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Today there’s big news in this year-plus long defamation case: plaintiffs Ellora’s Cave and Defendants Dear Author and Jane Litte have settled.

Ellora's Cave Case Settles

In an email to EC’s biz loop, Ellora’s Cave CEO Patty Marks said:

From: patty@ellorascave.com [ec_biz]
Date: Thu, Oct 22, 2015 at 9:50 AM
Subject: [ec_biz] Settlement with Dear Author

We are pleased to announce that we have reached a settlement with Dear Author. The terms are confidential, so we will not be discussing that. We are very happy though to now put all of our time and efforts into Ellora’s Cave, the authors and staff without further distraction.

Thank you for your patience and support.

Patty Marks

Defense’s Parting Gift to the Case

Those of you following #notchilled recently will recall discussion of a footnote in case document 71-main (p. 11):

Further,Ellora’s may be planning for bankruptcy even at this time–but have refrained from doing so in the hopes that this SLAPP suit will bear fruit. In fact, Ellora’s counsel has reported to the undersigned on numerous occasions that Ellora’s has failed to pay his bills.

This was a footnote that Randazza had apparently intended to delete, and it led to plaintiffs filing a motion yesterday to strike the footnote, pointing out that this case had received a fair amount of discussion on Twitter’s #notchilled hashtag.

Which led to defense’s response document.:

The real value of the evidence Plaintiffs offer in support of their Motion is that it shows that there is widespread public interest in Ellora’s Cave and thus this controversy, belying any claim that the Plaintiffs are not a public figure as they disingenuously claim.

Boom.

The Identity of @pubnt

In doc 73, plaintiffs also accused defense of waging a social media war:

And while the merits of this case are before this Court to decide, Defendants have resorted to internet and social media outlets to gather support from followers for their position (and to solicit online donors to pay their legal expenses) in what is basically a public relations war against the Plaintiffs’ case.

Let me be clear: Those of us posting on #notchilled are a diverse group who (mostly, since at least two purported Ellora’s Cave employees have posted to #notchilled) agree on one thing: the case against Dear Author and Jane Litte was filed to quell free speech.

In short, we agreed with this Courtney Milan post (excerpt):

But in this country, we want to make sure that people have the right and ability to talk about matters of public concern, to express their opinion on them, and to speak freely without worry that their speech will be chilled. So if you inject yourself into an issue of public concern, you may be a limited purpose public figure–that is, someone for whom the standards differ.

[…]

It seems to me that the business of Ellora’s Cave–a multi-million dollar business, one where the owner has sought and obtained media attention from national news media, a business that deals with hundreds if not thousands of authors, editors, and cover artists, and who has thousands if not hundreds of thousands of readers who take an interest in it–is a matter of public concern. It seems to me that Ellora’s Cave and its owner, Jaid Black, by seeking out that media attention, by broadcasting announcements to its authors–announcements that were reprinted and referenced in publishing news ranging from Publishers Weekly to The Passive Voice–is a limited purpose public figure.

And the standard for defamation actions for limited purpose public figures is substantially different than for private citizens. The standard is that the speaker must be acting with actual malice: that is, they must know (or be reckless about knowing) that the statements they are speaking are false. What that means is that if I say something and I have a good-faith belief that what I am saying is true–even if it later turns out to be false–I am not going to be held liable for defamation.

I point this out because I am extremely, extremely pissed off about this lawsuit. I believe that this lawsuit was filed for the purpose of chilling speech–and for the purpose of chilling true speech about a matter of imminent public concern. And I think that despite the outpourings of support, it’s working. This lawsuit is about teaching authors to sit down and shut up, even if their livelihood is at stake.

Which is a pretty good statement of the unifying principles of the #notchilled regulars. Some are EC authors. Some are former EC authors. Some are readers, but not authors. Some (like Courtney and myself) are writers, but not for Ellora’s Cave.

But we weren’t posting specifically because of who the defendant was, but what the issue was.

Defense’s response in doc 74 (p. 3):

Defendants further note that Plaintiffs offer no evidence that Defendants are waging any sort of a “public relations war against Plaintiffs’ case.” Indeed, there is no evidence to be found. The purpose of this accusation is clear – to try and negatively color the Defense. However, should the Plaintiffs wish for Defendants to address this issue in earnest, the Defendants have preserved publications and statements by Ellora’s Cave’s founder, Tina Engler, about this case, as well as her “sock puppet” twitter account, which would scorch them with hypocrisy—should the court be interested.

The “sock puppet” referred to @pubnt (and possibly others), whose identity will likely never be known as a matter of law, but here’s the complete archive of 2,620 tweets.

What’s Up Next?

There’s still the matter of several hundred Ellora’s Cave authors, quite a few of whom have publicly stated that, as of this writing, they’ve not been paid royalties for periods later than February 2015. I do not know of anyone reporting having received payments for a later period, and February was eight months ago.

Here are a few sources:

http://twitter.com/KellyJamieson/status/655140492712083456

http://twitter.com/Lori_Ella/status/653291224296722437

http://twitter.com/trista_michaels/status/654783745560473600

Given that Ellora’s Cave still has (as of a few days ago) more than 800 authors, that’s a seriously large quantity of royalty checks to be behind.

Let’s not forget the declaration of Romance Writers of America executive director Allison Kelley:

Based on complaints from authors, we contacted Patty Marks, CEO of Ellora’s Cave, in August 2014 to express concerns that Ellora’s Cave was unilaterally changing the terms of its contracts without authors’ written consent. Ms. Marks responded, “I’ll talk to Raelene and have our publishing department request signed amendments now and from here on out.”

In September 2015, I contacted Patty Marks regarding complaints about the company’s failure to issue royalty statements and checks to authors. Ms. Marks recently admitted to me that Ellora’s Cave is not up-to-date with paying its royalties and has not paid its authors in a timely manner.

Failure to pay authors and comply with the terms of contracts are violations of the Romance Writers of America’s code of ethics for industry professionals.

As a result of Ellora’s Cave’s violations of the code of Ethics, Ellora’s Cave has been suspended from certain privileges with the Romance Writers of America. This means that Ellora’s Cave is prohibited from contacting members of chapters regarding new submissions and may not participate in any Romance Writers of America chapter event until it has paid its authors all amounts due.

I don’t know if that’ll ever happen, but I hope for authors’ sakes that it will.

Until then, I leave you with Lieutenant Commander Ivanova. Not quite as satisfying as having all the answers and full restitution for all authors, but it’s what I have to offer.

Addenda

Tymber Dalton’s post Ellora’s Cave vs Dear Author: Not with a bang, but a whimper. Features this nugget comment by author Ann Jacobs, who attempted to intervene in the Dear Author case:

I believe there’s a good chance there will be a class action filing. My attorney has other authors who’ve expressed interest, and it will be a topic of conversation next week. Meanwhile, I know no more than anyone else, except that my motion to intervene in the DA defense is moot, since the suit has been settled.

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

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ellora's cave blog header

Authors Who Reverted Between Sep 2014-Sep 2015

Based on screen scrapes taken of Ellora’s Cave author page on September 24, 2014 and September 29th, 2015. So, it’s as accurate as that data is.

Boldfaced means the author has been an author of either a NY Times or USA Today bestseller.

Note that some unknown percentage of these had titles that were below the threshold for reversion, and the remainder were likely rights that were bought back.

A. Q. Fredrichs
Adele Dubois
Ainsley Abbott
Alicia Maddox
Allyson James
Alvania Scarborough
Angela Knight
Ann Bruce
Annabeth Albert
Anne M. Calhoun
Annie Windsor
Ashleigh Raine
Ashlynn Pearce
Aurora Rose Lynn
Ava Bradley
Avery Aster
Belle Scarlett
Camryn Rhys
Cat Grant
Cat Marsters
Cathryn Fox
Charlene Leatherman
Cherif Fortin
Chris Power
Claire Thompson
Courtney Sheets
Crystal Kauffman
Cynnamon Foster
Dawn Halliday
Delphine Dryden
Denyse Bridger
Dominique Adair
Doreen Desalvo
Eden Avery
Eileen Ann Brennan
Eilis Flynn
Elise Hepner
Emily Ryan-Davis
Emjai Colbert
Emma Petersen
Erin Richards
Eryn Blackwell
Faye Adamos
Georgie Lee
Grace Samuels
Graylin Fox
Heather Elizabeth King
Heather Hiestand
Helen Hardt
Hetty St. James
J.C. Wilder
Jambrea Jo Jones
Jane Davitt
Janie D’Avril
Janina Henderson
Jaycee Clark
Jayne Rylon
Jennifer Colgan
Jennifer North
Jessica Lee
Jillelaine Hughes
J.L. Wilson
Julia Templeton
K.D. King
K.Z. Snow
Kaily Hart
Karen McCullough
Kate Pearce
Kate St. James
Kathryn Lively
Katie O’Sullivan
Kayelle Allen
Keira Andrews
Kelly Ferjutz
Kelly Fitzpatrick
Kelly Maher
Kelsy George
Kendall Grace
Kimberly Killion
Kirstie Abbot
Kylie Scott
L.H. Merci
L.J. Garland
L. Rosario
Lacey Alexander
Lauren Dane
Laurie Breton
Leannan Mac Llyr
Leigh Court
Leta Blake
Lila Dupres
Lilian Feisty
Lolita Lopez (as Roxie Rivera)
Lucy Muir
Lynn Sanders
Mandy M. Roth
Marcia James
Marie Bellevaux
Megan Kerans
Melissa Lopez
Melynda Price
Michelle Pillow
Minx Malone
Nancy Corrigan
Nicole North
Olivia Brynn
Paige Tyler
Patrice Michelle
Patricia Mason
Piper Leigh
Raine Latimer
Rebecca T. Michaels
Renee Luke
Rhian Cahill
Richard Jeanty
Rilee St. Chris
Riley Murphy
Roxana Blaze
Ruby Duvall
S.W. Vaughn
Sally Apple
Sally Painter
Sam Cheever
Sami Lee
Sara Dennis
Savannah Stuart
Sherry Morris
Shoshanna Evers
Stella Price
Stephanie Burke
Sue Swift
Susie Charles
Sylvia Day
T.J. Michaels
Tamara Gill
Teal Ceagh
Terri Beckett
Tracy Cooper Posey
Trixie Stilletto
Vicky Burkholder
Viki Lyn
Zannie Adams

Ellora’s Cave’s Unreverted Bestselling Authors

With the notable exception of Laurann Dohner, the New York Times and USA Today bestsellers I could find from these authors were all published by other houses. Because Ellora’s Cave is a digital first publisher, the “Most Recent EC Title” column means: the most recent unreverted Ellora’s Cave ebook release date.

Also, even though an author still has titles at Ellora’s Cave doesn’t mean some of their titles haven’t reverted.

Name (made list as) Most Recent EC Title
Abigaile Barnette (as Jennifer Armintrout) Jan 2013
Amanda Ashley Dec 2014
Cheyenne McCray Jul 2007
Dakota Cassidy Aug 2011
Delilah Devlin Sep 2011
Jaci Burton May 2009
Jaid Black Oct 2015
Jan Springer Feb 2014
Joanna Wylde Jan 2013
Joey W. Hill Aug 2014
Jory Strong Dec 2013
Koko Brown Feb 2013
Laurann Dohner Oct 2015
Lora Leigh May 2014
Madeline Baker Aug 2014
Mari Carr Nov 2012
Marie Harte Jul 2011
Roberta Gellis June 2012
Sabrina York Jul 2014
Shiloh Walker (as J.C. Daniels) Apr 2014
Tawny Taylor Apr 2011

Update March 19, 2016: More Reversions

  1. Amanda Ashley’s titles have completely reverted.
  2. Joey W. Hill is down to a couple of discount print titles; all her e-titles have reverted.
  3. Laurann Dohner later announced that she would be self-publishing future titles.
  4. Lora Leigh has had all books reverted except for stories she has in anthologies.
  5. Madeline Baker is down to a few discount print titles; all her e-titles have reverted.
  6. Shiloh Walker wrote a blog post. Apart from one discount print title and several cavemen anthologies, her titles have reverted to her.

Six major changes out of their 21 remaining NYT/USAT bestselling authors in five months.

(end update)

Bestselling Authors Who Reverted Their Ellora’s Cave Titles Prior to Sep 2014

There may be a much longer list here, but I don’t know all the early Ellora’s Cave authors.

Rhyannon Byrd
Sarah McCarty

Author Counts Over Time

I’ve scraped the Ellora’s Cave site a few times, and have used all of archive.org’s available scrapes as well. I have a reason for posting this, but after the graph, I’ll post a timeline, then wrap it up so you can see why I think this is significant.

elloras-cave-author-counts

Here are some dates to keep in mind when looking at this chart:

  1. Ellora’s Cave layoffs announced August 18, 2014 (report on AW), published in Dear Author the following day and Publishers Weekly a week later.
  2. The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave, published Sep 14, 2014.
  3. Lynne Connolly also spoke up on Sep 14:

    No, I can’t have my rights back on those two. If I don’t cooperate with the editing, Ellora’s Cave will exercise its contractual right to edit and publish the books anyway. If those books do come out, I will make a statement to say I had nothing to do with the editing and the books are released without my cooperation. After that, it’s up to the reader to decide.

