Monday, October 06, 2008

Bulletin: Ellora's Cave, distributor?

The goss is that Ellora's Cave has begun to approach other smaller epublishers with an offer to distribute vetted books through a joint storefront in return for 40% of receipts. [<--edited for accuracy]

41 comments:

Rose Archer said...

I don't understand why they'd do this. Consolidation? Aren't they swamped with submissions? Or is editing getting too expensive? What's the positive?

Emily Veinglory said...

If I understood it well enough to comment it wouldn't be a bulletin.

p.s.: if the bulletin format is irritating, let me know. Sometimes I get a piece of information that I don't really know how to process--so I just pass it on. But I could sit on it and develop a more well-developed post, if y'all prefer.

Barbara Sheridan said...

My take on it is that they're going to do something similar to All Romance ebooks and sell not only EC titles but those of other erotic romance publishers who wish to participate.

Angie said...

Forty percent?!

I realize they've got some kind of mondo distribution system, but still, that sounds just a tad excessive to me. :/

Angie

Barbara Sheridan said...

@angie

I believe Fictionwise asks for a 50% cut of the profits on ebooks they distribute so 40% isn't necessarily excessive.

Anonymous said...

Rose, the positive is more traffic for them and more exposure for authors at smaller presses who do not have the following EC does. (Among other things.)

Anonymous said...

The negative is EC authors who are already competing with three times a week EC releases now having to battle non-EC authors on EC's own website.

I worked very hard to get into this sandbox, I don't like the idea of sharing it with people who couldn't make it in on their own merit but had to buy their way in via a small-time epub. Color me selfish, whatev.

Anonymous said...

The positive for them is more money in the corporate coffers. It's EC authors who are, again, going to take the hit as the site is swamped with hundreds more titles for readers to choose from. It will be even easier to get lost in this ever-growing herd.

The exposure could benefit those smaller presses that hop aboard, and additional sales will definitely make EC richer, but it's also going to muddy the site's focus and muddle readers' minds.

Declining sales are not desirable from any perspective, but when you consider EC's stranglehold contract, their current writers won't even be able to jump this overloaded ship. No matter how much they're starving from lack of royalties. And like a previous poster said, EC's jam-packed release schedule has already had a seriously negative impact on individual-title sales.

But, hey, as Michael Douglas's character said in the movie Wall Street, "Greed is good." Right?

Emily Veinglory said...

If anyone has further information about this please feel to let me know (veinglory at gmail.com). I would like to discuss it further is it seems to be a far-reaching initiative with significant implications for authors at many presses.

Angie said...

Barbara -- there's a difference between 40% of the profits and 40% "off the top." This might just be a misunderstanding based on how things were phrased, but to me, "off the top" means a percentage of cover price. Does Fictionwise take half the cover price? :/

Angie

Anonymous said...

I think they do take half of the cover price, Angie.

This whole idea seems like yet another way to make those at the top richer, while forcing EC's authors to struggle even harder to make a decent buck. And yeah, it bites that many of them won't be able to jump to another epress when this move renders it impossible for them to earn anything from their writing.

Angie said...

Anon@11:12 -- holy sheep! O_O If that's accurate, then that's pretty outrageous, seriously.

For whatever reason, I figured they probably took the difference between my royalty from my publisher's site and my royalty from Fictionwise. Or twice that, if my publisher and I split the "cost" of marketing through them. I never asked, though, because the difference wasn't all that much. Sounds like my publisher is really getting hammered, though. :/

Angie

Katrina Strauss said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katrina Strauss said...

I understand the EC authors' concern, but what about the implications for the smaller fish in the pond? Is this really a "good deal" that will grant smaller houses more exposure? Or a way for EC to sort of indirectly "take over" more of the e-pub industry and take a bigger piece of the pie?

Anonymous said...

A stealthy monopolize-the-market attempt is definitely not out of the question, Katrina. That company reeks of power-tripping and a callous disregard for its own authors as well as its competitors.

