Coronavirus playlist of songs from my Apple Music library that are among my favorites, in no particular order except for the first song. I love the social distancing and, of course, the two goofballs (Ringo Starr and Harry Nilsson) in the video.
In 2014, I signed up as an artist with Zazzle. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve never really put in a lot of elbow grease onto that site as I vastly prefer Redbubble and Society6.
One of Zazzle’s terms is that they won’t pay royalties if the amount’s under $50. New rule: if a company accepts orders for smaller than they will pay in royalties, they are looking to make bank off the artists, not their customers.
The $23.58 of royalties I’ve accrued were earned in 2014 to 2016, and they still have that money. Then, to add insult to injury, they send the following missive today:
Zazzle’s marketplace has evolved so much since its inception, and now our User Agreement and Policies are evolving, too!
Starting on April 1, 2019, Zazzle will have a new User Agreement, and one of the new elements is a push for an even more involved, invested community! As part of this push, accounts that have been non-contributing (that is, haven’t either (1) published a public product, or (2) had a Referral Sale attributed to that account) for the previous 15 month period will be charged a “Non-Contributing Account Fee.”
You are receiving this message because, unfortunately, we haven’t seen any new products or referrals from you in a long while! We really miss you and would much rather have you back, adding beautiful content to the Zazzle marketplace! So, before the last day of this month, if you upload a new product and publish it to the marketplace, or have a Referral Sale attributed to your account, your account will be deemed “contributing” again for the next 15 months, and you can ignore this message.
If you’re not able to get your account to “contributing” status again before the last day of this month, we’ll charge the Non-Contributing Account Fee, according to the terms of the new User Agreement (which is posted here) on or around April 1st. For more details, you can also check out this help center article.
So, I can give them my labor…or more of my money. How about neither? Just send my balance due via PayPal. You’ve enjoyed it long enough.
I know a lot of you know I love my volcanoes, though I don’t love the human trauma they cause. Lately, I’ve been watching the developments in Fissure 8, which first took over half of Leilani Estates and then pressed onward to the sea, taking out several hundred more homes in the process.
In the last couple of weeks, the flow has become less intense than shown above, and I’m hopeful that the flow will wane to a tolerable new normal before taking out more houses. That’s good, because there’s already been about 450 million cubic meters of lava flowing through the system.
I’ve honestly been glued to the volcano footage since it first started showing up on YouTube, preferring small channels that would go through the neighborhood like Apau Hawaii Tours. Later on, I added a couple more channels, the best of which is H.I.S. Survival.
What’s interesting to me is the human impact: going to bed and waking up with the sky a brilliant red all night. Friends losing their homes after previously getting a reprieve. Not to mention the heartbreaking tales of people whose houses are still standing but unoccupiable, but who don’t qualify for FEMA assistance because their houses are still standing.
Video and screenshot photo credit: USGS, screencap by me from their video.
Romance house Samhain Publishing is closing on February 28th, so now’s a great time to ensure that you’ve downloaded copies of all the purchases you’ve made directly from their site.
Here’s their announcement:
Greetings, Samhain Readers.
It’s with a heavy heart that we announce Samhain Publishing will be closing at the end of February. Due to the declining sales we’ve been experiencing with this changing market we’ve come to the sad conclusion it’s time to call it a day.
The last of our new titles launch February 21st; I hope you will check them out and support them as you have so many other Samhain titles through the years.”
Our site will go dark at the end of the day, February 28th. Please take a few moments and visit, buy what you might have been planning on getting someday in the future, but download and back up your bookshelf because you won’t have access to it after February 28th.
Thank you for all your support through the eleven years we’ve been open. It’s been a pleasure to bring to market new voices in publishing and new works from familiar authors. From start to finish, we’ve always kept what the reader wants in mind and hope you enjoyed what we had to offer.
This really saddens me as Samhain was one of my very favorite houses. I’ve read between 1/4 and 1/3 of their total titles.
I know that the “We’re closing, no we’re not, why would you even say that” from last year was really tough on Samhain authors. Because of that, Samhain lost a ton of prestige with them, which led to established (and financially successful for Samhain) authors not submitting more books, which kind of snowballed the end. If they hadn’t screwed it up last year, I doubt they’d be closing this quickly.
Reminder: Ellora’s Cave has rebranded as EC for Books, so all posts will contain both the old and new branding in the first paragraph for a while.
