Home » Romance » Changes at Ellora’s Cave

Changes at Ellora’s Cave

19 August 2014

From Dear Author:

To All Ellora’s Cave authors:

You are probably aware of the quick, sharp decline of ebook sales via Amazon in recent months. EC is not the only publisher experiencing this sudden decrease, and interestingly, we are not seeing the same drastic dip from other vendors. But Amazon is our largest vendor, so we are having to make some fairly large changes quickly to deal with the situation until we can understand it and turn it around.

We have already cut staff, special EC projects and other expenses, but the drastic drop in sales has resulted in large net short-term variable production losses and slow and often negative return on investment for EC on almost every new book we publish, with the exception of a handful of the highest sellers. For that reason, for the foreseeable future almost all manuscripts will be edited by in-house editors, and covers designed by in-house artists.

We know that many of you love your current editors and covers, and we are very sorry to lose this dedicated group of talented people (and hope to be able to offer them other opportunities in future). The good news is that our staff editors and designers are highly skilled and deeply experienced, and will bring new perspectives to your books. We are looking forward to this creating a more direct relationship with our authors so we can be more aware of and thus more quickly responsive to your needs, questions and concerns.

If you have a book currently in edits or awaiting edits with a freelance editor, Managing Editor Whitney Mihalik will contact you within the next few weeks about its status.

Ellora’s Cave has weathered storms before and we will this one as well. We are aggressively adjusting our business to the current publishing environment. We will fill you in with our endeavors as they are unveiled­hopefully with the first exciting news later this week.

In the meantime, since these declines are primarily related to Amazon, it is a good idea to encourage your readers to purchase ebooks from the Ellora’s Cave site because it benefits you and your readers. Prices of books on our site are often lower, your royalty rate is higher and you get paid faster for books purchased through our site. You and your books are also much easier to find on our site.

Even readers with Kindles and Nooks can purchase on our site and load onto their devices. The process is not difficult. Our site has instructions on how to do it: http://www.ellorascave.com/downloads-support/. We are also working on some fun videos to show people how to do it and will put them on YouTube so you can link to them when they are done.

It is also important to support and promote Barnes & Noble and All Romance Ebooks as well until we are able to determine the reasons for Amazon’s declining sales. Hopefully we will be able to work with Amazon to correct the inconsistencies quickly. However, in the short run your net royalties per book are consistently higher in the following order: 1) Ellora’s Cave, 2) Barnes and Noble, AllRomance, and probably Kobo 3) Amazon, and 4) Google. It would certainly make fiscal sense for you to send your fans to those first venues.

This is by no means meant to be a statement about Amazon. We are not at this time coming to any conclusions regarding the many negative rumors and articles about Amazon­ the Gazelle Project, their disputes with Disney and Hachette, and the 900 authors’ open letter in the New York Times­ which we have been made aware of over and over again. For many years we have had a reasonable business relationship with Amazon, up until this drastic drop in sales, and we are certainly hoping that it will all be resolved as we present discrepancies that we are identifying. We have not completed our analysis at this point and therefore have not had any direct communication with Amazon regarding these issues. We are just saying in the meantime that it makes sense for you to promote your books to be purchased through the venues that are most profitable to you on a per-copy basis (and of course to Ellora’s Cave). This benefits all of us. That way you will make more per sale and, in the unthinkable event that the sales at Amazon continue to decline, your fans will be aware of other venues that are out there for them. Hopefully though, this is temporary and not a continuing trend and Amazon will go back to being as profitable for us as it has been in the past.

I know that there has been some discussion and concern about a new project announced by Jaid Black. We will make an announcement soon with details, but please be assured that no EC funds are being invested in this venture, that it is in no way a publishing company, and that my full attention and loyalty remain to Ellora’s Cave and its authors. We are looking at the new venture as a means to enhance the opportunities and options that are available to our authors­not to take away funds from Ellora’s Cave ­and are very excited about releasing the news to you soon. We are always looking at new projects and interests as they present themselves to us­some connected to the publishing industry and some not. Please be assured, however, that EC always has been and remains our main focus. With the help of our fantastic staff and authors, we are working very hard to adjust to the current publishing environment and remain the premier publisher of erotic romance.

Also, please note that almost all the royalty checks have been mailed, with the exception of a handful that should be out by end of week. We are not bankrupt (rumors) and are not in any kind of shape to even file bankruptcy. While we have had some issues getting the royalty checks out as quickly as we have in the past, we are still within our contracts. We certainly understand why you are concerned and appreciate those of you who have asked questions rather than spreading conspiracy theories and propagating rumors that are only detrimental to fellow authors. We hope all of this does not detract from what all of you do best­WRITING. Rumors are distracting and disconcerting and all of you deserve better.

Thanks for your support and understanding. We do appreciate all of you and respect your talents, your pride in your work and your concern for your careers. Please do not EVER sell yourselves short! What you do is valuable to everyone who comes in contact with you through your stories.

Link to the rest at Dear Author and thanks to Amy for the tip.

Let’s count the red flags:

the quick, sharp decline of ebook sales via Amazon in recent months

the drastic drop in sales has resulted in large net short-term variable production losses and slow and often negative return on investment for EC on almost every new book we publish

Amazon is our largest vendor, so we are having to make some fairly large changes quickly to deal with the situation until we can understand it and turn it around.

we have had a reasonable business relationship with Amazon, up until this drastic drop in sales, and we are certainly hoping that it will all be resolved as we present discrepancies that we are identifying

We are not bankrupt

[We] are not in any kind of shape to even file bankruptcy

we have had some issues getting the royalty checks out as quickly as we have in the past 

PG has no inside information about what’s going on at EC and he doesn’t deal in rumors.

That said, PG has not not heard of any other publisher or any significant number of indie authors who have experienced a sharp decline in ebook sales via Amazon in recent months.

As a general proposition, a small business person doesn’t want to be involved with a business that is experiencing financial problems.

Romance

123 Comments to “Changes at Ellora’s Cave”

  1. On the topic of a drop in sales, I can say that as an individual with some 16 novels on Amazon, I have seen no ‘sharp drop in sales’. Others may have. I have seen some people post that they have. Others, like me, have said they’ve seen sales go up. How KU and whether or not you are in it may or may not play into this is another question.

    However, the ‘getting royalty checks out slower’ bit is a huge red flag. I know a lot of people who have published with EC. I hope this doesn’t mean the same thing I’ve seen with other small publishers.

  2. I always have a sharp decline in sales in the summer; 80+% of my sales come from November to May, unless I release something new in between.

    J.R. Tomlin’s comment about KU may make more sense, if people are currently taking advantage of free KU memberships to borrow books rather than buy them. I’ve seen about 50% sales and 50% borrows in the last couple of months.

    • Edward, this is the first summer that I haven’t seen a drop in sales. That may or may not be explained by the fact that I’m promoting pretty aggressively and have a couple of (fairly) new novels out.