Writers and e-pubs, beware!

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't even care if they separated the non-EC books from the EC books. They're not going to, though. The non-EC books will be peppered in amongst the EC books by genre. NOT COOL.

That's ridiculously unfair to their authors. Frankly, my concern is not with the authors of the smaller epubs. Because frankly, it's my ass I'm concerned with protecting. If EC is going to put some crappy-covered, poorly edited, poorly written ebook up next to mine just because that little epub said EC could have 40% of the profits...I'm going to be taking my goods elsewhere. "Vetted books"? Vetted like Sarah Palin was vetted?

And no one is locked into EC's contracts, folks, let's not start that again. We are perfectly capable of jumping ship. I hope EC remembers that.

azteclady said...

"Or a way for EC to sort of indirectly "take over" more of the e-pub industry and take a bigger piece of the pie?"

Katrina, that was my first reaction. Since I'm not a writer, I didn't want to pollute the thread with my cynicism, but apparently I'm not alone.

Barbara Sheridan said...

Maybe I've missed this detail but are they planning to sell these other pub books on the EC site itself or via a store site the way All Romance ebooks is set up where books from various pubs mingle in their respective genres?

Anonymous said...

Those authors who are jumping ship are having to dodge and weave around EC's "first look" clause before they can get near open water. And they're having to leave behind all their other titles, which will forever be in the company's adhesive clutches.

Emily Veinglory said...

'Off the top' was perhaps not an accurate expression. I believe the relevant phrase is "EC will charge a commission of 40% of receipts".

Anonymous said...

It sounds, Barbara, like they're going to sell all the mutt books right on the EC site, where they'll be scattered among EC titles and, essentially, be competing against them for reader notice . . . and dollars.

Nice set-up for authors, eh? :-/

Angie said...

40% of receipts still sounds like 40% of the total sale price to me. And my response is still somewhere in the "Ouch!" range. [wry smile]

Angie

Angie said...

And another comment, which I've been thinking for a while and finally decided I need to say.

I realize that the EC authors here are angry with their publisher, and it sounds like they might have reason. And I realize that anger often manifests itself in ways which a person later regrets. But at the same time I find the characterization of anyone who publishes electronically with a company which is not Ellora's Cave as writing "mutt books," or "crappy-covered, poorly edited, poorly written ebooks," or being called a writer "who couldn't make it in on their own merit" to be pretty grossly insulting.

If any significant number of EC authors do eventually decide to go elsewhere over this, it might behoove them to consider what sort of reputation they're taking with them. It may well be unfair, especially since I have no idea how many anonymice are actually posting and all the stuck-up nastiness might well be coming from one person, but at this point I'm feeling very little sympathy for EC writers, and can't think of any particular reason I should join in any sort of campaign to support them. If they think they're so wonderful, I'm sure they can take care of themselves without help from the rest of us illiterate peasants.

[With caveats for the one EC writer I know personally, of course, who has far to much class to have made any of the anonymous posts above. :/ ]

Angie

Katrina Strauss said...

Angie,

Ya took the words right outta my mouth, lady. ;)

I understand the concern from EC's end. Guess what? We "small fry" have concerns on our side of the pond, too. Because someone just threw a rock in said pond, and we are all going to feel the ripple effects. I'm interested in *any* development that affects this industry at *all* levels.

Emily Veinglory said...

I think it is also possible they mean terms like mutts to refer, well, to mutts--not with the assumptions that all EC books are mutts. If that makes any sense. If the call is being made very widely it will encompass some presses with noticeably lower editorial standards and so require some faith in the vetting process. This may not just refer to writign standards but copyeditings and formatting which is less than desrible in some cases.

Emily Veinglory said...

(The previous post is a case in point--some writers require good editors)

Anonymous said...

As I said, I'd have no problem with the venture if it were a case of a link to a separate page listing the other publishers books. EC readers come to EC expecting, imagine this, EC books. To mix in a bunch of books those readers are not looking for (sorry, fact is they're not looking for a Torquere book when they go to EC's site), is just going to piss off readers and piss off authors.

