Dear Ellora’s Cave,
Go Fuck Yourself.
A Reader who will never buy your company’s products ever again
Sunday night I was casually surfing the internet when I discovered my favorite book blogger, Dear Author, was being sued. By Ellora’s Cave owner and author Tina Engler (AKA Jaid Black).
Over this blog post: The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave. I have copied portions of the post below, hoping to spread this info as much as possible. Please go to Dear Author for the full article.
Basically, Tina Engler is pissed off that Dear Author called her, her business practices, crazy actions and bullying behavior on the carpet. And Tina Engler responded with a lawsuit. A SLAPP (Strategic lawsuit against public participation) lawsuit. And Ohio (where Tina filed) does not have an anti-SLAPP law.
Everyone knows Tina Engler’s end game: she wants to shut people up. And the best way to do that is to scare people. Well, Tina, I just have to say FUCK YOU. Yes, I’m upset and a little scared that even posting this could get me sued. But you know what? I refuse to allow Tina Engler’s bullying tactics to work on me.
Author Courtney Milan has started publicly tweeting and commenting about Ellora’s Cave and Tina Engler’s actions – using the hashtag #notchilled – showing that although Tina Engler wants to chill our speech via her SLAPP lawsuit, it will not be chilled. I don’t tweet so my contribution is this blog post. And my boycott of all Ellora’s Cave published works. I will not post any reviews of any works published by Ellora’s Cave/Jasmine Jade Enterprises nor will I buy their books.
The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave
Long before there was the Kindle, long before self publishing, long before the emergence of Fifty Shades, a digital first publisher by the name of Ellora’s Cave began to deliver sexy reads that would transform the face of romance publishing. Ellora’s Cave was established in 2000 as an outlet for Tina Engler to publish books with heavy sexy content that were romantic in nature.
Yet something strange happened. Growth stagnated. In 2010, it was revealed that EC’s revenues were $5 million but a reported $6.7 million in 2006. How on earth was a digital publisher’s income declining in the biggest boom period of digital books? (This was before self publishing took off).
Word of Ms. Engler’s increasingly erratic behavior surfaced on odd places on the internet and then came the lawsuits. In 2008, former employee Christina Brashears filed suit for unpaid monies against EC. EC countersued. Brashears, Publisher and Chief Operating Officer, left and formed Samhain. Bad blood existed which culminated with EC agreeing to a settlement of undisclosed amount. The damages were alleged to be in the high six figures to low seven figures. EC’s behavior during this lawsuit was so egregious, the judge commented on it in his ruling ordering damages to be paid to Brashears. In 2009, EC filed suit against Borders accusing them of illegal business practices. The suit went nowhere.
In the Brashears lawsuit, EC was accused of inappropriately diverting funds to Tina Engler through overpayment of rent. In 2009, the prevailing market rent for the space EC was occupying in Akron Ohio was around $40K but EC was paying Engler close to $100K per month. EC was providing loans to various officers at no interest and there was no indication those loans were ever repaid.
At the same time, court records showed repeated tax violations by Engler and Jasmine Jade Enterprises. Since 2009, Engler has had a tax lien filed against her by Ohio Department of Taxation in every year except 2010.
In March of 2014, Engler was hit with another tax bill, this time from the City of Akron in the amount $29,679.52. Court documents reveal she is paying $2,473.70 per month. In the meantime, Engler boasts of her Rodeo Drive shopping trips and her new property purchase in West Hollywood on her Facebook page. She claims that she is having the head of her security detail investigate “everyone” and turn over information to “Interpol.”
But the problems within Ellora’s Cave are deep and broad and should be brought into the light of day, not only for those existing authors and creators but for future ones. In internal emails, the CEO admits that “the drastic drop in sales has resulted in large net short term variable production losses and slow and often negative return on investment for EC on almost every new book we publish, with the exception of a handful of the highest sellers.”
~There is a set of authors who have not received royalty payments in over six months. EC has blamed this repeatedly on a new accounting system installed in December of 2013.
~ CEO Marks admits that “already submitted finished books” will be paid but that “payment may be delayed.”
~ For editors, any partial work would not be paid, only finished work and that by finishing the work, they must accept the terms of the late payment.
~ Partial work that is completed should be sent in to be finished by an in house editor and no partial work will be paid for.
~ Failure to turn in either partial work or finished work will result in a 25% deduction of overall payment for that project.
~ The author portal has been shut down where a select few authors could check their royalties.
~ Authors request for return of their rights have been rejected and some are told that their books will be published with or without their approval.
~ The total sum of unpaid royalties, editor fees, cover artist fees is in the several thousands, perhaps approaching six figures.
~ EC has held warehouse sales advertised via online forums and through eBay.
Authors are now asking readers to not buy EC books.
Despite authors, editors, and cover artists going unpaid, Engler is in the process of launching at least one, if not three, different businesses. She has a new epublishing serial available that she is writing, she has a production company which she advertises as producing an untitled horror film and is attempting to shop a reality TV show around her publishing company and the Ellora’s Cavemen, and she has a self publishing services company called Beton Black Press.
A report from Ohio business record places Ellora’s Cave revenues at $15 million last year. So why is it that tax liens go unpaid as well as the salaries or royalties of creative individuals? It is unknown but it sounds like the money is being mismanaged at best and improperly diverted at worst…