  3. Other than the fact that it’s summer, and I and several other authors of my acquaintance in my genre typically experience sales lags in summer, I don’t know what she’s talking about either. It is a typical summer lag, not greater than usual.

    Since “erotic romance” is not too far from my genre, it seems likely and reasonable that EC experiences similar summer slumps. Further, deponent sayeth not.

  4. ZirconiaPublishing

    I think a publisher as big as Ellora’s Cave has accounted for the summer slump and is instead seeing a larger pattern.

  5. I have seen a very sharp decline in sales, but I attributed it to summer and the fact that I haven’t released anything in the last five months, except a short story.

  6. An EC author who’s a FB friend notes that her readers have been complaining that EC prices are so high that they are looking elsewhere. In one comment thread online, EC readers are complaining about “$7 for an ebook novella” as beyond what they consider reasonable.

    • I’m seeing some examples of that type of comment on Amazon book pages. It doesn’t appear to be a common price-point, but I think it’s a big issue. Either people feel they are being asked for too much money for books that are not novel-length, or they are not realizing how short that is and are disappointed.

      They should be doing a better job of informing readers. I have friends that read alot and they seldom have any idea of page or word counts – and how that translates to reader experience.

    • The price point is the biggest complaint on the DA comments as well. I have readers who expressed displeasure at paying $3.99 for a 50K-word novel. EC may very well be pricing themselves out of the market.

      • It strikes me that the romance market is a little like a canary in the mine shaft. They adapted early and the readers are very savvy about prices.

        • I’ve bought a lot of books from Ellora’s cave over the years. And I can attest to noticing that recently, like in the last several months, that their prices have risen. I’ve started buying less myself because of it. And usually look for the longer books if I do buy something. It’s only recently that I started buying any ebooks from amazon and hadn’t thought about finding their books on amazon at all until I got a really awful book and wished I could leave a review.

        • I agree with you. Romance readers are “very” savvy, and because many of them read so many books in a year, my bet is they are uber sensitive to price. If EC is above the pricing norm–and with the advent of KU–they could definitely be experiencing a rough patch. (Plus growing competition from indies!)

          I hope they come through it okay, because they were a leader in providing romance and erotica writers a solid market for their work.

          I’m another Amazon SP author who has not seen her sales fall precipitously in the last quarter. Quite the opposite…

    • I wouldn’t pay $7 for a novella–not even from a favorite author. Period. No way. I’ve never bought or read anything from EC–erotica is not my thang–but if $7 is an indication of their normal pricing, then, yeah, maybe folks are buying indie erotic authors who price 2 bucks+ lower or similar lengths.

      I’ve seen (while browsing romance books) some erotic romance short stories/shorter works priced 2.99 and 3.99, so I think there clearly is an audience willing to pay something for shorter works. Maybe not 7 bucks, tho. OK, I” gonna go look…

      ….I visted the EC site. The longer novels are 8 bucks and the regular novels are 6 bucks.

      Hmmm. I wouldn’t pay 8 bucks. I don’t care if it’s Plus length. I can get a long old Keeper romance for my Kindle for 4 and 5 bucks. From bestselling authors. That I love.

      • Some of my erotica is also romance (but it’s all graphic erotica.) I sell my shorts at .99, which I get yelled at all the time for, but I gotta be me.

        I did price one of my longer shorts (I dunno.) at $2.99 in accord with the price checker beta thing to see what would happen. It is not selling as well as it did at .99, but so far, the royalties are in fact a little higher.

        Even my novel I sell for only $5.99, and I should probably drop that. Price checker beta thing says everything I sell should be $2.99. *shrug*

    • I don’t know anything about Ellora’s Cave, but the first thought that popped into my head was that it’s not Amazon that did something to hurt EC’s sales, but that it’s the rise of the indie authors in that genre and their more competitive prices.

      • M.P. I think you’ve hit the nail on the head.
        Best
        Cathleen

      • Except that I’m a *little* edgier and not all my stuff is romance, I’m pretty much right in their ballpark. IMNSHO my stuff is as good or better than everything but their best and they cost twice as much. And I am far from alone. Yeah, they need to think about competitive pricing.

      • True, but Amazon provided the vector for Indie writers to distribute their books, so in a sense Amazon is a major contributor to traditional publishers current (and increasing) travails.

  7. I don’t know where to start with this, other than if your sales are down on Amazon, telling Amazon customers to buy your books from stores other than Amazon is probably not the way to reverse that trend.

    I don’t have any knowledge of this situation at all, but if I was an EC author, I’d worry that this means they have cashflow problems and need to get money in fast – rather than waiting for the 60-odd days it takes Amazon to pay out sales.

    • I know a number of EC authors, some of which are now with other publishers, or self-publishing. There have been repeated messages from them about delays in payments. None of that is reassuring.

      • I wonder why those authors don’t go indie, really. With the Ellora Cave artists being let go, and other staff, I think they’d be looking to freelance (opportunity for indies who like those covers to get some quotes on freelance work).

        Those “let go” EC folks should band together in a friendly coop and offer “comprehensive freelance editing and cover creation for the indie erotic romance/romance/romantica authors.” They already have a portfolio of stuff they did for EC, could probably easily get reference quotes for a website from EC authors they worked with. Seems so doable.

        If I wrote erotica/romantica, dude, I’d be all indie, all the time and I’d be contacting one of those ex-staffers for quotes! That stuff sells!

        • Many EC authors went indie back in 2011 or earlier. The writer who encouraged me to try the both the erotica and indie kept getting e-mails from her editor at EC begging for submissions.

          • I looked at submitting to them but as soon as I read their submission guidelines clicked the little x at the top of the window. I’m not wanting a publisher enough to try and negotiate away the life of copyright statement they have in their guidelines.

        • Read with interest Mir’s suggestion that all of those “let go” by EC–freelance editors as well as cover designers–should ban together and offer their expertise. Um, not to get anyone down or anything, but I have been a freelance editor for 8 years for an erotic e-publisher that is doing very well, thank you.

          I can personally tell you that I have tried very hard over the years to get outside work editing for indie writers. Plain and simple, no one wants to pay for good editing. My rates are very, very reasonable, yet no one wants to pay them. I have over 100 books to my credit, and my editing standards are very high. One of the most consistent things my authors keep telling me is how they love the great editing I do on their books.

          One of the reasons a freelance editor works for a publishing house is for this very reason; as a content editor, I build my stable of authors and (hopefully) always have something to work on as my authors submit new manuscripts. In this situation, I have work that I get paid for. I would like to be paid more, but I will take what I can get. There are a lot of editors out there. Not all of them are good.

          I can’t tell you how many authors have looked me up and asked me about editing their indie mss, then tell me they “can’t afford my prices.” I’ve read a lot of books lately that have been very poorly edited. You get what you pay for. And readers get what they paid for.

          I understand the price point has come down on what readers are willing to pay. I understand writers have to keep their costs down as well. However, cutting corners on editing shouldn’t be one of those corners.

