Ellora’s Cave: last gasp?

4 Oct

(See updates at end)

It’s been just over two years since Ellora’s Cave sued Dear Author and Jane Litte/Jen Frederick, over “The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave.”

For those not in the know, that piece was based mostly (I’d say, 90 to 95%), on public records–from liens placed on the company by Ohio/Akron, to published pieces on traditional media, to the CEO’s own communications with authors, editors, and other employees, and with Jane Litte/Jen Frederick herself.

Still, Jaid Black/Tina Engler didn’t much like what the piece said about her, and so, a lawsuit for defamation was filed in late September 2014.

Between then and now, shit happened. And more shit happened. And then the suit was settled.

Which pissed off a bunch of people–such as, say, those authors whose royalties weren’t paid correctly, or on time, or at all. Or those editors who weren’t paid for work already done (on the excuse that it wasn’t finished/done correctly/you name it). Or those employees who were fired summarily with little to no warning.

Those people were pissed off because they wanted some resolution, and a settlement between the parties meant that there would be no discovery from the DA/JL side. Ergo, those people who had good reason to believe EC had stiffed them to one degree or another, would learn nothing useful to their own fight with the publisher.

Since the settlement, there have been occasional outbursts of venom and absurdity from Jaid Black/Tina Engler’s camp, such as the now deleted/under construction “No More Cyber Abuse” website, but mostly there was just deafening silence.

Then, all of a sudden, I hear rumors that authors are being offered their rights back, on condition of forfeiting whatever royalties they are owed to this point.

As a bystander–a reader, and not really ever an Ellora’s Cave customer–I am not privy to the communication in question. I would dearly love to read it, though, because I wonder how much of it is plain business, and how much is blame shifting.

But I’m mean like that.

On a more serious note, I see some speculation on #notchilled that authors can just wait EC out, and not sign anything that would waive their right to monies owed. Apparently EC is closing on December 31, 2016, regardless of anything else, and some authors postulate that their rights will revert automatically when the publisher closes its doors (virtual/physical/both?).

If I were them, I would be a lot less sanguine about it, and would seek some professional advice from an actual IP lawyer on the matter.

Beware: I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one anywhere, so what follows is NOT legal advice. With that said, read on.

I would not put it beyond Jaid Black/Tina Engler et al, to play a fast one on any/all authors who don’t sign the form. After all, there’s nothing (beyond massive ego) stopping them from declaring bankruptcy. In which case, if I understand correctly, any rights not reverted to the authors beforehand, become assets to be acquired by whomever buys EC’s debt. Which in turn may mean that, if no one does, those rights remain in limbo.

Or they could could pull a Christina “just kidding” Brashear, and come back sometime after the deadline given in the email, and declare that said email was just ‘an informal exploration of options,’ sort of a ‘musing out loud’ thing, and that they are not closing shop after all.

As I said above, I’m not a lawyer, and I may be completely wrong about this, but, if this were about my intellectual property, it would behoove me to find out what my actual rights are on the matter.

Since lawyers are expensive, it would probably be a lot more cost effective for a group of authors with similar issues/contracts, to band together and pool their resources, in order to get the best advice possible under the circumstances.

But, again, that’s just me.


Update: Apparently these are screenshots of the email, courtesy of Machine Bellum (1, 2, 3) As you see, there’s some blaming going on. Amazon is the devil, and the market is mean, and miracles don’t happen on command. Ah well, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.


2nd Update: Please keep in mind, not all lawyers are created equal. Just as I would not ask an estate lawyer about the finer points of immigration law, I would not consult just any lawyer friend/relative, about intellectual property issues. Your mileage may vary, obviously.


Update the third: I’m leaving the links up, but the tweets are gone. (This will remind me to take screenshots.) Perhaps the author got cold feet, or received pseud0-legal threats from JB/TE’s camp, which would be true to form. If and when I have the text again, I’ll post images.


Courtney Milan chimes in–and a useful post at RWA about what to do when a publisher declares bankruptcy (caveat: gotta be an RWA member to see it)

20 Responses to “Ellora’s Cave: last gasp?”

  1. bamaclm 04/10/2016 at 2:15 PM #

    I found out about this on Facebook, because an author I follow commented on Lynne Connally’s post, which allowed me to see the thread. And I do thank you for posting also. It seems the places I used to get romance news *cough*DA/SBTB*cough* are out of the ‘news’ business. Or just plain scared to mention EC/TA/JB. 😉

    • azteclady 04/10/2016 at 2:32 PM #

      I could totally see how part of the settlement with EC was that DA stopped mentioning them altogether; as for SBTB, I never truly considered them publisher/news focused. Or at least, not once Candy left.

      These days, that blog doesn’t resemble the fearless community that broke the Cassie Edwards plagiarism scandal, in any way, shape, or form.