    By “editing,” they mean “light editing.” The editors are not even allowed to alter spelling mistakes, because that would be changing the “author’s voice.”

  4. Cat Grant says Ellora’s Cave would allow her to buy out her contract on Sep 20, 2014.
  5. The following day, Victoria Strauss, maintainer of Preditors and Editors posted:

    Rights buybacks are disgraceful. Failing or not, a publisher should either revert rights or not revert them—but it shouldn’t hold authors’ books for ransom, even if the motive isn’t to make a quick buck before the ship goes down.

  6. Lawsuit against Dear Author and Jane Litte over the Curious post was filed September 26, 2014.
  7. The following day, Cate Cameron asks for a guide to requesting rights reversion. The day after that, I linked to one I’d found.
  8. News of the lawsuit hit Publishers Weekly on September 29th.
  9. On October 1, Victoria Strauss posted a reversion guide on Writer Beware and posted a link to that on the Absolute Write EC thread.

Ellora’s Cave’s Claims re: Reversions

From p. 18 of this EC filing:

In the first eight and a half (8 1/2) months of 2014, prior to Lampe’s bankruptcy scare, Ellora’s Cave had a total of 154 books go out of print for various reasons—mostly sales below threshold for rights reversions. In the twelve days between Lampe’s defamatory blog and the filing of this action, Ellora’s Cave had requests for reversions of 404 titles, an astronomical increase. Since Lampe’s defamatory blog, Ellora’s Cave has reverted over 1250 more titles and still has requests that it is working on. In the one year since the defamatory post, Plaintiff has had almost double the number of rights reversions than it has had in its entire 14-year history.

So here’s the thing. The standard reversion language is given by example here on p.44, and you’ll note it takes (up to) six months for the process to complete.

In other words, if people had asked for reversions solely and only because of the Dear Author article, then those reversions would have occurred between September 14th, 2014 and March 26th, 2015.

If you look at the total number of authors EC had as of March 21st (5 days before the end of that window), they had the exact same number of authors (though not necessarily the exact same authors) as they’d had after Jane Litte’s Curious article.

In other words, the overwhelming majority of authors leaving Ellora’s Cave entirely appear to have done so so after the effects of Ellora’s Cave filing a lawsuit, not after Jane Litte’s article published by Dear Author and before the lawsuit.

Also (note that I’m talking about net additions here):

  • In the 14-1/2 months leading up to July 28, 2014, Ellora’s Cave added exactly 100 authors…an average of 6.8 per month (1.6 per week).
  • In the two months between July 28, 2014 and September 24, 2014, EC added two new authors…an average of 1 per month.

  • In the six months between September 24, 2014 and March 21, 2014, EC added zero new authors…an average of 0 per month.

  • In the following six months, EC had a net loss of 125 authors (142 left, partially offset by 17 new authors). That’s an average of 21 leaving per month and 3 added per month.

  • In the last three weeks, EC’s added five new authors.

And Now I Quote from Patty Marks

From her August 18th letter announcing the layoffs (emphasis added):

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.

I believe this translates as: “We lost a lot of money by adding 100 more authors so quickly, especially once sales also dropped.”

Comments Welcome

If I’ve missed any author links or have any incorrect links, please let me know.

I do have the data to do more in-depth analyses of the authors who left over time, but the old site used Lastname Firstname and the new site uses Firstname Lastname, and I have zero spoons for that. If anyone would like the raw data, please let me know.

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

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Laurann Dohner photo

Yesterday, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Laurann Dohner said she’d have some news today. Today, she posted the news: she has one book completed and another in progress, both to be released in December. The really big news happens in the first and second comment:

Laurann Dohner Making Leap

For the visually impaired, Valerie asked:

Will this be a self-published venture or through your regular publisher?

(All of Ms. Dohner’s previous books have been published by Ellora’s Cave.)

She replied:

You go right for the tough one, Valerie. LOL. This is my project. It’s my baby.

Which several people interpreted to mean these two books will not be published by Ellora’s Cave.

Existing Series

So far as I know, all of Ellora’s Cave’s recent NY Times or USA Today bestselling titles have been authored by Laurann Dohner.

Ms. Dohner did say further along in comments that, “I still have a “to write” list a mile long for my other series.” So we can expect to see more in those lines, though she hasn’t stated whether or not those books will be published by Ellora’s Cave. Legendarily, Ms. Dohner signed a 75-book contract with Ellora’s Cave in 2011, but of course we don’t know exactly what the terms of that contract are.

I’m happy for Laurann and her new books, and I’m glad she’ll be able to bring them out independently. I could even pick up copies without breaking my “no Ellora’s Cave titles” rule. During this last year, I’ve met some huge fans of Ms. Dohner’s writing, and I’m looking forward to being able to see what the fuss is about.

Comments

I’d love to hear your comments, but please keep them polite. It’s a big step announcing a shift to being an indie writer, and it can be a scary time.

Also, this post may (or may not) have been brought to you by repeated listenings of Ozan Çolakoğlu’s song “Aşk Gitti Bizden” featuring Tarkan on vocals (English lyrics).

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

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Elizabeth Fisher • Photo by Scott Beadle

Elizabeth Fisher • Photo by Scott Beadle

When this posts, she will be going…or gone.

Earlier, she sent an email that’s just…so her.

at 11am zurichtime, whatevertime, your time, give a cheer, hey, cause
off i go and it’s all good.

It seems weird to say that someone will be dying at a specified time, but Elizabeth Fischer chose assisted suicide when she found out recently that she had terminal lung cancer.

From that interview:

You’ve been really open about choosing suicide. How have people responded?

My demise has become a community effort, and that makes me feel pretty good. People in my coop, in my musicians’ community, the artists’ community, have been really kind and supportive. I’m being love-bombed, and it’s kind of overwhelming, because I had no idea they cared so much. [laughs heartily] They all think that I’m being so brave, though I don’t think of it that way. I’m just too smart to want to die in a hospital, racked with pain, tied to IVs, utterly humiliated.

I can’t remember precisely when I met efish on the EFNet #scientology channel (which, despite its name, was mostly a channel of critics), perhaps even before I became a channel op sometime around 1995 or 1996. I just remember her always being there, usually the cheerful one. Often talking about dancing, singing, writing, art, goulash, Hungarian, or the strange trip she’d taken through life.

Like many people in our lives, even when I no longer hung out with efish on line a lot and wandered away from Scientology criticism for quite a few years, I thought of her a lot.

We saw each others’ comments on Marty Rathbun’s blog in March 2014—this post, in fact—and reconnected via facebook and, briefly, IRC. Mom and I took a trip up to Vancouver Island this April, but we had to do it at breakneck speed (which turned out to be fortuitous; my mother became very ill almost immediately upon our return), so I sheepishly told Elizabeth I’d be back.

In retrospect, I feel foolish. I’m sorry I wasn’t able to carve out the time.

Her Projects

Orphans and Dogs Cover

It’s obvious there’s a hole in the Vancouver arts scene where she used to be.

Leaving Hungary

And now, a prose piece from efish about what it was like to be a refugee from her homeland. Illuminating for those of you who aren’t old enough to remember other large refugee crises, here’s a primer about the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. The refugee crisis was the first to be televised.

In terms of some since, it was far smaller than Syria (or Vietnam), so it was, relatively speaking, easy to find places to accommodate 200,000 people, 180,000 of whom fled into Austria. But that was by no means easy for those who were displaced…sometimes several times.

In that sense, assisted suicide—choosing the date, time, and place of one’s demise—makes a curious sense for someone blown about the globe by the whims of others at the earlier end of her life.

Underwear

Hungary, 1956, mother, father and me don the family underwear and scramble off across the border to Austria. Onto Austria, where every hungarian arrives heroically freedomfighting, and from which one can only be shipped off to Argentina, where – according to mother – far off relatives await with open arms. And there they are the far off relatives but no open arms await cause they see the underwear and it makes them nervous.

There we are then, flowing sewage in front, rendering plant in back. Father works in a factory and amuses himself by teaching everyone how to swear in hungarian. And then comes home and announces okay, but he’d much rather kill himself. So mother stops the nine months long weeping and removes the one family jewel pinned to the family underwear and goes to sell it.

In the meanwhile, I attend school in spanish. A catholic school run by nuns, where during religion classes I get to sit on a bench in the yard and play with the flies.

So mother sells the family jewel and buys a ticket back to Europe, come what may. And we iron the underwear and embark on a french ship. French cockroaches rove our bodies and father states that the french are shits so we will definitely not be going to France. Mother nods and continues to weep.

We arrive back in Austria where everyone is sick of heroes and freedomfighters. So there we sit at the nearest refugee vacation facility, a fuck you gesture in austrian dialect.

A yearlong vacation, twentyfive to a room, the family underwear on a clothesline. Sporting events abound cause with hungarians, arguments are deemed sporting events. Mother weeps, father amuses himself with teaching the camp director choice hungarian obscenities.

Me, I attend school in german. And on holidays I am put on exhibit dancing rustic folk dances with a wine bottle on my head.

In the meanwhile, father’s skills in matters of hungarian language become popular. Here comes a swedish red cross rep and says he’s interested in higher learning. Okay, says father, but then how about a swedish visa. That’s hard, sighs the swede, cause everyone hates hungarians. We for example, only take persons with life threatening illnesses. That’ll be just fine, says father, look at mother there in the throes of fatal weeping. Don’t you think a rest in a fine swedish sanatorium would do her some good. Well, says the swedish rep, maybe it could be arranged, but then you’ll have to teach me something extremely exotic. Cause me, he says, I like to deeply explore foreign cultures. And then father reaches deep indeed and brings forth the most exotic of exotic cultural treasures, hidden gems from within, ancestral bon mots gingerly cradled all the way from his village of birth, exotic Babocsa, population 500, paragon of extreme hungarian cultural endeavours.

Once in Sweden, mother is carted off for a rest cure at a sanatorium. Father and I to a cute little refugeecamp by the sea. We have ourselves a great time cause no more hairbrushings and such, seeing as hygene is also resting with mother. After three weeks, mother is released from the sanatorium and continues where she left off. Weeping, she shakes the sand out of the family underwear and brushes the knots from my hair.

It is very nice in Sweden but fucking dull. Having nowhere else to go, we hang around for four years. No one to teach hungarian to cause the swedes are a very polite people. They quite politely hate all foreigners.

Me, I attend school in swedish. There are no religion classes and also no dancing.

After a while, father has had enough of all this fine innertia. He decides he wants to live in Canada. There are many refused canadian visa applications. Mother weeps. So then he decides to write a letter to the english queen. In the letter he says he has had enough of all this joking around. That he would love to leave the family underwear behind. Please allow him to live in Canada, where he, the hungarian Fischer Pista promises to sell zippers and be perfectly happy doing so, respectfully yours, your future subject, Mr. Steven Fischer. Post Scriptum, hogyha nem enged be akkor maga igazan egy hulye nagy barom es le van szarva.

And she lets him in.

The rest is less interesting. Well, okay, maybe a little bit interesting.

— © elizabeth fischer

Link Roundup

  • An early memorial for Elizabeth Fischer! Some great links, memories, and commenters on this one.
  • Beatrice Smartt

  • Stephen Harper ban on physician assisted suicide pushes Vancouver artist Elizabeth Fischer to plan death in Europe

    Fischer’s laugh, a recognizable alto chortle, is almost as notorious locally as her dark Hungarian scowl. The only child of Holocaust survivors, she first ventured into the Vancouver arts scene by running light shows for rock bands during the psychedelic era, and then progressed into leading her own bands via punk. The Animal Slaves were an anomaly during the days of D.O.A. and the Subhumans, featuring as they did actual musicians playing morbidly intricate tunes behind Fischer’s complex and poetic lyrics; more recently, Dark Blue World fused rock energy with improv jazz, again by way of a rotating cast of A-list players, including Tony Wilson, Cole Schmidt, Skye Brooks, and Pete Schmitt. Fischer also painted marvellous if not always flattering portraits of her friends, often in acidic greens and yellows; made several memorable LPs and CDs; fought against persecution of the Roma in her native Hungary; and, more secretly, was a quietly spectacular knitter, whose crocheted “baldguy caps” are fetish objects for those lucky enough to own them.

    About assisted suicide, a subject she’s quite passionate about:

    “When my dogs got sick, I made sure they didn’t suffer,” she says. “So why can’t the same thing happen for me?”

  • Elizabeth Fischer argues that jazz is the new punk—A piece from last year.
  • Elizabeth’s last Facebook status update.

No More Fitting End to This Post Than This

Elizabeth Fischer singing “Learning to Live” with the Animal Slaves.

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

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ellora's cave blog header

Let’s look at the last few years of New York Times Bestsellers for which Ellora’s Cave is the publisher. So near as I can tell, the only author that’s hit the list with a book published by EC since February 2011 is Laurann Dohner.

NYT List Date Book Title E-Book List Rank
1/15/12 Brawn 35
3/25/12 Wrath 7
4/29/12 Tiger 9
5/19/12 Moon 5
9/16/12 Obsidian 8
11/18/12 Shadow 9
12/20/13 True 10
10/12/14 Darkness 8
11/16/14 Smiley 10
9/27/15 Numbers 8

Note: she’s also ranked on the combined print + e-book list multiple times, but the matching print book has not been out at any time she’s made the list, so I haven’t included those numbers. With only the e-books available, the combined ranking is more of an indicator of how well print vs. e-books did that week than about Ms. Dohner’s rankings per se.