  8. BTW Ed Robertson busted the myth of the “summer slump” quite a while back – I think the below post is from last year.

    It may well have been true when the e-book market was at an early stage (and distorted by huge numbers of new entrants each Christmas), but it doesn’t seem to be true anymore.

    http://edwardwrobertson.com/ebooks-and-the-myth-of-the-summer-slump/

    • Perhaps another way to estimate seasonality of sales on Amazon would be to count the number of reviews done in March compared to August for a sample of books. It seems like reviews scale fairly well with sales (i.e. a constant fraction of sales tend to be reviewed overall), so that could give some insight into whether there is a summer slump.

      It wouldn’t be a perfect method (there is a lag between buying, reading and reviewing for example), but none of these methods of back calculating Amazon sales from ranks are necessarily that accurate either. Basically, they are all educated guesses, but sometimes that’s all you have to go on, so you do.

  9. When I read EC’s letter, several thoughts came to mind.
    1) Many of their titles are erotic romance. In fact EC coined the term “erotica” – I’ve heard that the “pendulum” for erotic stories is swinging away and that it’s becoming less profitable.
    2) Going along with the above and the earlier mention of the price, readers don’t have to buy the type of stories they enjoy reading from a specific publisher…only if they want to stay loyal to a specific author.
    3)Ebook publishers need to remember that they’re not just competing with other eBook publishers but with indie authors.

    I have friends who’ve been writing for EC for many years. I hope the news is not as dire as it seems. However, I remember a letter with similar phrases from Dorchester.

    • Actually, I think the term they coined was “romantica”, which is erotica with romance (not just sex).

      • Actually they trademarked the word romantica which caused it to no longer be used as a portmanteau subject word by anyone other than EC. As a result it’s pretty much dropped from use.

        EC also had at least part of Roberta Gellis’ backlist in ebook, but they were outrageously priced when they first came out so I passed. Considering that Gellis’ books were readily available used and that most of them had been published in the late 70’s to early 80’s then reprinted, it was not a terribly savvy move.

        • Kristie Leigh Maguire

          Several years ago I received a letter from EC threatening a lawsuit against me if I used the term ‘romantica’ again to describe my writing. I didn’t know they had it copyrighted when I was using the term but evidently they did and didn’t want me using it. I quit using it and began describing my writing as ultra-sensual.

          • That was pretty dumbassed of them. If I were the head of a publishing business that coined a term, I’d simply send a letter saying, “Hi, there, writer. So cool you write in this genre BTW, we created that term and we trademarked it. It’s fine if you want to describe your writing as “romantica,” but we ask that you put a notation or a parenthetical explanation that ELLORA’S CAVE, publisher of romantica, created this portmanteau for this subgenre. And if you link to us, we’d be very pleased. If these terms aren’t okay with you, then we ask you choose another suitable term to describe your erotic romance style. Best wishes, and thanks for your cooperation.”

            That way they might get folks checking them out (ie $$, new customers) and won’t p*** off folks.

            Just saying. That’s how I’d have worked through that little hiccup.

        • Baen had a few of her books as ebooks for a while but about half are no longer available. I’m glad I picked up the ones I did. Baen’s price is $4 to $6.99 depending on how old it is. That’s a perfectly reasonable price for older backlist.

        • According to the US Patent and Trademark Office, their “Ellora’s Cave Romantica Publishing” mark was cancelled as of May 2nd of this year. They also had a separate “Romantica Publishing” registration for a while, but that was abandoned as of Oct 13, 2010. Near as I can tell they never had the word “Romantica” trademarked on its own, and the longer one’s “Distinctiveness Limitation Statement” was “Romantica Publishing”. Perhaps PG would know whether that could be asserted against someone not combining “Romantica” with the word “Publishing”.

          Current live marks (that I can find):

          ROMANTICON
          SEXPORIUM
          BLUSH
          EXOTIKA
          QUICKIES
          ELLORA’S CAVE

          But perhaps there are more that I’m missing in my search.

    • Word Origin and History for erotica
      erotica
      1854, from Gk. neut. pl. of erotikos “amatory” (see erotic ); originally a booksellers’ catalogue heading.

      I don’t think they coined it although they might have taken credit for it.

      • Not erotic. ROMANTICA. That’s the term in question. I think I remember we first started using it in the romance reading/writing community in the 90s. I didn’t know they’d trademarked it. Geesh.

  10. I think, and I’m only making an assumption, that perhaps the reason why their sales have been affected is because the genres that they publish are in romance categories. And romance readers have loved themselves some tasty Kindle Unlimited treats. Since their books are not exclusive to Kindle, they are seeing the affects.

    I know I’ve been very blessed by being in Kindle Unlimited. My borrows are often 10 times the amount of sales in my genre. Kindle Unlimited has been a God-send.

  11. I have absolutely no insider knowledge, but I would add this to the red flags:

    I know that there has been some discussion and concern about a new project announced by Jaid Black. We will make an announcement soon with details, but please be assured that no EC funds are being invested in this venture, that it is in no way a publishing company…

    But, then, I’m a suspicious peasant.

  12. Hi,

    I’m primarily with Breathless Press, and I saw a HUGE drop in sales with Amazon. I questioned the publisher about it, but apparently, they took it personally. This was a few months ago. Their books are also high priced, but not as high as others, so? But Ellora’s Cave is not the only ones experiencing it. If you look at trends, Amazon has lost a portion of the market they used to have, and ebooks in general have steadied out. People are going back to print books for some of their favorite authors, or doing more split of buying print vs ebooks. Also, I think it has to do with Amazon’s general… business practices of late.

    They made a huge point to say that they can take away any book you bought. so, if Amazon can take away your book, why purchase it there? I’m moving more to Barnes and Noble and All Romance (for romance books). The biggest shimmy in that is their app is not as user friendly. If Barnes and Noble were to make their app as user friendly as Amazon, I’d quit buying a lot of kindle versions and get epub and use my nook.

    • Which trends?

      I haven’t seen this. I think there has been a shift in which genres and types are popular, but over all, I haven’t seen any sign that Amazon has lost any market share.

      I suspect part of the problem for Ellora’s Cave is that their genres are pretty saturated with very successful indies right now. And most of those Indies are probably signed up for Kindle Unlimited. I’ve been watching a few of the hot romance indies, and the successful ones are not only prolific, but they are very savvy researchers of the market, and some of them respond to market shifts with amazing speed that no small publisher could match.

      I’ve heard a number of indies report extra slow sales this summer, and others report better sales than ever. (I’m seeing a slight uptick.) It really looks to me like a market shift rather than a drop. The market is saturated with certain kinds of promotion, and certain kinds of fiction. Newer readers are a different demographic than the first adopters, etc.

      Traditional publishing is used to slow shifts, and they get used to stable “micro-climates” in which they build their business. But we’re in a period right now where the business will change every single year (if not more often).