Since last October, EC for Books/Ellora’s Cave has completely reverted two New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Authors: Amanda Ashley and Lora Leigh.
But one of the reasons it’s not easy to say how many authors or books there are, exactly, is the error rate in the metadata for things like: what authors’ names are, what the title of the book is, when it was published, and so on.
Also, farther down, I’ll share spreadsheets of both the All Romance eBooks parsed data as well as the Amazon data I have, which will help both authors and Ellora’s Cave/EC for Books verify their data.
The Metadata Mess
First, I’d expect the number of books a publisher has for sale on two domestic markets to differ by less than 1%. Yet, when Amazon’s showing 2,744 books (with two different publisher names) and ARe is showing 2,929 on the same date, that’s closer to 6.3%…and that’s just the error rate for the number of titles.
The Author Whose Name Is Sometimes Wrong
As someone with a weird name, I feel for Melani Blazer. She first showed up on Ellora’s Cave’s site in 2004, back when her name was correctly spelled. Same in 2013. Since the new site, however, it’s been Melanie.
Reverted Title Still In Print Because of Author Name Typo?
EC author Ann Jacobs has had a number of titles revert. One of those titles is Perfect Master, a title that reportedly reverted to Ann in October of last year.
Here’s a screenshot I just made on All Romance eBooks, showing Ellora’s Cave is still publishing that title.
Instead of looking for both the author name and the title, someone may have quickly checked the author name, didn’t see the book, and didn’t flag it for reversion. But because the name was incorrectly entered, the book was missed.
Other Mis-Entered Names
There are a number of mis-entered names, and here are a few: Calista Arman (should be two Ls), Rhyannon Bryd (Byrd), Nora-Jean Perkin (should be Perkins), Moffitt. Jody (Jody Moffitt), Sierra Summer (Sierra Summers), and Jayme Whitfield (Jayme Whitefield).
Ellora’s Cave: Partying Like it’s 1969
Here’s another issue that happens with All Romance eBooks—quirky date fields. I believe that there are a number of books where the publication date is null, and therefore appears as a publication date of December 31, 1969.
An anthology published on October 28, 2015 (where one Laurann Dohner story in it reverted at the end of March) is still being published on iBooks with that weird publication date.
I’ve seen things like this happen before where the title being pushed from ARe (as EC does) doesn’t get pulled upon reversion if the date is broken. There are somewhere around 2-3 dozen books for which this is true. (Because iBooks searching is peculiar and API search results don’t return a publisher name (!), it’s hard to verify if these are all EC’s errors. I don’t care enough to scrape every title on ARe.)
Multiple Copies of the Same Book Released
Then there are multiple versions of the same thing.
ARe has both this version of Barbara Sheridan’s Bittersweet Surrender as well as this version of the same book—with no cover, but with exactly 10,000 extra words at the same price, if the metadata is to be believed.
Then there’s the late Charlotte Boyett-Compo’s Desert Wind (WindWorld) at $0.99 vs. WindWorld: Desert Wind at a heart-stopping $13.98. See also N.D. Hansen-Hil’s Gilded Folly vs. Gilded Folly, also at a heart-stopping price. And Jeanne Savery’s Runaway Scandal vs. Runaway Scandal. And Charlene Teglia’s Yule Be Mine vs. Yule Be Mine.
In other words, even though ARe lists 2,929 books for sale, there are somewhat fewer actual books for sale (2,917 books, actually), and some of those should not be for sale.
All Romance eBooks to iBooks: Recommend Draft2Digital Instead
One thing I’ve noticed, and not just looking at Ellora’s Cave’s books: the connection between All Romance eBooks and iBooks appears to be somewhat fragile.
For Ellora’s Cave, this means that a significant chunk of their top-selling titles never made it to iBooks, including at least three Laurann Dohner titles. So, for someone who shops via iBooks on a regular basis, these books simply do not exist.
Therefore, if you’re an indie publisher, I’d highly suggest you push to iBooks via Draft2Digital instead of ARe. iBooks is fussy, and D2D has far better error handling with fewer failure rates.
EC for Books / Ellora’s Cave Author and Book Attrition
Book Counts by Source
|ARe||3,089||2,984||2,929 (per ARe)
(April as of April 11. May as of May 16 and 22. June as of June 1.)
Author Counts by Source
|Source||April Author Count||May Author Count||June Author Count|
EC for Books
|My Data||763 (current)
(April as of April 11. May as of May 16 and 22. June as of June 1. Also note that the Total Authors will not decrease as it’s the total of all time.)