“Yeah, well? What’s your point?” I hear you say.

I’m glad you asked.

In short, looking at Ms. Dohner’s NY Times Bestseller list positions, it doesn’t appear that the Dear Author article did any damage to her ability to make the list or her position on the list.

When I thought to look this morning and see how Laurann’s newest book was doing, I’m reminded of something Tor editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden said to me at Clarion.

To paraphrase: what you see at writing conferences and workshops and science fiction conventions is only a small part of your readership, and don’t overinterpret what’s going on in the small groups because they’re rarely reflective of one’s readership as a whole.

Let’s visualize the ranking in a scatter plot, which will make my point clearer. Note that lower numbers are better.

Ellora's Cave NY Times Bestseller Rankings 2011-Oct 2015

In a nutshell, compared to the e-book market as a whole, Ms. Dohner’s e-books are not faring worse after the EC layoffs and Dear Author’s Curious article than they were before.

For the last table, I’m not a statistician. That disclosure out of the way…here’s what I know.

Before Layoffs/DA Article After Layoffs/DA Article Before & After Combined
  E-Book   E-Book   E-Book
Mean 11.9 Mean 8.7 Mean 10.9
Median 9 Median 8 Median 8.5

To translate that into English: on average, Laurann Dohner’s e-books rank 3.2 places higher (11.9 before vs. 8.7 after) on the New York Times Bestseller list after the layoffs and Dear Author article than before. The median of is one place higher (9 before vs. 8 after).

None of which means sales are necessarily higher, just that they’re strong relative to the other contenders in the market.

Ellora’s Cave’s Claims About Reversions

In EC’s filing objecting to Defense’s Motion for Summary Judgment, Ellora’s Cave had the following to say:

In the first eight and a half (8 1/2) months of 2014, prior to Lampe’s bankruptcy scare, Ellora’s Cave had a total of 154 books go out of print for various reasons—mostly sales below threshold for rights reversions. In the twelve days between Lampe’s defamatory blog and the filing of this action, Ellora’s Cave had requests for reversions of 404 titles, an astronomical increase. Since Lampe’s defamatory blog, Ellora’s Cave has reverted over 1250 more titles and still has requests that it is working on. In the one year since the defamatory post, Plaintiff has had almost double the number of rights reversions than it has had in its entire 14-year history.

cough

The Bankruptcy “Scare”

Let’s look at who created that bankruptcy “scare,” shall we?

On August 19th, Dear Author republished the layoff letter Patty Marks had sent to the EC biz list that had previously been published on Absolute Write. It included this choice quotation from Patty Marks:

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

Many of us read that as: “we are in too poor a shape to file bankruptcy.”

Many of us also saw that article signal boosted onto The Passive Voice, where the commenting got quite spirited. Many of us read and latched onto antares’s comment, specifically:

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).

Later on, antares clarifies in another comment:

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.

And yes, antares is exactly right: you want to jockey position against other creditors if you believe there are not enough resources to pay everyone. I believe this is one underlying concern of Ann Jacobs’s Motion to Intervene and her counterclaim.

The Reversions Numbers Game

So there are three reversion numbers given in the EC paragraph I quoted:

  • 154 books go out of print in the first 8-1/2 months of 2014, mostly because they were below sales threshholds.
  • 404 books had reversion requests between Jane Litte posting TCCoEC and the lawsuit commencing (12 days).
  • Since TCCoEC, Ellora’s Cave has reverted more than 1250 books, more than in its entire history before TCCoEC. (Note that this probably includes a significant number of the 404 immediately preceding.)

Those 1250 books were reverted for one of the following reasons:

  1. Low sales. Since they weren’t selling, I don’t see how Ellora’s Cave can or should complain about these. I also expect that this is the largest category. These only take people points because they should have been reverted long ago when there wasn’t a stampede.
  2. Buyout of contracts, which netted Ellora’s Cave an average of several years of expected royalties—thus they cannot reasonably complain about these.
  3. Finesse, by which I mean lawsuit threats, loopholes, and generally being a pain in the ass. I expect this to be the smallest category in number of books, albeit the one that uses the largest amount of people points per book and the highest downside risk.
  4. OMGWTFBBQ? Because one always needs an option like that in a discussion like this.

Option 1 is cash they’re not entitled to unless the author leaves it on the table. Given that most of the 154 were in this category, I’m betting most of the 1250+ were, too.
Option 2 is improvement of cash flow.
Option 3 & 4, well that’s just business.

None of the above are Dear Author’s fault. That’s how I see it, anyway.

Ellora’s Cave Should Have Chopped the Long Tail

Please Release Me

First, a sanity check on the 1250+ number: as of July 9, 2014 (just over a month before the layoffs), Ellora’s Cave had 4745 titles according to All Romance E-Books and as of today, 3694 titles according to ARe. In the meantime, Ellora’s Cave has published new books, so 1250+ seems perfectly credible to me.

I wrote this piece a year ago about reversion theory, and it included this bit:

As an example, calculate how long it takes to put together all the royalty information, divide by the number of authors. Figure out how much you’re paying the people who do that work, including cutting the checks. Triple that cost. For the authors who aren’t making, on average, that much for the house over the last year, offer to release their titles (for no fee).

When Ellora’s Cave was having difficulty with the new royalty system and (likely) having to do everything twice? Even then was too late for this task. Those books should have been cut long enough before the transition that the work load would have decreased before the royalty system changeover started.

Suppositions for this hypothetical:

  1. Let’s say (pulling a random but plausible number out of the air) that cut 50% of the 1400+ books reverted from 2014 onward.
  2. We know that there were 928 authors on 7/4/14 (thank you archive.org) and 808 as of 9/29 (looking on EC’s new site). Granted, EC’s added authors in the interim, but let’s handwave that complication away. Let’s say that half the drop in authors (i.e., 60 authors) wrote those 700 books.
  3. Let’s say the 154 books were averaged out between Jan and mid-Sep (154 / 8.5 = 18.1), and then since then the other 1246 evenly.
  4. Let’s say they added their 349 new books evenly distributed as above.
  5. Let’s say that, for books still in EC’s fold, each unreverted book has averaged sales from three outlets per month.
  6. Let’s assume the early reversions have 5 book sales per month on average from a single outlet, the average sale price is $4.99, and the author earns 37.5% royalty and is paid on a post-mid-2011 contract.
  7. On average, each number entered/uploaded needs to be entered once (into each royalty system) and checked once.
  8. Let’s assume the data entry rate (per a GPO estimate) is 5,200 keystrokes an hour, and that each piece of data contains an average of six strokes/digits/letters. So, 1,000 pieces of data x 6 digits / 5,200/hr = 1.15 hours.
  9. Assume a random Akron-area rate I found for skilled data entry/bookkeeping at $13.50.
  10. Using the number of pieces of data for each book per sales outlet here (i.e., 7)…
  11. I’m not assuming any information about those who bought out their contracts, because what I’m looking at is how much it cost to just produce royalty statements, not how much is paid in royalties.

We now have enough information to do this:

Screen Shot 2015-10-07 at 12.38.46 AM

The tl;dr version: It would cost an estimated $28,378 (times two for two royalty systems) in bookkeeper/data entry costs to pay royalties to Ellora’s Cave authors since January 2014 to the end of August 2015 (assuming no backlog and assuming all were actually paid).

If EC had instead cut the list early when the accounting system was going in, they would have lost an estimated $1,777 in royalties, but would have saved an estimated $2,839 (times two for two royalty systems) over that period. So, net savings of $3,901.

Like I said, chop the long tail.

While I’m at it, The Kicker

I seriously, seriously underestimated how many pieces of data Ellora’s Cave would need in order to prove substantial truth. Why?

I didn’t know about the mid-2011 contract change and how it could create accumulating debt coming into 2014.

Therefore this needs to change:

So for each month:
4500 books x 5 stores books sold in that month x 7 other pieces of data = 157,000 pieces of data (or 174 per author). Per. Month.
Times ten months, so 1.57 million.
Consider the legal and accounting billing that would be involved in re-verifying and distilling 1.57 million pieces of data.

Let’s assume an average of 4000 books, and we’re going to have to look from mid-2011 to the end of the lawsuit. So it’s already four years and a quarter.

Let’s assume 3 stores per book.

4,000 x 3 stores x 7 pieces of data = 84,000 pieces of data per month. Times 51 months = 4.28 million pieces of data. (Why 51 months? Damages calculation assuming they’re able to prove things substantially true.)

4.28 million pieces of data x average of 6 chars / 5,200 entered/checked an hour = 4,943 hours at $13.50 is an absolute minimum of $66,731. Just for the data itself, not for the interpretation of it. Not for the double-checking against vendor (e.g., Amazon) records.

Good luck with that.

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

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ellora's cave blog header

Are you an Ellora’s Cave Writer who: asked for your rights back as a response to this Jaid Black post (August 12, 2014)?

For context, that would be the week before the editor (and other) layoffs, before the Curious article by Jane Litte, and before the lawsuit.

If so, Dear Author’s defense would like to hear from you. Please email me (deirdre@deirdre.net) or ping me on Twitter, Facebook, or AbsoluteWrite.

(They may still want to also hear from authors who requested reversions for reasons other than the Dear Author Curious post, too.)

Throwing a Bone to Everyone Else

Jaid Black and Richard Stansbury have a new project: Serial Killers Anonymous. It’s about a bunch of serial killers who meet in a group. You know, like twelve step. It gives a date of June, 2015.

I don’t want to say it’s been done before, but there’s an identical title and similar concept from this 2013 posting by Alexander Williams.

There is an in-development title of the same name listed on IMDB, but whether it’s about Alexander’s script or Jaid and Richard’s (or someone else’s entirely), I could not say. The production company given is Orchard Place Productions which is a Pittsburgh, PA company. Their web site does not list SKA, however.

The movie they released last month, though, featured this song from Supervoid, which is a little hard for my taste. Good though.

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

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ellora's cave blog header

Some more action on the Ellora’s Cave vs. Dear Author case filed in court over the last couple of weeks:

  1. Motion to add RWA Executive Director’s Statement to Defense’s Summary Judgment Motion
  2. Ann Jacobs as Counterclaimant—additional documents filed by, well, everyone
  3. Motion for Further Discovery filed by Dear Author
  4. Court hearing scheduled for October 8 on discovery dispute (note: there have been requests to reschedule on Oct 22 or 23)
  5. Julie Naughton’s Declaration (will cover in a later post because this is 2800 words and I hadn’t started on it yet…)
  6. Plaintiff’s Opposition to Defense’s Motion for Summary Judgment (will cover in a later post)
  7. In non-legal news, Ellora’s Cave books have disappeared from Amazon Australia and Amazon Netherlands, and many books have disappeared from the Amazon India site
  8. Jaid Black facebook timeline blips in and out of existence again

For those of you hanging out on #notchilled, some of this will be very old to you, but I’ve had the post half-written for a while.

Motion to add RWA Executive Director’s Statement to Defense’s Summary Judgment Motion

This motion was filed on September 15th as document #54. The interesting part for the onlookers isn’t the procedural part in the motion itself, but the newly revealed information in RWA Executive Director Alison Kelley’s declaration:

Based on complaints from authors, we contacted Patty Marks, CEO of Ellora’s Cave, in August 2014 to express concerns that Ellora’s Cave was unilaterally changing the terms of its contracts without authors’ written consent. Ms. Marks responded, “I’ll talk to Raelene and have our publishing department request signed amendments now and from here on out.”

As a reminder of the timeline in this case:

  1. On August 18, 2014, Ellora’s Cave laid off many of its staff. This was reported by Dear Author’s Janet the following day.
  2. On September 14, 2014, Dear Author published The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave (sometimes abbreviated TCCoEC on Twitter) by Jane Litte.

  3. On September 27, 2014, Ellora’s Cave and Jasmine Jade filed suit against Dear Author and Jane Litte.

In short, it seems…hmm, how does one phrase this?…stretching credulity that Ellora’s Cave did not know there were issues in royalty payments prior to filing the lawsuit.

Getting Behindier

Let’s take a new look at Ann Jacobs’s counterclaim, specifically bottom of p. 4-top of p. 5 (note substitution of her pseudonym for her legal name):

Multiplying the cover price ($5.95) times the contractual royalty rate (37.5%) times
the number of Kindle books sold (257), [Jacobs] was entitled to receive a total
royalty of $573.43 for March 2012 Kindle sales of In His Own Defense.

However, Ellora’s Cave paid [Jacobs] a royalty of only $77.49. The reason for the discrepancy is that in March 2012 Kindle copies of In His Own Defense were sold at a substantial discount from the cover price, and Ellora’s Cave improperly calculated the royalty based on the sale price rather than cover price.

In other words, with the receipt of the check for March 2012, Jacobs claims that she didn’t receive the full royalties she was due.

Now, had that been, say, a car or mortgage payment with certain banks, the monies received would have been put aside into an escrow account until the full payment is received and then the monthly payment’s applied when it’s received in full.

Something like this:

getting-behind

So you see, over time, even with a simple $63 transposition error, someone can seriously fall behind over time, and one month behind slips to two and three as time goes on.

