A Word of Warning…and a Few F Bombs!

 

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Geez, where do I start?

It’s been a year since I’ve written on this blog. And it’s been about two years since I last marketed my books, anywhere. Some of you are aware of the reason why I’ve been relatively quiet, but for those who aren’t, I’ll try to keep the details short.

Firstly, I’d like to state for the record that this blog entry is not written out of spite for the now defunct company involved. I know quite a few of you are new or aspiring authors, so I feel it is my duty, as your friend, to warn you of the underlying fucktardary that can sometimes happen within the publishing industry.

Side note: I don’t think I’ve ever dropped the F bomb on here before, but if you’re still with me by the end of this post I think you’ll agree that it’s warranted.

Let me drop a few more to get it out of my system…

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There we go. I’m feeling slightly better now.

I scored my first publishing contract with Ellora’s Cave Publishing and my debut novel, Starstruck, was released in February, 2013. My first short story, Count Me In, soon followed several weeks later. I was ecstatic. I never dreamed that a traditional publishing house at the top of the erotic romance genre would see potential in my writing, let alone offer me contracts. My books sold more than I expected in that first year and I was so grateful to Ellora’s Cave for giving me a shot.

Fast forward to late 2013, and my gut was telling me something was drastically wrong.
There’d been a few minor hiccups from the very beginning with regards to my quarterly royalty payments, but when I questioned why I’d only received a total of one statement and cheque that included payments for Starstruck, my main seller according to Amazon’s ranking, I was told that they’d mistakenly paid another author for my sales. I know admin errors can occur, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt…until it took seven months (yes, SEVEN months) of relentlessly emailing them before they finally rectified the problem and back-paid me what I was owed.

After that, the cheques kept coming in later and later than the contracted schedule, and I’d had enough of their excuses. I contacted a lawyer, who confirmed that EC had clearly breached their own contract. She sent them a certified letter demanding that I be paid in full and for the publishing rights to be returned to me, as stated in said contract. The response she got was unbelievable. In a nutshell, they refused, saying they didn’t breach the contract and payments had always been forwarded on time. Their suggestion was to obtain an independent auditor at the personal cost to me of $10,000. WTF! My only recourse was to take the legal matter further or grin, bear it and hope the situation got better. Considering I’m in Australia and EC is located in Ohio, USA, the financial burden of fighting my case in the States was out of the question. My books weren’t earning THAT much. I was stuck, and I have an idea EC was banking on that fact, figuratively and literally.

From that moment on I was in limbo. I no longer felt like writing. The joy had been sucked right out of it and my muse had taken an extended vacation. And I don’t blame her. If I had a choice, I wouldn’t have stuck around either.

Why didn’t you just approach another publisher with new works of fiction or self-publish, I hear you say? There lied yet another problem. Contractually, I was not permitted to do so while I was still with EC. They had first option to anything I wrote that was longer than 7,000 words, and there was no way in hell I was sending them one more word that I wouldn’t get paid for. Why not just breach the contract, considering they did it first? Because I have ethics, and because I couldn’t risk being sued, even if I knew I would win.

The last cheque I received from them was for my December 2014 royalties, then they stopped coming altogether. All I got for my countless emails was a computer generated reply telling me they were swamped and that I’d get a response as soon as possible. That response never came.

Little did I know, there was a major shit fight going on between a well-known blogger and EC, which ended up in court. I won’t go into that long story, otherwise I could be here for days. But it did get me talking to other EC authors and I discovered that I was not alone, we were all being ripped off. I also found out that, for several years before I signed with them, there had been many problems, on and off, with EC not paying royalties on time.

Almost two years passed and I didn’t receive one single royalty cheque. In that time, the story had hit social media and exploded off the charts. EC authors banded together and shared their outrage at the way we’d been mistreated. The owner of EC’s public response? We were all a bunch of bad apples and compulsive liars, out to witch hunt her and burn her at the stake.

Huh. Really? Again…WTF! I could possibly believe that if it was just a small handful of people stating they’d been wronged, but hundreds upon hundreds of authors all saying the same thing? I don’t think so.

Are we even in the same universe? Is my doppelganger out there somewhere claiming the royalties off my books?

On the 4th of October, 2016, I finally received an email from owner Tina Engler (aka. Jaid Black) stating that EC was closing it’s doors, and in order to get my rights back I had to sign a statement, forfeiting my two year’s worth of back-royalties. She also insisted that we keep our mouths shut and not hinder the sales of our books until 2016 came to an end. All EC books were to be taken down from third-party vendor sites by December 31st, 2016. It’s now January 4th and they are still being sold on those sites, all profits lining her pocket once again. Wasn’t two years-worth enough? I’m furious. Just one more slap on the face as a parting gift.

I’d intended to re-release my two books this week, but until I can send a DCMA to the many, many vendors, demanding they take my books down, I’m STILL in limbo.

