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 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.