It seems likely, with the $193,000 claimed as due Ann Jacobs, that there have been a number of months with shortfalls that, taken cumulatively, may well mean that as of September 2014, payments had slipped six months or more behind.

By which I mean to say that this statement by Jane Litte in the Curious post would be actually true, not just substantively true, that, as of September 2014:

There is a set of authors who have not received royalty payments in over six months.

Possibly because even checks received in, say, January through early September were paying royalties owing for more than six months, and not received for months January through early September of the current year.

In other words: if, because of a publisher’s underpayment of royalties, an author is only fully paid through (example) March 2013, receiving royalty checks in Jan-Sep 2014 does not mean those checks were for the periods Jan-Sep 2014 even if the accompanying royalty statement claims that is the case.

The check should be applied to the oldest amount outstanding due the author. That’s how a bank would do it, after all.

In other words, I believe Jane Litte’s statement is actually true in a way the defense has not yet shown. It doesn’t even matter if Jane knew about it at the time of writing. Substantial truth is a defense, and that would still be substantially—if not fully—true.

Ann Jacobs as Counterclaimant

  1. Completely unsurprisingly, Ellora’s Cave objected to Ann Jacobs becoming an intervenor.
  2. Completely unsurprisingly, Dear Author and Jane Litte disagreed.
  3. Ann followed up with her own response to Plaintiffs.

Ellora’s Cave’s opposition claims are, essentially:

  1. Motion is Untimely. As Courtney Milan has pointed out, this is the weakest aspect of Ann’s motion.
  2. Ann’s motion doesn’t have sufficient common question of law. In other words, it’s off point.

Nowhere does Ellora’s Cave (or Jasmine Jade for that matter) claim Ann Jacobs’s filing was untrue.

So here’s how I feel about that. I believe the fact of the lawsuit revolves around the “set of authors” phrase I quoted above. That, were it not for that one phrase, the case probably wouldn’t exist.

Digression paragraph, bear with me: Except perhaps for Tina’s desire to see “that the offending site be shut down”, perhaps, and her statement that “one of my cases was in the UK” (leading one to wonder how many there had been, exactly). And yes, I’m 99% sure that’s Tina we’re talking about: See the email address at the top of p.22 of this Brashear v. Ellora’s Cave case and then this page giving the same email address on the same site (not to mention the purpose of the site, one of Tina’s interests). And, if not Tina, it’s someone at EC who was also involved in the Brashear litigation. End digression.

Given that EC isn’t opposing the substance of what Ann is claiming, that makes it look even more likely that Ann’s claims are correct than if EC had filed nothing.

Ultimately, Ann Jacobs’s case is about the heart of the truth of Dear Author’s statements. As I pointed out above, questions about royalties paid to Ann in 2013 (or even earlier) are crucial to understanding whether any checks issued to her in the first 9 months of 2014 were in fact covering payments due in 2014—no matter how much Ellora’s Cave wants to flail madly in their filings and say prior years are not relevant.

As I’ve pointed out in an earlier post, “A set of authors” could be a set of one, in which case Ann’s factual situation could settle the truth of the underlying claim all by her lonesome.

If so, then fighting Ann’s joining the case means committing to massively higher expert and legal expenses to prove that all 900+ EC authors in September 2014 had been paid for not just all months in 2014, but that they were not in arrears to any author causing 2014 payments to be applied to earlier months and even years. Your call, EC.

EC Filing WTFery

Most WTF moment in the EC brief was this little gem at the bottom of p. 1:

Permissive intervention by a nonparty to a pending case is governed by Fed.R.Civ.P. 24(b). A denial of permissive intervention should not be reversed except for clear abuse of discretion by the trial judge. Meyer Goldberg, Inc. v. Fisher Foods, Inc., 823 F.2d 159, 161 (6th Cir.1987)).

I just can’t even with that cite. This might be relevant if Judge Adams had already ruled and the motion were being appealed, but it’s not relevant at this point in time.

The ruling is about May Company’s (this is an old case) attempts to unseal records from a case that was already closed so it could have them for discovery on the same issue. It wasn’t about a party intervening as a claimant. However, it was a 6th Circuit ruling that reversed the district court’s ruling anyway. Like, dude, I don’t know why you picked it, but that case ruling is the exact opposite of the part you cite.

So, Mastrantonio’s chosen case is cited by a Larry Flynt (yes, as in Penthouse) ruling from the 8th circuit. Let’s look at an excerpt of that:

The appellees assert that the district court did not err in denying Flynt’s motion to intervene under Rule 24(b), and seem to suggest that since Flynt admits he could file a separate lawsuit to address the merits of unsealing the judicial records in question, his rights of access are not harmed. We disagree and find Rule 24(b) intervention an appropriate procedural vehicle for parties seeking to intervene for the purpose of obtaining judicial records.

Given the district court’s terse orders denying Flynt’s motions, we are left to some degree to speculate what the district court meant when it said “[a] generalized interest in a subject of litigation does not justify intervention.” To the extent the district court denied Flynt’s motions because it believed Rule 24(b) intervention was the incorrect procedural mechanism, the district court applied the incorrect legal standard in holding that Flynt’s generalized interest in the subjects of the Zink and Ringo cases did not justify intervention under Rule 24(b). Normally, parties seeking permissive intervention pursuant to Rule 24(b) must show: (1) an independent ground for jurisdiction, (2) timeliness2 of the motion, and (3) that the applicant’s claim or defense and the main action have a question of law or fact in common. United States v. Union Elec. Co., 64 F.3d 1152, 1170 n.9 (8th Cir. 1995).

As a background, the cases Flynt tried to intervene on were those of his shooter.

In his motions to unseal, Flynt stated he had an interest in the sealed records as a publisher and as an advocate against the death penalty. Flynt also said he had a heightened interest in these cases because Joseph Franklin, a man who had confessed to shooting Flynt, was an inmate on Missouri’s death row and a plaintiff in both cases. Franklin was executed on November 20, 2013, and on that same day the district court denied Flynt’s motion to intervene in the Zink case as moot.

Yet, in the Flynt case, the appeals court reversed and allowed Flynt to intervene.

Which still isn’t relevant to the Ellora’s Cave v. Dear Author case, because the motion to intervene was only about access to discovery and/or records. It was also granted after the dude had been executed and that was considered sufficiently timely.

Maybe I’m expecting too much. 😉

The Timeliness Dig

Mastrantonio has a snarky little footnote:

The timing of the filing is curious. Intervenor acknowledges that the discovery deadline has passed and apparently seeks to use this intervention as a way to reopen discovery. Motion to Intervene, Doc 40, p. 2.

Which says (emphasis added):

The intervenor additionally notes that while the preliminary discovery deadline has recently passed, it would appear from the defendants’ recent status reports (such as dkt. 38 and dkt. 39) that no representative of the plaintiff has yet been deposed and that relatively minimal paper discovery has been produced by the plaintiff.

That word. Preliminary. It does not mean what you think it means.

Motion for Further Discovery filed by Dear Author

So, there’s a discovery dispute. Are you as unsurprised as I am? It’s over the word—I know, I know, I’d never sell a story with foreshadowing this heavy handed—preliminary.

I agree with Courtney Milan that it doesn’t seem like the whole story is in the filings, so we’ll just have to see what happens with the upcoming hearing.

Ellora’s Cave Books Disappeared from Three Amazon Regional Sites

  1. Go to amazon.com.au.
  2. Search on Ellora’s Cave.
  3. How many search results do you get?

Repeat for amazon.nl and amazon.in. Compare with the same search on amazon.com (or .ca, .co.uk, etc.).

Note that .au, .nl, and .in are the three most recent country sites for Amazon: Australia, Netherlands, and India. (Amazon has separate retail websites for United States, United Kingdom & Ireland, France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Australia, Brazil, Japan, China, India, and Mexico.)

What does this mean?

I’m not sure. I held off posting to see if something else would come up.

Knowing that Laurann Dohner had recently had a new Ellora’s Cave release, I checked out her FB page and found this:

ec-books-on-amazon-au

But it’s not just affecting Laurann’s books, but those of all current Ellora’s Cave authors.

Nevertheless, the promise of some canned statement tempted me, so I wrote to Amazon PR:

Dear Amazon PR,

For almost a year, I’ve been reporting on the lawsuit filed by Ellora’s Cave against romance industry blog Dear Author and its founder Jane Litte (pseudonym for Jennifer Garrish-Lampe). http://deirdre.net/tag/ecda/

It came to my attention today that Amazon.com.au is no longer offering Ellora’s Cave titles except for three published very recently: Myra Leigh (Maddening Desire), JL Taft (Burning for the Fireman), and Tina Donahue (Wicked Times Too).

It’s my understanding that Amazon.com.au customers who’ve written in have received a prepared statement about why books from some of their favorite Ellora’s Cave authors aren’t available from your Australian store.

Does Amazon have an official statement on the matter?

Thank you in advance,
Deirdre Saoirse Moen

I received no response, however those three titles disappeared from Amazon AU within two days.

Then I decided to do a customer service chat on Amazon AU (emphasis added on key line):

You are now connected to CS from Amazon.com.au
Me: Can you tell me why Ellora’s Cave (publisher) books aren’t on Amazon.com.au right now? Laurann Doehner just released a new book and none of her books are showing.
CS: Hello, my name is (CS). I’m sorry to hear about this. I’ll be glad to help you.
Me: Thank you.
CS: Please allow me a moment while I check this for you
Thank you for being on hold
I am sorry to inform you that the titles of these books are not available due [to] publisher restrictions.
Me: Thank you for your help, (CS).
CS: I regret to inform you that we’re only the online retailer and the availability for Kindle content mostly influence the publisher decision who are the owner of the Kindle content. I hope you’ll understand our restrictions.
I will immediately forward this to the publisher to let them know you are interested in the availability of their titles.
Me: Thank you.
CS: I would request you to give us sometime while we work with publishers actively on this issue.

On September 8th, Tina Engler emailed the biz loop:

Sent: Tuesday, September 8, 2015 4:58 PM
Subject: [ec_biz] Amazon AU

We are aware of the situation and are handling it. Our rep at Amazon has her team investigating this; we’ll report back to you when we hear from her.

Tina

On September 9th, Raelene sent a longer email to the biz loop:

Sent: Wednesday, September 9, 2015 2:50 PM
Subject: [ec_biz] Update: EC books on Amazon AU

Amazon informed us this afternoon that they have found a glitch in the payment system for publishers who are participating in the new program EC moved to in mid-July. (See ec_biz announcement of June 29, 2015.) They say this affects only the newer Amazon territories — Australia, Netherlands and India; all other territories are fine. Because Amazon’s software isn’t able to correctly generate payment information for this publishing program in those territories, the territories temporarily removed books from sale.

Amazon’s development team is investigating a workaround until they can make the needed software changes. Obviously everyone – Amazon and the publishers in this program and all authors – want to get the books available for sale again as quickly as possible in the affected territories. I feel confident Amazon is working hard on the problem. They will be giving us an update end of day tomorrow. We will let you know when the problem is resolved. In the meantime, you can certainly suggest readers purchase from the EC webstore (it’s then easy for them to convert the file onto their Kindle).

See what I mean about promoting buying from their own web store? When they’ve burned customers before by not restoring their books (like mine) after migrations? Where there’s no external audit information available for authors to discover in the case of hinky royalties? Yeah, no.

As far as Raelene’s statement goes, yes, Netherlands, Australia, and India are the three most recent Amazon stores. The next-most-recent is Mexico. However, I find it difficult to believe that Amazon would put a publisher contract in place if they didn’t have the means to use it with certain stores yet.

I’m not aware of any later statements on this topic by Ellora’s Cave, and it’s been going on for more than three weeks at this point.

Jaid Black’s Facebook Is Back…and then it’s not.

Jaid Black’s facebook page was back for a few days, then blipped back out, quite possibly to screencap posts for plaintiff’s filings.

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

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ellora's cave blog header

This was an interesting Google find that you can locate by searching on: USDOT Ellora’s Cave and clicking on the fmcsa.dot.gov link on the first page.

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 1.55.00 PM

Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 1.54.48 PM

The “OOS” (Out of Service) category column has an entry which states: New Entrant Revoked – Refusal of Audit/No Contact and the “OOS Date” (Out of Service Date) is November 17, 2008.

Per the MSCIP Step Chart, which explains the various possible explanations that appear in the “OOS” category column. While there is no perfect match, this appears to most closely match the description for Step #63.

But what does it mean?

I believe it may be about the Ellora’s Cave bus.

Ellora's Cave Party Bus. Photo by Cait Miller.

Ellora’s Cave Party Bus. Photo by Cait Miller.

Per the USDOT website:

Apart from federal regulations, some states require commercial motor vehicle registrants to obtain a USDOT Number. These states include:
[…]
• Ohio

Per that, it appears that any commercial registration in Ohio requires a valid USDOT number.

Note that this isn’t a USDOT number for the vehicle, but rather for the carrier. So if Ellora’s Cave had, oh, any commercial vehicle registered to the company, they’d need to have a current, valid USDOT number with no Out of Service Orders.

Like, say, if they owned a bus.

It does seem odd, given that the description for Step 63 says that yes, the carrier’s vehicles would be targeted at roadside, and yes, deny registration, that this situation appears to be unaddressed after almost seven years.

