They say when a door closes a window opens, which means that when something goes wrong, look for the silver lining and roll all your cliches up in one bundle and everything’s going to be all right. I was published with a publishing house which subsequently folded. In fact, I think I’ve gone through several…my first book was actually accepted and then never published because the company closed (kiss of death – that’s me). I went on to have two books published with Jacobyte Books in Australia – a wonderful small press; I was sad when they folded. I published Virtual Murder and Angels on Crusade with NovelBooks, Inc, which if anyone remembers, caused a huge scandal when it closed and now you can’t even find a sliver of a mention on the internet. After that, my books went to another short-lived publisher whose name is also long forgotten, and then there was Ellora’s Cave. Lesson Number One: Never give up. Follow those dreams!
I was, I think, author number 25 – I’ve been with them that long. In September 2002 I sent them my first book, A Grand Passion, and got an answer back 3 hours later – I was euphoric. There were three authors there, whose books I’d read, and I was such a fan…and now my book would be published next to theirs…it was an exciting time. It came out in November – and publishing with Ellora’s Cave kept on being exciting. I went through 3 or 4 editors, (all fantastic – shouts out to Allie, Martha, Ann, Mama Z – I can’t thank you enough.) Shouts out too for Jaid/Tina for starting the company and having the vision to carry it through. Lesson Number Two: a published book is a group effort.
I published 20 books with Ellora’s Cave – they all did well. I was never a top-level author (midlist I think describes me) but I was prolific and writing was fun. I had other jobs, so it wasn’t as if it was my main income. It was always something I did on the side, because I loved to write, because I had loads of ideas for books, so why not? Being a midlist author also meant I wasn’t hugely impacted when profits dwindled. It also meant I was never really in the middle of any flame wars with anyone or felt I had to complain all the time. Actually, as anyone who ever struggled to get published, had an agent (read my fabulous life as an author posts…) I was just happy to have a home for my books and a paycheck every now and then that paid for extra treats. Lesson Number Three: do not count on your royalties to pay your rent.
When things started to go south, it was when self-publishing hit the shelves and when Amazon suddenly decided it wanted to be the king of the block. The fact that other publishers opened that offered erotica was never a problem – in fact I liked the fact that I could submit my books to different publishers so I did, and my books are with about 6 different publishers now. I had the experience of publishers closing, so I always sort of had that in the back of my mind…Ellora’ Cave went through a rocky patch. I won’t deny it. It was mostly self publishing and Amazon that shook their foundations, but what really hurt was the glut of books on the market that forced publishers to lower prices to much they couldn’t recoup what it cost to edit a book and design a cover. To tell the truth, they still can’t. I was sad to see Ellora’s Cave close, but what worries me is the health of other publishers. Lesson Number Four: Shit happens, no matter what. Grow a sense of humor, read “Zen and the Art of Archery”.
I ran a small press for almost ten years. It was back-breaking work, for next to no gain. We had terrific authors, a wonderful editor, nice covers, a good website, and a shopping cart. All that cost money. We asked our authors to promote themselves as much as possible, because an ebook is best served by online promotion. After ten years we gave the rights back to our authors and regretfully closed shop. It was impossible to deal with Amazon, Barn’s & Noble, and with the other online ebook dealers which all took percentages of our sales. Then there was Fictionwise, an online bookshop that folded just when they were actually starting to go somewhere…I believe they were bought out by B&N – the giants stomped over everything. We were a tiny set-up with three people working – what chance did we have? And seeing that, I realized that Ellora’s Cave had no chance either. Prices dropped, quality dropped, and I think the company may have gotten into a few too many lawsuits that ate up profits. Lesson Number Five: The bodies of your enemies will float by you as you meditate upon the banks of the River Styx. (A mashup of several wise Sayings – not bad for a dyslexic, I think.)
So what now? I sent in my note asking for my rights back. I waived the right to ask for non-paid back royalties. I think it’s best to wipe the slate clean and start anew. I’m not angry, but I am a little sad. There were some very good times back in the heyday of Ellora’s Cave publishing. But this makes publisher number four that’s closed on me – it’s deja-vu. So the door closes. A window opens somewhere, I hope. At any rate, I’ll dust off the books and send them out to other publishers. We’ll see what happens! Lesson Number Six: There are no endings, just sequels.