deirdre: (Default)

Romance house Samhain Publishing is closing on February 28th, so now’s a great time to ensure that you’ve downloaded copies of all the purchases you’ve made directly from their site.

Here’s their announcement:

Greetings, Samhain Readers.

It’s with a heavy heart that we announce Samhain Publishing will be closing at the end of February. Due to the declining sales we’ve been experiencing with this changing market we’ve come to the sad conclusion it’s time to call it a day.

The last of our new titles launch February 21st; I hope you will check them out and support them as you have so many other Samhain titles through the years.”

Our site will go dark at the end of the day, February 28th. Please take a few moments and visit, buy what you might have been planning on getting someday in the future, but download and back up your bookshelf because you won’t have access to it after February 28th.

Thank you for all your support through the eleven years we’ve been open. It’s been a pleasure to bring to market new voices in publishing and new works from familiar authors. From start to finish, we’ve always kept what the reader wants in mind and hope you enjoyed what we had to offer.

This really saddens me as Samhain was one of my very favorite houses. I’ve read between 1/4 and 1/3 of their total titles.

I know that the “We’re closing, no we’re not, why would you even say that” from last year was really tough on Samhain authors. Because of that, Samhain lost a ton of prestige with them, which led to established (and financially successful for Samhain) authors not submitting more books, which kind of snowballed the end. If they hadn’t screwed it up last year, I doubt they’d be closing this quickly.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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For those of you who haven’t heard, Samhain Publishing, one of the leading small presses in romance (and horror), announced that they will be winding down operations. This follows a couple of months after their announcement that they’d become a virtual company in May.

December, January, and February are typically strong sales months for romance, with January usually having the highest number of titles published—both to get the Valentine’s Day bump, but also, in recent years, to take advantage of people enamored with new e-book readers.

That’s the bad news. Ready for some good news?

Every four years, Samhain has a leap day sale, and today’s the day! 40% off all e-book titles. Here’s their website.

Tess Bowery has a prize if you buy a lot of books.

For me, Samhain was the publisher that got me back into reading romance after I bounced out years ago. So I’m really thankful to Chrissy for bringing me back into the fold, as it were. At this point, I own about 10% of all their titles, and read all but a handful of those. Eep!

There are so many Samhain authors whose books I’ve enjoyed: Mary Hughes and Vivi Andrews for the paranormal humor, Lauren Gallagher and L. A. Witt for her unique take on the world (e.g., The Virgin Cowboy Billionaire’s Secret Baby), Cat Grant who has commented here (and also was an Ellora’s Cave author), Jackie Ashenden got her romance start with Samhain, Erin Nicholas. There are many others.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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ellora's cave blog header

This post includes the bodies of several emails from Tina Engler to Ellora’s Cave’s business list (hosted on yahoogroups). Note that where there are email addresses listed in the body, I’ve reduced it to the part in the front of the domain name (e.g., website@) to not be a source of spam.

Aug 12: Website & New EC Active Author Group

Date: Wed, Aug 12, 2015 at 7:26 PM
Subject: [ec_biz] a new group for active EC authors & site update

After the past couple days I’m starting to feel like the town crier so (hopefully!) this will be my last post for at least a week :)

Website

  1. search engine done
  2. author pages done
  3. made “coming soon” section our current priority as of today
  4. new front page after that
  5. series search is next
  6. adjusting book pages so the cover isn’t stretched out

*any errors for points 1 & 2 should be sent to website@ as they are completed

New Group Loop

This week I’m going to be sending out invitations to a private, closed group for active EC authors! The new group is voluntary and participatory; it’s not an announcements-only loop. The group’s main foci are: brainstorming, blurb help, strategizing, maximizing sales, and maintaining communication. If you are an active EC author with a professional reputation (i.e. no history of making private business matters public fodder) then you will receive an invite so long as you meet one of the following criteria:

  1. Had an EC book release within the past 3 months
  2. Have an EC book that hasn’t yet released, but has a scheduled release date
  3. Signed a contract with EC within the past 3 months and are in good standing with your editor by turning in your revisions/edits on or before the agreed upon due date
  4. Are a full time EC employee.

*Please remember this is NOT mandatory. If you receive an invitation but feel you’ve already got too much on your plate to deal with, simply decline it. You will NOT be frowned upon for doing so!! Alternately, you can accept the invite then opt out of individual emails so you can check the loop when time, energy, and desire allows. It’s totally up to you.

And finally, inactive authors who still have books under contract at EC will continue to receive all announcements that pertain to them here on the biz loop. You are not removed from our biz loop (unless you choose to unsubscribe) so long as your books are contracted at EC.

Tina, whose typing fingers are getting sore :)

(end email)

Except, of course, quite a few people were silently shoved off of (or never added to) the ec_biz list, so this blog is the place they get those emails. Call it a public service.

August 12th Addendum to Email Contact List

Sent: Wednesday, August 12, 2015 3:38 PM
Subject: [ec_biz] Addendum to Email Contacts

Per Raelene:

  1. The main email for authors to use for anything you hadn’t listed, and actually for anything if they don’t remember the other addresses, is AuthorInfo@. Anything they send there (including stuff for contracts, royalties, whatever) will be routed to the right place for them. So if they can only remember one EC email address, that’s the one to use.
  2. And for rights buybacks, authors should cc contracts@ when emailing patty@.

August 12th A Final Post for Now

Sent: Wednesday, August 12, 2015 4:22 AM
Subject: [ec_biz] a final post (for now) with a thank you

First of all, I want to thank you for your patience and understanding as we get over this hump. I am humbled and sincerely warmed by the outpouring of positivity and graciousness the overwhelming majority of you have sent our way. You make all the hard work and long nights very much worth it :)

Secondly, after speaking with an EC author who’s been with us for a while but who I hadn’t met until recently, I realized that we’ve been far too silent this past year. This person pointed out that the majority of EC’s authors are good, professional people and therefore shouldn’t be punished because of a few bad apples. While it was never our intention to punish anyone, we have come to realize that we have indeed been far too silent over the course of the last year. The bad apples are going to do what bad apples do regardless to whether or not we maintain transparency or cloak ourselves under a veil of silence. Gun shy though we may be, s/he is correct. Therefore we will do our very best to be more communicative on a regular basis.

I often wax nostalgic for the old days when I was able to be 100% transparent with our authors and never once have to worry someone would leak private business information onto public forums and social media. While I realize those days can’t be relived due to sheer growth, I would remind those of you who have been with EC for over a decade that I am the same person now who I was back then. What you see is what you get. I have no hidden agendas and rate 0% in the “poker face” arena. I have always kept my life an open book and that will never change. My goal both then and now is to maximize your profits and make you proud to be an EC author. While the current market has turned the publishing world on its heels, we will continue to reinvent ourselves as we’ve done a plethora of times before. We got through the Borders debacle and bounced back stronger than ever thanks to the business acumen of our CEO, Patty Marks, during a time when many publishers went under. Amazon is merely another bump in the road and, as always, we can and will endure and end up stronger because of it.

Those of you who know me are aware of the fact that I (a) don’t bullshit people and (b) never, ever give up. Because of our small but mighty team at EC, we WILL put you back on the map and make sure you rule over it. THAT IS A PROMISE!!

Again, thank you for your kindness, generosity, and belief in EC. I allowed myself to behave reactively toward the negativity for a year, but that is over. I love EC and I love the vast majority of our authors both new and old. Here’s to reclaiming our stronghold.

Warmly,
Tina

(end email)

A few bad apples? That’s how you’re choosing to characterize authors making you money who are upset about (purported) slow/no pay and/or underpayment?

August 11th Contact List

Sent: Tuesday, August 11, 2015 9:41 PM
Subject: [ec_biz] EC emails

I apologize in advance for inundating you with an uncharacteristic amount of notices! I want to make various issues easy to find by having their own subject lines rather than grouping them together in one large email. I’m trying to become more conscientious where that’s concerned, though sometimes I do forget. But I’m digressing…

VERY IMPORTANT NOTICE FOR YOUR BENEFIT

When you need to email EC please email ONLY the appropriate address and nobody else. Otherwise everyone included in the email occasionally assumes someone else addressed the issue. This happened recently which is why I’m addressing it now.