    • All of these e-books are licensed, not sold. I don’t own a Nook, but my bet is that if you go to Barnes & Noble’s web site to try to get an e-book, you’ll find you don’t “own” anything. So any e-vendor can pull “your” book back at their pleasure because you haven’t bought it, only licensed the right to store and read it.

      Will bow, of course, to superior knowledge. Where are you, Will of O?

    • I think you’ll find that all ebook sellers who use DRM/proprietary apps have the right to delete content from your cloud storage/app if they want to. Amazon has famously *done* it a few times, and *to my knowledge* B&N et al have not, but on the other hand while Amazon has the occasional Porn Purge they haven’t had anything like the Kobopocalpyse, so really, I see no reason to trust any eseller over any other on that score.

  13. I’m sad that they’re losing sales and people are losing their jobs over this, but on the other hand… Ellora’s Cave paid Farrah Abraham an advance – one that’s rumoured to be a big one. Instead of giving her money she didn’t need for a book that didn’t sell (#107,224 in the paid Kindle store), maybe they should’ve spent it somewhere else.

  14. This is a ridiculous letter. It flat out implies multiple times that Amazon is doing something to affect sales. Then says you shouldn’t shop there if you can avoid it. And then lists the many issues at the moment with Amazon and publishers/authors etc. AND then says “This is by no means meant to be a statement about Amazon.”

    Did Deborah Smith have a hand in writing this?

    Also, word on the street is EC laid off a lot of staff. Maybe this fact is one of those “rumors” or “conspiracy theories”.

    • Smart Debut Author

      Based on what my friends who are published by Bell Bridge tell me, Deborah Smith’s company is in more or less the same boat.

      But writing letters blaming Amazon for their woes might actually be less stupid than heaping invective upon the real cause of their slumping sales…

      …those ignorant, disloyal readers who aren’t willing to pay twice as much as they should for every book.

      • EC and Belle Bridge could cease to be…and we’d still have tons of good stuff to read. :::shrug::: I’d only wish the authors did well elsewhere or indie. I still have fond thoughts for some Belle authors from when I glommed their stuff in decades past.

      • HI, kids.
        Since our authors have no access to anything but their own royalty numbers, and know virtually nothing about the inner workings of BelleBooks, your “friends” probably don’t write for us.

        We’re doing just fine. Ask all the authors who are receiving “Rapid Share” royalty checks this month, or who were hosted at our open house at RWA (where we were a major sponsor) or who’ll see us at Dragon*Con in a couple of weeks. Note the BB authors whose titles are in major Amazon promotions this month. We have a complex relationship with the big A, but we do a LOT of business there, and will continue to. Our 400 titles are in so many other platforms — worldwide — that we can stand some heat. And we’ll be announcing new ventures soon.

        Rumors are fun, but facts are even better.

      • Belle is doing well for me and many others. It just got all three novels in a trilogy on a variety of Bestsellers list, including high rankings in the movers and shakers. List rankings held for right at a month–and these were backlist books out for a good while.

        I also know Belle got a promo deal for a new author, which isn’t uncommon for it, and that author did very well at Amazon. Top 100.

        Authors might have different experiences, but Belle is all over promoting and selling.

        Perhaps EC is experiencing a normal cycle. Types of novels do that regularly and have for as long as I can remember.

        Not saying this is happening. Am saying it is worth checking out. For a time, you couldn’t sell a sweet book, then a paranormal, then historically, then suspense. Seems logical these books too would endure cycles, though price certainly is a worthy consideration. People only have so much discretionary income…

        Either way, I know Belle is selling well for me and many others.

    • Matt, speaking as an erotica author, Amazon HAS done some things to hide/discourage erotica after the big hullabaloo made by The Kernel last October.

      http://www.wildwickedwacky.blogspot.com/2014/06/more-of-amazons-unofficial-guide-to.html

      It means we have to get creative in our marketing since our usual visibility measures on Amazon, such as keywords and covers, have been severely curtailed. One of the great things about indies is the effort to pool information.

      As for EC, I have no clue what measures they’ve taken, or whether some of their content on Amazon has had to be pulled and reworked

      I do question their claim of an Amazon slump for the summer. My Amazon numbers have risen, while B&N has fallen sharply thanks to the CEO waffling about what’s going to happen to the Nook.

  15. Wow…that’s a lot of red flags. I sure hope the EC authors will be okay.

    Price, for those type of books, is an issue. I’m not a romance reader (or writer, for that matter), but the indie romance and lusty romance books are coming out fast and furious. And their prices are lower. That has to be a factor at some point.

    • If they were smart, they’d do a summer experiment: Immediately have a Wild Hot Summer sale and price everything full length 4.99 and everything shorter much cheaper than now. See how that affects sales. Do that for at least ONE month–summer ends Sept 20-something, right?– and see.

      Doubt they will.

  16. Many authors not enrolled in Kindle Unlimited experienced a drop in their sales rank when KU debuted one month ago. This is because sales rank is a zero sum game and borrows were counted as sales, thus KU books got a ratings advantage and those books not enrolled were at a ratings disadvantage. If sales ranking affects a book’s visibility (and we know it does), then it makes sense that it would also affect actual sales.

    Ellora’s Cave says their decline was “in recent months,” so I’m not sure if it’s because of KU or if there’s something else going on.

  17. I am only a reader of Erotic Romance, but I feel the need to share my perspective.

    Ellora’s Cave books are priced entirely too high.
    A short story is priced at a novella’s price.
    A novella is priced at a novel’s price.
    A novel is completely over priced.

    Listen, my perspective is that a short story shouldn’t be more than .99¢ or maybe (max) $1.99 … If and only if the short story is connected to a series and the short story is to “tide over the fans”. I’ve paid 4.99 or more for a short story from Ellora’s Cave.

    At this point, I actively avoid EC’s products because I know that I am over paying for the market price/value. There have been a select few novelists that I ‘bite the bullet’ and I give in a purchase an EC novel (at this point it’s only down to Joey W. Hill).

    Listen, as a reader, I *know* that the authors make more money (and faster) through their publishers website (EC, Samhain, Bookstrand, Loose Id, etc), but frankly the convieniance of having to only go to one website, Amazon, and the ease of purchase makes it a no brainier for me. When I’ve purchased novels directly from publishers, first of all it’s a mission, secondly I can’t delete them from my kindle because if not I loose it. When I buy kindle books I can just archive them. Also Amazon charges me for emailing them to me when I purchase from a publisher. My kindle is never connected to my home computer as my home computer belongs to my dear husband. Also, at this point I have like 1500+ erotic romances purchased through Amazon… Why would I want to change just so you (the author) can make $0.20 more cents or something ridiculous like that. I know this sounds shallow, but it’s just too easy for me to purchase from my iPhone to my iPhone’s kindle app(where I read the majority of the stories), than purchase from the publishing company.

    Sorry, the end of the day, other publishing websites simply can’t compare to the ease of Amazon for the user.

    This is my perspective as a reader.

    • Ej- Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts. I always like to hear a readers’ perspective, no matter their genre of choice.

