Saturday, September 13, 2014

Writer Beware: Problems at Ellora's Cave

Rumors have swirled around slow, late, and non-payment at publisher Ellora's Cave for years, but lately it seems things are starting to get worse, perhaps even reaching a critical point now.

Publisher's Weekly wrote this.

Then, there was this.

And this.

(So, is it, or isn't it, a new "publishing house?")

Also, this.

And then this from Publisher's Weekly.

And here's the link to the discussion forum about it at AbsoluteWrite.com. (Newest posts on the last pages.)

But, if they're having trouble with income from Amazon, shouldn't they, I dunno, maybe address one of the biggest customer complaints about them, that their books are waaaaaay overpriced compared to comparable genres and lengths? No one's saying give them away for free, but dayamn how about taking a long, hard look at the market and figuring out that maybe he reason sales are down at the 'Zon is because YOUR BOOKS ARE OVERPRICED. Also, they're likely running afoul of the 'Zon's algorithms with their covers and blurbs, getting whacked into the adult filter. (Here's a hint: INSTRUCT your authors how to set up Amazon Author pages and refer people to THOSE so the search algorithms don't hurt you as badly while you change your covers and blurbs to escape the clutches of the adult filters.)

Now, Cat Grant and Avril Ashton have gone public with their issues getting paid by EC.

Now there's this batcrap crazy shit if you haven't seen it yet.

So, um, not sure what THAT means. I guess if you email bitching about your royalties being late/missing you might get a, what, door-knocking visit from Interpol? I mean, I don't know. Sounds like someone needs to take her meds. Or needs meds.

Then there are these nuggets:

This... (Movies???)

This... (So where's the moola?)

This... (Again, the whole is it/isn't it a publishing house question.)

...and this.

For years, I've cautioned writers about EC, mostly because of troubling contract terms that used to be standard and hard to get struck during negotiations, but then I started hearing rumors from a variety of sources, editors and writers alike, that things were going downhill.

Frankly? I wouldn't sign with them. They used to be a fairly prestigious name in the romance industry, but it would seem their problems greatly outweigh that reputation now.

I saw this same pattern of behavior before the horrific implosion of Silver Publishing.

I will be recommending authors do not submit to them until there is obvious improvement in the situation and all back royalties are paid in full and the problem is fixed. I know there have been rumors for years, but the truth is, there have been issues for years. There was a lawsuit a few years back, among other things.

Bottom line is, I feel sorry for my friends who are in the process of being shafted. I hope the authors and staff get the monies owed them, but frankly, I suspect they won't.

EDIT:

I also found this blog post by Trista Ann Michaels from March of 2014 where she posts she's not been paid.

EDIT 2:

Dear Author published this in-depth article about the EC troubles.

EDIT 3:

It's now being reported on the Writer Beware blog.

EDIT 4:

http://deirdre.net/forget-curious-this-is-downright-bizarre/

18 comments:

  1. I feel terrible for all the authors affected by this. :(

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    1. IKR? She has money to pay a security team to track down people who email her, and yet can't pay authors and editors? WTF?

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    2. She's the one in breach of multiple contracts. What would they even do if this "security team" did track someone down? Me thinks you're right. Someone is clearly off their medication.

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    3. Crazy shit!!! She sounds unbalanced. I mean seriously. A security team???? PAY YOUR AUTHORS.

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  2. Back when I was starting out in erotic romance, I took a look at EC and what rights they asked for. When I saw their standard contract wanted pretty much *everything* including rights they couldn't possibly use, I thought, "Yeah, not going there..."

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  3. Have heard from several sources that they haven't paid editors since July...

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  4. Oh My Gosh! So they buy an operating systems for $250,000, 2 years ago and it still isn't running right. WTH! It sounds like a bunch of crap and she is making her money off the backs of authors.

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  5. I don't expect to see another dime from them. I've tried dealing with them in good faith, and all I get are snotty emails ("Learn how to read!" was one of their choice comments, referring to me not reading my contracts) or no reply at all. At this point I would be ecstatic simply to get my rights back.

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  6. Me too, Cat. I just want my rights back.

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  7. I'm also an EC author and have been published with them since 2012. Am I going to ask for my rights back because of what's happening. No...Why? I have no grounds to ask for them back yet. They are not in breach of contract with me. Am I concerned about payment or the possibility that all my royalties haven't been paid to me. That's between me and the publisher. My position is to remain professional. I refuse to bash EC in a public forum like Dear Author because I don't think it solves anything. Giving into all the accusations and fear isn't going to change a dam thing. I've spoken privately with some of my author friends about my feelings on this issue. However, trying to further sink EC's ship isn't on my agenda. I work in the legal field so I guess my approach is different. My close author pals know where I stand on this situation. I'm not staying quiet because I'm afraid. There's nothing to be afraid of. I'll do what is necessary when the time comes for me to take action but I'll part ways on good terms if possible regardless of how things go down. Besides, I'd rather focus on the future and continue writing because that's what I love to do. I'm sad to see the company in so much turmoil. There were a lot of great people that worked for EC, and still work for EC. Plus, all my many wonderful author friends. This is a tough situation for everyone involved.