As for the first look clause and the "forever in the company's evil clutches", that's spoken like someone who either hasn't seen the EC contract recently or hasn't had a lawyer explain how the out-clause works. I'm angry right now and concerned about my future, but there's still truth and untruth and it's not true that EC has any kind of villainous grip on books above and beyond what other contracts claim.

kirsten saell said...

But at the same time I find the characterization of anyone who publishes electronically with a company which is not Ellora's Cave as writing "mutt books," or "crappy-covered, poorly edited, poorly written ebooks," or being called a writer "who couldn't make it in on their own merit" to be pretty grossly insulting.

I wonder how many of the top (and even second) tier epublishers will be bothered to take EC up on this offer? My thought is it will mostly be the bottom tier that might consider this a viable option for their authors--40% is a lot to hand over, especially when most of the readers who go to EC's site are looking specifically for EC books, and EC's name is right there on its covers.

How many loyal EC readers are going to bother even looking at a book from some pub they've never heard of, nestled amid all those EC titles?

To be honest, I think the only people who stand to benefit to any real degree from this are the PTB at EC. For the rest, the effects will be nonexistent at best.

Angie said...

Anon@1pm -- well, this (Torquere) author is pissed off already, so I guess you're right. [sweet smile]

Emily -- I know you're trying, but that really doesn't help. That interpretation still leaves Anon@12:28 implying that the rest of us are too unskilled or too stupid to find a "good" publisher.

Angie

kirsten saell said...

The more I think about it, the more I think pubs like Samhain, LI, LSB, TQ, etc--those who have a decent rep among readers and are growing steadily--would be hesitant at the very least to enter into this kind of deal. Yeah, in the short term, it might equate to more sales (though less money, in all likelihood). But there's a huge difference between handing over 50% of cover price to fictionwise, and handing over 40% to the competition.

Anyone with any business sense is going to see some serious consequences (diversion of reader traffic to the least profitable option, putting money in your competitor's pocket, feeding a potential monopoly) not too far down the road when considering an offer like this.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Kirsten, Samhain, LI, LSB will not likely be taking up EC on this offer. And this is why I'm most concerned about the quality of books, covers and editing that will be next to mine. Hey, call it mean if you want, and you can smile all the sweet smiles you want, the fact ramains that the further you get down the line of top selling epubs, the further you get away from quality covers, editing and writing. Numbers speak, don't tell yourself they don't.

Be pissed, but don't be pissed at me. I didn't choose which pub sold the best. Readers did. And believe me, that is the sole reason many of EC's authors are with them, myself included.

rosearcher said...

I know it's dreadfully dull of me to ask this, but do we know for a fact that this deal is going to go through?

I don't think we know enough, yet, to complain, or cheer, or anything. Honestly, this might be much ado about not much. I want to see what actually happens before passing judgement.

And when any writers say anything bad about other writers, it makes me think of a wife and mistress fighting. Chances are, the only person they should be mad at is the husband, not each other.

Anonymous said...

No no no. Don't be hypersensitive, Angie. "Mutt books" was not a slam, just an expression. And nothing was said at 12:28 about "stupid" or "unskilled" authors from other companies. (Torquere has some enormously talented writers. So do a lot of other pubs.)

Read the post again. That gripe -- and others -- has to do with further loading an already overloaded publisher with books from all kinds of other publishers, to the detriment of its own authors.

As to the issue of anonymous posts . . . gee, ever wonder why, when EC is in the middle of some controversy, there are always anonymous posts? Hm? Might that say more about the collective temperament of TPTB than about the posters?

Angie said...

Anon@1:41 -- I was taking all the nasty anon posts in a group, not just the 12:28 one. They were offensive from the beginning; it just took a while for the valves to blow. [wry smile] And the way "mutt books" was used, it certainly sounded like a slam to me. Why not just say "other books" or "non-EC books" if the point wasn't to slam them?