      Never feel your insight is unappreciated. I assure you, it is exactly what authors want, and need, to hear.

    • That’s crazy. I love reading short stories but I can’t even think of a case where I would pay $4.99 for one.

      Thanks for chiming in. I think these companies are quick to blame others and they rarely look at what they’re doing that may be causing them problems first.

      • I did some poking around and found an interview with Jaid Black (founder of Ellora). At the risk of being a little unfair, her views expressed in the interview and comments to the interview indicated defensiveness to me. For example, at several times she suggested that people couldn’t complain about grammar and spelling errors in the books unless they had raised their concerns directly to the publisher.

        I know from years in the service industry, the vast majority of people don’t complain to managers – the just leave and never come back.

      • $4.99 for a short story? Stephen King and Dean Koontz and J.K. Rowling and Lois M Bujold could get together and conspire to write one killer short story–and I’d still raise an eyebrow at that price for 15 to 30 pages. Gimme a break.

        I agree. EC is overpriced. When they were the main/only game in town for romantica way back–I can see how they could price at will. But those days are gone. They have competition. They need to lower prices.

    • Ej, thanks for taking to time to leave a comment. These are things we need to hear as business people.

    • Here’s the problem:

      I’ve paid 4.99 or more for a short story from Ellora’s Cave.

      Now, that doesn’t mean you’re forever obliged to pay the same pricing, and you didn’t do anything wrong. But in economics there is a concept known as “sticky wages.” It has to do with the fact that it’s very hard for people to accept wage cuts even if by doing so they could save their jobs.

      This is the same sort of thing: EC, BB et al have gotten used to selling at a certain price point and making a certain margin. The market just won’t support it any more, but their business model requires it. They must either radically change their business model, or fail.

      The big TPH are in the same boat, they just have a lot more ocean to float in for now. All of them are going to have to adapt to a world with a lot less intermediation. Not none – there’ll always be room for some, and some of it isn’t all bad – but a lot less, and a lot less control and a lot less of the revenue stream going to intermediaries.

  18. This is so sad. Like the other commenters, I hope that EC’s authors will be OK. I like EC, they publish some excellent titles, and they’ve been around for a long time.

    The letter is strange. It’s hard to read between the lines without knowing more about how the company works. If the prices for their books are higher than similar books in the category, then that could account for the drop in sales.

    As David Gaughran said — promoting books on EC’s own website, and encouraging their authors to do that too, means that they’re focused on getting money faster.

    I hope EC manages to meet its challenges, but the tone of the letter would make me jump ship, if I were an EC author.

  19. Dumb question: What in the wide, wide world of sports is “The Gazelle Project?” And why was that phrase shoehorned between the words “Amazon” and “Hachette?”

  20. Being the high priced brand in romance is pretty tough. Maybe they should have paid attention to Amazon’s pricing suggestions. Just guessing.

  21. The Big Five are also competing in erotic romance now, and I don’t think they used to, at least not in a big way. I think the rise of digital has been a part of this, and so has Fifty Shades of Gray.

    One of my favorite erotic romance authors jumped from Ellora’s Cave to Penguin’s Intermix (digital only) line where she was published at competitive prices of $3-4 per novel and built a following. They recently bumped her up to mass-market paperback.

  22. Ellora’s Cave pricing is absurd, and frankly, I’m not sure how they haven’t run afoul of the TOS at Amazon for it. In order to drive sales to their own website, they will list books high — I found several at $13.98 — and then show list price and “our price” at a more reasonable level at the EC site. The $13.98 title is discounted to a(very slightly) more rational $9.13 by Amazon, and to a genre-rational $6.99 at EC, where your eyeballs are then pulled out by red type on black backgrounds and black type on red backgrounds.

    They haven’t adjusted to not the main game in town as they once were.

  23. I smell a rat, setting up a retailer as a scapegoat.

  24. Romantica…romantica…romantica…
    I’m writing it 100 times on the blackboard.
    Sorry…two glasses of wine and I’m a dunce.

  25. We are not bankrupt (rumors) and are not in any kind of shape to even file bankruptcy.

    I used to do bankruptcy law.

    Based on my experience, if I saw my publisher put out that statement, I would immediately sue to get my rights back.

    What do I mean by ‘immediately’? I mean today. I want my suit going forward and notice served before they file for bankruptcy. Maybe I can get relief from the stay to litigate in state court. Maybe not and I’ll litigate the suit in bankruptcy court. But I bet when I offer to buy back my rights and put money on the table, the trustee will settle.

    ‘[N]ot in any kind of shape to even file bankruptcy.’ How do you know unless you have consulted a bankruptcy attorney? And I think this statement is in error (best case) or deliberately misleading (worst case).

    • A few weeks back, PG provided that quote from “The Sun Also Rises” about the two ways to go into bankruptcy: gradually, then suddenly. I wonder if EC is on that continuum. And if they’re using the anti-Amazon meme as cover.

    • I suspect “not in any kind of shape to file bankruptcy” is supposed to mean “We are liquid and have cash and performing receivables on hand: we are nowhere close to being insolvent or being unable to meet our ordinary and normal expenses as they come due,” but I am totally with you on this one. Get out. Get out of the house NOW. If your royalties are late or the reports are suspect, get a filing in.

      Because everybody is in shape to file bankruptcy. 🙁 When you’re bankrupt, you’re bankrupt. Doesn’t matter if you’re “in shape,” if you’ve consulted an attorney, prepared a filing… when the piper asks for his pay, either you’ve got it or you don’t.

      I’ve only ever represented creditors (*knock wood*) but I’ve seen my share of bankruptcy cases, and more than a few of them, people were making assurances like this right up to the day they filed. (One of the larger, and sadder, cases in recent memory which thankfully did not affect me personally was the beloved national photography chain Calumet Photo, which literally just closed up shop one night and padlocked the doors to all the stores.)

      • “Bankruptcy” is a word much like “Divorce”. A person who uses it in conjunction with their own situation is a person who has thought about it a LOT.

  26. Falling sales? I revised and republished a book to which I got the rights back–it had been overpriced originally–and I offered it for $3 less ($4.99). It’s selling very well, and it has been all summer. Pricing matters. As a reader, I don’t want to pay more than $4.99 for ANY book. As a writer who launched her own publishing company this summer, I’m putting myself in the place of the reader when I price new releases. Amazon (and others) do limit pricing, though. I wanted to offer novellas at $0.49, but they won’t let me.