Data for You
All Romance eBooks Ellora’s Cave/EC for Books Data
Here is the spreadsheet listing Ellora’s Cave’s titles on All Romance eBooks. It’s readable by anyone, but it’ll make it easier for you to search and verify that any titles that should be reverted are in fact reverted.
This is scraped straight off of ARe’s pages, so there’s been no post-processing to normalize the data.
Amazon Ellora’s Cave/EC for Books Data
Here is the spreadsheet listing all current known Ellora’s Cave titles on Amazon. Note: it’s impossible to query all books, and there are quirks with books that have a zero price or are suspended from sale (and there are both kinds of books). If you know of an EC e-book available on Amazon that’s not on this list, I’d love to hear about it. (Not interested in print, as those are all effectively reprints.)
The Amazon data is post-processed and normalizes all known author name variations and title variations. Note that the author list for a given book matches (I hope) the current Amazon data for that book, but it may not match the cover, table of contents, or royalty statements.
iBooks Ellora’s Cave/EC for Books Data
I have done the import, but I screwed up my first run, so I need to fix the rest of that before I release that info. I’ll likely update this post rather than create a whole new post.
New Naughty Literati Anthology
In happier news, today’s the release date for Naughty Literati’s Naughty Heatwave, a boxed set of quite a few romance authors including former Ellora’s Cave authors. You can read more about it here or purchase directly from these links: Amazon Kindle, Amazon print, iBooks, Kobo, Nook, Google Play, or All Romance eBooks.
Ellora’s Cave has rebranded as EC for Books, so I’ll be using that in my headers from now on. I will keep the header graphic as it was, though. I’m torn about the rebranding for two reasons: often, a rebranding for a troubled company signals a new direction that only hastens its demise, especially in the tech world. On the flipside, the Ellora Caves are a sacred site in India, and it would be nice to let them have their google-fu back.
May has some interesting updates, so here’s a summary of them:
- EC for Books’s lawyer, Steven Mastrantonio, sent a letter to the Romance Writers of America (RWA).
- More Ellora’s Cave/EC for Books author attrition since last month.
- Some forthcoming reversions.
- Susan Spann and the #PubLaw hashtag.
Steven Mastrantonio’s Letter to Romance Writers of America
I’d heard excerpts of this letter for a couple of days, but hadn’t seen the whole letter until Jan Springer posted it yesterday. Because of questions surrounding one paragraph, I didn’t want to post until I’d read the whole thing.
Allison Kelley, CAE | Executive Director
RWA has no standing in relation to contracts between authors and Ellora’s Cave. Therefore, RWA’s role is limited to advocating for fair treatment of authors, and RWA has been in correspondence with Ellora’s Cave, repeatedly, regarding allegations that Ellora’s Cave has failed to make payments due and failed to revert rights to authors.
Contracts offered by Ellora’s Cave Publishing state “Publisher shall pay Author royalties in accordance with a schedule to be determined at Publisher’s discretion but in no event shall payment be made less frequently than three (3) calendar months.” The problem with this clause is the lack of specified period for which royalties will be paid. RWA continues to receive complaints from authors who report they have not received royalty statements or payments for many months.
Several authors who contacted the publisher about missing payments and have requested their rights be reverted have received the following response from Ellora’s Cave:
Dear author or agent,
I’m sorry, you have misinterpreted the contract the author chose to sign. Breach of clause 16 regarding royalties payments (or any other contract clause) does not void the contract nor revert book rights to you. When a contract is breached, the party claiming breach has the option of waiting for the other party to correct the situation or may pursue legal action to gain correction of the situation. In such case, the court would typically set a deadline by which time the situation must be corrected (“cured”), and if not corrected the court would decide on further action.
The only conditions set forth in the contract for reversion of rights are in clause 1.1. If your book qualifies (meets all the conditions listed), you may send a request for reversion of rights, stating it is based on clause 1.1.
Therefore your request for reversion of rights is not granted. Ellora’s Cave continues to hold all publishing rights to the contracted books. The author has no rights to distribute or sell these books in any format or channels.
I am sorry, we in Contracts have no information on royalties payments. We can only advise you to email Royalties@ellorascave.com.
In September 2015, RWA contacted Patty Marks who admitted “currently we are not as up to date with royalties as we want to be and will be,” and added that the company is trying to catch up.