There’s a formal process for issuing an out of service order, detailed here. It just strikes me that it’d be the kind of thing that’d be hard to miss.

It’s not unheard of for government sites to be incorrect, though, so I don’t want to read too much into it.

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

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Dear FDA,

Sadly, I can’t attend the meeting in College Park, Maryland today regarding public comments in preparation for the International Cooperation on Cosmetics Regulation conference in November, but I’m emailing my input.

Issue 1: Sunscreen Approval

My first issue: the United States treats new sunscreen UV filtering agents as though they are new drugs, where the industry leaders (meaning: EU, Japan, Australia, and Korea) in sunscreen research and development treat them as cosmetics. Therefore, there is a huge burden in bringing new UV filtering agents to market.

Thus, the United States lags almost two decades behind these other countries in sunscreen agents. In the last ~18 years, we’ve had one UV filtering agent approved for one single SPF 15 (!) sunscreen.

While I can certainly see reason for caution, we’re far more permissive in other things that go directly on a consumer’s skin which may not provide the results alluded to by the marketing hype.

If a UV agent’s already approved in the EU and Japan, how about we allow it to be used in the US?

Issue 2: Allergens

I know the cosmetic industry will never agree to this, but I have to bring it up: it’s easy to label cosmetics for things like hydrolyzed wheat protein and hydrolyzed wheat gluten—because they’re used in almost zero cosmetics. Though, as a celiac, I do appreciate the labeling even though it’s not the limiting factor for me.

What would be hard to do is to label cosmetics for tree nuts, because that would include coconut.

Coconut derivatives are in almost all facets of cosmetic formulations: from the stearic acid that thickens mascara, the sodium laurel and laureth sulfate that comprises one of the first two ingredients of almost all commercial shampoos, and the surfactants, emollients, and emulsifiers that make commercial products look and feel like they do (and stay in solution through several coconut-derived versions of PEG, as well as many that are not coconut-derived).

However, it really would be nice to actually not have to look up ingredients to see if they’re likely to be coconut derived. Then I won’t have to wonder why I suddenly reacted to this one product, as I might actually know if they changed from a palm source to a coconut one.

A surprisingly large number of people react to coconut-derived sulfates and coconut-derived fatty acids, among other things, and that’s not even getting into the palm sources of, say, glycerin.

But please, given how prevalent coconut is, could we possibly consider it an allergen some day? I was married to a soap chemist and had 34 new-to-me brands of shampoo to try (driven in from Canada) to determine what my allergy was. Most people just have the mystery acne, and are given dermatology formulas that, no joke, contain more of the exact same allergens.

Thank you for listening. I’m really looking forward to hearing more of the conference’s progress.

Signed,
Deirdre

Why I Wrote In….

Two years ago, I ran out of sunscreen before arriving in the Maldives. I went to the gift shop, where the only thing they had was something they described as a “total block.” Which, short of a space suit, seemed rather optimistic and improbable.

I didn’t know how to evaluate the ingredients on the label, but I did notice that the two physical sunscreen blocking agents I knew about—zinc dioxide and titanium oxide—were nowhere to be found.

Fortunately, the hotel had another gift shop. I strolled over there, only to find that they had a very reasonable SPF 50 sunscreen.

What I didn’t know at that time was how incomplete my understanding of sunscreen was, nor why my lack of knowledge was so important.

A Quick Primer on UVA and UVB

UVA and UVB penetration. Illustration © edesignua and used with permission.

UVA and UVB penetration. Illustration © edesignua and used under license.

UVB (think “burning”) penetrates the epidermis with rays between 290 and 320 nm.

UVA (think “aging”) was initially thought not to cause skin cancer. Unfortunately, it’s highly associated with cancer. It penetrates down to the bottom of the dermis. Tanning also happens with UVA, so for a long time it was thought that if you blocked UVB, you’d encourage a nice healthy tan while preventing burning and skin cancer. UVA is broken into two wavelength bands: UVA1 (340-400 nm) and UVA2 (320-340 nm).

SPF ratings are only for UVB. There is no rating system, nor any requirement to even mention UVA in American cosmetics. Sure, a product can use the “broad spectrum” phrasing, but there’s still no requirement that it be world-class UVA protection.

Japanese and Korean skin care uses a PA rating system with pluses to rank effectiveness of UVA blocking up to a maximum of four pluses. There are also other methods in use outside the US. Some are better than the Japanese/Korean system

Why US Sunscreen Is So Awful

In the US, sunscreen is considered a drug, thus new blocking agents have to be approved by the FDA. That means a company needs to sponsor the research (which costs millions) and lead the blocking agent through the whole approval process.

Which is fine if you’re a company that is patenting a drug where the exclusivity will, one hopes, pay for the approval process.

In the case of sunscreen blocking agents, however, they aren’t patentable (they’ve been in use too long), so one company would be spending a ton of money to allow other companies to profit equally, but without having spent the cost for approval.

So if a sunscreen agent is past the useful life

Hence, there is zero corporate incentive to get new blocking agents through the approval process, and we all suffer as a result. Yay, capitalism.

Worse, there had been at least eight new (to the US) sunscreen ingredients waiting for approval for more than five years. The ironically named Sunscreen Innovation Act, passed in 2014, was supposed to help us catch up with the rest of the world.

Speaking of Capitalism…

Thus, Americans respond to signs of aging after the fact rather than with prevention. This is a big part of the reason the US share of the global botox market is predicted to reach $2 billion annually by 2018.

While botox is used in non-cosmetic procedures such as stroke rehab and migraine prevention, much of the US market is about wanting to reverse aging signs in skin—aging that could have been prevented, in part, by better sunscreens.

Chemistry: Which Agents Are Approved Where

I’m only going to show US 🇺🇸, Australia 🇦🇺, EU 🇳🇱, Japan 🇯🇵, and Korea 🇰🇷 since that will cover most of my readers as well as the products I’m talking about. Heavily borrowed from the Wikipedia Sunscreen page and this skincancer.org page; where they disagree, I’ve used the Skin Cancer site’s answer. Note: I’ll use the French flag 🇫🇷 instead of EU flag 🇪🇺 as there is no emoji support in Mac/iOS yet for this emoji.

Korea 🇰🇷 information is currently incomplete as I’m only listing agents I’ve looked up that are included in Korean sunscreens or which were on a 2008 chart. Also, as there are almost a dozen sunscreen agents on that chart approved only in Japan, I’ve omitted those.

Ingredient Other Names Approved In Protects Against
4-Methylbenzylidene camphor Enzacamene, Parsol 5000, Eusolex 6300, MBC 🇦🇺 🇫🇷 🇯🇵 🇰🇷 (may be endocrine disruptor) UVB
Amiloxate Isopentyl-4-methoxycinnamate, Isoamyl p-Methoxycinnamate, IMC, Neo Heliopan E1000 🇦🇺 🇫🇷 🇯🇵 🇰🇷 UVB
Avobenzone 1-(4-methoxyphenyl)-3-(4-tert-butyl
phenyl)propane-1,3-dione, Butyl methoxy dibenzoylmethane, BMDBM, Parsol 1789, Eusolex 9020
🇺🇸 🇦🇺 🇫🇷 🇯🇵 🇰🇷 UVA1, UVA2 (some sources say UVA1 only)
Cinoxate 2-Ethoxyethyl p-methoxycinnamate 🇺🇸 🇦🇺 🇯🇵 🇰🇷 UVB
DEA Methoxycinnamate   🇦🇺 🇰🇷 UVB
Dihydroxybenzophenone Benzophenone-1 🇯🇵 🇰🇷 UVA2, UVB
Dioxybenzone Benzophenone-8 🇺🇸 🇦🇺 UVA2, UVB
Ecamsule Mexoryl SX, Terephthalylidene Dicamphor Sulfonic Acid 🇦🇺 🇫🇷 (limited 🇺🇸 use via new drug approval, L’Oréal exclusive) UVA2 only
Homosalate Homomethyl salicylate, HMS 🇺🇸 🇦🇺 🇫🇷 🇯🇵 🇰🇷 UVB
Menthyl anthranilate Meradimate 🇺🇸 🇦🇺 UVA2 only
Mexoryl XL Drometrizole Trisiloxane 🇦🇺 🇯🇵 UVA2
Neo Heliopan AP Bisdisulizole Disodium, Disodium phenyl dibenzimidazole tetrasulfonate, bisimidazylate, DPDT 🇦🇺 🇫🇷 🇰🇷 UVA1
Octocrylene Eusolex OCR, 2-Cyano-3,3-diphenyl acrylic acid, 2-ethylhexylester 🇺🇸 🇦🇺 🇫🇷 🇯🇵 🇰🇷 (increases ROS) UVB
Octyl methoxycinnamate Octinoxate, EMC, OMC, Ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate, Escalol 557, 2-Ethylhexyl-paramethoxycinnamate, Parsol MCX 🇺🇸 🇦🇺 🇫🇷 🇯🇵 🇰🇷 UVB
Octyl salicylate Octisalate, 2-Ethylhexyl salicylate, Escalol 587 🇺🇸 🇦🇺 🇫🇷 🇯🇵 🇰🇷 UVB
Oxybenzone Benzophenone-3, Eusolex 4360, Escalol 567 🇺🇸 🇦🇺 🇫🇷 🇯🇵 🇰🇷 UVA2, UVB
p-Aminobenzoic acid PABA 🇺🇸 🇦🇺 🇯🇵 🇰🇷 (banned in 🇫🇷 because of DNA damage) UVB
Phenylbenzimidazole sulfonic acid Ensulizole, Eusolex 232, PBSA, Parsol HS 🇺🇸 🇦🇺 🇫🇷 🇯🇵 🇰🇷 (genotoxic in bacteria) UVB
Padimate A Pentyl-dimethyl PABA, Amyl p-Dimetyamino PABA 🇯🇵 🇰🇷 (withdrawn from 🇫🇷 in 1989; never approved in 🇺🇸) UVB
Padimate O OD-PABA, octyldimethyl-PABA, σ-PABA 🇺🇸 🇦🇺 🇯🇵 🇰🇷 (not currently supported in 🇫🇷 and may be delisted) UVB
Parsol SLX Dimethico-diethylbenzalmalonate, Polysilicone-15 🇦🇺 🇫🇷 🇯🇵 UVB
PEG-25 PABA Uvinul P-25, Ethoxylated ethyl-4-aminobenzoate 🇦🇺 🇫🇷 UVA2, UVB
Sulisobenzone 2-Hydroxy-4-Methoxybenzophenone-5-sulfonic acid, 3-Benzoyl-4-hydroxy-6-methoxybenzenesulfonic acid, Benzophenone-4, Escalol 577 🇺🇸 🇦🇺 🇫🇷 🇯🇵 UVA2, UVB
Tinosorb A2B Tris-Biphenyl Triazine 🇫🇷 (very new) UVA2, UVB, limited UVA1
Tinosorb M Bisoctrizole, Methylene Bis-Benzotriazolyl Tetramethylbutylphenol, MBBT 🇦🇺 🇫🇷 🇯🇵 UVA1, UVA2, UVB
Tinosorb S Bemotrizinol, Bis-ethylhexyloxyphenol methoxyphenol triazine, Bemotrizinol, BEMT, anisotriazine 🇦🇺 🇫🇷 🇯🇵 🇰🇷 UVA1, UVA2, UVB
Titanium dioxide CI77891 🇺🇸 🇦🇺 🇯🇵 🇰🇷 (not approved in 🇫🇷 as a UV filter, but permitted as a colorant) UVA2, UVB
Trolamine salicylate Triethanolamine salicylate 🇺🇸 🇦🇺 UVB
Uvasorb HEB Iscotrizinol, Diethylhexyl butamido triazone, DBT 🇫🇷 🇯🇵 UVA1, UVB
Uvinul A Plus Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate 🇫🇷 🇯🇵 UVA2
Uvinul T 150 Octyl triazone, ethylhexyl triazone, EHT 🇦🇺 🇫🇷 🇯🇵 🇰🇷 UVB
Zinc Oxide   🇺🇸 🇦🇺 🇫🇷 🇯🇵 🇰🇷 UVA1, UVA2, UVB

Even excluding Japan-only sunscreen agents, there are about as many approved only outside the US as approved for the US.

Two Sunscreen Videos

The first video is from British beauty blogger Lisa Eldridge. I mention this because some of what she says is from a very EU-centric viewpoint, specifically when she’s talking about approved sunscreen agents.

YouTuber Lisa Eldridge has a rundown on sunscreens, focusing on European brands.

YouTuber faceturtle has a review of 9 Asian sunscreens.

Random Interesting Things I Found While Writing This

  1. L’Oréal is the top nanotechnology patent holder in the United States.
  2. Rick brought the Jessica Alba Honest Company Sunscreen backlash to my attention. After looking at the ingredients, I agree with much of this Forbes piece. The real problem is one of user psychology: people don’t want to be white all over from their sunscreen. By using only a single physical filter (zinc oxide, famous for lifeguards’ white noses), they aren’t offering protection to people who spread it too thinly. So, an admirable goal that has issues in the real world.

    Also, apparently there was a reformulation, then the reformulation led to unexpected drops in effective SPF due to the product settling out of emulsion (it sounds like from my reading of the article, anyway). How many people obey labels to shake the bottle?

