Saturday, May 05, 2007

What Is Going On At Elloras Cave Publishing? Some Of Their Authors Tell Us...

I was going to let the blog settle down before I posted some of the responses from various EC authors, but what the hell, TTG and I are going away for the weekend, so might as well post, and run, whilst I can.

Anyway, without further ado, here are some of the responses from current EC authors:

“Crissy (Bashear) left EC under less than pleasant circumstances. She wasn't treated fairly, in my opinion, however, she handled it in a very classy manner. She opened her own publisher and Samhain is doing wonderfully. They've already established a reputation for delivering quality books... AND getting the print books to print outlets.”

EC, on the other hand, doesn't fulfill print orders. A print outlet orders so many copies of one popular author and EC would like them to purchase ALL authors so instead of sending the requested amount of the requested authors...they send a hodgepodge. Now if I went into the store and said I want a pair of silver earrings with pearls and they gave me brass with garnets, I'd be irritated as all I get out. When I'm buying, *I* get the choice of what I buy. Not the person selling it.”

“I know some people are growing unhappy with things there (no, I can't name any names offhand. I've heard rumors, nothing more.) I know some policies are changing with regard to print and I think people are frustrated by the lack of info being given about that. And I think the growing sense that EC's standards have slipped bothers everyone.

For me I think the problem is the incredibly long response time on subs. I think they should have closed to subs for six months some time ago to clear out the backlog, because talented writers are subbing elsewhere rather than wait. The only editor there I know is my own, but I know they were really crushing for editors a while back so can only guess they may have hired some people whose work wasn't stellar.”

“It's disheartening to see new authors coming in with numerous contracts. It's discouraging to see less and less of the old standards anchoring the new release page.”

“I like my overworked EC editor. So far, I've not been asked to add any sex. Though, xxxx was revised from sensual to erotic. Btw, no anal sex was involved in heating the story up. And, as far as I know no new editors were hired in recent months.”

“First, editors are NOT allowed to change content of the books at all. They aren't allowed to edit sentences, etc. Basically, they just line edit it seems. As you can tell from the quality of the books. Second, did you know that EC is selling their print rights? They just did it to one author and a few others are up for auction.
They are asking for LIFETIME contracts from newbie authors, and established authors they are asking for 10 years”

“Samhain has people who love the romance genre. EC has several people in the executive level, so to speak, that don't care for romance at all. People who come from a background of sales and not romance, not publishing, nada. It's hard to really sell a product unless you understand it. And if you hate it? Much harder.”

“It's sad that EC seems to be losing more and more readers. Between you and me, I have to agree about the quality of writing of the new authors. I lament the loss of older, quality authors who no longer write for EC or in some cases release a book here and there. Those were the good old days. In conversations I've had with some author friends, we all privately agreed that it's probably time to seek new opportunities elsewhere. SIGH.”

“Any EC author who says they haven't been told to "sex it up" is lying. It's a public message you see over and over in the company announcements, so it isn't just on the editor-level. You learn by the end of the editing process on your first book to put smut in the forefront.

It has only gotten worse since NY started playing in EC's pool. As an example, the book I am currently editing for them has xxxxx words and two sex scenes……, so it actually focuses on the plot. I took it to EC after my contract expired, and the first thing I heard was to add more sex--at least one more scene, and to really punch up the existing scenes. I guess I'll have to add some anal or something. In contrast, I just read xxxxx’s "xxxxx” It has three sex scenes for the 100,000 word novel. EC never would have let her get away with that. It's ridiculous. I can live with writing erotic romance as long as there is still plot and characters. But I didn't sign on to write porn!”

“I know they are still selling ebooks and many are going to continue to buy for the titillation factor alone, but they've lost many readers who want it all, good hot sex and a good hot story. I know it for a fact because I hear it all the time, plus I rarely buy from them anymore unless it's one of the books by my fave authors, which are fewer and fewer with them. EC sales are down and I guess they figure if they put out more and more, it will make up for it.”

“Yes, your review struck a chord because it underscores the current situation at EC. To begin with, I wasn't happy about the Wednesday and Friday new releases but I'm thinking they need the money. But quantity doesn't mean quality. That's the problem.”

“When I started with EC…, Crissy was the publisher. I liked her and personally never had a problem with her. Since she left, a lot of changes have been instituted, most of which I don't agree with. There are a ton of new authors onboard--some newbies, some previously pubbed--but not all of them are talented. They're prolific, though, some like Carol Lynne with multiple books lined up with release dates well into August and September.”

“You'll love this. EC told the authors the reason they are taking out all the commas is because commas make the readers stumble as they read, and the faster the reader reads, the more books we sell. Wow. I guess they don't take into account that most adults know how to use commas fairly well.