Failure to pay authors in a timely manner is a violation of RWA’s Code of Ethics for Industry Professionals. Violations of this Industry Professional Code of Ethics may result in loss of privileges such as (but not limited to) listing in Market and Agent Updates, participation in workshops and pitch sessions, and the opportunity to advertise in RWA’s publications.
Allison Kelley notified Ms. Marks in September 2015 that Ellora’s Cave must refrain from contacting members or chapters regarding new submissions and refrain from participation in any RWA or chapter event until the company has achieved satisfactory resolution of the Code of Ethics violation.
Ellora’s Cave continues to be banned from RWA programs and services.
RWA has repeatedly contacted management at Ellora’s Cave to demand payment to authors. RWA has also requested that the publisher revert rights if it is unable to pay authors in full. The response we received was a letter signed by Steve Mastrantonio, attorney for Ellora’s Cave, in which he states, “any premature comment by RWA that Ellora’s Cave is in breach of their agreements is reckless, false and Defamatory.” Mr. Mastrantonio asserts that Ellora’s Cave is paying authors as it should, and “any false comments by RWA to harm his clients reputation will be dealt with in a forceful manner.”
Further actions considered:
There is little anyone can do without proof. In September 2015, Allison Kelley contacted an auditor who specializes in royalty reviews to get an idea of what would be involved in order for the board to consider funding an audit.
The following challenges were identified:
- An audit would not be comprehensive—RWA could provide funding (in the form of a grant) to conduct audit/s for one or two author/s who requested to have earnings audited.
- Accounting records maintained by Ellora’s Cave would have to be auditable. In the past, RWA funded an audit, and all we learned was that the publisher did not follow any kind of standard bookkeeping or accounting practices. Sales were difficult to determine, so there was no way to prove if royalties had been paid properly or not.
- We saw how vigorously the attorneys for Ellora’s Cave fought to keep the books from being audited during the lawsuit against Jane Litte.
RWA also requested legal advice related to authors’ rights to cancel agreements for ongoing uncured breaches of contract. We were told the issue would depend on Ohio state law, and the likelihood of success would depend on the outcome of an audit. Again, RWA has no standing to conduct an audit, and audits can only be done upon author request, and the findings would apply to authors whose earning had been audited.
The remainder of the letter was the RWA’s policies on use of funds, which can be seen in Jan Springer’s post.
What people were questioning was this phrasing:
In the past, RWA funded an audit, and all we learned was that the publisher did not follow any kind of standard bookkeeping or accounting practices. Sales were difficult to determine, so there was no way to prove if royalties had been paid properly or not.
I don’t believe this was about Ellora’s Cave/EC for Books, but rather another publisher. I don’t know which one, though.
Allison Kelley shared this with someone and I was given the okay to share.
I have no idea if the accounting records at Ellora’s Cave are kept in compliance with GAAP and are up-to-date. Hopefully, they are. The comment cited below pertains to another publisher. I felt I had to include that disclaimer so authors would be aware that audits do not always yield the information desired.
Where “cited below” in this case means the one I quoted above and commented on.
EC for Books / Ellora’s Cave Author and Book Attrition
Book Counts by Source
|Source||April Book Count||May Book Count||Net Change|
(April as of April 11. May as of May 16 and 22.)
Author Counts by Source
|Source||April Author Count||May Author Count||Net Change|
EC for Books
|My Data||763 (current)
(April as of April 11. May as of May 16 and 22. Also note that the Total Authors will not decrease as it’s the total of all time.)
Ellora’s Cave Forthcoming Reversions
Some authors received notice that they’d have stories reverting that appeared in anthologies, including the caveman anthologies. (I’m not certain if that’s all anthologies, especially since EC has some new ones out.)
The reason for the difference between Ellora’s Cave author counts and my data are simply that EC has already removed some authors from their site where their last EC books are mid-reversion. However, some of those authors may still have books available on Amazon and/or All Romance E-Books.
If Ellora’s Cave/EC for Books reverts all anthologies except those published this or last year, that will drop their author counts by 153 authors. This isn’t a bad thing, though, because paying royalties for multi-author volumes chews up a lot of staff time that could be better used for, say, writing checks.
Susan Spann and the #PubLaw Hashtag
Susan Spann’s a publishing attorney who posts about legal issues and publishing law. I just found her feed today, so I’m going through her feed, but this is one of the things she’s gotten the idea for because of claims like those of Ellora’s Cave’s/EC for Books’s authors.