And yes, I know what the main gripe is about. I just wonder whether it's really necessary to make nasty cracks about the non-EC books while one is complaining about EC itself. I get that folks are mad at EC for a particular reason. What I don't get is why some of them (one of them?) feel they have to spray their mad at others as well, in an insulting way.

I have no problem with anonymous comments in and of themselves. If some folks feel they need to protect themselves but still want to express their opinions, that's fine. What I object to is the content of some of those opinions.

Angie

Anonymous said...

And they're having to leave behind all their other titles, which will forever be in the company's adhesive clutches. And this is all too true. It's been over 12 weeks and I've had no response to my very legitimate request to withdraw several of my titles in accorance with the contract. I'm seriously thinking I'm going to have to get a lawyer, or a SWAT team, to rescue my books that are being held hostage. Considering their crappy distribution of print and ebook titles, and EC's dwindling reputation, if I were a small press publisher, I'd be very wary of jumping on this ship.Interesting how they're now trying to get 40% revenue stream to bolster their seriously flagging sales.

M Barnette said...

Shadowfire Press was contacted, Em. To let you know.

Am I going to take them up on it? No. I cannot see how being listed on EC's site with EC's books will benefit -my- authors.

Also, to people that call smaller pubs and their authors and books 'mutts' the smartest dog I ever had was a mutt. So I'm going to thank you for the compliment.

Anonymous said...

Some of us "mutts" really don't want to wait 12 months to hear back from EC. Other publishers with good reputations and pretty damn good sales have much faster reads on subs...which gets my writing out there and money in my pocket that much faster.

I thought one of the benefits of e-publishing was the speed with which an author could go from sub to release date. EC is now just about as bad as Harlequin and other publishers who accept unagented subs.

I'd love the sales that EC claims to have, but personally, I don't love much else about them at the moment.

Anonymous said...

I find all the comments putting down non-EC books fascinating and ironic....from what I've heard, several publishers who have been approached by EC to participate have turned them down because they didn't want THEIR books to be associated in any way with the "standard that is EC."

Sounds to me like EC is starting to get ticked off at all the competition that is taking money from their pockets, and therefore, are attempting a monopoly to beef up their dwindling bank accounts.

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I think it is a very smart business move on EC's part. Uniting with the smaller publishers who have been established for a while, will help to make a stronger market for erotica/romantica titles.

This will be another venture like Fictionwise. Another avenue for an author to make extra royalties.

Also, since the big guys are now dipping their wick into the e publishing industry, having a united front against them will help fight against the NY guys now wanting their piece of the e book industry.

Why EC authors are so upset about this venture, is beyond me. I really don't see how it would affect their sales. After all, an author gains a following. IF THEY PROMOTE LIKE THE DICKENS!!! If you don't have that following, your sales won't diminish because a MUTT book is displayed next to yours. I resent the use of that word. EC authors are NOT superior to any of us who write as good, if not better books. An EC author with an established following will NOT lose sales.

If my publisher were to place EC titles on their website, I would cheer it on and not start posting all the crap I've been reading on various blogs. GO FOR IT EC!!! Don't let your authors bamboozle you into giving up on this project. Don't give the various publishers who are opposed to this venture, the SATISFACTION of bowing out. If your authors are unhappy and create waves, tell them to use their brains and learn something about smart business moves, OR, send them elsewhere. They're not worth keeping.

EC, SHOW EVERYONE THAT YOU ARE WHAT YOU SAY YOU ARE. THE BIGGEST, THE BEST, AND NOT AFRAID TO MAKE SMART BUSINESS MOVES TO GET AHEAD IN THIS INDUSTRY.

Dreamwriter.

Anonymous said...

This might come over as a little harsh, but a couple of the EC authors on this thread seriously need to get over themselves. Small press does not necessarily equal worse than EC. I don't want to knock anyone as a writer, do what you will and good luck to you, but EC authors as cream of the crop about to be diluted by small press crap? Excuse me?

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