CONTACTS

contracts@ – new contracts, new contract questions, and rights reversion requests that meet the criteria (sold less than 100 copies in time frame specified in contract)

royalties@ – royalty questions that can only be answered by the accounting department, missing statements (you should ALWAYS receive a statement with each check,) and discrepancies between statements and monies received (this is rare, but it does occasionally happen.) For the next couple of months please only email royalties@ for missing statements and discrepancies between statements & monies received. This kindness on your behalf is greatly appreciated as Courtney is working 7 days a week (literally) to catch up.

patty@ – questions pertaining to rights reversion requests wherein the author knows they don’t meet the criteria for free reversions and are asking for a buy-back price. As an FYI, the prices are straightforward and are based on anticipated loss of income over a 3-year period. (I’m pretty sure it’s 3 years, but I’m not 100% on that and I don’t want to wake her up to confirm!) Point being, we don’t hijack the prices. Each and every request is calculated the same way.

website@ – issues with the new site.

jaid@ – when you have exhausted yourself of all proper channels and feel that your question and/or issue hasn’t been sufficiently addressed then I’m the one to contact. (It doesn’t matter which department this pertains to.) I’m also the person to contact for anything that has to do with marketing, creative PR, or just project ideas you have that would require me to give the green light before proceeding. Example: authors X, Y, & Z would like to put together a niche anthology (which we don’t typically do anymore) bc they think it has sales potential based on (insert reason.)

josem@ – social media issues/questions/ideas.

IN CLOSING

It’s important we work together; emailing only the proper address is a vital part of that. It’s especially crucial for general email addresses (contracts, royalties, website) because multiple people access those boxes so never assume you’re reaching one specific staff member.

Thanks in advance!
Tina

(end email)

“We don’t hijack the prices.” I disagree. So does Victoria Strauss:

One last thing: a publisher should not put a price on rights reversion. Charging a fee for reversion or contract termination is a nasty way for a publisher to make a quick buck as a writer goes out the door. A termination fee in a publishing contract is a red flag (for more on why, see my blog post). And attempting to levy a fee that’s not included in the contract is truly disgraceful.

August 11th Updates

Subject: [ec_biz] updates
To: ec_biz@yahoogroups.com

We’re extremely and genuinely sorry for the delays you’re experiencing. I understand and empathize with your needs and worries, but I promise it’s getting better. Please hang in there while we catch back up, which we will and always do.

As an FYI: the fewer emails sent to accounting, the faster we can get royalties processed and mailed. Courtney recently had a family emergency and went to [visit a family member with a hospital emergency], but she is back in Ohio and working feverishly to catch up. I understand this is not your problem, but I hope you can lend your understanding.

Sincerely,

Tina

(end email)

Note that I edited out the specifics of what Courtney’s family emergency was to protect the privacy of that family member.

You know what? Rick and I have both worked as temps for Accountemps. There are plenty of temp/contract agencies that could have covered this.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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scrivener-marketing-tips

A while ago, I was about to change a cover for a book, and wanted to re-examine the Amazon keywords and the blurb to see if I could strengthen them.

I realized that, off the top of my head, I couldn’t remember exactly where I’d put that info for this particular book.

Then I realized: this stuff should go in Scrivener. You know, right along with the manuscript itself.

Add a Marketing Folder to Your Scrivener Project

Next to the Research folder, I created a Marketing folder.

What goes inside?

  • Blurbs
  • Amazon keywords (relevant only if you’re self publishing)
  • Any other marketing copy used
  • Relevant URLs (for where to buy the book)
  • Excerpts (for longer work)

Note that, apart from Amazon keywords, these work for traditionally published authors too. If you are publishing in multiple languages, it may make more sense to break out these files by language.

Speaking of which, other languages may also have substantially different covers. I wouldn’t keep these in the main language’s Scrivener document; instead, I have a directory on my hard drive for all the original image files (i.e., the Photoshop PSDs). I only put the current, final JPEG in Scrivener. Otherwise, the Scrivener documents become unmanageably large. Since I work on a MacBook Air with an SSD drive, it also allows me to store rarely-used resources on an external hard drive.

Also, it may make more sense to create a separate Scrivener project for each language if you’re self publishing.

Blurbs

This file’s not just for current versions of blurbs, but also for previous versions.

If you have A/B testing data for whether one blurb is more successful than another, you can also keep notes about that in the blurb file. (Personally, I use a spreadsheet for this, and I don’t keep the spreadsheet in the Scrivener project.)

Amazon Keywords

Amazon keywords are a dark art: without them, your book isn’t discoverable through organic search. I talk about KDSPY, an Amazon keyword research tool, here.

Once you’ve done your research, you’ll need a place to save your notes about that research as well as what your current keyword string is. And why.

Also, over time, market conditions change, and it’ll be easier to revisit how you might want to tweak your Amazon keywords if you can easily re-review why you made the choices you did before.

Other Marketing Copy

Long description, descriptions you’ve used on blog tours, etc. Anything that mixes it up and offers fresh takes.

Relevant URLs

Perhaps you’ve got a blog tour.
Perhaps your book’s available on 27 (or more!) different sites.

Sometimes it’s useful to have all that information handy. If I asked you what your Powell’s link was, how long would it take you to find that?

Excerpts

Especially if you’re doing a blog tour, you’ll want to have different excerpts for different sites. That way, people won’t be seeing the same old same old every time they go to read a different post about your new book.

Don’t Have Scrivener?

Scrivener’s regular price is $45, and it’s available for Mac and Windows. If you use both platforms, it’s worth noting that the Mac version is usually significantly ahead of the Windows version feature-wise.

Got Other Ideas?

What else would you put in your marketing folder for your writing projects?

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

Ellora's Cave: Don't Bet on Black

Every single time I’m convinced the Ellora’s Cave situation can’t take another weird turn (I mean, c’mon, Ebola strippers? What are the freakin’ odds?)—well, let’s just say that I’m rarely disappointed because there’s always something new and strange.

I found out about this side project of Jaid Black’s two days ago, and I can’t help but shake my head repeatedly over it. On the bright side, at least I’m getting my neck exercises in.

Here’s a screenshot of the latest project, Bet on Black Books, which has a header link proudly titled “Self Publish With Us.”

bet on black homepage

So. Tone. Deaf.

Does Jaid Black have any idea how tone deaf this comes across?

Why would anyone need to “bet on” anything?

If this were a portal for, say, books about gambling strategy—it would be a great site name. As something that’s ostensibly otherwise, though, it’s like you’re supposed to bet on her reputation. Which, when it comes to women’s reputations and betting, it’s just skeevy to me.

Furthermore, expecting customers to bet on Jaid Black’s reputation just seems incredibly strange.

Also, the timing of this is interesting. If you look at the domain screencap further down, the domain was registered a couple of days before the mass layoffs at Ellora’s Cave last August. And this is supposed to inspire confidence to “bet on” Jaid Black?

And yet, at the same time, it’s less appropriative a name than Ellora’s Cave, which also appropriates a second culture of color with its logo. So, um, better? Differently wrong?

I don’t even.

Wait, What, Self Publish?

Basically, it’s an electronic store for books. You know, like Amazon. Except this one’s newly-built with outdated technology on a free website builder with a cart service several of us (who have spent more than our fair share of time with shopping cart services) have never heard of.

Yeah, you also have to sign a contract when you submit.

There are a lot of interesting nuances in the FAQ that are not in the contract.

Things like:

When you buy a book from Bet On Black Books, you own it permanently.

Unlike, say, every single other ebook agreement, possibly making new case law in doctrine of first sale as it applies to ebooks.

Courtney Milan had a few comments as well:

http://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/586532595757744128

http://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/586534164238700544

http://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/586535490142081024

This one is particularly important as it involves a significant downside risk:

http://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/586535725174169600

http://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/586536799230525440

http://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/586537441160364033

http://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/586537622018789376

There Are Illegitimate Sites Selling Books Out There

Modest though my own sales are, I’ve found my own books on sites selling them for $—sites that never had any intention of paying me any royalties. These sites are often based on the same kind of free site builders and payment gateways.

Note that I don’t believe Black’s intentions are untoward here, it’s just that, were I a potential customer who didn’t know who she was but happened across the site, I wouldn’t assume it’s legitimate. I admit that the gambling metaphor would be my first red flag.

