This morning I got a little curious.
Since–as you all know–I’ve been largely “offline” for some time (which actually means online, just not getting involved much in the writing/reading community), I haven’t seen any other reactions to the closing of Ellora’s Cave. I’d had a quick look before posting my own blog and hadn’t really seen anything. I decided this morning to have another look, and see what other reactions have been, if there are any. My own post about it the other day had been linked to a couple of times, so I figured I’d start there.
The first one I looked at was over at The Passive Voice, a blog I’m vaguely familiar with–I know I’ve read something there before, but it’s been some time. They basically just quoted the relevant parts of my post (i.e. the EC-related parts), which was, of course, perfectly fine.
But then I read the comments, where people were discussing unpaid royalties and, in a couple of cases, using disbelieving/sarcastic tones to ask where I’ve been the last few years or to sneer at my use of the word “feel” (as in “I know many people felt honestly cheated or betrayed”) because it wasn’t a feeling, some “feely-feeling,” it was fact, and they “don’t know how an EC author could not know…given EC’s principal carrying on all over the internet for at least two years…”
So let’s deal with this a point at a time.
First, I had no idea–absolutely no idea at all–that there were issues with royalties being unpaid. None. I had not heard of this or seen anything about it.
My own EC checks have for the last five years gone to a mail-forwarding service, and from there directly to someone who deposits them for me. I don’t see them. I don’t get the statements*. At some point late last year or early this year I started thinking about getting my rights back (with an eye toward publishing the omnibus I discussed here a few days ago) and made a mental note that I needed to contact EC about getting digital copies of those statements, to see if my books had fallen under the sales threshold for rights reversion. I never did get around to contacting them; I kept forgetting, basically. It wasn’t high on my to-do list.
*I’m sure there are now people reading this and wondering who the hell doesn’t look at her statements or bother with them. But the thing is, my last release with EC was 2008 or 2009–which was the last time I wrote or released a genre romance, btw. Those books weren’t exactly stuffing my bank account with fresh wads of cash at this point.
Which is why I didn’t really notice when those deposits stopped. I honestly forgot about them for a long while, and when it did occur to me, Hubs and I weren’t sure if there was an issue with our mail-forwarder–with whom communication has always been slow–or if checks were just not arriving. Given how low the royalties had fallen it seemed that it could be either. Checking on that went on our To-Do list and, like asking about sales numbers, fell by the wayside. (Things have been extremely busy here in the Kane household for the last year or so.)
I also didn’t pay attention to the rare group emails I got from EC; I skimmed one or two of them, I think, but since I was no longer “actively” publishing with them or writing in that genre, the emails didn’t seem relevant. I’d heard something about the EC/Dear Author lawsuit, but didn’t care, didn’t pay attention, and didn’t go to Dear Author or anywhere else to read whatever blog posts the case was apparently about. I knew it was a defamation suit, but beyond that I didn’t know the details. I still don’t, honestly.
I certainly wasn’t aware of anyone at EC “carrying on all over the internet,” in any way. The reason I wasn’t aware of this, or of any of the above, is because–as I said–I have not been involving myself in the online romance community. At all. For several years. (If you’d like to know why I deliberately removed myself from that online community, then really, the answer to that question is right here in this post.)
One of my publishers closed. It was a place where I had a good experience. I knew some authors didn’t have such great experiences, but all the stories I’d heard–this is all pre-2009, btw; seven fucking years ago–involved things like cover art or edits or personality conflicts. So I posted about how the house has closed, and it makes me personally a little sad because I had such great memories–but, being aware that not everyone had such great memories, I made sure to mention that I knew some people didn’t, that for some people this news was welcomed and celebrated, and that I was genuinely happy for them.
I’ve had issues with publishers myself, in the past. I’ve seen other authors have the same or different issues with publishers. One of the things I’ve always found upsetting and unpleasant about those situations is that, time and time again, when authors attempted to relate their experiences they were shouted down by others insisting that they were liars, that they “couldn’t accept editing,” that they were shills for other houses, that they were just jealous or pissed off about being rejected or any number of other accusations, and that House X was the greatest place on earth, one big happy family, they cared so much about their authors, and how dare some big mean poopyhead claim they were anything other than Messiahs with publishing software.
I didn’t want my post to seem that way, or like the experiences of other authors didn’t matter. So I made sure to mention that I knew some people felt they’d been treated badly and that not everyone had such fond memories. Again, the issues I was aware of were not misreported sales or missing royalty checks. Furthermore, to me, for the purpose of my post, the actual “facts” of these cases were far less relevant than the fact that the authors in question felt they’d been shabbily treated and betrayed.
I didn’t really care, for the purpose of my post, about the actual facts regarding whether Author B’s cover was truly shitty. What mattered to me was that Author B felt her cover was shitty, and did not get the support she expected from her publisher. I didn’t really care if Author Y’s editor was truly brusque or uncommunicative; what mattered to me was that Author Y felt that her editor was brusque and uncommunicative, and that made her feel marginalized, and she did not get the support she expected from her publisher. What mattered to me, also, was that since the details of those stories are now a tad fuzzy (since it’s been seven fucking years or so), I thought it was best not to give any details or even speak about them as if I knew all the facts, so it was best to simply acknowledge that some of my fellow authors had bad experiences which made them feel used/betrayed/cheated/whatever.
I didn’t want anyone to read my post and think I was looking back at EC as The House of Dreams, or that I was dismissing or just plain didn’t give a fuck that for some people, working with them had been a miserable, unhappy experience that they regretted. I wanted to make sure my post didn’t read as a defense of the company, but just as a brief personal note about my own personal experience.
So I wrote that. I said I knew some people felt they’d been mistreated, and that I did not want to erase those feelings/experiences but that I consider them valid. I said I didn’t believe that the publisher had been acting maliciously in the situations I’d heard of, but that didn’t change those people’s feelings or experiences, either. Nor did it mean their experiences or feelings were untrue, or that they were wrong.
It was intended to be supportive. It was intended to show those authors, if they happened to see it, that they and their experiences mattered, and that even though I had good memories of a good experience I hadn’t forgotten them. It was certainly not a defense of the company or all of its actions. It was certainly not intended as some kind of patronizing smirk at those whose experiences were not good or a dismissal of those experiences as mere “feelings.” It was certainly not intended as some sort of lip service, that I could afford to pay as I sat smug in the knowledge that I had my rights back so who gave a shit about anyone else? (For the record, I do not have my rights back.)
And it certainly was not intended to downplay or diminish an issue as serious as inaccurate royalty statements or unpaid royalties, for which there is no excuse or justification.