  3. My current sunscreen, The Face Shop Natural Eco Sun Sebum Control Moisture Sun SPF 40 PA+++ uses only chemical sunscreen agents, four of which are UVB (it does have good UVA coverage through the fifth agent). Huh.

What Sunscreens Do I Use?

I have three.

The Face Shop Natural Sun Eco Sebum Control Moisture Sun SPF40 PA+++ is a Korean Sunscreen also available in US Face Shop stores. It only uses chemical filters.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL has some of the L’Oreal patent goodness (and nanotechnology research goodness) in it. Not for sale in the US, but you can import it from overseas; it’s cheaper to import from Europe, IME.

Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ is also really awesome.

Questions? Comments? Errors?

What sunscreen do you like?

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

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ellora's cave blog header

I’ll post Tina’s email first, then respond to her points.

From: (Tina Engler)
Sent: Thursday, September 3, 2015 2:39 PM
Subject: [ec_biz] legal update

We will not be responding in a public venue to the “trial by social media” smear campaign being staged by the defendant and her counsel and will instead keep this in the court and on our private business loop. While we cannot respond to most of this, period, we can respond to some of it.

  1. Stating that I destroyed evidence is a complete and total LIE. There was no evidence to destroy. Had the defendant and her counsel truly believed that, they could have subpoenaed Facebook’s records just as they did Twitter’s records.
  2. I have not refused attempts at discovery. On the contrary, defendant’s counsel failed to request discovery in the timeframe set forth by Judge Adams. It is my understanding the defendant’s counsel is filing a motion to extend the discovery period; whether or not the motion is granted is up to the court.

  3. Depositions are never fun and are by their very nature highly intrusive. That said, WE did not release the deposition transcript. I’m assuming the defendant released it to garner sympathy, but that is my conjecture.

    I have only read bits and pieces of the deposition so I’m unaware of most questions and accompanying answers, but one of our authors brought to my attention that our lawyer asked the defendant her daughter’s name. Asking her such a question is not a “low blow” as I was asked the same question the last time I was deposed. It’s not as if we’re putting any of this out there on social media anyway; the defendant is the one doing that. As far as “low blows” and children go, my kids have been smeared on social media by your peers, and a couple of you, so don’t go there with me. The defendant herself published my home address on her website for any weirdo to see when my youngest daughter was 11 or 12 years old. (It’s still on her website last I looked.)

  4. The 6-page motion we filed was NOT for summary judgment on our case against the defense, but rather for summary judgment on the defense’s counterclaim. It was short because, per my understanding, the counterclaim was short.

  5. The defense counsel’s most recent legal track record involving ethics violations and breach of fiduciary duty:

http://fightcopyrighttrolls.com/2015/07/09/marc-randazza-must-pay-600k-for-clear-and-serious-breaches-of-fiduciary-duty-against-his-former-client/comment-page-1/

In closing, we will provide you with a bit of our side of the situation within the 30-day time frame provided by the court for response. The bulk of our evidence will be presented at trial in March.

Tina

My Responses

  1. Tina’s statement about subpoenaing facebook assumes that facebook actively keeps old deleted posts and accounts. I’m sure a company as large as facebook does have a retention policy, but it’s not infinite. However, if EC/JJ hadn’t sued about the shopping trip allegation (and I fail to see how the company has standing to do so given that the alleged activities did not take place in Ohio and did not involve a corporate officer acting in her official capacity), then Tina’s facebook postings would not be relevant at all.

    Added this paragraph: Commenter Not Really Anonymouse commented with this facebook link that covers their retention and subpoena policy.

    Added this paragraph 9/23: Apparently, Tina’s facebook page is back.

    I had decided against posting something Tina posted on her FB because it was more about Tina the person than about Tina in her capacity within EC, but it’s relevant tho this point, so I’ve added it in its own section below, and I’ll let you draw your own conclusions.

  2. The timeframe was actually agreed upon by both parties (not set by the judge), and discovery is not over per that timeframe. Here’s the actual document. Note that there is no final date for non-preliminary discovery.

    (added Sep 11) Also note that per plaintiff’s own filings, what Tina says about discovery is untrue. Note that Randazza asked for a deposition of EC, presumably Tina, on February 26th. Note: PMK = “person most knowledgeable.”

  3. I agree that depositions are intrusive. As I said the other day on Twitter, depositions are the real horror show. Attorneys have wide latitude to uncover discoverable information.

    It’s also possible, given how small family-owned businesses work, that a minor child could be involved in operating a small business. For example, in my teens, I worked for my family business making fighter aircraft cable tension regulator bushings. Had there been a lawsuit related to my work, it’d absolutely have been relevant to depose my parents about me.

    That said, I do believe that asking specifically name and age is douchebaggery. “Is your child a minor?” “Are they involved in operations of Dear Author?” Those questions would have been fine, and relevant. If the answer to the second question had been yes, then maybe asking a name would be relevant, but it’d still have been possible to use “your child” instead when asking questions.

  4. Tina’s correct. I had intended to get the actual full document title phrasing from the docket, but I apparently didn’t, so my apologies for that accidental omission. I’ve also made a correction in this post.

    That said, if discovery’s genuinely over (as EC claims), why didn’t they file for a Motion for Summary Judgment on the entire case?

  5. There are definitely some troubling things mentioned in the interim arbitration award, and an alleged version of that 26-page document can be found here, but it’s also fairly obvious that there was some serious WTFery going on at that job. Here’s an article that mentions some of Randazza’s claims and a few excerpts:

    • Those activities, according to the arbitrator’s decision that was widely disseminated just recently through the adult entertainment B2B community, included testimony by Randazza that his office at the studio was used for a porn shoot and that he was upset after he drove two studio officials in the backseat of his car while they proceeded to give blow jobs to each other.

      I’ve worked for a legal department (more than once, most recently as a DBA contractor for Honda North America) and, uh, lawyers don’t like it when you use their offices for anything, let alone a porn shoot.

    • Judge Stephen Haberfeld, the arbitrator, however determined that, contrary to Randazza’s central contention in arbitration, the termination of his employment had nothing to do with a sexually charged work environment.

    • In response to the lawsuit and a press release distributed to the adult entertainment community by Corbin Fisher last week, Randazza’s publicist, who submitted a press release on behalf of the attorney, noted that Haberfeld’s award is not a “final result.”

    There have apparently been over ten thousand hours of work on this, and it’s a big mess. While it looks bad for Mr. Randazza, I’m sure he wouldn’t have filed the suit if he didn’t think he had a better than even chance at getting a resolution in his favor. Interim award is not a final award, so it’s a little early to crow about it, and especially early to troll the #notchilled hashtag with. (Though, in fairness, that may not have been Tina.)

Tina’s Last(?) Facebook Post

I’d previously commented that I didn’t feel right posting this because of the content. However, it’s directly relevant to Tina’s (and my) point #1 above, so I’m posting it.

I received this on August 21st, but it may have been posted on the 20th. Somewhere around there.

Emphasis added.

It’s unfortunate that only hindsight is 20/20. Why can’t foresight work that way? I regret the day I read my first romance novel, but I especially regret the day I published my first book. It was genuinely the biggest mistake of my life.

I should have taken that full scholarship into the phd program I applied to because my life might have turned out so differently. I might never have developed panic disorder. I definitely never would have had to deal with a horde of self-entitled, paranoid, liars… At least not outside of a lab setting. My word, honor, & integrity wouldn’t have been questioned, let alone assaulted, on a daily basis, because I wouldn’t be in a profession that is glutted with conspiracy theorist women who thrive on conflict, gossip, drama, & inflicting pain on others.

Growing up, my biggest fear was living a normal life because it felt like mediocrity; today I would give anything to have that. I used to feel sorry for women who chose unpaid professions like being a housewife; now I envy them.

Point blank: I’ve made countless mistakes in life, but I’ve never cheated anyone. I don’t have a poker face or a filter; people always know where they stand with me and they always know where I stand on every issue that matters to me. I’ve never kept skeletons in the closet because I have no filter and because I never understood the utility in pretending. I might be a handshake kind of bumpkin, but I’m not a swindler.

The past 11 years have been… Not worth this. I realized tonight that I’m constantly throwing good energy after bad by giving a shit about my completely annihilated reputation. The chips are going to have to fall where they may… I just do not care anymore. Even if I wanted to care, I’m too tired to.

Some of you will view me as depressed; some of you will view me as a sympathy seeker. Truthfully? I’m too numb to feel anything at all so view me as you will.

I’m leaving this post up until I wake up and then I’m closing all my social media accounts. That should give plenty of time for friends, family, & gossips alike to read this. I’ll miss the interaction with friends and family, but you know how to find me. To my readers…

I’m sorry I let you down by not finishing the Trek, Viking, & Death Row series. All I ever wanted to do is write, but for the past 11 years it’s been nothing but one thing after the next. (I’m not the type of person who can write while constantly feeling anxious.)

It is for this reason that I am pulling my Trek story out of the “Alien” anthology. I don’t want to hold up Laura, Amy, and Tara by forcing them to wait on me to finish edits that could take me who knows how long. Plus, as I’ve already told my mom, I decided not to chance poisoning the success of these 3 talented authors by having their names tainted by mine.

Laura can & will carry the anthology solo. I wish I had her strength & resilience. A stroke doesn’t stop her, nor do the endless unchilled who threaten her on a daily basis and email her things like “I wish you had died when you had that stroke so EC would go under and I can get my rights back.” (All that just for being a professional who doesn’t trash talk on social media or hatch plots to get out of her contracts.)

At any rate, this post is turning into a biopic dissertation so I’ll end here. I will miss all of you I regularly interact with… And I genuinely mean that. It’s just time for me to do a Kenny Rogers and “know when to walk away, know when to run.”

Take care of yourselves. Hopefully we’ll meet again. xx

Now, did Tina delete the account and/or posts? I don’t know, but people said they could no longer reach her account, and neither could I.

What I do know: generally, deleting (or hiding) anything possibly relevant once one is in litigation isn’t a great idea.

Draw your own conclusions.

One Last Thing: A Pro-EC Twitter Account Trolling #notchilled

I hadn’t realized the @Retireme15 account had posted to #notchilled previously in April, but I don’t catch everything.

I’ll just note two things: this tweet was posted about ten minutes before Tina’s email to the biz loop was posted; it was posted at a time when another pro-EC and pro-STGRB tweeter was purportedly active.

2015-09-03 14.17.08

(Click image for full size; troller’s at the bottom.)

And a response from the blogger who posted the article Tina links to in the first place:

https://twitter.com/fightcopytrolls/status/639543515081478145

https://twitter.com/fightcopytrolls/status/639543590578954240

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

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ellora's cave blog header

The Romance Writers of America (RWA), the largest industry group of romance writers, has just forwarded a statement to its chapter leaders (that may in turn be forwarded).

From: Allison Kelley
Sent: Sep 3, 2015 6:21 PM
Subject: [Chapter Leadership] – notice regarding Ellora’s Cave

Permission to forward granted:

I have been in touch with Patty Marks, CEO of Ellora’s Cave regarding complaints about the company. She responded by stating “currently we are not as up to date with royalties as we want to be and will be,” and added that the company is trying to catch up. Failure to pay authors in a timely manner is a violation of RWA’s Code of Ethics for Industry Professionals. Violations of this Industry Professional Code of Ethics may result in loss of privileges such as (but not limited to) listing in Market and Agent Updates, participation in workshops and pitch sessions, and the opportunity to advertise in RWA’s publications.

I notified Ms. Marks that Ellora’s Cave must refrain from contacting members or chapters regarding new submissions and refrain from participation in any RWA or chapter event until the company has achieved satisfactory resolution of the Code of Ethics violation.

RWA makes no warranties regarding business practices or financial strength of any publisher or agency. Each author must evaluate the company, carefully read the individual publisher’s/agency’s contract, and decide if s/he is willing to accept the conditions set forth in the contract.

Allison Kelley, CAE | Executive Director

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

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ellora's cave blog header

So Ellora’s Cave finally filed a status report. (boring)

And Ellora’s Cave filed their Motion for Summary Judgment. (yawn) tl;dr: We didn’t do anything wrong, it’s all lies, we don’t owe six figures. Here, have a sworn statement. Clarification: Note that this is an MSJ against Dear Author’s/Jane Litte’s counterclaims, not the whole case.

The really interesting news is the complete mic drop that’s defense’s Motion for Summary Judgment. (or use this link for the 33mb zip file)

Look, I’ve been getting the pieces of this assembled for y’all for over an hour, and I honestly haven’t managed more than a glance here or there. So I’ll just give some comparative numbers so you can understand how qualitatively different the two filings were.

Like you, I’ll probably read them in the morning.

  Ellora’s Cave & Jasmine Jade Dear Author & Jane Litte
Number of Exhibits 2 54
Longest Exhibit 4 pages 296 pages
Number of Legal Cites 14 cases 55 cases

If you’d rather go through the docs one by one or pick and choose, the docket copy I keep is now up to date and everything’s uploaded with (I hope) all the same descriptions as on the court docs.

The most interesting defense exhibit is the 296-page defense deposition #46-9. A few highlights:

  • p. 163 One witness has discovered that she’s owed an additional $17,000.