They probably aren't as adept with them as professional writers--note I say pros, not necessarily the authors EC is taking on--but they are going to notice when the commas aren't there. That is just one of the many bitches I could share about EC. The print program is a joke. The checks are late half the time, but that's all the post office's doing. They flat-out lie, telling us the checks were sent on time, and then they show up weeks later with a postmark that's three days previous. Uh huh. IF you dare ask about if/when the payments were mailed, you have fellow EC authors jumping to the company's defense. ...., brainwashed fools IMO.”

“I think they need to be reminded that their loyal readers want it all. This isn't going to happen unless readers complain. Loudly. Very loudly. And not just on blogs. They've changed their methods in the past because of reader complaints, IE: they no longer accept F/F stories of any sort because readers didn't like them. Even if it was just a brief scene in a book. They started looking for more interracial and more M/M because readers requested them. I'd like to think that if readers start strongly requesting better books, they'd do something about it.”

“EC could go back to the quality they once had. They still have some great authors. But the great authors are being forced to wait months and months for release dates because the schedule chock full of what they've been putting out lately. They aren't going to make that change unless they are made very aware that is needed. I'd like to see it happen before it's too late.”

“I didn't even get the cover until a week before release, which gave me no time to ask for changes, basically tying my hands. I wasn't able to do any advertising or promo, which is almost impossible to do without a cover. But hey, I smiled and said thanks. I already knew bitching wasn't going to get me anywhere.”

“I wanted to compliment you on drawing attention to the craphole EC has become. Unfortunately, I can't publicly support you…In private, I'll tell you they couldn't manage their way out of a paper box with a flashlight. Bunch of incompetent idiots running that place. I've had the fortune to work with two really great editors at EC, but they both left long ago.”

“Unfortunately, the powers that be at EC can get very petty when they perceive one of their authors is being critical of them. Unfair to the point that they threaten legal action, claiming libel, slander and whatever. I don't really want or need that trouble. So far, they haven't ever caused me any trouble and I fly under their radar. I want to keep it that way. High seller or not, if some people at EC get ticked off at me, they will cause me trouble. They've done it for a couple of their highest sellers so I'm under no illusions it wouldn't happen to me.”

“I will always be grateful for EC for giving me my start, but as long as it is financially feasible, I will not be writing anything else for them….after I finish my contracted commitments.”


"You can use my words, but not my name, please. I'm a coward and I'm scared of EC. I'll tell you right now that they're so incredibly litigious most of their authors are too scared to speak out (hence my wish to remain anonymous). That's why you get such a love-fest online."

It's little things, like EC's ongoing war against punctuation. I had all the colons and semi-colons taken out of my book, and a lot of the commas too (for instance a character saying, "Karen, wait a minute," would be changed to "Karen wait a minute." Just...looks wrong to my eye). This is EC policy, actually sent out in their Style Sheet.

"Any request takes days to be answered, and if it involves Raelene, often weeks. Asking readers to email her will probably have little effect since her inbox is apparently the size of Texas. I had a couple of royalty requests.... that were either ignored or refused. The first cover I was given looked like it had been done in 10 minutes with Photoshop and bore little resemblance to the painstakingly written cover request I'd been encouraged to fill out in detail."

"The bigger issue, the one that really annoys me. EC now issues, what, eight e-books a week? But hardly anything is getting into print. Every now and then we get a marvellously exciting email about some new print partner, but the fact remains that EC hasn't made a print schedule available to authors since August last year."

"We were told we'd be notified 10-12 weeks before our books went into print, and that as Raelene had had so many emails asking for more details, we weren't to ask any more. That's right, we were told not to ask when our books would be coming out. No matter that any promotion worth its while in a big publication needs far more than 3 months' notice. There wasn't even a ballpark figure to go on."

"EC has such a tight grip on contracts that getting your rights back is now relegated to the status of mythic legend, and according to rumour they're getting worse, adding sneakier clauses (and remember newbie authors are way, way too poor to afford lawyers) and often refusing to negotiate. Still I've learned my lesson now... EC is treating authors like mushrooms these days: kept in the dark and fed on shit."

So, there you have it, reading the above, and the numerous comments on previous posts leads me to conclude that something is definitely awry at EC. To borrow one of my mum’s favourite phrases; A thousand flies on shit can’t be wrong.

Will things change? Probably not. Do they care? I’m sure they do, but if they aren’t willing to change things up a bit for their readers, then it becomes a moot point.

Sex sells, and it sells well, but even the people who enjoy smut for the sake of it will start to get very tired, when nothing else is offered up.

This really isn’t a witch hunt. I have spent far too much money at EC to be slating them just for the sake of it. I simply want quality to win over quantity. I simply want authors who know the difference between erotic romance and porn. I simply want editors, who know what the word means.

I will happily continue to buy their books, if the standards improve. Whether that will happen, remains to be seen.

As for their mutually beneficial relationship with RT's Kathryn Falk? Hmmmm....

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