But there are times when I was buying things in market sectors I knew less well than publishing, desperately wanted something, but didn’t buy it because it just didn’t feel entirely above board.

If You’re an Author, Should You Sell Here?

I’m going to say it: I believe it’s a bad idea to sell your books through this site.

If you want to sell your books off of a web site other than Amazon, you can sell them off your own site, get the money more quickly, not have to contract with another company, and make more money. Oh, and note that the Bet on Black contract does not specify when or how frequently you will be paid.

Let’s say you have a book you’d like to sell for $1.99, and you sell it today (April 12th, as I write this)

Sales Outlet You’d Receive When
Bet on Black Books $1.49 Undefined
Amazon $0.70 end of June
B&N Nook $0.80 end of June
iBooks $1.39 mid-June
Kobo $1.39 (monthly or semi-annually)
Smashwords $1.69 mid-July
Your Own Site $1.63 Today

And let’s look at the $2.99 level, too:

Sales Outlet You’d Receive When
Bet on Black Books $2.09 Undefined
Amazon $2.09 end of June
B&N Nook $1.94 end of June
iBooks $2.09 mid-June
Kobo $2.09 (monthly or semi-annually)
Smashwords $2.54 mid-July
Your Own Site $2.60 Today

(Note: Google’s also a book vendor, but their terms of royalty amount are unclear, so I’ve omitted them. I believe they’re in the 52-55% range.)

The whole thing: freebie website builder, cheesy cart system, unexceptional royalties, no defined payment schedule, peculiar legal terms—add up to nope.

So How Hard Is it to Set Up an E-Commerce Store?

This answer assumes that you want to sell directly to readers, in addition to other outlets such as Amazon and iBooks.

If you want to accept PayPal (typical transaction fees of 2.9% + 0.30 for premier and business accounts), then here’s one way to get what you need:

  1. A self-hosted WordPress account (varies widely, but I’d be looking in the $12-20/month range)
  2. A domain name for said account ($15/yr)
  3. Easy Digital Downloads or WooCommerce
  4. A theme that is compatible with your storefront of choice.

Because PayPal handles the payment information, you do not need an SSL certificate. The beauty of it: once you set up the site, when someone buys a book from you, you get your money right away.

For very little cash (~$27 initial outlay, same as a WordPress self-hosted site with no e-commerce), you can sell your digital goods, and you can have your own shop. Plus, you can add other things to your little store, too. Like maybe you want to recommend books, and get affiliate commissions on those. Maybe you’re part of a writing group and you want to exchange ad space on each others’ sites.

Without having done it before in WordPress, I found that it took me about 30 minutes to set up either Easy Digital Downloads or Woocommerce for the first time. (Granted, I’m very technical.)

Examples: deirdre.net currently has Easy Digital Downloads on its front page (that will change in a couple of weeks). desamo.graphics uses WooCommerce. (deirdre.net is changing simply because WooCommerce is something I’m also using on other sites, and I’d rather have one ecosystem to maintain.)

Okay, Maybe I Don’t Want to Go That Far

Let’s say you don’t want to fuss with WordPress. You want your own domain, you want a lovely pre-rolled solution.

I’d recommend Squarespace. Fees start at $8/month; with that plan you could sell one product. The next plan is $16/month, which allows up to 20 products.

For two examples of Squarespace author sites, Tiffany Reisz and her husband Andrew Shaffer’s site.(Note that they don’t sell directly off their sites, but they do have different-looking sites from each other.)

Is This Independent? Ellora’s Cave? WTF BBQ?

The domain registration says the registrant organization is Ellora’s Cave, and uses the exact same street address that EC does, even though the bottom of the web page says “Jaid Black Productions.”

bet on black domain registry

Jaid Black Productions is indeed an LLC in Ohio, but I didn’t find a DBA for Bet on Black books. (I have had issues figuring out where the UI is for that, so this may be my fault. It’s been a few months.)

So: I don’t know? Maybe Ellora’s Cave just owns the domain?

One Hilarious Thing

One thing I do find hilarious, though: she’s using the classic 70s typeface Avant Garde for the header.

This is the same typeface that Marc Randazza—you know, opposing counsel in the Ellora’s Cave v. Dear Author case—famously uses for his pleadings.

http://twitter.com/marcorandazza/status/586589906597576704

Was there no better choice of typeface? Personally, it’s not one I warm to very much, which is why I don’t have the same thinner weights that either Black or Randazza use.

Got Comments? Questions?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. I do have a planned topic about the specific problems of author websites, so questions on that topic will help me formulate that post.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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elloras-cave-blog-header

On February 7th, @pubnt faxed a letter to the judge in the Ellora’s Cave vs. Dear Author case. Courtney Milan has a long blog post about it, so I thought I’d take a different tack on the issue.

Ellora’s Cave Thanked STGRB

On October 4, 2014, Tina Engler, writing as Jaid Black, posted a blog entry titled _To the Silenced Victims_, about how Ellora’s Cave’s authors and supporters were purportedly afraid to speak up.

On October 8, Ellora’s Cave tweeted a thank you to STGRB:
elloras-cave-thanking-stgrb-dick-move-indeed

(Thank you to azteclady, and several others, for screencaps.)

Before those two tweets, Ellora’s Cave hadn’t tweeted at all since August 11—nearly two months—not even promotional tweets for its new titles. I called out Jaid Black/Tina Engler on this:

https://twitter.com/deirdresm/status/520081118175846400

For those who don’t know, the short version of StGRB is that it is not an anti-bullying group, but is a group of authors who bullied reviewers because of reviews the authors didn’t like. In other words, it’s ironically named.

Giving a one-star review to a book you genuinely didn’t like isn’t bullying.

I stated that the biggest problem with Ellora’s Cave’s tweets wasn’t so much the STGRB mention as failing to promote EC’s authors and books. I mean, it’s a Twitter account for a publisher that had new books published during those two months of radio silence. EC fixed that promotional shortcoming, and has remained focused on prompt tweeting of new releases, pretty much (I noticed a short blip, but didn’t record when, and I’m not interested in looking it up).

Oh, and also, Ellora’s Cave deleted one of those two tweets, the one that invoked STGRB. Why bother with this digression? Please hold….

@pubnt Invokes STGRB

What’s interesting about @pubnt’s tweets from the October 4th creation of the account until February 1 is that there are zero tweets for: “STGRB”, “goodreads”, “bully”, or “bullies”.

And yet, in her letter to the court, @pubnt relies heavily on STGRB rhetoric. Also, STGRB are in fact the only links in @pubnt’s letter.

What amuses me the most of all about @pubnt’s letter is the assertion that @pubnt is presenting evidence. STGRB isn’t evidence, it’s hearsay. Of course, if that’s how strongly TE feels about STGRB, she could have seen to it that the principal STGRBers were on EC’s witness list. But Ellora’s Cave didn’t choose to add said writers to their initial disclosures.

As a general rule, anything said by anyone outside the list of people who make formal statements admitted into evidence or who are witnesses in the case—that’s hearsay as far as the case is concerned.

Remember the pocket universe episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation? Legal cases are kind of like that. Apart from the witnesses and people giving testimony (and the law including case law, of course), the world outside is invisible. Or, more accurately, hearsay, with some notable exceptions.

Invoking some random blog, even this one, is neither evidence nor proof.

Things @pubnt Says About #notchilled Regulars and My Statement About Who I Am

I’d like to refute the generalizations @pubnt makes about #notchilled regulars, at least as they pertain to me.

  1. I have never met Jane Litte. I have followed the Dear Author twitter accounts because Jane Litte and others recommend books I’d like to read. I often disagree with JL’s ratings. As a specific example, one of my favorite books last year was Laurelin Paige’s Fixed Trilogy. JL gave the first book a C- rating. I agree that the first is the weakest of the three, but the plot twists in volumes two and three made it one of my favorites, and book one was strong enough for me to continue reading. Apparently not for JL, and that is her choice.
  2. I make a horrible minion. I will only do what I think is right, and, even then, I don’t have time (or energy) to do all of that. In Gretchen Rubin’s four tendencies, I’m a rebel with questioner tendencies, so I’m perfectly fine with not fitting in and not going along with a crowd.