  27. I’m the owner of Astraea Press. We’re in our fourth year of business and sales skyrocketed the first two (over half million). In the last year, we’ve seen a 75% decrease in sales and have had to do exactly what Ellora’s Cave has done to accommodate the lower sales. And this has been across the board for us in all vendors sales. It has been rumored that the law suits making the more traditional publishers drop their book prices has flooded the market with authors like Stephen King and other well-knowns with the ability to purchase their books for under $5 now. That was what gave the indie side of things an edge for so long and now we’re all scrambling to adjust to the new normal. EC did exactly what they should have done and addressed their authors directly (so at least if the rumors are going to start, they’re true!). This can quell panic so fast. Silence feeds it. As she said, the e-industry has weathered many storms and will continue to do so. You can’t compare self-published book sales to a company like ours where we’ve got over 300 titles, or EC who has many more than that! I know other companies in the industry who have also had this huge dip in sales (TWP, PSP, etc). The only red flag that should be considered here is if they’re OUTSIDE their contractual obligations for royalties. Once royalties stop coming, THEN there is trouble. A drastic drop in sales is certainly nothing the publisher has done! If it’s steady decline over months or years, then there’s a problem. We can’t go out there and make people buy books, not to mention the economy isn’t the greatest right now and everyone’s insurance premiums has gone up this year. Money doesn’t grow on trees. But if we make smart business decisions, it’s totally possible to see a decline in sales and STILL stay in the green! For the record, I don’t know Jaid Black or anyone from their company really, but I do know the industry and that this is typical, workable, and not any reason to defame a reputable, pioneer e-publisher.

    • You can’t compare self-published book sales to a company like ours where we’ve got over 300 titles, or EC who has many more than that!

      Yes we can. We just did.

      The only thing a bigger catalog should do for you is a) act to smooth out short-term sales fluctuations and b) improve the discoverability of your books. If you have had a 75% drop in sales, when few if any analogous indiepublishers have, that’s not on Amazon, that’s on you.

      There’s been a lot of talk related to the Amazon/Hachette floorumpus about how Amazon is not anybody’s friend (and neither, as most will admit when pressed, is Hachette.) Hachette sells books. I like books. I wish them well. Amazon sells books. I like books. I wish them well. But neither is my friend. Amazon makes me money and Hachette doesn’t, plus I find Amazon’s general philosophy more congenial, so I am slightly better inclined toward them than toward Hachette. But I don’t make the mistake of thinking Amazon is my friend or it has to win/Hachette has to lose for me to prosper.

      Similarly, Ellora’s Cave is a pioneering publisher. They publish unusual books most other publishers won’t. Well and good. I like books, especially unusual books. I wish them well. However, if their business model doesn’t work, or their business practices are not sustainable, then it isn’t or they aren’t. That’s life. They are not my or their authors’ friends. They are a business. If the business can’t be kept going, it should be wound down and the authors’ rights returned to them promptly.

      • Totally agree with you if the business can’t function to shut it down…but they haven’t so I think there’s nothing to worry about. I wasn’t trying to ruffle feathers or make anyone angry (as your post suggest) but offer another side of the story since I’m close with 7 or 8 business owners in the industry who have also seen this dip in sales. You can “just did” all you want, but the truth is, EC, and my company AREN’T ALONE. Are you saying it’s every publishers fault that they’ve experienced the same thing starting at the same time? Plus sales are trending UP right now for all us at the same time? I don’t believe in that much coincidence. And I agree that a bigger backlist offers some buffer for market fluctuations…but according to you, the fluctuations don’t exist and it’s on us. I’m not interested in starting a war, I’m just curious how you can justify all this.

        • I’m not angry. I’m not even mildly perturbed. Trust me, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry. My apologies if I seemed overly confrontational. I like to think of myself as “blunt,” but the line between the two can be blurry.

          I have no reason to doubt you regarding your sales, nor have I any any reason to doubt you when you report that a few other publishers of your acquaintance have reported similar sales patterns. However, a small self-selected sample of small traditional publishers is no more and no less probative than discussions between dozens if not hundreds of indiepublishers. If they were experiencing a general and large sales slump, it would be common knowledge. They aren’t, you are. Therefore the difference is between you and them, not on the common sales medium (Amazon.)

          My first theory is that you and the publishers to whom you refer, like EC, were too slow to adapt to changing market conditions, especially with regard to pricing, and it cost you sales. You then, hopefully, made adjustments, and sales improved. That is the simplest theory that accommodates known facts. (May I introduce you to William of Ockham, by the way?)

  28. What an unprofessional load of tripe. That letter would be enough to make me jump ship if I were an EC author. They imply Amazon has some kind of sinister agenda, then say they haven’t contacted Amazon about it and this letter isn’t a statement about Amazon? I really hope this missive was the literary equivalent of drunk dialling because if this was a sober effort, EC authors need to be very afraid! And these are the people we’re expected to sign over lifetime copyright to? Geesh.

  29. Methinks the publisher doth protest too much. Run, writers, run!

  30. Taking a step back…
    We all know that tradpub companies are being stressed by the ebook evolution.
    We all know the entire romance spectrum has moved heavily towards ebooks in general and indies in particular.
    We know that in times of stress, small companies have less room to maneuver and less margin for error than the big boys. Consolidation and shakeouts follow.
    We know that the big boys of romance, Harlequin, publicly admitted just before they were flipped that competition from indie ebooks were seriously hurting them.
    It logically follows that everybody smaller than them is at some risk and that that risk will be a function of their size and agility. We hear from the big boys that they need to get bigger, we hear from the Indies that being alert and moving fast is important, so stuck in the middle–slow and small–is going to be a particularly risky place to be.

    We also know that reports out of the UK have been bemoaning the closure of many small tradpub houses.

    In the last year we have seen the loss of Nightshade, Samhain, Harlequin, and Hyperion as standalone operations and Perseus is next if they can find a way to split it. (I’m probably missing a bunch more.) We have seen atypical behavior and increasing public stridence from CEOs that would normally be too busy running their business to be engaging in unproductive online exchanges.

    And now we have this… odd… letter.

    I think the coal mine is becoming very hard on canaries.

    Smallish size? Check.
    Limited resources? Check.
    Low agility? Check.
    Recent misteps? Apparently, check.

    That canary needs fresh air fast…

    Right now I’m wondering how many other small tradpubs are facing similar challenges. Because I really think the tipping point is closer than most suspect.

    • Because I really think the tipping point is closer than most suspect.

      I’ve been noting many of the happenings that you list. And I also wonder about that tipping point. Very, very curious about the conversations in fastnesses that I have no access to. What will happen next?

      • All heck breaks loose is what I expect happens.
        The question is when.
        What I fear is that Nicholas Negroponte might, for once, be exactly right. Because he predicted 2015. I thought he was, as usual for him, overly optimistic but now I think it might be closer to 2015 than 2020.

        http://edition.cnn.com/2010/TECH/innovation/10/17/negroponte.ebooks/

        • I-n-t-e-r-e-s-t-i-n-g!

          When it comes to making e-books standard, Negroponte thinks that developing countries may actually be faster than developed countries.

          “That’s what cell phones did,” Negroponte said. “Cell phones were more popular in Cambodia and Uganda because they didn’t have phones. We had phones in this country, and we were very late to the table. They’re going to adopt e-books much faster than we do.”

          That line of thinking makes a lot of sense.

