One of the original digital pioneers, erotic romance publisher Ellora’s Cave has reportedly had financial and other problems for some years. But in 2014, things seem to be coming to a head. In May, news surfaced of late royalty payments (though this was not news to EC authors), which EC’s CEO blamed on faulty software. Then, in August, EC announced that it was laying off the majority of its staff, attributing this to a precipitous decline in ebook sales via Amazon.
Since then, rumors have been swirling, and authors have started to go public with complaints.* Update 9/17: Managing editor Whitney Mihalik and COO Susan Edwards have reportedly resigned.
I’m on vacation at the moment and not doing much Writer Beware work, so this isn’t my usual detailed post. But I wanted to feature a warning–since what’s happening at EC is ominously reminiscent of events that have preceded the demise of other independent presses. Below is a roundup of links to articles and posts that provide a picture of the current situation.
Meanwhile, Ellora’s Cave is still accepting submissions. In Writer Beware’s opinion, authors should not approach this publisher until it’s clear what the resolution of the current situation will be.
- The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave: From Dear Author, a look at the history of EC and an analysis of past and current problems. Update 9/26: EC has filed a defamation suit against Dear Author over this post.
- Forget Curious, This is Downright Bizarre: more analysis from Deirdre Saoirse Moen. She points out that not only is EC open to submissions, it’s still holding its annual convention next month.
- Author Tymber Dalton also reports on EC problems, with some interesting links.
- Again from Dear Author, the full text of EC CEO Patty Marks’s email announcing staff layoffs due to sales decline.
- EC author Cat Grant is asking readers not to buy her EC books. In addition to royalty payment problems, she reports unrealistic pricing policies, inflexibility in contract negotiations, and refusal to revert rights for low-selling books.
- EC author Avril Ashton reports similar issues, and makes the same request.
- EC author Cat Grant on the publisher’s decline.
- EC author Lynne Connolly reports payment, pricing, and quality issues, and has requested rights reversion on her 19 published EC books.
- The Absolute Write thread on Ellora’s Cave. Discussion of current issues starts around page 13.
- EC owner and founder Tina Engler (a.k.a. Jaid Black) says she’s tired of writing about sex and is going to found another publishing house.
* Writer Beware has heard from only a handful of EC authors, but their complaints are similar to those reported by Dear Author, Cat Grant, and Avril Ashton. I’ve also heard from an EC editor, who says that the volume of manuscripts she’s being asked to work on has increased (likely due to the staff layoffs) and that editors are now being asked to do light copy editing only.
Been there, lived through that. And yes, there is no coming back once the small presses start on their slope downward.
I hate that one of the Authors is being, reportedly, sued and it begs the question, with what money is the publisher launching this action (aren't they broke?) and why now, when they are going out of business??
They really should just let it go and exit with a modicum of decency.
MY x publisher could have been spared public outrage and complaints, if they had just been frank and honest and respectful of the Authors and Illustrators, the creators of the product they sell and make their livings from. But, once royalty statements go missing, are over a year late in coming (or never do come at all) emails go unanswered or terse angry replies arrive, and the same excuses for no money are used for years, the loyalty Authors/Illustrators are capable of is snuffed out. It becomes be a save yourself situation.
It really is too bad that Ohio doesn't have an anti-SLAPP law and that money could be found for this suit. Opinions and blogs are the glue that makes the new publishing schema work. Take away the honest opinions, and everything is only what shills and puppets can say. Trying to squash document-able events and mismanagement is flailing at the pillars of free speech and journalism,making for very bad karma.
I've created a page linking to EC authors who have non-EC titles.
Also added a couple of other resources for same from several bloggers who want to review non-EC books.
Newest development: Ellora's Cave sues Dear Author, claims defamation: http://dearauthor.com/misc/elloras-cave-sues-dear-author/
There's also questionable royalty accounting, as well as a prior smackdown by a judge for refusal to produce documents including the books.
Not good. I'm so sorry four the authors.
I asked for my rights back a. It ago and they all revert to me this month
And according to Dear Author on Twitter: "Whitney Mihalik, the managing editor, and Susan Edwards, the chief operating officer, have both resigned."
I just hope the authors and staff salvage as much as they can out of this.
This is really unfortunate for the authors. It's always sad news for the literary community when things like this happen.
Thanks, Marian and Lynne–I've added Lynne's blog post to my post.
Sadly, I have formally asked for all my rights back.
Lynne Connolly has blogged about the problems as well.