  3. I have made far more money from being traditionally published than being self published. I have books published by Que, Sams, Baen, and BenBella, plus others under pseudonyms. (If you follow the purchase/sale trail of the first three, you’ll see that means I’ve been Big5 published by two different routes: Sams and Que became part of Simon & Schuster, and some of the work I did for Macmillan Computer Publishing meant I’ve been published by Holtzbrinck.) I’ve never been published in the romance genre, and I’ve only been rejected once in that genre—more than twenty years ago. Frankly, it was a horrible proposal for a category book, but I was still too green to know that. I am working on a romance novel, and I have an agent who’s already been promised first look.

  4. That said, of course I’ve been rejected, too. It’s a part of being an author. Though sometimes rejections sting (and I do whine about those privately), I also get over them. As a friend of mine says, the right attitude to take to these if they’re getting to you: “That’s one more time an editor tried to stop me and failed.” (Neither of us believe this viewpoint, btw, it’s just that it’s one that happens to work for both of us to help get us back to the salt mines of writing new stuff.) I don’t dislike anyone who’s rejected my work—except perhaps MZB, but that’s for reasons unrelated to her authorial or editorial work, at least as it relates to me.

  5. I am not “jealous” of any successful writers, nor am I envious of them. I also understand the difference between these two words.

  6. I don’t accept advertising on deirdre.net, and never have. That said, I make a small amount of money every now and then from Amazon’s Associate program. How small? I haven’t received anything since 2011, and they’ve owed me $16.28 since 2005. Which I didn’t know until I logged in for this screencap.

    amazon-associates

    Essentially, I removed all the Amazon links I had after LGBT fail and have never really managed to build up the associate income stream I used to have, small though it was.

    That said, I have been considering what kinds of banner ads I might have, but generally those would not be paid ads. Like: I’d make a banner ad for my own new book, which makes sense, right? But how about if a close friend releases one that I liked? How about if my writing group did one? Should I promote Clarion (a workshop I did) via ad? If so, what are my guidelines about where I’d put those vs. where/why I wouldn’t? I don’t have those answers yet. Until I do: only inline contextual links.

  7. I have a few other kinds of promotional links here and there, but none are specifically targeting indie authors unless it happens to be a book I’ve enjoyed.

  8. One of the reasons I don’t generally review books is that I would feel compelled to be honest about books I didn’t like, and I feel that’s a problem as an author. Sometimes my reasons for disliking books have to do with various artistic goals I’ve got as a writer. For example, I stopped reading Neal Stephenson because his endings didn’t satisfy me. As a plot structure person, that’s a killer for a book for me. Clearly, many readers don’t share this perspective, and I’m glad he writes books they can enjoy.

    The guideline I’ve decided to follow is that I’ll promote books I genuinely love. Period.

Ellora’s Cave Author Exodus Support Thread

The Ellora’s Cave Author Exodus Support Thread is located here. Many EC authors have books out from other publishers. The purpose of the support thread is to help give those authors willing to speak out some visibility.

Note:

An earlier version of this post was supposed to be published over the weekend. Apparently several posts I thought I’d scheduled didn’t post. Oops.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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First, Courtney Milan has an update and gave a better non-technical distinction of Motion to Dismiss vs. Motion for Summary Judgment.

(It is true, I am trying to keep up with even the dry court minutiae.)

Defense Witness List

In that post, Courtney publishes Dear Author’s/Jane Litte’s witness list:

@PubNT Twitter account

The Pub Net Twitter account has made a series of statements on Twitter since the outset of this case, that are with obvious knowledge of the case at hand. The author behind this Twitter account will have additional information as to the operations of Ellora’s Cave.

Tina Engler

Tina Engler is the founder and head of Ellora’s Cave and will have information and knowledge pertaining to the financial viability of Ellora’s Cave, including the payment schedules of authors, editors, and cover artists affiliated with Ellora’s Cave.

Patty Marks

Patty Marks is the CEO of Ellora’s Cave and will have information and knowledge pertaining to the financial viability of Ellora’s Cave, including the payment schedules of authors, editors, and cover artists affiliated with Ellora’s Cave.

Susan Edwards

Susan Edwards, at all relevant times, was the COO of Ellora’s Cave and will have information and knowledge pertaining to the financial viability of Ellora’s Cave, including the payment schedules of authors, editors, and cover artists affiliated with Ellora’s Cave.

Raylene Gorlinksy

Raylene Gorlinksy is the Publisher of Ellora’s Cave and will have information and knowledge pertaining to the financial viability of Ellora’s Cave, including the payment schedules of authors, editors, and cover artists affiliated with Ellora’s Cave.

Whitney Mahlik

At all times relevant hereto, Whitney Mahlik was the Managing Editor of Ellora’s Cave and will have information and knowledge pertaining to the financial viability of Ellora’s Cave, including the payment schedules of authors, editors, and cover artists affiliated with Ellora’s Cave

Courtney Thomas

At all times relevant hereto, Courtney Thomas was the Chief Financial Officer of Ellora’s Cave and will have information and knowledge pertaining to the financial viability of Ellora’s Cave, including the payment schedules of authors, editors, and cover artists affiliated with Ellora’s Cave.

So, I’m guessing we’ll get to find out who the mouthy mockernut is after all. Popcorn, anyone?

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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Today, the judge officially denied Plaintiff’s request for a Temporary Restraining Order, but not perhaps for the reason we’d hope:

The Court held a case management conference on January 26, 2015. During the proceeding, Plaintiffs confirmed that they do not intend to pursue the motion for temporary restraining order currently pending before this Court. As such, the motion for temporary restraining order filed on October 20, 2014 is hereby DENIED.

This had been hinted at by Plaintiff’s counsel in a footnote to EC/JJ’s reply to Defendants’ Opposition to Remand Motion on Nov 1. Bottom of p. 3:

Plaintiffs indicated that because the facts on the ground had changed, the urgency associated with a temporary restraining order had become attenuated and that a consolidation of the hearing with the final hearing on the merits under Rule 65(a)(2) would avoid 2 hearings, 2 trips for defense counsel and his client, 2 briefings, and twice the use of the Court’s time and resources.

If you ever need a great example of passive voice use and abuse? “Had become attenuated” is a beautiful one.

Joining of Parties Deadline Set

In the Case Management Doc:

The deadline for amending pleadings and adding parties: February 25, 2015.

So, we’ll just have to wait and see what’s going to happen there.

Random Legal Funny

There’s a footnote in one of Randazza’s filings that always makes me smile given that this case is about erotic romance. Bottom of p. 9:

Indeed, the seminal case in American defamation law was based on a publication that contained many factual inaccuracies, but the overall gist of the publication was not defamatory. N.Y. Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964).

Seminal derives, of course, from semen/seed.

I don’t know if that particular wordplay was intentional, but it does amuse me.

Ellora’s Cave Author Exodus Support Thread

The Ellora’s Cave Author Exodus Support Thread is located here.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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I’m not a lawyer (and this is not legal advice), but I’ll take a stab at the question.

Motions for Dismissal and Summary Judgment have one obvious thing in common: disposing of all or part of a case, but they are actually different.

From Wikipedia:

A “motion to dismiss” asks the court to decide that a claim, even if true as stated, is not one for which the law offers a legal remedy.

vs.

A “motion for summary judgment” asks the court to decide that the available evidence, even if taken in the light most favorable to the non-moving party, supports a ruling in favor of the moving party.

Potential Examples

A motion to dismiss first assumes the facts claimed in the claim are true, but irrelevant. A federal judge in Ohio with two companies in Ohio Plaintiffs vs. an Iowa individual and corporation could decide that there is no standing to sue over claims made about hypothetical shopping habits of a non-joined party that lived and shopped in California.

A motion for summary judgment assumes the facts are interpreted as favorable as possible to the opposing party, but that even that means the mover is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Let’s say that California party is joined and in a relevant jurisdiction, and the claim is about whether or not said party bought a house, and whether what defendant said about the alleged purchase constituted defamation. The judge could rule that saying someone bought a house when they leased it isn’t inherently defamatory, and the facts of the case, taken together with the law, don’t support a claim of defamation. Hence, summary judgment.