Incidentally: language letting the author terminate if payments are 60+ days late is a new clause, but one I think we need to see. #PubLaw
— Susan Spann (@SusanSpann) May 22, 2016
And perhaps her most salient point:
Remember: having NO publisher is far, far better than having a publisher you regret signing with. Don't get impatient. Be smart. #Publaw
— Susan Spann (@SusanSpann) May 22, 2016
If you’re looking into traditional publishing (and I’m lumping in digital first here), she’s got a lot of eye-opening content that could be useful to you.
Launch Party for EC for Books Author Kerri Zane
Kerri Zane is one of the new EC for books authors; her first book with them came out this month. Here’s a profile of her launch party at a Porsche dealership in Beverly Hills.
It’s unknown how much, if any, EC for Books contributed to fund this launch party.
Recently, the US government sued North Carolina over HB2, the restroom bill. I found that the section that describes transgender people remarkably enlightened, and included things that I hadn’t known until entirely too recently. Thus, I’ve included paragraphs 30-42 from the court filing here. (Link to original document.)
- Individuals are typically assigned a sex on their birth certificate solely on the basis of the appearance of the external genitalia at birth. Additional aspects of sex (for example, chromosomal makeup) typically are not assessed and considered at the time of birth, except in cases of infants born with ambiguous genitalia.
- An individual’s “sex” consists of multiple factors, which may not always be in alignment. Among those factors are hormones, external genitalia, internal reproductive organs, chromosomes, and gender identity, which is an individual’s internal sense of being male or female.
- For individuals who have aspects of their sex that are not in alignment, the person’s gender identity is the primary factor in terms of establishing that person’s sex. External genitalia are, therefore, but one component of sex and not always determinative of a person’s sex.
- Although there is not yet one definitive explanation for what determines gender identity, biological factors, most notably sexual differentiation in the brain, have a role in gender identity development.
- Transgender individuals are individuals who have a gender identity that does not match the sex they were assigned at birth. A transgender man’s sex is male and a transgender woman’s sex is female.
- A transgender individual may begin to assert a gender identity inconsistent with their sex assigned at birth at any time from early childhood through adulthood. The decision by transgender individuals to assert their gender identity publicly is a deeply personal one that is made by the individual, often in consultation with family, medical and health care providers, and others.
- Gender identity is innate and external efforts to change a person’s gender identity can be harmful to a person’s health and well-being.
- Gender identity and transgender status are inextricably linked to one’s sex and are sex-related characteristics.
- Most states authorize changing the sex marker on one’s birth certificate, but the requirements for doing so vary and are often onerous. Specifically, many states require surgical procedures. At least one state does not allow persons to change the sex marker on their birth certificates.
- Individuals born in North Carolina must have proof of certain surgeries, such as “sex reassignment surgery,” in order to change the sex marker on their birth certificates. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 130A-118(b)(4).
- Surgery related to gender transitioning is generally unavailable to children under age 18.
- In addition, the great majority of transgender individuals do not have surgery as part of their gender transition. Determinations about such surgery are decisions about medical care made by physicians and patients on an individual basis. For some, health-related conditions or other medical criteria counsel against invasive surgery. For others, the high cost of surgical procedures, which are often excluded from health insurance coverage, present an insurmountable barrier.
- Standards of medical care for surgery related to gender transitioning generally advise that transgender individuals present consistent with their gender identity on a day-to-day basis across all settings of life, including in bathrooms and changing facilities at school and at work, for a significant time period prior to undergoing surgery.
BayCon Guests of Honor
Writer Guest of Honor: David Gerrold
Artist Guest of Honor: Chris Butler, F.R.A.S
Fan Guest of Honor: Anastasia Hunter
Toastmasters: Library Bards
BayCon’s charity this year is SETI Institute.
My BayCon Schedule
I’m on two panels, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.
The good, The Bad, And The WTF of Cover Art
Saturday, May 28 2:30 pm, Connect 1
Forget judging the book by its cover, sometimes you can’t even identify it. Our panelists discuss highs and lows and just plain weird in the world of cover art.
Sunday, May 29 11:30 am, Connect 1
Methods for making the most creative and effective use of WordPress.
Tyler Glenn just released a new song and video, “Trash.” Tyler’s a gay Mormon who had a faith crisis after the LGBT policy change last November. One of the things that most fascinates me is why people leave faiths, and the process people go through, as it’s usually a difficult change that upends a significant part of their lives.
