When A Book Community Closes Ranks Against A Publisher #notchilled

Posted on 10/04/2014 in Discussion / 16 Comments

Ellora's Cave sues Dear AuthorAs you are aware, Ellora’s Cave, the major erotica e-publisher, sued Dear Author and it’s owner, Jane Litte under her given name for a blog article posted on September 14th, detailing all that is allegedly going wrong within the publishing house.  Jane cited her sources throughout the article and it appeared to be factual, and without malice. This lawsuit is unprecedented, at least as far as I know, because a publisher has never sued a book blogger before.  Book bloggers are not true journalists – or are we? – and we are not held to the same bar as, say, a news reporter, for example.  So our words seemingly hold less value individually.  But I’ll get to that in a minute. The EC/DA lawsuit was a very big “OH SHIT” moment among book bloggers.  Dear Author is a well-known romance blog and Jane Litte is regarded in the blogging and romance communities as intelligent and thoughtful, with her take-no-prisoners approach to books and community shenanigans alike.  If Jane Litte can be sued for reporting cited and factual evidence, what else can we as bloggers be sued for?  Negative reviews?  Discussing a badly behaving author?   Lawsuits like this one are used to silence those whom you do not agree with.  Why else would EC ask for the identity of commenters in Dear Author’s article?  So while it sometimes feels as though our words and posts fall on deaf ears (some more than others), it’s clear that they really don’t.  When a publisher can allege via a lawsuit that one blog has the power to bring them crashing down, we really have to take pause: how important is the book blogging community? Which brings me back to my main point:  our community is loud.  Maybe our words and voices hold less value on their own, but together we make noise and can be heard all over the world.  I found it fascinating that in the span of a few days, bloggers, cover artists, editors and authors alike closed rank against Ellora’s Cave.  Dare I say that I almost feel bad for Tina Engler; the very thing she said she was trying to squash (defamation), is exactly what she’s done to herself.  Regardless if she is right or wrong, no one will want anything to do with her or EC now.  They’ve handled this situation so poorly, how can they be trusted?  Gosh, Tina, I hope that bullet hole in your foot doesn’t hurt too badly. Susanna Kearsley, NY Times best selling author, said it best:

An attorney friend once told to me, “Those who are happy do nothing; those who are unhappy, litigate.”  If I was a betting woman, I’d guess that the financial troubles of the company, coupled with authors requesting their rights be reverted, makes for one unhappy owner.  And #notchilled certainly isn’t making her life better. In less than 36 hours, over $40,000 was donated to the Dear Author/Jane Litte Defense Fund.  I sat in awe of the #notchilled Twitter feed, watching as people threw support Jane’s way, talked about how their right to speak freely will not be infringed, but mostly, how they will not let a corporation bully one of their own.  Not only have boycotts of EC books begun, but – because the community wants to harm the authors as little as possible in all this – efforts are being made to purchase all non-EC books by EC authors.  Even a cover artist is offering artwork for free and/or discounted. UPDATE 10/6/14: In just 4 days, the fund has reached its $50,000 goal and donations are still coming in!  

There is a silver-lining to this issue.  If anything, it has brought the reading community even closer.

Tina Engler, you are not just fighting with Dear Author; you have stirred a hornet’s nest.  Good luck with that.


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Jennifer is both a book nerd and professional photographer. That means she lives in the fantasy world all the time, whether of her making, or someone else's. She collects books like the Duggar family collects kids, and began waiting for her Hogwarts letter at the tender age of 33.

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16 responses to “When A Book Community Closes Ranks Against A Publisher #notchilled

  1. Felicia The Geeky Blogger

    Yep! The fact is love, hate, or never heard of Jane or Dear Author this brought a community of authors, bloggers, and readers together. Beautiful thing to witness!

  2. I support Jane and DA 100% and have donated. My question (and worry): is the EC boycott going to be effective? Is it only a small number (relatively speaking) of blog followers who will stop buying books? Citizens of the online Romancelandia, so to speak. Because I’m not sure how many of the book buying public will even be aware of this issue. I hope lots are, but I’ve always had the impression that bloggers and their readers are a small, mostly closely knit community, who are a drop in the bucket of the national book buyers. I hope I’m wrong.

  3. Jennifer, Thank you for a well-thought out post and for providing the all-inclusive link. I’m beginning to pity Tina and fear that this sound a death knell for small presses. As an author, I know I can indie pub, but I want there to be as many outlets as possible — for my work and for books for me to read. Thanks again, Mitzi

    • I sort of feel bad for her, too. But not the way she’s feeling sorry for herself. When I asked her via Twitter why she wasn’t suing the sources Jane provided in her post, she blocked me. That is so telling. I think small presses can flourish, but the landscape is certainly changing, and some are more resistant than others. It would probably serve authors well to ask what the long-term strategies of a house are before signing any contracts with them. I think that’s a fair question, anyway.
      Jennifer @ BookShelfery’s latest thoughts >> When A Book Community Closes Ranks Against A Publisher #notchilled

  4. It makes me so, so proud to see the community responding not just in defense of Dear Author (sure, we’re journalists-ish, but with a right to an opinion!) but in an intelligent front of condemning EC but supporting EC authors. Not throwing the baby out with the bathwater, and all that. Well done, bookish community!
    Beth W’s latest thoughts >> October Goals

  5. Rick Moen

    Thank you for accentuating the one hopeful aspect of this otherwise bad situation, the care readers are taking to support authors and avoid penalising them. Excellent point. On the other bits: Nobody has yet been able to explain how Patty Marks or whoever’s really in charge of Ellora’s Cave could ever seriously expect this entire course of action to work out well for them. Antagonising vast numbers of readers, editors, and reviewers in such a truly epic, unprecedented, and rapid fashion would seem likely to leave a publisher with a cratered business model. And no, despite @Pubnt’s increasingly frenetic allegations to the contrary, this is not a creditable way to prepare a firm for buyout by some larger enterprise, either. The depressing explanation that most seems to match the facts is that there was never a creditable plan, that this was done without thinking through the consequences at all. And that is a horrible waste, which makes me feel more than a bit sorry for Ms. Engler and Ms. Marks, not to mention their remaining authors and editors. I hope something can be salvaged from the disaster that’s already happened, not to mention those that may be in the offing. Rick Moen rick@deirdre.net

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