Courtney Milan’s Explanation

[Courtney Milan has a clearer non-technical explanation in this post.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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http://twitter.com/jaidblack/status/558053547141771264

For those who don’t know, Tina Engler (majority owner of Ellora’s Cave, pseudonym Jaid Black) used to be married apparently still is married to David Keen, who is serving a life sentence for first-degree murder and attempted second-degree murder. You can see his mugshot and history here. From this case ruling:

Angela Jeffers testified that Karen Stewart (her mother) terminated a relationship with the Defendant about two weeks before the murder, that the Defendant was mad, and that they argued about it. Ms. Jeffers testified that on the day of the murder, Karen Stewart told Ms. Jeffers that the Defendant had told Karen Stewart he was “going to fuck her shit up.” Later that day, Ms. Jeffers testified that she saw the Defendant grab Karen Stewart’s hair, that he had a gun in his hand, and that she heard two shots.

With that in mind, let’s look at this 2007 2011 comment from Angela (on a 2007 post), which I am reposting in full, and keep in mind that the blog post is about Tina Engler talking about her marriage to a convicted murderer in this (archived) interview over here:

This blog hits home to me because I am also a vitcum of her husband in the case he is serving a life sentence for.

The young womans name that was murdered is Karen also! I am Angela, Karen Stewart’s daughter. One of his charges are for attempted murder against me because after shooting my mother he shot at me and thankfully the bullet wizzed by my head.

I was 14 then and am almost 32 now. That was how old she was when he took her from us (for the rest of our lives).

She was an amazing woman and mother. My daughter is 8 and my step daughter is 14 and they have more heart and brains than this Black woman. Thank you so much for taking up for the victum (my mother)and our family.

Neither of those idiots have any remorse.

A few years ago she contacted me trying any way she could to find a reason to get here low life, “Poor” and “Uneducated” husband, David Keen, out of prison. I was shocked and disgusted.

To respond to Mrs. Tina Marie Keens, AKA Jade Black’s statment, YES he deserves to be alone and have lousy medical, rotten fruits and vegetables and no family.

My brother and I were left without a mother and our children have no grandmother. His victim is DEAD and we have a hole in our lives and are consequently victims and his incarceration is of great value to us and we ALL think he is where he belongs, FOREVER, just as my mother is unfortunatly where she is FOREVER. In that lousy prison system that I am so thankful for.

Angela commented again on this post, and this is her comment in full:

Hello,

This is Angela, Karen Stewarts daughter again. I commented on the post and noticed after how the end of my comment sounded like my mother was the one, or also is in prison. I tried to edit my comment but every time I scrolled down it automatically went back to the top and I could not edit it.

Anon 76’s comment edit is just how I meant to say it. And yes, I am not a writer and am very passionate about the subject.

Karen Scott, your paraphrase is correct. That is just how I feel. This is that young girl and I am still devasted by his actions. I miss my mother very much and not a day goes by that I do not want her or need her to be here. When good things happen in my life like my marrage, my children and other good experiences I do not have my special person (my mother) to share it with. When bad things happen or life is looking terrible, I do not have that special person to help me through and/or console me. I need my mother and that worthless animal took her.

When you read or hear about something like what happened to my mother and us, you may feel sad but you will never know how truely sad it is or how it effects everyday of the rest of your life unless it happens to someone you love. By the way my brother also was there and witness the low-life kill our mother.

I do not know how Tina Engler found my number but when she contacted me I could barely speak and had to give the phone to my husband. She told him how David had changed and that he deserved to be out of prison. That I was grown up and am alright now. My husband told her that I was not alright and will never be alright for the rest of my life. That what David did will haunt me forever. And it will and has effected our children forever. He told her to leave us alone.

I did contact an attorney about it but they unfortunatly said there was nothing that could be done. I did not know anything about Engler at the time. I have recently found out she is an author. I was so suprised to find this blog and it made me feel good that people cared.

Also, my mother was not married to him as someone commented. And to let everyone know the reason David Keen killed my mother, she realized how bad of a person he was and was leaving him. He told her that if he could not have her no one else will either. Then he shot her.

He very well deserves to be where he is, among other things.

Thanks everyone for caring.

I’ll let you figure out which story you think is true on this one. I agree with Glance:

http://twitter.com/ataglanceRMC/status/558142566965968897

(Note: I do not believe that prisoners should be treated inhumanely, so I do not believe they should get “lousy medical, rotten fruits and vegetables.”)

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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I’d be remiss if I didn’t post this, even though I don’t believe it.

http://twitter.com/jaidblack/status/558045247226519554

Well, they haven’t.

Anyhow, I believe pubby’s a narcissism farm.

Speaking of…

Jaid: pariah pariah pariah

Pubnt: pariah pariah pariah pariah

It’s Almost 1099 Time

http://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/557189714118078464

http://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/557190676379496449

http://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/557245333726834688

http://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/557245476337385473

http://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/557245621791641600

http://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/557245702255165440

Jon Stewart on Free Speech

From a few days ago.

Ellora’s Cave Author Exodus Support Thread

The Ellora’s Cave Author Exodus Support Thread is located here.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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My point in writing this post: I’m going to document why I believe Jaid Black is primarily a self-published author, and then, at the end, I’m going to let irony kick her ass.

Last year, when I was talking about a small digital-first publisher, Nick Mamatas referred to it as “an extended self-pub play.” Which, given what he meant, is true.

That’s how Ellora’s Cave got its start, too, as documented in this famous Dear Author interview with the awesome “trash can full of rejection letters” quote:

Jane: Tell me a little about how Ellora’s Cave was conceived.

Tina Engler aka Jaid Black: I was an unpubbed author with a trash can full of rejection letters. As a writer I had reached an impasse: either I was going to have to conform to NY standards and sex down my manuscripts or I was going to have to start my own publishing company. I chose the latter (doh!) and never regretted it ;-)

So, for a publisher, one wants to advertise what’s newest and/or what’s the biggest expected seller on the top of one’s site, right? One wants to make the best business decisions that will increase shareholder value, right?

EC-banner-jan2015

Well, okay, it’s Jaid Black’s book, and Jaid, aka Tina Engler, is the majority owner of Ellora’s Cave. She’s sold a lot of books, right? So this one must be doing pretty well.

Right?

sporked-in-time-sales-ranking

I uploaded that image on Jan 4, two weeks ago. The Amazon ranking has fallen since then to #661,149.

Just two months old and an abysmal sales ranking.

How about the other rankings for her books? Here’s the first page. (Note: not all titles pulled; I’ve had some network hiccups today.)
Read the rest of this entry  )

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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(Note: if you link outside of Tumblr/DW/LJ, please link to the deirdre.net version of this post. Thank you.)

Former Senior Content Editor Kelli Collins announced yesterday that she’s out:

https://twitter.com/EditMeThis/status/556209546872770560

You can see from the replies (if you visit that link by clicking on the timestamp) that she was much loved.

Best of luck in your next venture, Kelli.

I pointed out today that, six months ago, Ellora’s Cave had 15 editors and 5 artists (I incorrectly said earlier was 20 editors) plus one editor on the leadership page. After Kelli’s departure, EC lists eight people on the editor page plus two on the leadership page.

Speaking of Editors, EC Has Some New Ones

(Note: I’ve added commentary at the bottom of this post that’s a partial correction.)

And then people started looking at who was on the page, latching onto Jill Noelle, aka Jill Noelle Noble. LinkedIn ties the names together.

Jill was previously involved in Noble Romance Publishing (NRP), a publishing effort that had some interesting failure modes, as The Passive Voice highlights. She’s also the author of Not Your Mother’s Publishing Model, published by NRP toward the end of her tenure. There are so many places to go with that tidbit of information….

#notchiller Gianna Simone wrote two posts of her own about her experiences with NRP: one, which links to even more posts, and two.

And then there’s Jill’s note of departure from Noble Romance Publishing that was posted on AbsoluteWrite.

Here are a bunch of Dear Author posts about the Noble Romance debacle.

Let us return to the land of the current affair: Ellora’s Cave.

A Sale? Or a Merger? You Decide.

http://twitter.com/ataglanceRMC/status/556581866791120896

Well, we heard it from Peanut, so who the hell knows?