An excerpt from the Rolling Stone piece by Brittany Spanos about his new song and recent life:
At the time Glenn came out in 2014, he was still a believer in the Mormon church, having been raised in the faith, gone on a mission and continued to be a member of the community in Salt Lake City, where he remains. “I always tried to make being gay and being Mormon work,” he says. Glenn had hoped he’d become an ambassador to his church on behalf of more progressive views, until the church confirmed that they would excommunicate members who participated in same-sex relationships. Now, he sees himself as a different kind of ambassador.
“The big problem here is that they claim it’s the only truth,” he says. “There have been over 40 suicides within the church as a result of this policy. These aren’t just grown men and women. Many are children. It’s backwards. It’s not of God. I needed to make this statement to artfully show the pain of a faith crisis and the darkness of doubt, but also that there’s ways to reclaim what is yours.”
One commenter said, “I haven’t witnessed this much righteous anger and passion in a song since Hozier’s ‘Take Me To Church.’”
Part of Tyler’s situation is that several months ago, a fifth definition of apostasy was added to the LDS Handbook of Instructions, section 6.7.3. Note that it’s numbered item 4 even though it was added fifth:
…[A]postasy refers to members who:
4) Are in a same-gender marriage.
Priesthood leaders must take disciplinary action against apostates to protect Church members. […]
Tyler hasn’t resigned, and he’s likely to be excommunicated for a combination of his song and his recent Mormon Stories podcast (linked below). As an example of recent LDS church actions, Bruce Holt was reportedly excommunicated for this single FB post. (more context here)
Tyler said in this interview:
“No, and I won’t resign,” he said. “I think it’s important if they decide to excommunicate me, that they do it in the proper way… I want to see change. I don’t hate the Mormon church, I’m really upset with the system and the idea that they claim it’s from God.”
Video’s here in the Rolling Stone Interview.
For those of you who are LDS and who may be offended by the above video, you may also watch David A. Bednar’s “Choose Not To Be Offended talk on LDS.org.
Tyler Glenn’s Mormon Stories Podcast Episodes
John Dehlin, founder of the Mormon Stories podcast, did a several hour episode (in three parts) with Tyler Glenn recently.
It’s one of the few episodes I’ve listened to in full, and it really talks about what it’s like to be fully in and then have the door slammed in your face like Tyler did last November.
My Interest in Tyler’s Story
As a Californian, one of the things that’s angered me since 2008 is the participation from Mormons in Utah (and the LDS church itself) in passing Prop 8. Back then, Rick wrote an essay on why—even if you agreed that gays shouldn’t marry—it was so difficult to clearly define “male” and “female.” Sex biology is far more complex than most people realize.
Those of us who are LGBT/QUILTBAG or allies are quite horrified about some of the stories coming out about LGBT Mormons and the struggles they face. Earlier this month, 22-year-old Lincoln Parkin took his life. I was heartened to discover people like Virginia, a commenter on the above story:
We are mormons too and I have two gay children who are one of the most wonderful people I know. I thank God everyday for giving them to me. We are 100% behind them for support and love. They are God’s children too. I hope that people can give unconditional love like Jesus did.
If you know LGBT Mormons, or Mormons who have LGBT family, it’s a good time to help ensure that those in faith crises know there are people there who care. People growing up, especially in the Morridor where Mormons are a high percentage of the population and therefore, given LDS values about LGBT people, may not have adequate support systems in place.
Other LGBT Mormon Stories Episodes
Other Mormon Stories podcast episodes featuring other LGBT Mormons and their stories. Note: some of these have some truly dark times in them, and several discuss suicide ideation or attempts.)
- Alex Cooper talks about surviving reparative therapy.
- Elizabeth Grimshaw talks about the threat of excommunication for being married to her wife.
- Two musicians, Mindy Gledhill discusses learning to become an LGBT ally while Dustin Gledhill discusses his own struggles with his orientation and his dark times. In particular, I love their new pop collaboration video in the post.
- Michael Adam Ferguson and J Seth Anderson were Utah’s first legally married in Utah same-sex couple.
- Taylor and Sean Knuth-Bishop discuss their excommunication for being a legally married same-sex couple.