(will add more bullet points soooooooon)

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

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Coconut-Free: the red washi tape of doom

For many years, I’ve struggled with a coconut-free existence without really being aware coconut itself was the issue. Over the years, I’ve felt sad for people who’ve had to live both gluten-free and corn-free, as that’s quite difficult. However, it may actually be more difficult to avoid coconut in our modern age.

Part of that’s the fault of people like my first husband, so funny story down at the end.

Coconut’s in:

  • Almost all shampoos, face washes (especially the foaming ones), body washes, and toothpastes;
  • Many conditioners;
  • Many deodorants and anti-perspirants;
  • Some cough syrups;
  • Many makeup products; and
  • Some dishwashing detergents (and probably laundry detergents, though they’re cagier about actual identification of ingredients).

Now, I’ve eliminated all the coconut ingredients that I knew bothered me over the years. However, coconut’s in so many, many things that I had no idea for sure if I wasn’t generally feeling worse because of additive exposure. I have a friend who was miserable for two years and got so sick she consulted a cardiologist before it was figured out she was allergic to wheat. I don’t want to be that person because I was being silly.

The Great September Experiment (and the Red Washi Tape of Doom)

I decided, naturally after I’d just ordered some items with coconut (grin), that September was a great time for me to run an experiment: no coconut internally or externally. If I feel better, then I have to eliminate all coconut. I’ve kept track of how I’ve felt during August. If I consider September insufficiently conclusive, then my plan is to extend the experiment through October. At that point, I’ll know whether I can start re-introducing coconut ingredients or not.

If I can, then my plan is to introduce one specific coconut ingredient at a time. Like: Stearic Acid for two weeks (that will probably actually be first because I love Wintergreen Life Savers and they have Stearic Acid in them, as do many hard candies).

I know how I get when I’m tired: I forget things, and make some stupid mistakes. I’m often showering or washing my face at the beginning or ending of my day when I’m at my worst. So, I thought, a simple trip to Staples and less than five bucks should help solve this problem.

To mark the no-coconut things, I got small holographic stars. To mark the coconut things, I got red washi tape. (Not all things in the pic below have been marked yet, and not everything’s turned so you can see the star or tape.)

Coconut-Free: the red washi tape of doom

A Korean and Japanese Skin Care Routine That’s Coconut-Free

Here are the ones I’ve used (except where otherwise noted):

  1. Oil cleanser. Many oil cleansers are coconut-free (probably about a third of the ones at your nearest Sephora, for example). Kosé Softymo Deep Cleansing Oil (gold, not the pink Speedy, which is not coconut-free) runs around $11 for 230ml. I missed a coconut ingredient. :( Please hold.
  2. Second cleanser. So far, I’ve only found one, and I stopped looking when I found it: Innisfree Jeju Bija Anti-Trouble Cleansing Gel. This is more like a pool cleanser, so it can be both a first and a second cleanser. More about pool cleansers in this piece on fanserviced-b.

    You can basically assume that anything foaming is not coconut free, which will save you a ton of label disappointment and time. I’ll create a list after a while, but this category’s lower priority than some others.

  3. Exfoliater. Cure Natural Aqua Gel, the most commonly-used exfoliator in Japan, is coconut-free, but many products in this category may be. (Note: I’ve not used any products in this category.)

  4. Toner. I use a toner every 2-3 nights, and use CosRX’s AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner. For a hydrating toner, I still have a bottle of Elemis’s Apricot toner (Elemis is a British brand and quite pricey, but I’ve got a mostly full bottle, so it’s a sunk cost).

  5. Serum, Emulsion, Ampoule. I use CosRX’s Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence alternated with CosRX’s Propolis Light Ampule. I hadn’t intended to be all animal product at this stage, nor is that a given. It’s just the way it happened.

  6. Sheet Masks. Many much-loved sheet masks aren’t coconut free. Here are some I’ve happened upon that are.

    • Some Skinfood “Beauty in a Food Mask”: Strawberry, Jeju Tangerine, and Ginseng for sure.
    • Some Skinfood Everyday: Olive, Lentil, Beauty Berry, and Green Tea definitely are.
    • Whamisa Organic Seeds & Rice Fermented Hydrogel Mask with Lactobacillus, so thankfully one company gifted two with an order because I hadn’t thought to buy one. I haven’t tried it yet.
    • Benton Snail Bee High Content Mask Pack, also a gift. I haven’t tried it yet.
    • Some Sexylook masks, which thankfully have their ingredients printed in English on the back. The (purple) Intensive Firming Duo 3D Lifting Facial Mask has a first ingredient of rose water. The (pink) Super Hydrating Duo 3D Lifting Facial Mask has a first ingredient of rhodochrosite extract.
    • Dr. Jart+ hydrogels like the Water-full Hydrogel Mask and Wrinkless Solution, are coconut free and available at Sephora for mind-boggling prices.
    • Some Dermal masks, including Q10 Collagen Essence Mask and Acerola Collagen Essence Mask.
  7. Eye Creams. I haven’t found any yet. This is my next project.
  8. Moisturizer. After loving a non-coconut-free Hada Labo product, I went to a local Japanese grocery (Mitsuwa in San Jose) and picked up Hada Labo 3D Anti-Aging Perfect Gel which Mentholatum imports. Mentholatum’s parent company, Rohto, makes Hada Labo. Nature Republic’s Aqua Super Aqua Max Combination Watery Cream is another. Most Asian beauty moisturizers aren’t coconut free, but it was fairly easy to find one.

  9. Sunscreen. I’m going to recommend this, but it may be a mistake, so let me know if it doesn’t work for you. Laur- often translates to coconut or palm origin because they lead to production of long carbon chains. The Biore UV AQUA Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ contains Lauryl Methacrylate/Sodium Methacrylate crosspolymer. Yet, I see nothing in that linked document that indicates specific origin, let alone coconut. In this case, the further removed from the nut, the better as far as I’m concerned. Also available on Amazon as an import.

    If you need alcohol free and that’s a bigger problem for you than coconut is, Mentholatum Sunplay Super Block Sunscreen SPF 50+ PA++++ is the only thing I’ve found so far. This is a Japanese import. It has two laur- ingredients that are not listed on other coconut lists (lauryl PEG-9 polydimethylsiloxyethyl dimethicone and vinyl dimethicone/lauryl dimethicone crosspolymer). Amazon link. Currently $9.48 for 30g (a hair over an ounce).

  10. Sleeping Pack. I really love the Too Cool For School Pumpkin Sleeping Pack. Here are some others I haven’t tried:

    • Etude House Collagen Moistfull Sleeping Pack
    • Etude House Play Therapy SLEEPING PACK #Moist Up
    • Imselene Birds Nest Aqua Sleeping Mask Pack
    • Innisfree Aloe Revital Sleeping Pack
    • Innisfree Green Tea Sleeping Pack
    • Lioele Bee My Honey Sleeping Pack
    • Lioele Waterdrop Sleeping Pack (I’d incorrectly marked a sample of this with red washi tape in the photo above, which I’ve since corrected)
    • Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Deep Moist Sleeping Pack
    • Shara Shara The Veiled Beauty Sleeping Mask
    • SNP Diamond Water Moisturizing Sleeping Pack

Other Things

Toothpaste

Most commercial toothpastes have sodium laurel/eth sulfate, which is coconut derived. Even if you’re not avoiding coconut, if you get canker sores, these are correlated with SLS, so you might want to try some SLS-free toothpaste.

I know of two without coconut ingredients that have fluoride: Closys (shown above) and Tom’s of Maine Clean & Easy Gentle Care.

Deodorant/Anti-Perspirant

Many of these have some coconut ingredients. I’ve been using the Mennen stick ones for years, and the non-gel ones all have coconut where the gel ones don’t. However, when I happened to be in a small pharmacy in Oregon, they didn’t have the gel ones, so I picked up an Old Spice stick instead.

Shampoo

Shampoo is the problem child. I’m convinced that shampoo uses higher amounts of (coconut-derived) surfactants, but I haven’t performed the experiment yet.

The only shampoo I know of that’s shampoo like and coconut-free is from Gabriel Cosmetics:

Coconut-Free Gluten-Free Tropical Burst Shampoo

I just got a bottle and it’s nice. Not super lathery, but that’s to be expected. The detangler and hand soap are also coconut free, as is the bath foam. Gabriel Cosmetics is carried by most health food stores that stock personal care, and Whole Foods. If they don’t stock it, as my local store doesn’t, they can probably order it for you.

A number of lines designed for the anti-shampoo movement (no-poo, low-poo, or co-washing) are coconut free. Four of the five shampoos from Morocco Method are coconut free (the exception being the Earth Essence). I’ve only tried a sample of the Heavenly Essence. The Floating Lotus Conditioner and Pearl Essence Creme Rinse are also coconut-free.

A Funny Story and a Book Coming Out

I mentioned in my How I Discovered My Coconut Allergy post, my first husband, Richard Savino, was a soap chemist for Lever Bros (which was what the US division of Unilever was still called until the 90s).

So when I got the shampoo, I obviously couldn’t talk to my late husband about it, so I wrote his ex-wife, Beth Kanell, who also was a chemist and is now a mystery writer. She pointed out that Unilever really got its start with importing palm and coconut oils from afar, investing heavily in overseas plantations. In 1930, British soapmaker Lever Brothers merged with Dutch margarine maker Margarine Unie to form Unilever. The merger made sense because importing palm oil was easier on a larger scale.

So one of my questions had been how coconut became so entrentched in detergents and personal care products, and there I was married to a chemist who’d previously been making that future a reality.

Beth also mentioned that coming out soon—coincidentally on the day my experiment was planned to start—is James R. Benn’s novel The White Ghost, a historical mystery involving the Pacific theatre of WWII and Unilever machinations.

The Solomon Islands, where the book is set, currently produces in excess of 600 million coconuts a year. Just typing that sentence made me itch all over.

In Closing

Coconut allergies (and contact dermatitis) are pretty rare. Unless you know you’re reacting to something that’s a coconut ingredient, there’s no specific reason to avoid coconut. However, if you’re one of the unlucky few, I hope this post helps.

For those of you who suspect a coconut allergy, the last time I checked, there were no specific antigens that allergists had where they could actually test for a coconut allergy. Here is a partial list of coconut ingredients.

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

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Ellora’s Cave author Ann Jacobs has filed an Intervening Counterclaim in the Ellora’s Cave v. Dear Author case. (Here, as with other similar situations, I’ll refer to her by her pseudonym.) From page 1 of the counterclaim:

The future value of the specific performance and declaratory judgment is unknown, but the damages incurred from Ellora’s Cave’s breaches are at least $193,000.

For. One. Author. (Ellora’s Cave had, last I checked, over 900.)

From pp. 4-5:

By way of example, §10 of the Mutual Favor Publishing Agreement provides that “In regard to all of Publisher’s royalty provisions as specified below, Publisher shall pay royalties based on cover price.”

Under § 10.1 of the Mutual Favor Publishing Agreement, the applicable royalty rate for digital formats of A Mutual Favor is 37.5% of cover price.

Under § 10.2 of the Mutual Favor Publishing Agreement, the royalty rate for print books of A Mutual Favor is 7.5% of cover price.

Notwithstanding the language in the contracts, Ellora’s Cave has stated that it believes it is entitled to calculate and pay (and has in fact calculated and paid) royalties to Jacobs—and, upon information and belief, other similarly situated authors—based not on cover price, but on the actual sales price of the works. […]

Ellora’s Cave has made similar underpayments for most or all of Jacobs’s works, and upon information and belief has made similar underpayments for many other authors.

After complaints about the improper royalty payments, Ellora’s Cave attempted to modify its publishing contracts with its authors, including Jacobs, by unilaterally informing the authors that Ellora’s Cave would begin paying an increased royalty rate (45% or 40%) but pay the royalty rate based on the sales price, which was often substantially lower than the cover price. The net result was that even with a supposedly higher royalty rate, the royalty payments were below those provided for in the contracts.

Ellora’s Cave’s attempts to change the royalty payment structure by unilateral notice is not permitted under any of the Publishing Agreements, all of which contain provisions requiring any modifications to be made in a writing signed by both Jacobs and Ellora’s Cave. The attempts at modification are, however, indicative of Ellora’s Cave’s knowledge that its prior royalty payments were not consistent with the Publishing Agreements.

Taking the claims as true, I think essentially this would prove the Dear Author claims about authors owed “several thousands, perhaps approaching six figures”. As I joked once, some people could say Dear Author’s statements were untrue with a straight face if seven figures were owed.

There’s also a Motion to Intervene as Counterclaim Defendant filed by Ms. Jacobs.

In the main action the plaintiffs, including Ellora’s Cave, have alleged that the defendants defamed the plaintiffs by stating that the plaintiffs have failed to timely pay royalties to Ellora’s Cave authors. See Complaint at ¶ 12, dkt. 1-1, PAGEID # 8. The intervenor’s claims therefore have not only common questions of fact and law with the main action, but actually substantially identical questions of fact and law with the main action. To put it more simply, if the intervenor prevails on her intervening counterclaims, the claims in the complaint (or at least a portion of them) fail as a matter of law, because the allegedly defamatory statements will have been shown to be true.

So, there you go.

Updated to Add: Link to Courtney Milan’s Piece

Courtney Milan’s blog post is here. She’s actually been to law school and been a clerk for some Very Important Judges and was a law professor. So.