For those who haven’t been following along, many of us #notchilled regulars believe that @pubnt (aka TinaNut and other nut nicks) is none other than Tina Engler/Jaid Black. More discussion of that in this older post. For that reason, I refer to Pubnt as TinaNut frequently.

However, there’s a lot of deliberately obfuscatory rhetoric in Peanut’s tweets, so one can’t rely on what’s said.

http://twitter.com/pubnt/status/556178930726895616

JB = Jaid Black, pseudonym of Tina Engler, EC’s primary owner.
PM = Patty Marks, CEO of EC, aka JB’s mother.

But our Fallacious Filbert keeps referring to “BigPub.” See, a merger is of equals, and, frankly, Ellora’s Cave isn’t that big. How big? Hard to say because there is more than one company. Jasmine Jade has a tax lien for $29,679.52 from the City of Akron for the 2012 tax year. That translates to $1,319,090 in profits (or more, since some of the taxes may have been paid prior to the lien). Dear Author’s Curious Case post

http://twitter.com/pubnt/status/555673891935617024

http://twitter.com/pubnt/status/555674173335683074

Charming, referring to former staff and authors as fat and trash.

So, maybe some contract sell-off? Chicken feed, says peanut. (Sorry, link because pasting the link in WordPress doxs JL.)

http://twitter.com/pubnt/status/555802150732058624

http://twitter.com/pubnt/status/555584255095742465

Oh. Really. That’s a charming way to refer to the people who helped build the company.

http://twitter.com/pubnt/status/555583827230601216

Big Five? You don’t say.

Ongoing Acquisition Talk

It seems so odd to be talking about an ongoing acquisition. If the ink were dry, I’d expect that it would be announced. Given that it’s not, I don’t even know what to say. (I’ve worked for firms in the S-1 quiet period, as has my husband, and so that’s the culture we’re used to.)

It wouldn’t surprise me if EC were entertaining offers, but hearing about them like this, especially from an anonymous Twitter account, seems incredibly weird.

Julaine really has the killer point, though:

http://twitter.com/julainestone/status/556444067371180032

http://twitter.com/julainestone/status/556444401384558592

http://twitter.com/julainestone/status/556444697510809600

Julaine’s referencing the 27-page judicial smackdown against EC (et al) in the Brashear case. Two excerpts from that document:

Adding injury to insult was Defense counsel’s bad faith production of the tax returns and general ledgers to Plaintiff at the conclusion of the two days of depositions of the named Defendants. While Defense counsel was in compliance with the latest court order as to the tax returns, his decision to wait until the conclusion of the two days of depositions to produce these discovery documents, which addressed the heart of the claims in this case, impeded Plaintiff’s ability to fully depose the Defendants and was clearly done in attempt [to] hamper Plaintiff’s case and thus done in bad faith. This was plainly gamesmanship: a tactical move to ambush and sabotage the Plaintiff.

[…]

Defendants’ conduct as detailed above is nothing short of contumacious: stubbornly disobedient and a flagrant disregard for the Court’s orders. Defendants’ maneuvering during the two-year discovery phase of this case has been plotted to undermine the progression of theis case. This is evident by Plaintiff’s need to file two motions to compel, three motions to show cause / sanctions and two trial continuances, all arising from Defendants’ discovery abuses in the last two years. Defendants willfully evaded the production of discovery, resulting in unnecessary delays of this case and increased legal fees. Defendants’ actions in this case have crossed the line from a zealous defense to malingering, malfeasance, sabotage and delay.

How’s that compare to recent behavior?

Ex Post Facto Justification

Let’s rewind to Christmas Eve.

One of the things the Nut has gone on about is why former EC staffers weren’t paid. In a letter last week, Tina/Jaid said that all were paid.

https://twitter.com/pubnt/status/547697888319791104

https://twitter.com/pubnt/status/547698348724338688

Too. Nice.

https://twitter.com/pubnt/status/547761777321476096

So, they can withhold payment for former contractors in case they will defame? And then they can file that motion any old time? Or a successor case?

There have been multiple comments about suing other people, too, e.g., this one.

https://twitter.com/pubnt/status/547767378726359040

https://twitter.com/pubnt/status/547777692964511746

https://twitter.com/pubnt/status/547797331295621120

As usual, Courtney Milan just nails it.

https://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/547780375800717313

https://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/547780575923560450

And then there are the tax liens. That really needs its own post. It really does.

Until then, if you’d like to read more pubnuttery, here’s the PDF of all its surviving tweets. (Some tweets have been deleted, but I believe that’s relatively few.)

I Need a Fangirl Moment

I can’t wait for Courtney Milan’s new book. Already preordered it.

A Note of Update

Per my source, Jill Noelle was an editor at Ellora’s Cave before the layoffs last August. To the best of my source’s recollection, she started in March or April, just didn’t wind up on EC’s Editors and Artists masthead last July. And since archive.org hasn’t taken any snapshots of that page more recently, hard to know when she was added, exactly.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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From the eternaltubthumper rolling my eyes:

1) All past and present freelance editors and artists have been paid in full.

2) Many of you received 2 royalty checks in December; More of you will receive 2 royalty checks in January & February.

3) The accounting department will continue to focus on getting the new royalty system online by the end of February and processing royalties on the old system while paralleling them against the reports of the new system to insure all software bugs have been fixed. At some point in the next couple of months expect to receive 2 different royalty statements so you can compare the old way to the new way and make a smooth transition with it.

4) Nothing has changed at Amazon, though more publishers and authors are finally becoming vocal about how Amazon’s business practices are affecting them. Here’s a recent article; note the parallels between what others are reporting and what we’ve been saying all along: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/28/technology/amazon-offers-all-you-can-eat-books-authors-turn-up-noses.html?_r=0

5) Elisabeth has reacquired 2 of our former freelance editors who remained on positive, professional terms with us and we’re excited to have them back. Also, Susan Edwards is now editing full-time for us, which is excellent for our authors and thereby EC. (FYI: contrary to rumors Susan never left EC; She simply decided she wanted to edit instead.)

6) We still have a few tough business decisions to make, but overall 2015 is going to be a solid year.

Tina/Jaid

My Commentary

Let’s take them one at a time.

  1. If I’m reading this right, Tina’s admitting that, as of the time of the lawsuit, the freelance editors and artists were not paid, and have not been until just recently.

    http://twitter.com/ataglanceRMC/status/545715918827831296

    http://twitter.com/jaidblack/status/547452878458466304

    And yet, at least one of the checks was reportedly dated Christmas Eve. The day after that tweet. The ones I’ve heard of arriving all were postmarked after Christmas.

  2. Several authors have reported receiving checks for July and fewer still for August. One reported receiving June and August, but no July. Some have had no report (or check) for months.

  3. So EC’s still using the “old” accounting system? After more than a year? Right.

    If it’s still that fucked up, why sue Dear Author/Jane Litte instead of the software vendor?

    I remain unconvinced that there ever was a new accounting/royalty system.

  4. “Nothing has changed at Amazon.” And then links to an article about how indie authors are affected by Kindle Unlimited—which has exactly zero to do with what happened before Kindle Unlimited came into effect? That article’s about stuff that happened after DA’s post, not before. H. M. Ward’s post was at the end of November about the prior 60 days.

    Let’s put it this way: H. M. Ward, all by her lonesome, has sold six million books in three years. I’m a huge fan of her work. It is my crack.

    My point here is that Holly’s revenue from said six million books puts her in EC’s ballpark, sales-figure-wise.

  5. “positive, professional terms with us” I’m guessing that means they didn’t complain when they weren’t paid.

    On Susan. Well. It wasn’t a “rumor.” Susan Edwards’s LinkedIn page still says she’s freelance. Ellora’s Cave’s Leadership and Staff page doesn’t list her. EC’s Editors and Artists page doesn’t list her.. In theory, those sites are self-reported and authoritative for both parties in question.

    Sounds more like a rumor that Susan is working at EC.

  6. Only a few?

    I have a suggestion. The only lawsuit that makes any business sense is the accounting/royalty system vendor. Everything else is a distraction.

    Pay to settle the DA suit and move on.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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Not a surprise that Ellora’s Cave lost their motion, but I was hoping for more of a judicial smackdown.