    Finally, there is one statement I would like to make about the Jaid Black post on FB regarding the Interpol comment, etc. I think she was talking about the middle eastern men who keep contacting her and sending her inappropriate messages. She was airing her frustrations. It was a joke. I don't think it was about the authors. I'm not sure how that post got twisted around to be about us. I didn't see anything that mentioned authors in that post. I think again, someone took it out of context and ran with it which is just more fodder for the flames.

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  8. The FB security post was about crazy unknown men who randomly target US women on facebook. It appears she was the target for a brief while. It was a joke post re that. There were also messenger screen grabs she posted which support this

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  9. I wouldn't have signed with EC after the judge's smackdown with them re: the Brashear case.

    http://deirdre.net/forget-curious-this-is-downright-bizarre/

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  10. @Erin - The problem with staying quiet is that then people don't know what's going on. It allows the house to sucker in more victims. I agree that people should try to resolve stuff amicably at first. But the problem is when there is a systemic issue of authors being ignored, unpaid, etc, then that needs to be made public. Case in point? GM and their multiple issues with cars. They were KNOWN problems, for years. Until it was made public, however, it wasn't possible for people to be aware of what was going on. Authors need to know when a house is systemically failing its authors the way EC is. Good for you that you don't currently have any problems with them.

    HOWEVER. Way too many authors ARE having problems. And, also unfortunately, when houses fail in such a way, they typically follow the same pattern of behavior that EC is following. And unless authors speak up, new authors will get screwed, and authors currently with the house who think they're they only one having problems won't realize that no, this IS a systemic problem.

    Gone are the days of predator houses being able to keep authors quiet so they can go on, sometimes for years, in some cases, to keep doing what they're doing while the authors who they're screwing suffer in silence.

    And, frankly, the publisher isn't acting in a very professional manner. When there are authors and editors not getting paid, the last thing the person they see as responsible for the whole thing should be doing is going on social media and bragging about their shopping sprees, house purchases, etc. It really tends to piss people off. And, seriously, it takes them a YEAR to recover from a "software issue?" I'm sure they could have paid an accountant to go in with a darn Excel spreadsheet and their reports and spend two weeks getting royalties straightened out so they could get everyone paid.

    Unfortunately, "software issues" is also a common excuse used when houses start to fail and stop paying authors. So are "illnesses" and "personal emergencies," among other excuses. Anything to stall, delay, divert. Then they start turning authors against other authors, an "us vs. them" mentality, so that the authors who ARE speaking out are ostracized. It's like they all follow the same playbook.

    As for the social media comments, whether it was out of context or not, I don't know, it still comes off as batcrap crazy. And as someone else pointed out, if she had a legitimate fear of being threatened, then having your settings so your location shows up in your social media posts isn't the smartest strategy out there.

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  11. @Erin - Also, let's NOT forget that if EC is in arrears on their taxes, it's not a hard leap in logic to make that they're in arrears elsewhere, such as to their authors and editors.

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  12. Considering the price of some eBooks, I find it DISGUSTING that hard working authors are not being paid their due.
    I hope that the authors that are currently being ripped off get what is owing to them and that others take this lesson to heart and boycott greedy, unprofessional publishers.
    In answer o the comment about Amazon pricing; there are other digital providers that also over price their eBooks, such as Siren. I have so many authors that I would love to read, but I WILL NOT pay $3.99 or more in some cases, for 80 - 100 pages; that is not a BOOK, and definitely not worth the cost.

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  13. In my country, you can`t find a single book under 16 dollar! A hardcover book cost FROM 55 dollar, e-books cost from 32 dollar and up. No, it`s not a joke!!! So for us 3.99 is cheeeeeeep.
    I think it`s really sad that EC don`t pay they're authors. Some of my favoriteauthors writes for EC, and I will not purchase book`s from a company that treat their authors like shit.

    Norwegicus

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  14. Tymber, I'm so sad this is happening to so many people I know. This kind of behavior sounds like what Noble Romance did - refused to revert rights, failed to make royalty payments at all/on time, lack of communication or snotty emails. Threats that had absolutely no basis in fact.

    In the end, it was authors banding together and bombarding them with daily emails. We forced them to close the doors and revert our rights. No, we didn't get paid the money they owed us. But the contract read that we were entitled to audits of the books for our titles and when a group of us insisted on audits all at once, they caved and they are no more.

    We also found out who their attorney was and bombarded her with emails. It cost Noble a small fortune in attorney fees, but in the end we won.

    I hope all EC authors come out on top.

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