I don’t know how widely this story has rippled outside the romance publishing world, but a lot of people have been talking about the implosion of publisher Ellora’s Cave. Or at least, that’s what it seems like to me. But I’ve had up-close seats, given that a few members of my local RWA chapter are published through them.
First was the news they’d released a number of their freelance editors and cover artists. Then there was the news of the tax lien. Soon there were buzzings about unpaid royalties, problems with rights reversions, and rumors that books turned in would get published, no matter what – and the authors might not get paid.
Like all negative news, it prompted a wave of conversations, not just about Ellora’s Cave, but other publishers as well. Authors took the opportunity to speak out (anonymously, of course) about their horror stories with this publisher or that publisher, or sometimes not even naming the publisher because it was a Big 5. Like they’d come for you in the middle of the night.
So now seems as good a time as any to remind people that research is important. You’re going to hear negative stories about pretty much every publisher out there. You may hear more stories about one publisher over another. Does that mean you should avoid them? Not necessarily. It means you should proceed with caution, certainly. Don’t be afraid to walk away if the contract offered doesn’t give you terms you can live with. Talk to authors published with them. Talk to authors in general – they’ll be able to tell you what to expect when it comes to the whole editorial-to-release day process. It’ll vary from publisher to publisher, of course, but some things will be similar.
One thing I’ve noticed of late is the staggering amount of negativity out of self-published authors who feel they’ve been screwed over by publishing, whether it’s a Big 5, digital-first, or even Amazon. Look, no system is perfect. Publishing certainly isn’t. But spouting vitriol isn’t the way to go about winning friends and influencing people, either, even if you’re doing it anonymously, even if you’re planning to stay the course when it comes to self-publishing. So much about publishing has changed just in the last ten years that the only thing we can expect in the coming decade is more change. To stay competitive, publishers will have to change how they do business – and it might lure some of those self-pubs back in. Will they be given that chance if they keep spreading nastiness? Doubtful.
The Writer Beware blog has a post with a few links regarding Ellora’s Cave and its downfall, if you’re interested in knowing more.
Now go get your ass in the chair and write!