- Clark Johnsen talks about coming out as a Mormon…and then going on to join the Book of Mormon cast in its initial Broadway run. Very funny episode. One of the things he talks about is how he did try a relationship with a woman and tried to make it work despite being gay, and how there continued to be a greater and greater disconnect between this woman he cared about as a friend and her expectations about what would happen if they married, and how he couldn’t take that step to being engaged because he felt it was fundamentally unfair for both of them.
- The Abhau family discusses the struggles within the LDS community of raising a gay teen.
- John Dehlin’s TEDx talk about being an LGBT ally. This is a fantastic talk.
- John Hamer discusses leaving the LDS church and discovering the Community of Christ, an early Mormon offshoot that is far more tolerant of LGBT people (and women). CoC follows the traditions of Joseph Smith ||| and rejects Brigham Young. It’s the second largest sect in Mormonism. Dozens more are listed here.
- More stories linked from here.
There is also the Gay Mormon Stories podcast.
- First quarter publications update;
- A bigger look at historical author counts;
- A comparison of author and book counts on various plaforms (tl;dr: they don’t agree!)
- Tons more!
One of the reasons I went to this effort was that there’d been something nagging at me over the months. From one of EC’s filings in the Dear Author case, Patty Marks declared:
7) […] In the first eight and a half (8 1/2) months of 2014, prior to Lampe’s bankruptcy scare, Ellora’s Cave had a total of 154 books go out of print for various reasons—mostly sales below threshold for rights reversions. In the twelve days between Lampe’s defamatory blog [post] and the filing of this suit, Ellora’s Cave had requests for reversion of 404 titles.
8) Since Lampe’s defamatory blog, Ellora’s Cave has reverted over 1250 more titles and still have requests that they are working on. In the one year since the defamatory post, Plaintiff has had almost double the number of rights reversions than it has had in its entire previous 14-year history. […]
I could see this as a word problem where the problem is phrased to carefully skate around holes in the data proffered, e.g.:
- How many reversion requests were there pre-TCCoEC (“The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave” published September, 2014) in 2014?
- What percentage of the 404 requests immediately post-TCCoEC were for books below reversion threshold? If all or most of them, then there was no damage.
- How much did Ellora’s Cave make off selling rights reversions? (Because I’m betting that the 404 and 1250 numbers included those, and if the price was right on those, there was no damage.)
- What percentage of EC’s total catalog did the 154, 404, and 1250 numbers comprise?
It was the 1250 that stuck with me. Ellora’s Cave had published around 500 books (thumbnail I had) over the prior year, so 1250 would be 2-1/2 years of work. Based on the assumption that they’d very recently hit their peak (in 2012 and 2013, then there was the 2014 reported Amazon sales drop), I expected that other years would have fewer books published.
That expectation turned out to be in error on my part…which I’ll get to after I update the usual.
Essentially, I sucked in publicly available data from various sources.
- Archive.org scrapes of EC’s site from various time periods, including when EC’s site was on Jasmine Jade (dot com).
- Ellora’s Cave’s site for more recent time periods.
- Fictiondb’s publisher series pages.
- All Romance Ebooks.
Historical Author Counts
Up until now, I’ve only had author counts going back to 2013. Before then, Ellora’s Cave’s site was different, and was hosted for years on jasminejade dot com rather than ellorascave dot com.
Thanks to archive.org, I’ve got author counts going back to early 2004.
A bit later, I show that the current active (per Amazon) data is 737 authors, so Ellora’s Cave has lost nearly 200 authors since the peak screen grab in September 2014, back when it claimed EC had 933 authors in print.
This last month, EC published three new authors, bringing Ellora’s Cave to a total of seven new authors published this year.
Summary of the differences between my author numbers and Ellora’s Cave’s:
- I count 22 authors from in-print Amazon ebooks who are not included on EC’s site. One of them is Tia Isabella, a pseudonym of Tina Engler’s.
- Ellora’s Cave’s site shows 42 people whose only books are paperbacks, or paperbacks and ebooks (and the ebooks are not on Amazon), or no books at all. All but a handful are authors whose books are in the process of reverting.
- The remaining differences are data issues of various kinds:
- Not all authors are listed on multi-author books on Amazon. Notably, the 72-story boxed sets of Cavemen stories show one author each.
- In cases where all authors are listed on multi-author books, not all authors of those books are listed on EC’s site. Example: Doreen DeSalvo.
- Author is new to EC and doesn’t yet have books on Amazon (or EC’s site for that matter).
- Author is listed more than once on EC’s site.