Filing this claim as a motion to intervene was probably not the way to maximize the chances of success. If I had to guess, and this is purely a guess, I would say that this is an exercise in saber rattling. This is the saber I hear being rattled: Revert my titles, now, or you’ll spend well into the six figure mark defending your existence.

My commentary: I didn’t want to say this until I saw Courtney’s take on it, but I agree with her that this is some badass sabre rattling. I also find it really interesting that nothing was filed far earlier, say in December or January at the very latest.

Why? I think she’s seeing the writing on the wall, and she believes this is the best strategy to get paid, in full or in part, and get her rights reverted. Because if they pay her and revert her work, she doesn’t have a cause of action any more.

It’s a way of jumping the queue in front of other authors, and I think we may see more queue jumping coming up.

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

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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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OpenSprinkler

Rick’s talking at SVLUG (the Silicon Valley User’s Group) tonight on a topic that’s useful for pretty much everyone in California right now who has a garden: OpenSprinkler and Arduino-based systems.

Rick’s done a ton of work on reducing water usage for our garden. (Here’s a super-old post on what we were growing in 2009.)

The talk begins at 7 pm and is at Symantec in Mountain View. Directions in link.

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

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I got word about a week ago that Ellora’s Cave’s headquarters were for sale. This building isn’t owned by EC, but by sister company Brannon-Engler Properties, Ltd. Per Dear Author’s Curious post, one of the things alleged in the Brashear case was that the property was rented to Ellora’s Cave at inflated prices.

I had other things going on, so I’m a little late in reporting on it, but I think you’ll agree it was worth the wait. The other day, I got an anon tip containing Tina Engler’s latest missive:

For the past year we’ve only been releasing information on a need-to-know basis because it feels pointless to make announcements when we know that anything we say will be twisted, redistributed, and broadcast in a false light by a select minority of authors who (a) don’t know what they’re talking about and (b) have agendas. That said, here are my responses to the latest rumors:

  1. Yes, the building EC currently inhabits is up for sale. As we no longer print books and have downsized to boot, it makes no sense to keep such a large facility with 3/4 of it being unused space. When the building sells we will be moving into a commercial area that is zoned for retail; the offices will be in the back and our (upcoming) bookstore will be in the front. We’re actually very excited about this and have been working toward the goal of getting the Home Ave building up for sale for months; it is now (finally) on the market.
  2. No, we did not spend “tons of money” on our new website. It was created in-house by Darrell King who is already on payroll.

  3. We are not filing for bankruptcy. (This rumor is really getting old.) We are further downsizing where we need to, upsizing where we need to, and getting EC back to where we were before… and then some. This process takes time, but it’s definitely happening. We’ve got several irons in the fire and look forward to furthering the careers of our loyal, professional authors. (More to come on that later.)

I think that’s it for now. Have a wonderful week.

Tina

Additionally, there was another followup from Tina:

EC should have informed you that the old links to your books do not work on the new site. I didn’t realize this either until a week ago after spending two hours updating my links. I am truly sorry for the oversight.

So I’m going to respond point-by-point:

  1. First, all authors have agendas. All businesses do too. This is a very us vs. them kind of statement that has no constructive purpose.
  2. On the building sale: good for the most part. Tina basically echoed what I said a few days ago on Twitter: they don’t print their own physical books any more, and thus the building is too large a space for their current needs. My only criticism is that this feels like it’s happening significantly later than it should have. My understanding, which may be in error, is that they stopped printing their own physical books around the time of the POD printer lawsuit, which dates to 2011.

    Note that this doesn’t mean EC will stop having print versions of books, just that they will no longer be printing and stocking them in house. Switching to a just-in-time POD production company (e.g., CreateSpace) makes sense. (I’m actually a big fan of just-in-time manufacturing. More on that in a later post.)

    On the other hand, a bookstore? When so many are closing? So, they’re selling off their book storage space so they can move into a smaller space where they’ll need book storage space?

    Ellora’s Cave is not going to get significant foot traffic unless they’re somewhere with really high retail rents. After all, the space they have right now has a front office space that could be a bookstore. It has window space, though too many divided lights to make it a display window. Also, anywhere with a lot of window space will be expensive to heat in winter.

    Also, having worked in a bookstore, I’m pretty sure this will be a huge rude awakening for EC. The US lost ~20% of its indie bookstores between 2002 and 2011. In addition, a bookstore requires continual staffing, and Ellora’s Cave doesn’t have that kind of staffing level right now.

    But, you know, romantic ideals about bookstores. Whatevs.

  3. Despite other criticisms about the new website, I think moving to WordPress with WooCommerce on WPEngine is a huge improvement. And, thank God, no more blinding red. Also, they’re using WooCommerce for their shopping cart, and that is what I would have suggested had they asked.

    That said, I’ve given it a few weeks to settle in, so I think I can make some real criticisms now.

    • The way the migration was done killed Ellora’s Cave’s existing SEO (search engine optimization). All the inbound links from everywhere are now broken. When those links bring up 404 errors (page not found), what happens is they then lose the inbound link as adding to the value of that site. They might as well have bought a brand new domain and started there.

      The right solution is to add a bunch of redirects, one for each author and each book. Unfortunately, the tools for doing so on WPEngine aren’t super great because it doesn’t use Apache’s .htaccess format for it.

      There is exactly zero reason that this should be on authors (or reviewers), though.

    • Not migrating customers and their libraries is amateur hour. I can understand libraries taking a while, but then you’d have to shut off e-commerce until you worked the old libraries into the new table structure.

      Here’s my constructive suggestion: if EC can’t migrate people except by hand, migrate people’s libraries in the order they sign up for an account on the new site. It would also be nice if there were some time frame given for when customers’ libraries would be migrated. (And totally unprofessional for them not to be migrated.)

      Over time, that will reduce customer service requests, and it will also give EC a goodwill boost it desperately needs. Plus, many of us—myself included—have bought books off of EC’s website and we’re basically cut off from our libraries. Apparently, this is not the first time EC’s done this; I’m told they also did so when they upgraded to the red site from the previous incarnation.

      Not only that, but Tina was encouraging authors to encourage their readers to buy books directly off EC’s site, so now EC’s throwing those authors and customers under the bus?

      Can you just imagine the outcry if Amazon did this for Kindle books?

      If you want Amazon’s business, Tina, you have to be at least as good as Amazon. Not amateur hour.

    • I know default WordPress search isn’t the world’s best, but visit the new EC site and search on, say, Paris. One of the many titles found has Paris in the title, but not all of those books have the search term even in the description. I don’t know how they managed that, but my WordPress searches don’t work that badly. Logic suggests that author matches and/or title matches should be ranked first, though, and they’re not.

    • There is no information on the site about how to submit to the publisher. That’s probably a good thing, though.

    • Others have noted that there is no physical address. Given that their building is for sale, that may well be temporary, but I’m more likely to do business with a site that actually lists their physical address.

  4. While I’m glad Ellora’s Cave isn’t filing for bankruptcy, part of me wonders how much of this is sheer stubbornness. Several people have reported that they haven’t received a check since May, which paid for royalties due up through January.

Ellora’s Cave v. Dear Author Lawsuit Update

It’s been a quiet few months, and the only thing to happen in the last six weeks is another status update (docket item 39) from the defense. Status reports are supposed to be filed every 45 days by both parties. Only two things happened since the last status report:

  1. On June 15, 2015, Plaintiffs served responses to written discovery.
  2. On July 15, 2015, Plaintiffs and Defendants served their witness lists.

What’s interesting, though is that there’s only been one plaintiff status report (on April 28th, docket item 35) and there have been four defense status reports. Normally, things filed with the court by the parties are a matter of public record, so I’d expect to see them on the docket.

Now, granted, the discovery period is a time when the parties are incredibly busy, but there may not be a lot of court filings. So, from an outsider’s perspective, this can appear to be a very “quiet” period, even though it’s anything but.

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

deirdre: (Default)

The Hugo Awards

Just a reminder that Hugo Awards voting closes tomorrow night (July 31st) at 11:59 pm Pacific Daylight Time. You can submit or change your vote before then by visiting this page on the Sasquan site.

Note: You will need your Hugo PIN to submit or change your ballot. Please request your PIN as early as possible if you don’t have it handy.

Even if you and I have nothing in common on which we’d vote for, if you’re a member of Sasquan, please vote. Here is my Puppy-free Hugo Award Voter’s Guide if that helps you.

I want to say this about the Best Fan Writer category. I’m not voting for Laura J. Mixon as best fan writer for the following reasons:

  1. She has lobbied for the award, which I consider an automatic disqualification. Cool is letting someone know what you have that you believe is eligible. Not cool: “A vote for me sends a clear signal…” Yes, she later edited that out of her post, but that’s emotional blackmail.
  2. I consider a pro author criticizing a reviewer’s history as a pro activity, not a fan activity, and thus not fan writing.
  3. Benjanun Sriduangkaew has since been doxxed, and I believe that the vaunting of Laura J. Mixon helped that happen.

Getting back to the Hugo Awards more generally, I liked this pep talk from Cheryl Morgan.

Comments are off on this piece. Please comment elsewhere if you’re so inclined.

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

deirdre: (Default)

ellora's cave blog header

Two things: Ellora’s Cave has a new contract with Amazon for Kindle sales. Also, Ellora’s Cave’s website is currently down, but apparently a new site’s forthcoming. Emails from EC follow, along with minimal commentary from me.

Yesterday, EC’s site was completely offline. Today, they’ve got a placeholder page up, which is an improvement.

Ellora’s Cave Has a New Amazon Kindle Contract

(edited slightly only for formatting reasons)

Sent: Monday, June 29, 2015 2:25 PM
Subject: [ec_biz] New EC Kindle contract

Dear authors,
You hear about it when huge publishers like Simon & Schuster or Penguin Random House are renegotiating their expired Amazon contracts. But that happens to the rest of us too, although it doesn’t make the news. EC’s Kindle contract recently expired, and we had notified Amazon we did not want to renew at the old terms, wanted to negotiate a better deal for EC and our authors.

EC now has a new contract for ebook sales with Kindle, one that we feel will bring more royalty income! [The negotiations are why I have so many more silver hairs and have been mainlining chocolate for weeks. 😉 ] Amazon has a very stringent confidentiality clause, so we cannot disclose the exact details of the terms. This new contract will go into effect early July.

Royalties will be based on both list price of the ebook and the location of the purchaser. Royalty rates will be significantly higher for sales within the US and in our other primary customer bases, and when ebook list price is $2.99 and higher. Almost 90% of EC Kindle sales meet these criteria! For ebooks priced less than $2.99 or sold in other areas of the world, per-unit royalties will be reduced by about 25%–but those are only about 10% of our Kindle royalty income, so this was an acceptable negotiation trade-off.

In light of the above royalty rate changes, EC has reevaluated our ebook pricing structure and is making adjustments to take best advantage of the algorithms.

  • Ebooks with a current list price of $2.00 to $2.98 will be repriced to $2.99, so that they get the improved royalty rate. Almost all these books are the older backlist titles whose prices were halved; even with the very slight upward adjustment, they will still cost significantly less than their original list price.
  • We will no longer release new books priced less than $2.99. We are making appropriate adjustments in minimum word count and multi-short-story packaging.

  • We have calculated that with the new royalty rates, EC can lower list prices a bit and still bring in more income. Lower prices will hopefully encourage more sales, especially since we are strategically dropping each price point into the next lower dollar bracket. For example, ebooks with a current list price of $5.60 will become $4.99, those at $6.50 will become $5.99, and so on. These changes will occur in early July, and apply across the board—all etailers.

The new contract does eliminate EC’s previous exemption to have a cover price on its own webstore that was lower than what we provide to vendors. So the EC webstore is being revamped, will show just the standard new List Price.

The royalty and pricing changes will show up starting with your July royalties statement.

(end email)

Assuming there’s no spin on this, this sounds like a very good deal for Ellora’s Cave and its authors.

New Ellora’s Cave Website Forthcoming

Sent: Wednesday, July 1, 2015 9:35 AM
Subject: [EC newsletter] New EC webstore

From Darrell King, Chief Creative Officer, Ellora’s Cave Publishing Inc.:

Ellora’s Cave is in the process of switching to a new and improved website. It’s streamlined, cleaner, easier to use and tablet/smartphone friendly!

As par for the course, we expect some minor bumps in the road during the changeover. Unfortunately, the restructuring of the store means that the old bookshelf system will not transfer to the new site, but our customer service staff will be standing by to assist you along the way as we transition.

We appreciate your patience as we work to improve your experience with Ellora’s Cave. In order to avoid overloading customer service with web-related issues during the next few days, please send your questions or comments about the website to website@ellorascave.com. We will answer all queries as quickly as possible. Thanks for your understanding and we hope you enjoy our wonderful new online shopping experience!

Darrell King
Chief Creative Officer
Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

Deirdre’s comment: I hope it’s less red.

Update: the new website is up, at least in its early form, and there is no red to be seen.

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

deirdre: (Default)

Plum Blossoms

So, after over two months in the hospital, ICU, and rehab (skilled nursing facility), mom just arrived home. We’re waiting for the cat to figure out she’s here.

She still hasn’t had any of her surgery, but she’s recovered really well.

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

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