A Moment of Jen
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Wednesday, March 05, 2003
posted by Jen at 3/05/2003 12:05:00 PM

In the better late than never department....

It took her seven months, but still, kudos to hard-charging, vigorously probing journalist Katie Haegele, with a little help from author Jim Gladstone, for finally reporting on something I've been talking about since IN HER SHOES came out -- the the resemblance between its cover and the cover of....well, read on.

In the weeks before GOOD IN BED came into the world, I was a nervous wreck. I'd wake up in the middle of the night, in a cold sweat, thinking, Did I catch that spelling mistake? Did I make all the changes I meant to? And is the ex-boyfriend's penis so miniscule that no ex-boyfriend of mine would ever come forward and claim he was my inspiration?

With IN HER SHOES, I vowed it was going to be different, and that I was going to be sane. So last September, the week before it came out, my husband and I and Wendell headed up to Cape Cod to spend a week with four of our friends.

And it was bliss. Sunny days, sandy beaches, kayaking and barbecuing and shopping in P-town....it was just perfect. Except for one mistake -- I brought my laptop. And I checked my email. And one day, I came across a letter from a bookseller that said that she'd gotten an advance copy of IN HER SHOES, and she'd really loved it, but by the way, did I know that there was a book with the exact same cover as mine?

She has to be kidding, I thought. This must be a joke. But I clicked on the link, and lo and behold, same feet. Same legs. Same strappy, spiky shoes.

Dear readers, I freaked. I asked myself all the questions any author would ask in similar circumstances. How did this happen? Why does God hate me? And if there has to be another book with my cover, did it have to be fetish erotica? Why couldn't it have just been, you know, regular erotica? Or some nice little British novel that no one's ever read?

I called up my agent, then my editor to figure out what had happened, and whether there was anything we could do to fix it.

Turns out, the agency that licensed the leg shot to Atria Books (my publisher) had also licensed it to the fetish folk, and had neglected to tell either party that there'd be another book with basically the same cover.

At that point, BEST FETISH EROTICA was already on the shelves, and IN HER SHOES was on its way. There was nothing we could do except grin and bear it....and hope that nobody would notice.

But I decided that playing it safe would be no fun at all. And so, starting in September, at practically every reading I did, I'd hold up a copy of IN HER SHOES and a copy of BEST FETISH EROTICA and tell my sad story, the point of which was, you think you can control every aspect of being published, micro-managing right down to the last apostrophe, and then life comes along and violates you Oz-style with a large garden vegetabe. Or words to that effect.

The good news is that in spite of the lookalike covers, there never seemed to be much confusion between the two books. True, both of them do, in places, explore the complicated relationships between women, but only one of them has its heroines resolve their differences through creative use of a Water Pik.

So even though I was surprised to see the story reported as if it were actual fresh news, it's all good. Although now I feel like I know a little bit too much about Mr. Gladstone's leisure-time activities. If I meet him, I'll think twice before shaking his hand.
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