Since it’s been two months, here’s the summary. After Ellora’s Cave/Jasmine Jade filed against Dear Author/Jane Litte in Ohio state court (EC/JJ being in Ohio; DA/JL in Iowa), defense filed to remove the case to federal court. EC/JJ filed a remand motion at the end October, and it’s just been ruled upon today.

Five-page ruling here. I’ve also updated the copy of the federal court documents I have on Dropbox.

What’s Next?

The Case Management Conference Scheduling Order specifies that Plaintiffs must make a settlement demand two weeks prior, and Defendants must make an offer one week later.

At least fourteen (14) days prior to meeting with the Court, Plaintiff(s) shall have made a demand with a written description and monetary breakdown of the damages claimed, and no later than seven (7) days thereafter, Defendant(s) shall have responded with an offer. This is to be included in the Parties’ Planning Meeting Report.

Obviously, I don’t expect this to result in an actual settlement unless EC/JJ folds.

Then the Case Management Conference

Main discovery is stayed until after the Case Management Conference on January 26th.

That’s not a meeting that’s public, but this particular judge has very specific instructions for the CMC. From the CMC Scheduling Order:

Lead counsel, parties with full settlement authority, and a representative with full settlement authority of any Insurance Carrier must be present and have calendars available for scheduling.

From his Judicial Preferences Page:

Judge Adams is of the view that the Case Management Conference is of extraordinary importance. He expects counsel to be prepared with the factual predicate from the standpoint of counsel’s client. Judge Adams expects the client to be present; where the client is a corporate entity, he expects a person to be present who has the greatest knowledge of the relevant facts. This is probably NOT in-house counsel. Judge Adams tailors the Case Management Plan based on the information supplied at the CMC by counsel and parties.

Given those two quoted paragraphs, I can’t see how both Tina Engler (as settlement authority based on her majority ownership and the subject of one of the claims) and Patricia Marks (as EC’s CEO of record) can avoid being there. Also, obviously, Jane Litte needs to be there.

How’s This for Irony?

Hat tip to tejasjulia.

Ellora's Cave Advertising on Dear Author

Lest you think this is old, the blog post is dated January 3, 2015.

What does this mean?

  1. EC has been recently advertising through Google.
  2. At least one of those ads was served to Dear Author, who makes ad revenue from Google ads.

  3. So, indirectly, Ellora’s Cave is paying Dear Author.

Note: I’ll link to Courtney Milan’s promised post about the remand decision once it’s up.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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2015-awards-consideration-post

Another year! And a post to let those of you who vote for Hugos, Nebulas and other science fiction/fantasy awards know what I’ve done in the last year for your award nomination consideration. Without further ado:

Best Fan Writer

Five Several of my best posts:

  1. After fifty years of it never being public, I broke the story about Marion Zimmer Bradley’s abuse of her daughter Moira. Thank you to Moira for choosing my blog to speak out in. My two most-viewed posts on this: Marion Zimmer Bradley Gave Us New Perspectives, All Right and Marion Zimmer Bradley: It’s Worse Than I Knew. Link to my other posts on this topic.
  2. How to Get to Helsinki from Pitcairn. All that odd travel knowledge comes in useful sometimes. Bonus picture from Pitcairn that I took last January.

  3. Delia Derbyshire, Overlooked Musician and Composer. A piece about the performer and co-composer of the famous Doctor Who theme.

  4. Vernacular & Literary Tricks. Commentary on the use of vernacular in fiction, specifically sf/f.

  5. Jay Lake, RIP, and a Few Memories. I’ve never been able to say before, on the day someone died, “I had a great time at his wake last year.” That’s the kind of person Jay was.

  6. Also, while my series of posts about Ellora’s Cave are more about the romance genre than science fiction/fantasy, EC also publishes some arguably SF/F/WTF works, including EC’s main owner’s own work. Review here. Eggs!

    Anyhow, getting to my writing on the subject, Proving Substantial Truth is an interesting post about the following hypothetical. Let’s say a blogger publishes an article that says “a set of authors” hasn’t been paid in quite a while? What does it take, size-of-data-set-wise, to prove that that’s not substantially true?

    And then there was the “Virtual Visit” to Romanticon, Ellora’s Cave’s own single-track convention, where single-track could be a double entendre. On the way back to Texas, Cavemen Axl and Taylor wound up sitting within three feet of Amber Vinson. They self-quarantined at first, then, when they entered the more likely active contagious time period, the quarantine was mandatory.

My other fan writing is tagged here.

Note: If you’re inclined to vote for me for Best Fan Writer (or, heaven help you, Best Fanzine), the canonical version of this site is deirdre.net. I compose there, and it pushes to Dreamwidth, Livejournal, Tumblr, Twitter, my Facebook timeline, my Facebook Author page, Google Plus, and, until it annoyed me by stripping my own links out, LinkedIn.

Best Fan Artist

  1. I’m best known for this t-shirt I designed for John Scalzi.
  2. I’m proudest of this set of products I designed around the Dihydrogen Monoxide theme.

    a. Approved Dihydrogen Monoxide Isolation Vessel (aka coffee cup)
    b. Stand Back Dihydrogen Monoxide Reaction Timer (aka clock)
    c. Stand Back Dihydrogen Monoxide Containment Shield (aka shower curtain)

    For what it’s worth, I sold exactly 0 items in this series last year, but I had a lot of fun making them anyway.

  3. What to Do With a Rusty Dumpster. Space art from common things.

  4. Mockup: 307 Ale Bottles. One night, Tom Smith’s song “307 Ale” would not leave me alone. Hence.

Best Short Story

I don’t think “The Duchess’s Dress” has a hope of actually winning anything, but I did publish it last year. It’s in the middle of flipping over to Amazon Select, meaning it should be available in Kindle Unlimited in a couple of days.

If you’re not a KU subscriber and don’t have a copy but are an eligible nominator, please email me and tell me your preferred format. (EPUB, MOBI, or PDF. If PDF, let me know if you need large print.)

Eligible Nominators

  • Nebula: SFWA Active and Associate members.
  • Hugo Awards: You’re a supporting or active member of either Loncon3 and/or Sasquan, and/or MidAmericon. Note that while nominations typically remain open until March-ish, you’d have to become a Sasquan member by January 31st.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

elloras-cave-blog-headerIt occurred to me that I’m really great at spreadsheets.

So what I’m asking for:

  1. Date you received a check for a given royalty month. (Or “Never received” if that’s the answer.)
  2. Date that check was postmarked, if available.
  3. Date that check was dated, if available.

I don’t ask you:

  1. Your legal name or pseudonym. If you’re willing to share your author pseudonym with me, I’d appreciate it (for authentication that you’re an EC author), but it’s not required.
  2. How much the check was for.
  3. What books sold how much.

My purpose in asking: I believe that checks have been slipping later over time based on reports of a limited set of people. I’d like to quantify that data into a chart.

Contact information

The spreadsheet’s available in three formats: .xslx for newer versions of Excel, .xls for older versions of Excel, and .numbers for Apple Numbers 5.0 (or later). Please email the spreadsheet to me at deirdre@deirdre.net.

Data Protection

To the extent the law permits (and it permits quite a bit here in California), I will protect my sources. There is always a small risk that this information will be subpoenaed. If so, I can likely provide the source files while still protecting anonymity.

Note: it’s absolutely okay to share this post. Thank you.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

elloras-cave-blog-header
tl;dr version is that it took almost a year before the case settled.

In 2011, EC and Jasmine Jade were sued by the company leasing them their POD printer. (Note: lots of attachments I haven’t read, some of which may be interesting.)

I wasn’t ever interested enough to bother looking up the state docket before, but someone mentioned it on Twitter today, so I finally did.

That case, 2011-L-010207, defense removed to federal court. Then EC/JJ filed their answer in federal.

Only problem is, they have the right to remove for thirty days and they filed on the thirty-first. The leasing company filed a remand motion and it was granted.

I’ve put the whole Illinois docket up on Dropbox.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

elloras-cave-blog-header

I’d missed this blog post by Super Wendy on “The Quick and Dirty History of Erotic Romance.”

EC also played a healthy hand in marketing. As I’ve already detailed, erotic romance did exist before EC we just…..didn’t know what to call it.

In 2004, Google started tracking searches with Google Trends. For whatever reason, EC didn’t start getting traction until November 2004. I’ve posted this graph before, but here it is again.

