVER, I realize I don't own those titles. The decision to use the title is ultimately that author's prerogative, and if they did choose to move forward with using the title, I certainly wouldn't make a huge stink about it.
I guess what I'm trying to say is, I understand J.A. Huss getting upset that Andi Jaxon wanted to use the same title as one of her books. But there is absolutely NO excuse for handling it like she did. Andi was polite and extended professional courtesy by even asking her about using the title in the first place. And all Ms. Huss had to say was, "Thanks for asking me first. Because our books are releasing so close to each other, I would really prefer if you didn't use the same title." Boom. Done. You've said what you needed to say and still come across as a decent human being.
Talking down to someone and cursing up a storm at them for asking a simple question is not okay. And, when someone inevitably calls you out on what is, frankly, childish behavior, digging your heels in and resorting to name-calling is not okay. Ms. Huss acted like a common schoolyard bully, despite using grown-up words. Calling someone a "cunty bitch" instead of calling them a "doodyhead" doesn't make you an adult. Telling an outright lie and saying that someone's scared of you when nothing that was said supports that is classic bully behavior. Deleting all dissenting comments on a post and ostracizing anyone who dares call you out on your inappropriate behavior is petty high school mean girl behavior. And none of it is okay.
I applaud Andi Jaxon for handling this godawful situation with so much dignity. Only AFTER her inbox blew up over this situation did she go public and make a post about it. When people showed an overwhelming amount of support for her, she made it a point to thank them for it and she also made it a point to say that she does NOT want anyone retaliating against Ms. Huss for this. She doesn't want people engaging with Ms. Huss's supporters and she doesn't want people leaving negative reviews on her books. She's asked for people to show their support in a positive manner.
The romance genre is about love in all shapes and sizes. When a member of a community that's dedicated to telling stories about love and giving us happily ever afters to swoon over decides to get a big head and act like they're above other people, it hurts my heart. We're better than this, Romancelandia. We are not each other's competition. We need to lift each other up, not tear each other down.
Oh, also? I was privileged to beta read a short story for an anthology featuring Jonah and Roman, the characters in Andi's upcoming book, Bully King, and it was amazing! I can't wait to read their full story. I've pre-ordered my copy of Bully King, and you can do the same HERE!