Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Ellora's Cave and Me

So I haven’t spoken out about this mess before because I didn’t want to get caught up in the mudslinging but I think the time has come to tell MY Ellora’s Cave story.

My first book published with EC in 2003 and in that time I’ve seen a lot of turbulent periods come and go with this company. In fact, when I first joined them they were in the process of a major upheaval with the now owner of Samhain and admittedly, in the first few months I often wondered what the hell I had signed up to as bitter emails shot back and forth around the private loop and authors took their leave. But I hung on in there and things settled down.

I was proud to be counted with such a radical, genre-busting, women-centered publisher. I liked the fact that they were pushing boundaries in women’s fiction and romance. As someone whose books just qualified as steamy enough I counted myself very lucky to be a part of it. I went to my first RT Con using the royalties from that first book and was made to feel a part of something awesome even though traditional romance publishers and authors were looking down their noses at us since we wrote smut and were *GASP* E-PUBLISHED! The very thought!
We weren’t real writers. Or really published.

So years passed and now and again the waters would be muddied again and a lot of the time it did seem to happen when the lines between business and friendship or family were blurred and EC IS guilty of this. But to me it was and is a business so I always maintained a cordial relationship with TPTB. I was always paid on time and paid well and was happy to sing EC’s praises whenever anyone asked me about signing with them. My only issue was frequent changes of editor and really I wasn’t that bothered by it as I like to think I can work with most people and I am not a prolific writer and so it always happened between books.

Things started to change maybe 3 or 4 years ago. Sales started to drop, the books became more and more edgy it seemed to me that quality of the books decreased because they were releasing so many a week. People were let go mysteriously and rumors of poor treatment were starting to circulate but I was still happy to be there and had seen no evidence of it personally so I largely ignored it.

Maybe two years ago my sales had dropped so drastically that I started to question my books fit with EC. I was always a bit of a square peg anyway as I’m really not comfortable with writing very erotic stuff and I began to think about changing direction. Sometimes my cheques from EC were low enough that it almost COST me money to cash them because my bank charges me to convert from dollars to pounds. I started to become more interested in writing M/M and urban fantasy and those books didn’t tend to sell well at EC so I dipped my toes into self-publishing and started looking at other markets.

In spring of 2014 I attended RT and realized EC had no presence there, the rumors were gaining strength about financial problems there was an air of general dissatisfaction among the authors. Almost all of them, not just a few and there were some VERY surprising staff departures. People who I had thought were ‘in with the bricks’ to coin a term. I started to get worried. I had some discussions with other EC authors I trusted about the best course of action. I decided it was definitely time to change to change paths. I began to think about taking back my books from EC that were out of contract or just plain not selling enough to make it worth my while.

Romanticon rolled around. I was worried because there was speculation it would be called off due to financial difficulties and I had purchased non-refundable trans-Atlantic flights. TPTB were becoming a bit uncommunicative and that made the rumors and tension worse. There was talk of non-payment. And cheques WERE late but I was still being paid. Staff were being laid off. EC was taking some VERY bad press. I tried to stay positive and made my way to Ohio not sure what to expect when I got there. Large numbers of authors had dropped out. No one was saying anything but with price drops and social media pushes it was obvious attendance had dropped. TPTB announce they would have a staff/author meeting at Romanticon. I won’t go into detail of what was said because it was confidential but I did have some of my questions answered at that time and also in a private meeting with Patty Marks and another EC author. Not all of my misgivings were laid to rest though and I decided then it was definitely time I was taking my business in another direction. EC and I were no longer a good fit career-wise.

My last payment from them was for February/March 2015 at the time of this post and as it was for around $7 I didn’t cash it. There has been little to no communication from management about company issues this last year.

I have heard many stories of truly bad behavior by EC towards other authors and staff members and have been witness to some of it myself. I have also seen some bad behavior from authors and staff towards EC. So there is blame on both sides but certainly this past year I have to say that the bulk of it seems to lie at EC’s door and this makes me very sad indeed.

I want to stress I personally have never been treated unprofessionally by EC any time I have contacted them. They have always behaved in a business-like manner and have always been cordial and kind to me in person. They have held strictly to the terms of any contract I signed with them and since I SIGNED those contracts then I have no-one to answer to in that respect but myself.

I want to thank Ellora’s Cave for taking a chance on me in 2003 and for the years of learning and outright fun I have had with them. For the friends I have made who will last a lifetime and for fantastic experiences I would never have had if not for them. I hope that they can turn the business around because it would upset me greatly to see it die.
Cait Miller

P.S. A note about Romanticon. I WILL NOT stand for people trying to paint this convention with a filthy reputation. My experiences there meant a lot to me. Not to say it was perfect because people will always be people but it was never meant to be sordid as some described it. For more of what it meant to me look here: http://sizzlingscribes.blogspot.co.uk/2012/10/romanticon-2012.html

I forgot to say I am sorry to my readers. Every time someone asks when they will see the next Shifting Magic book my heart sinks a little more. Books 1 and 2 have been returned to me but the 3rd book in the series is still with Ellora's Cave and under the terms of the contract I cannot continue the series elsewhere until the rights for Trusting the Magic also return to me. Unless I want to send further books in the series to Ellora's Cave.
As things stand I cannot in all good conscience do that no matter how much I love that series so it will stand as a trilogy for now.
I hope you can forgive me.


  1. I agree with everything you've said, Cait. I was thrilled to sign on with EC back on 2012 and have met some wonderful people associated with them. I'm saddened by the downturn and wish things could have gone different but I'd never give up the experience or the friends I've made.

  2. Cait, you've said some wonderful things. If it wasn't for our time together with this publisher, I wouldn't have gotten such a fantastic friend as you.

  3. Thanks for your comments guys! I was unsure about making this statement but I needed to have my say. I will treasure the friendships I made through EC and hope we can all come out of this with a bit of sanity and dignity.

  4. Thank you for writing this. Also, best of luck about getting reversions on that third series book. I see that's your last remaining title with EC.