Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Ellora's Cave: The Gulf Between Doubt and Belief

13 January 2015

@ataglanceRMC found a blog post that I’d responded to in a drive-by three months ago, and I’d missed Jaid Black’s response to me until today.
I want to respond to part of her response here, though. Here’s the blog post.
Here’s part of my comment:

One point: others have said that their Amazon sales were NOT declining during the same period when EC’s Amazon sales were. Examples: posts 417, 418, and 420 from this thread:

And here’s part of Jaid’s response:

Deirdre, my impression of you is that of a person who deeply cares about her fellow authors. For that reason I respect you despite the fact you believe I’m guilty of doing pretty heinous things. You have good intentions, but then you know what they say about those…

For context, I was referencing this August 2014 letter from Ellora’s Cave CEO Patty Marks, excerpt:

You are probably aware of the quick, sharp decline of ebook sales via Amazon in recent months. EC is not the only publisher experiencing this sudden decrease, and interestingly, we are not seeing the same drastic dip from other vendors. But Amazon is our largest vendor, so we are having to make some fairly large changes quickly to deal with the situation until we can understand it and turn it around.

There’s a Difference Between Doubt and Belief

Essentially, what I was saying was this: Other people’s commentary about their experiences has given me reason to doubt EC’s statement.
Does it mean it’s not true? No, it does not.
Does it say anything about what I believe about anyone personally? No.
Because, you see, I’m a creature of doubt, not of belief. I find it farfetched to think I have any opinion about who Jaid is based on my point about Amazon. (There was another point about tax liens, but even the worst interpretation of that wouldn’t earn heinous as an adjective in my book.)
Had anyone asked, I could have thrown quite a few hypotheticals against the wall about how the Amazon situation could be true. Just for sport, here are a few speculations, off the top of my head:

  1. EC titles got caught in adult filtering changes that more adversely affected them compared to other publishers and indies referenced in that and other threads.
  2. EC’s contract terms with Amazon are less favorable to Amazon, so other results are filtered higher to make Amazon more profit.
  3. EC’s fulfillment has been a problem (as was alleged in the Borders lawsuit), thus Amazon has filtered other publishers higher.
  4. People who buy EC titles aren’t buying as many non-EC titles, so are less well-connected via “people who bought this also bought” results used for upsells, and the algorithm for calculating these changed in a way that was less favorable to EC.

None of those would mean I’d feel that Jaid Black was doing heinous things.

The Thing I Least Understand

Out of every single thing that has been said by EC that’s relevant to this whole legal case, here’s the statement that I least understand (emphasis mine, text also from the August Patty Marks letter quoted above):

It is also important to support and promote Barnes & Noble and All Romance Ebooks as well until we are able to determine the reasons for Amazon’s declining sales. Hopefully we will be able to work with Amazon to correct the inconsistencies quickly.

I’m a software engineer and a researcher. My entire career has revolved around analyzing problems and fixing potential future problems. Therefore, I just absolutely can’t understand why this hadn’t already been discovered and known.

Jaid Also Asked

Have you ever considered that you might be wrong, though?

It’s a fair question.
I’m one of those people who’s far more comfortable with many open questions than most people. On the Myers-Briggs types, Js like things planned out. Ps like things open. I’m 99% P. I like open questions.
The answer is: I question myself all the time. Since I hadn’t reached any conclusions about the truth in the EC matter, it’s hard to actually be wrong.
I tend to be very direct, and I’m not a person who means a lot above and beyond what I actually say. I was not, for example, implying that EC’s statement was a knowingly false statement. Or even a false statement.
More like: here’s a string sticking out, I think it leads to interesting questions.
My general feeling about Jaid is that she’s deeply motivated to make things work out given her background, and she’s not the kind of person to give up. These are admirable qualities, generally speaking, but (as every fiction writer knows) one’s strengths in one context can be one’s greatest weakness in another.

But No, Not Heinous

That would be Marion Zimmer Bradley.

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