  31. If I was an author investigating a publisher I would saunter over to the Summit County Clerk of Courts web site and find out that the City of Akron in April 2014 received a Judgement in their favor against Jasmine Jade Enterprises, LLC and its owner for $29,679.52. There’s also an unreleased state tax lien against Elloras Cave (no aptrophe) from September 2013 for $7779.91. Looks like a definite cash flow problem.

    Jamine Jade, LLC is the parent company for Ellora’s Cave.

    • Sounds like it’s time for some serious disintermediation on the part of EC authors.

      Thinking to look for judgements against them was brilliant. Authors with other small houses would be wise to do the same for all the reasons that Felix cites above.

    • Whoa.

      Tax liens have priority in bankruptcy over almost everything else. (Antares can correct anything I say which is not correct or misleading, of course. 🙂 )

      I don’t know the corporate structure of this business but it’s possible that if the two entities described are sufficiently intermingled (sounds quite likely,) both judgments could somehow reach EC. And being almost forty grand into the government would, I’d bet serious money, mean that there’s NOT going to be a lot left for authors if they have to liquidate.

      Hey, EC authors: there is a small but nonzero chance your copyrights could end up being licensed to the City of Akron and/or the State of Ohio. Plan accordingly.

  32. I wonder…

    Would it make sense for an author to insist on having a “bankruptcy clause” in any contract with a tradpub? Maybe stating something along the lines of “In the unlikely event of financial stress of the publisher leading to the declaration of bankruptcy, author shall receive immediate return of all rights to author’s intellectual property.”

    Would that be possible, Passive Guy? Or legal?

    Michael

    • (I am an attorney: this is not legal advice. Consult an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction and familiar with the relevant law before making legal decisions.)

      Generally speaking, it’s not legal, sorry. “Bankruptcy terminates the contract” is standard boilerplate in a huge amount of contracts, and it’s totally unenforceable if all you do is say, “bankruptcy terminates the contract.”

      There are ways to do it, though. I’ve written software sales agreements that several bankruptcy attorneys have opined would probably defeat a bankruptcy filing*. (Hasn’t been tested *knock wood*.) The thing is, no publisher in the world would let you put the language necessary to make it work in your publishing contract. Because it requires a degree of discretion on your part as far as ongoing usage is concerned. You can’t take assets away from a bankrupt outside of the bankruptcy process… but a bankrupt can’t give the trustee assets that they don’t have. The key is to limit the assets so that they don’t have them, but the thing is, limiting them that way also limits them if the recipient is not bankrupt. That’s the part that will keep it from working in a publishing contract – no publisher will accept the limitations required.

      *There are few higher praises in the legal world than for one lawyer to look at another and say, “You sneaky bastard.”

      • So, those poor authors at Ellora’s Cave, if they don’t act quickly, are basically going to be hung out to dry.

        I feel very badly for them.

        On the other hand, it should be a cautionary example for all authors to immediately take steps to recover rights for backlists.

        And to indie publish all future work…simply to control the rights to your IP!

        Michael

        • Well, it also argues for time limited contracts.
          Small presses might not be able to match Select’s 90 day contract terms but they should be able to live on, say, a 5 year contract. Especially since tradpub (tradionally) lives off early sales, anyway.

      • Oh, and thank you to Marc Cabot for replying to my question with a straightforward response.

        Michael

    • Any publisher (with a 3, 5 or 7 year contract) should have this clause in their contract. It protects ALL parties involved!

    • Most smaller publishers have a clause that covers insolvency and bankruptcy in their contracts. In most cases, they allow for authors to request rights back–if their royalty payments are affected. If not, then contract language usually allows for a reorganization and a few late payments. As far as terms for contracts go, I don’t know EC (having not tried to pub with them) but Siren, Loose Id, and Lost Goddess each have a limit for how long they hold the rights to your books.

    • I wonder…

      Would it make sense for an author to insist on having a “bankruptcy clause” in any contract with a tradpub? Maybe stating something along the lines of “In the unlikely event of financial stress of the publisher leading to the declaration of bankruptcy, author shall receive immediate return of all rights to author’s intellectual property.”

      Would that be possible, Passive Guy? Or legal?

      Michael

      When I practiced and I saw this clause in a contract, I just laughed. Really. Laughed. For two reasons.

      First, the clause is void as a matter of law. Not voidable. Void. It ain’t worth the ink it took to print it.

      Second, any lawyer ignorant enough to include such a clause probably missed something else, and I’m gonna clean his clock.

      • Antares: When I practiced and I saw this clause in a contract, I just laughed. Really. Laughed. For two reasons.

        First, the clause is void as a matter of law. Not voidable. Void. It ain’t worth the ink it took to print it.

        Second, any lawyer ignorant enough to include such a clause probably missed something else, and I’m gonna clean his clock.

        It was only a question that I didn’t know the answer to. That’s why I asked it.

        No need to try to make me feel stupid for asking it. How else do I learn?

        Michael

        • I did not intend to make you feel stupid, Michael. I gave you an honest reply. I intended no offense. Sorry that it came across that way.

          That’s one of the reason I gave up law. It brings out the mean in me. Bankruptcy law practice is fast and dirty. You don’t make friends doing it.

        • Michael, I don’t think Antares was trying to put you down. The issue with void transfers is generally not known outside of specific bankruptcy practice. The only reason I knew about it was thanks to one of my estate executors getting yanked into her sister’s bankruptcy case.

          • Apology accepted, Antares. Thank you, and I’m sorry if I brought out the ‘mean’ in you.

            I really didn’t know the answer to that question! I’ve never dealt with traditional publishing, and am very careful about my rights. I guess that if the worst happens, those poor authors at Ellora’s Cave are out of luck, unless they act now, before a bankruptcy is (might be) filed.

            Michael

            • I would say that the head of EC starting a new company while EC is having issues (lower sales, late payments) would scare me a lot if I were an EC author. She’s “sick of writing about sex,” she says. And so she has another venture for her next book, and for publishing in non-erotica genres. Yes, that would make my alarms go off. Loudly. A lot. I’d take Antares’ advice (position legally just in case of the “B” word coming true)…and I’d self-publish everything else I had to offer.

              And this is not a summer problem. Back in Feb of this year, an EC author’s complaint was quoted/ blogged and it mentioned the lay-offs, slow payments, delays in editing, delays in publication, etc. A snippet: “I’m hoping they breach contract on my second book because if they don’t get it out by April, I’m going to ask for my rights back and legally I can.

              It will be interesting to see what happens in the next few months. I’m thinking about checking with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to see if they’ve filed. It’s public record. They may not be at that point but it’s possible. I made a lot of friends at EC and at first I was impressed. But their lack of organization and structure is alarming. I think the powers that be overspent and now we’re paying for it.”
              http://karenknowsbest.com/category/elloras-cave/

            • Michael

              There’s logic and what you think is right and then there’s bankruptcy law. None of the pieces make sense. Only when you put it all together can you step back and say, “Well, I guess it is better than the disorderly free-for-all alternative.”