Book Releases Over Time
As far as books published, here are the updates to two charts I’ve provided in the past:
But now I also have all the information for books I vacuumed in from various sources named up top.
DISCLAIMER: This is based upon limited information. If anything, the numbers pre-2012 are artificially low. And yes, there really was a ginormous spike in November 2009; Amazon data shows EC has at least 920 ebooks with a release date or publication date of November 1, 2009.
That said, according to the information I have, Ellora’s Cave published fewer books last quarter than they have since at least Q1 2004.
(Note that these numbers exclude known reprints, and therefore I’m looking at ebooks only, as Ellora’s Cave is a digital-first publisher.)
From this, my initial intuition was incorrect: 2012-13 were not the best years of Ellora’s Cave in terms of number of books published.
Excluding the anomaly quarter (Q4 ’09), the highest number of books per quarter appears to be Q3 ’10, when 191 books were published. After Q1 2012 (when Fifty Shades of Grey came out in ebook form and first hit the NY Times Bestseller list), Ellora’s Cave’s release numbers held in the same range (a third below the peak) until the second quarter of 2014, and have been dropping since.
Ellora’s Cave Reverted Books by Year Published
Data Source Comparison
|Source||Book Count||Free Books||No Sales Books||Author Count|
|My Data||3,055||24||4||737 (active)
(Data as of April 11th)
You might think that, okay, 24 of the 25 free books are the same books on ARe and Amazon. That would be incorrect. Four of the ARe titles aren’t free on Amazon (or not on Amazon at all). The reverse is also true, naturally.
One of the things I’ve talked with various authors about is fixed-term contracts, and at least one author I know is a fan of seven-year contracts.
So imagine my surprise when I chart this, which asks the question: How long between when an author’s first seen (first book or first seen on EC’s web page) and last seen (last book or last seen on EC’s web page) in quarters?
(Note: previous disclaimer about pre-2012 data also applies to this chart.)
Note that these numbers may represent one or many books, though I’ve excluded authors first published this year.
- A quarter of the authors left within three years.
- Half the authors left within 5-1/2 years.
- A quarter were still with EC at 35 quarters (8-3/4 years).
These numbers may adjust significantly if I get more information about earlier periods of time.
However, they do lead into the three new charts I have.
Of the existing EC authors (whether Ellora’s Cave still publishes them or not), when was their last EC book published? I grouped this into time periods.
Unknown includes those where I have no publication information or those who do not yet have a book out with EC.
So what this is showing us is that just over half haven’t published in at least three years, and that’s a long time before TCCoEC. Further, another quarter of EC’s authors haven’t published a book with EC in the interval between TCCoEC and three years ago.
Now, let’s look at the same, but only for authors with current EC bestselling books (per Amazon). This is an answer to the “Who’s left?” question.
As you can see, half of them haven’t published with EC in at least three years, and almost a quarter stopped publishing at some point between three years ago and TCCoEC.
Two of Ellora’s Cave’s post-TCCoEC authors have been fairly high ranking for EC, though not in NY Times/USA Today bestseller territory.
Perhaps the most disheartening chart, were I an EC principal, might be this one.
Eighty-seven percent of the current bestselling books (per Amazon data) were published three or more years ago. I don’t know what to say other than I’d expect to see a greater portion of more recent books as bestsellers…if Ellora’s Cave were a healthy publisher.
This can’t be anything relating to TCCoEC since three years ago was well before the article was published. Nor can it be the effects of TCCoEC, since we’re looking at the top 100 bestsellers published by Ellora’s Cave—and not relative to other publishers. Up until TCCoEC, Ellora’s Cave allegedly had the pick of the pack, new author wise.
Three years ago was Q2 ’13. Ellora’s Cave has published 1,046 books from the start of Q2 ’13 through the end of last quarter, comprising 34.9% of the 3,049 books still in print. So why do those thousand-ish books comprise only 13% of EC’s own bestseller list?
A Thumbnail View
Notes and Updates
Ultimately, I’m putting together a WordPress plugin of books that had previously been EC books or written by former EC authors. This is more an interesting exercise in plugin writing and dealing with the frustrations of figuring out how to fetch Amazon data.
Random fact: did you know you can’t query to find out what a Kindle book’s price is? Nope. Can’t. You can query most or least expensive, but that’s it. Very strange.
Note: part of this post I wrote as much as a week ago, so some of these numbers are out of date.