      Ah, well, I suppose everything must change and evolve (bah, humbug :shaking fist: )

      • bamaclm 04/10/2016 at 3:30 PM #

        I probably need some new blogs. DA never reviews anything I want to read and frankly is boring. As for SBTB, I don’t knit, don’t drink (so the cocktail recipes are lost on me) and reviews seem to be few and far between. Occasionally they do cover snark but I’ve seen no review snark a la Pregnesia(?)

        Any suggestions? (Besides your good self 😉 )

      • azteclady 04/10/2016 at 4:04 PM #

        I’m afraid I don’t have any that are publishing related… 😦

    • Julie B. 04/10/2016 at 8:31 PM #

      Maybe the romance news websites are waiting for Jan. 1, 2017 to write their EC articles/think pieces? Even Courtney Milan hasn’t say anything. And I agree wholeheartedly re: DA and SBTB changing and not for the better. I still check both, in case they suddenly become great again. I wonder if Jane decided to step back because of the author-email loop backlash?

      • azteclady 04/10/2016 at 8:43 PM #

        Welcome to my little corner of the intratubes, Julie.

        As to your comment: I think Courtney Milan stopped following #notchilled and all things Ellora’s Cave, after the great “Jane Litte is also Jen Frederick, and by the way, she’s been lying about it for years, and such” debacle. Which means, she may have not even heard about this yet; or that, even if she heard, she not have too many fucks to give about it either way.

        As far as DA goes, I think there was some sort of announcement a while back, that the blog was going to scale down (way down), because JL/JF had too many other commitments. Mind you, I am not sure where I got that from, so it may be one of those “memories of events that never happened” thing :shrug:

  2. Erin S. Burns 05/10/2016 at 12:41 AM #

    Well dang, I am not authorized to read those tweets. This has been a really strange year.

    • Deirdre 05/10/2016 at 1:47 AM #

      She deleted them. I have copies of the images, so I’ll be posting those.

      • azteclady 05/10/2016 at 3:45 AM #

        I wonder if she deleted her entire account; it’s not just the images of the letter that are gone, but all her comments to #notchilled.

      • Deirdre 06/10/2016 at 1:34 AM #

        She deleted quite a few of her (very small number of) tweets.

    • azteclady 05/10/2016 at 3:44 AM #

      Well, I’ll be–they are all gone!

  3. Lori 05/10/2016 at 1:45 AM #

    May Tina Engler rot in wherever one goes to rot.

  4. SuperWendy 06/10/2016 at 8:36 PM #

    It does seem odd that there hasn’t been more chatter about this. My guess is that we’re all still a bit stung over the Samhain-closing-oops-no-we’re-not-who-gave-you-that-idea? debacle. And I wouldn’t blame those authors stuck in limbo for not being more vocal. They’re probably all holding their breath praying that they finally get their rights back.

    • azteclady 06/10/2016 at 9:39 PM #

      Many of them are, yeah. There are others, however…

      I confess that I’m surprised at the people who still, despite all evidence, profess to believe that there’s some huge pile of money hidden somewhere abroad.

      If anything is quite evident, is that the people involved have no idea how to manage money. The very idea that they could have managed to set any money aside at any point, let alone enough money to retire to, say, the Caymans on their ill-gotten gains? Conspiracy theory territory.

  5. Amanda Brito 10/10/2016 at 3:40 PM #

    You know, I wondered what the conclusion of this would be. I’ve been busy with some IRL bullshit, but lurking and reading when possible. I’m glad that that it seems things will have closure for everyone. I think that’s the kindest thing I can say for TE, and I really do mean it.

    • azteclady 10/10/2016 at 3:56 PM #

      We can all hope. Best wishes for whatever IRL bullshit you are dealing with.

  6. LolaMontez2 01/05/2021 at 4:07 AM #

    My best friend wrote for Ellora’s Cave and their paperback division Cerridwen. Made some money for a while — the highlight of her life, being published! but then all the shenanigans, the bad publicity — she stopped being paid — promised paperback book distribution never happened! — she ended up being screwed over (and not in the sexy way) and was very bitter.

    She shared details of the scandals around Tina Ensler with me, back about 5-7 years ago. I think things were getting weird as long ago as 2008 or 2009, but the sh*t really hit the fan apparently between 2012-2014. Just so sad. This was how many aspiring writers first got published and expectations were so high … Tina (Jaid Black) and her “off-mainstream” success was praised to the moon for many years. All turned out to be a scam, so she could abscond to Hollywood to live the high life on her author’s money? a crazy-ass plot worthy of a noir novel, I think! but she hurt a butt-ton of people.

    BTW: my friend died last year (2020), and she never wrote another novel — the experiences with Ellora’s Cave was so embittering. Oh and never got her rights back, despite being A. promised and B. signing off on future royalties (horribly unfair). So her books and short stories were all lost in limbo…years and years of work.


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