              In insolvency bankruptcy, everybody hurts. In negotiations bankruptcy, one party hurts and he hurts a lot.

              You may be confused. ‘What? I thought you had to be insolvent to file bankruptcy.’ No. Anybody can file bankruptcy at any time. The question is what is your purpose in filing. Extinguishment of debt is one reason. There are others. (The other reasons are why the administration stepped in hard and heavy in GM’s bankruptcy. Soon as I heard they filed, I saw GM walking away from their union contracts. But Obama overrode the law and the UAW came out smelling of roses.)

              In bankruptcy you need a cunning lawyer with experience. Someone who scares you. (‘Cause if he scares you, he scares the other side, too.)

              BTW, for all its faults, American bankruptcy law is considered to be the most sophisticated in the world and the one that yields the most orderly results. When Communism collapsed, I saw Mongolian and Rumanian lawyers visiting our courtrooms to see American law in action so they could learn how to craft bankruptcy laws for their countries. Spent long hours with a Japanese friend (law professor) going over the ins and out of the law.

              FWIW there was a company in New Mexico — Albuquerque, I think — that developed software that doubled the density of data stored on a floppy disk from 360kB to 720kB. (This was in the dark days of DOS.) Microsoft took an interest and entered into negotiations to acquire the company. MS asked to see the code. Once MS had the software, they used it. No license. No permission. And MS told the company the deal was off. With no income, the company 1) filed suit against MS in New Mexico court and then 2) filed for bankruptcy protection. Their only asset was the lawsuit. The bankruptcy court took the suit out of state court and litigated it in bankruptcy court. MS lost. All creditors got paid in full.

              And you cannot find that suit in WestLaw or LexisNexis. MS moved to have the court records sealed and publication withdrawn. It was printed once in the Bankruptcy Court Reporter, but the case was withdrawn in the next issue. If you want to hear about it, ask your local Unix or Linux group. The old guys know.

              That’s the way this world works.

  33. Stephanie,

    I respect your opinion and it’s a valid one since you own a small press. However, I don’t think anyone’s defaming EC. I think we’re authors trying to decide how we could save our intellectual property, if something happens to a publisher.

    And I will repeat what I said earlier: I read similar comments in a letter from Dorchester to their authors. It’s happened before and that’s what sets off rumors and makes authors nervous.

    Five or so years ago I wanted to be an EC writer. In fact they rejected an erotic novella submission of mine that TWRP later published. I have the rights back, in case I want to continue to write erotica. I wrote that novella just to see if I could write erotica; it’s not my genre right now.

    Because I have friends publishing with EC and because I want as many publishing avenues as possible, I hope you’re right.

    • Same here. I only know what we’ve experienced and the owners of a few publishers that I’m close with that have experienced the same thing. Totally get you’re trying to figure out what to do, but just try to have some faith and see where it goes. Like I said, I don’t know owners of EC, only met them and talked with them a handful of times. Just hang in there and let’s all hope for the best for all of us!

      • “Have some faith and see how it goes” is excellent advice for trying to repair interpersonal relationships where both parties want the relationship to work.

        As far as doing business, it is terrible advice.

        • There is this as well, from an EC author:

          “And the emails I’ve sent, asking if the check is even on its way, if I’ll see it at all? The emails begging someone to respond, give me some kind of excuse I can believe as to why my money isn’t in my hand? Well, those emails have gone unanswered. Not just mine.

          This isn’t the first time I’ve gone through this with Ellora’s Cave.”

          http://avrilashton.com/blog/my-health-my-money/

        • As far as doing business, it is terrible advice.

          Yes. Thank you, Marc, for stating this so clearly.

          • I think you all misunderstood what I said. I said if they’re outside their contract, no bueno. If they’re not, don’t speculate and cause others to panic just because they didn’t do something you wanted. That’s all I was trying to say.

  34. My sales have been lower this summer than they were in the spring, but I wouldn’t call it a “sharp” drop in sales. In fact, it was enough of a slow decline that I was able to see it coming and change promotional tactics and pencil the writing and releasing of two novellas into my schedule in order to reverse the trend. I had to work extra-hard and didn’t get to go on the hikes I wanted to do this summer, but I pulled my frog out of the kettle.

    If indeed there was a “sharp” drop in sales, I have to wonder why. Or are the people at EC just not watching their sales trends daily…? I don’t know.

  35. Look, in an earlier comment I wrote that I would file a suit against the publisher immediately. Why?

    To get my rights back? No.

    Then why?

    To improve my position against the other creditors.

    Once the publisher files for bankruptcy protection — and the minute a business owner uses the B word I know he’s gonna file, it’s just a question of when — the writers no longer have rights. Yeah, you got the copyrights, but you licensed some of those rights to the publisher. Those licensed rights are now assets of the estate. The court’s duty is to equitably divide the assets among the creditors. If you are due royalties, you are an unsecured creditor. Maybe there is some entity in the bankruptcy food chain lower than an unsecured creditor, but I never saw such.

    My suit leaves me still in the unsecured creditor category, but, as Orwell said, some animals are more equal than others.

    I know of bankruptcies that paid a hundred cents on the dollar. Never had one myself. I also know of other suits that paid a hundred cents on the dollar to, say, eleven of twelve members of the creditors committee and screwed the twelfth with a 2¢ on the dollar payout.

    As for filing bankruptcy only when you are insolvent . . . no. That’s the worst time to file.

    Bankruptcy is a tool. You can use it to break contracts. To me, it is the start of negotiations.

    If you 1) have a contract with EC, 2) are owed money by EC, 3) know two other writers whom EC owes money, and 4) want to get really nasty with EC, ask a bankruptcy attorney about an involuntary bankruptcy.

    • EC is the sort of company who in the endgame of a share holder dispute (that the majority stock holders were losing badly) filed a malpractice law suit against the attorney who represented them up to that point. I wondered at the time who instigated that particular bad idea. That was about four years ago when they seemed to be trying to litigate themselves out of all of their problems.

      • He who loves the law shall get his fill of it.

        Big corporations are in court all the time. I would be gobsmacked to hear that IBM was not in court somewhere in the world today. For IBM and their ilk, legal costs are a line item. But it is different with small companies.

        Small companies cannot afford lawsuits. For a small company to be in a suit it has to be a life or death matter, ’cause the cost of the suit will kill it anyway.

        Most times, gritting your teeth and bearing it is a better business decision than going to court.

  36. “19. Bankruptcy:

    If a petition in bankruptcy or a petition for reorganization is filed by or against Publisher, or if Publisher makes an assignment for the benefit of creditors, or if Publisher liquidates its business for any cause whatsoever, Author may terminate this agreement by written notice within sixty (60) days after receipt of notification by Author, and all rights granted by Author to Publisher shall thereupon revert to Author.”

    Does THIS mean EC authors are covered IF EC files bankruptcy?

  37. I’m glad that PG didn’t have similar reservations, so that authors are aware of it and can share their experiences in similar matters.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.