EC_erotic-romance

What’s been fascinating to me since looking at this graph was how long Ellora’s Cave has been in a Google trend long, slow slide compared to erotic romance.

Recognize that this graph doesn’t discuss how many searches there are, or whether the overall popularity of the term is increasing or decreasing. Just what the relative ranking of two terms are, one against the other, and both total 100 added together when you’re looking at the best month for the two terms combined.

Romantica as a term is confusing because there are other uses for it that have nothing to do with EC, and the manga series and the band are the two top hits for the term. EC’s use doesn’t even register on Google trends.

Here’s another interesting graph, though, one I hadn’t posted before:

Google Trends: romance novel vs. erotic romance

Overall, romance novel as a search term tracks pretty well with erotic romance. Romance novel has a slight downward trend until late 2010, then turns upward.

What does that mean? Well, it means Google searches for romance novel and erotic romance are healthy.

The same can’t be said of Ellora’s Cave as a search term. Also note that this doesn’t disambiguate searches for the caves in India.

Want to play with search terms? Here’s a Google Trends link for you.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

deirdre: (Default)

elloras-cave-blog-header

Up until the rule, the following is Rick’s commentary that he initially posted as a commentary here. I added links to @Pubnt’s tweets.

I did some very modest legal research on some more of the legalistic language TinaNut’s been using lately. Just to be clear, as a non-lawyer I’m no expert and have zero access to Lexis, etc. I’m just a layman with an ongoing interest in legal issues (who learned enough business law to pass the CPA exam, back in the Pleistocene).

TinaNut’s been saying things like:

Causing damages to EC is in breach of contract – breaching the implied Trust & Confidence term.

It could now also be u r in Breach of Trust & Confidence, or in litigation, and has caused recoverable damages. Otherwise you would have been paid by now, like thousands of other good EC authors/employees.

Q: Are you another author in litigation with EC and has caused recoverable damages? If so wait till the end of the lawsuit you are involved in to get paid, less recoverable damages. T&C clause is actionable in Damages when breached.

Under UK common law, employment contracts are construed as having an implied term requiring ‘mutual trust and confidence’, which in some circumstances can even overrule provisions in explicit employment-contract terms, and applies to both employer and employee. Notable UK cases have involved suits by employees alleging that hostile or dishonest management had carried out ‘constructive termination’, and successfully sued for tort damages on that basis. It’s important to note that the aggrieved party had to specifically litigate this claim. It wasn’t tacked on as a ‘by the way’ to (say) an only somewhat related defamation suit between the employer and some third party.

Australia inherited the ‘mutual trust and confidence’ concept from the UK, until a few years ago when the High Court jettisoned the concept from all subsequent Australian cases.

I find no evidence that the concept exists in USA law at all – with the minor (and irrelevant) semi-exception that insider trading prosecutions often allege that the accused brokers (etc.) failed in fiduciary duties that entail requirements of trust and confidence.

In USA employment law, zip.

The parallel concept in USA employment law seems to be the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, which is part of every employment contract because it’s part of every contract, period. Some states with at-will employment legal regimes recognise violation of this implied covenant as a valid grounds on which an employee might be able to prove wrongful termination (despite employment being otherwise at will, in that state).

TinaNut’s… er… reasoning is pretty murky on this whole matter, but here’s my best reconstruction of what she’s alleging: Employees’ contracts with EC include confidentiality clauses, and they’re also bound by implied covenants of good faith and fair dealing (which she mistakenly calls ‘the implied Trust & Confidence term’). If an employee testifies for Dear Author, or tweets allegations supporting Dear Author’s position, during the EC/DA litigation, they are injuring EC’s interests in violation of contract, and are tort-feasors to the extent of the damage they are causing EC. The value of that damage can be decided only at the end of the EC/DA suit. [Insert here some justification for tying these tort damages to payables owed to them for wages and other payables. I got nothing.] So, it’s legitimate to wait until end of the current lawsuit and then offset damages owed by these employees against payables owed to them.

Sometimes, the Nut acknowledges that these alleged tort damages could be established only through separate, unrelated litigation, and other times doesn’t. E.g., she talks about ‘enjoining them’ later in the proceedings or that they will be ‘named at the right time’.

The Nut appears to be confused between allegations that employees who’ve testified or tweeted thereby committed defamation (and per her are to be ‘joined’ to the EC/DA lawsuit later), and allegations that they violated confidentiality or good-faith obligations to their employer, which if she wanted to go for that would be a separate lawsuit.

I thnk, BTW, that the odds of getting a tort judgement against an employee for testifying in a court case are exactly zero, and the likelihood of getting one for tweets saying ‘My employer’s been late paying me’ are pretty close to zero, too.

In addition, TinaNut speaks as if confidentiality and/or good-faith obligations of employees, such as they are, apply equally to non-employee authors having EC publication contracts for their books, which obviously isn’t the case. As an aside, I rather suspect that judges take a very dim view of attempting to bludgeon employees and business associates with confidentiality clauses to punish or intimidate them over testifying in court cases.

Then, too, there’s the troubling bit where TinaNut thinks EC can withhold timely payment of employees (or business partners) just because she thinks EC might speculatively be able to sue them for damages in the future, and expect they’ll somehow acquire the right to remit only the net of those amounts. Sorry, paranoid pistachio, not the way it works.

It seems almost gratuitous to harp on the hapless hazelnut’s meaninglessly vague and loose terms ‘involved in the lawsuit’ and ‘part of the lawsuit’, which lumps together actual parties to the EC/DA suit, people who’ve testified, and even apparently people who’ve merely tweeted about it. To her credit, she does acknowledge this vagueness when called on it.

Does the wandering walnut really believe her legal fantasy? I fear that she does. And the fall will be hard and painful.


(The rest is Deirdre’s commentary.)

What fascinates me most about the annoying acorn’s allegations are some of the following:

  1. The persistent statement that Tina Engler is the CEO of Ellora’s Cave, when her mother, Patricia Marks, is the CEO of record. That makes me wonder what the actual truth of the matter is.
  2. The statements that EC has “thousands” of employees, later shifted to “thousands of good EC authors/employees”. I counted EC’s authors back when the suit began, and iirc, EC had 934 authors at that count. So near as I can tell, EC’s never topped the thousand mark of authors and employees (and contractors) combined. Certainly not multiple thousands.

  3. There’s a consistent conflation between employees and contractors. Contractors aren’t employees, and employees aren’t contractors. Inherently, a corporation has less loyalty to a contractor than to an employee; the reverse is also true. This should not come as a surprise.

  4. “Loyal” authors don’t tweet, and publishers move promotional funds away from tweeting authors. That may be true for EC, but it’s not true generally. (one) (two) (three) (four) (You can really see the repetitiveness in that series of four tweets.)

  5. EC’s a “massive” corporation (or “massive accredited publisher” in other tweets).

    What’s particularly fascinating to me about the whole “massive corporation” assertion is that I’ve actually been a software engineer at an actual massive corporation. Look, if you don’t have full-time sushi chefs in multiple countries, it’s just delusions of grandeur.

  6. Related to the “accredited” publisher, there’s also the claim that EC’s an “approved” publisher. Courtney Milan commented:

    This is especially weird since there IS no RWA approved list any longer.

    Courtney’s on the RWA board (though speaking as an individual), so she’d know.

    What’s hilarious to me about TinaNut’s continued railings against self-publishing is that, by Tina Engler’s own admission, Ellora’s Cave is an extended self-play. Here’s an old DA interview with Tina/Jaid, and the pull quote to end all pull quotes:

    I was an unpubbed author with a trash can full of rejection letters. As a writer I had reached an impasse: either I was going to have to conform to NY standards and sex down my manuscripts or I was going to have to start my own publishing company.

Courtney Nails It (As Usual)

Just as I’m about to click “post,” Courtney Milan tweets….

https://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/544635698817822720

https://twitter.com/courtneymilan/status/544635780149571584

Lots of Comments on the Last EC post

If you’re reading my posts elsewhere (Tumblr, Dreamwidth, Livejournal, RSS), then you may have missed a lot of interesting comments.

For Your Amusement

For all your future nut phrase constructions, here’s a list of culinary nuts that may help you.

Originally published at deirdre.net. You can comment here or there.

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