Since I began to take writing seriously it’s been my only source of income (when I actually get it) and I’m so grateful for my husband, who has supported our family on his own since my publishing journey started. We had to drastically reduce our budget (which wasn’t huge to start with), but somehow we survived, even through this shit storm. Several times I’ve been so angry and frustrated that I just wanted to throw in the towel, be done with writing and get any job I could. It just wasn’t worth the spiral of depression I found myself in. But he believes in me and thinks I have more to offer the literary world. Yeah, he’s a keeper, for sure.

So, that’s where I stand at the moment. I only hope by sharing my story it will help other authors make wise decisions when considering which publisher to submit to. They can’t all be bad, surely. Do your research. Speak to authors who are with that publisher and ask appropriate questions. Google, Google, Google, for days if you have to. If I had, I wouldn’t be in the position I am now. And good luck!

 

*Flashing warning sign courtesy of http://bestanimations.com/

 

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13 comments on “A Word of Warning…and a Few F Bombs!

  1. Good for you for fighting this and being light to this horrible situation! I am
    Looking forward to reading new books from you when this nightmare for you ends.

    • Paige Thomas says:

      Thank you, Celene, I’m looking forward to this new chapter in my career. I’ve wanted to speak out publicly so many times over the past few years, but feared the backlash. I wasn’t going to do anything to jeopardize getting back what was rightfully mine.

  2. Lynn says:

    Thank you for sharing what has obviously been a horrific experience for you Paige, it’s certainly the stuff nightmares are made of and serves as a warning to those of us who could so easily end up in a similar situation.
    No wonder you haven’t wanted to write or create anything new with all of this going on, I can fully appreciate the impact it has had both on your creative meme and your everyday life but well done you! Don’t let them win…keep writing Paige, stack it up ready for the time you can hit the button and move forward.
    I loved your first novel Starstruck and having read it in 2013, went straight on to download Count Me In which I devoured and I would certainly read anything else you may publish in the future…specially if it features hot rockers with a story to tell!
    Rest assured Paige, there are many more people out there like me who are just waiting for your next book to hit…so go on, pound those keys and stick it to EC good and proper xxx

    • Paige Thomas says:

      Oh, Lynn, you made me shed some serious tears of gratitude whilst reading your comment. Bless your cotton socks, sweetheart! I’m so lucky to have a fan base, which includes diamonds like yourself.

      You’ll be pleased to know that I have been writing a little and fully intend to finish what I started with my Jerico boys. I’ve planned at least two more novels for that series. Ricky’s full story is up next!

      xoxo

      • Lynn says:

        I’m sorry Paige…didn’t mean to make you teary, just telling some plain truths! You also deserve to have some support after keeping all of this under your belt for so long. I know you have the support of your family and your wonderful husband (yep, he’s a keeper for sure) but it’s also nice to know that there people around the world who you have given pleasure to through your writing who will feel the same as I do and want to support you in some small way.

        You have made my day to learn that you are writing more Jerico storylines, I’m so looking forward to seeing you back and I’ll be waiting patiently for Ricky to tell his story….sigh!

        Keep your chin up, be proud of what you’ve achieved so far in such difficult circumstances and even more proud in the fact that you won’t allow yourself to be broken by someone so lacking in any common morality xxx

        • Paige Thomas says:

          Yeah, Ricky’s my favourite. I do love a lost soul with a tortured past. It’s painful to write because I feel everything I make them feel, but it’s so much more rewarding in the end. The opening Prologue had me crying over my keyboard, but that’s a good thing. I’m such a sap!

  3. Paige Thomas says:

    LOL I’m not promising anything at this stage, but I will be excited to see it finished. He breaks my heart and then makes me fall in love with him all over again! Such a cheeky bastard.

  4. Liddy Midnight says:

    My EC titles are also still up for sale on 3rd-party sites, but then real life got in the way and I didn’t sign and send in the letter agreeing to forfeiture of accumulated royalties in exchange for cover art that I am responsible to modify so EC disappears. I’m totally unsure what my options are at this point, but my contracts are old and set for a seven-year term that has long passed. In addition, they have a minimum sales requirement that I believe I shall use as a lever to pry my rights back. I didn’t give up any claim on future works, so that’s not a hobble for me.

    Paige, know you are not alone. We are legion, and we do not simply weather the storm, we create the storm. Sometimes it’s a shit-storm, sometimes a refreshing shower.

    As far as surviving a defunct publisher, kick some dirt over it and move on. I’ve now ridden three publishers into oblivion. Was it me? If so, it’s time for me to aim a bit higher. Think I should go with Amazon and see if I can bring down that juggernaut?

    • Paige Thomas says:

      If your contracts were set for seven years, I’d assume you were in the clear as far as publishing rights go. My contract was worded very differently and unfortunately I was too starstruck to question it. LOL Slight pun slipped in there. Always look on the bright side of life. *trying to whistle but I can’t manage it*

  5. Liddy Midnight says:

    On my To-Do list for this month (OMG, it’s January – what the hell happened to AUGUST??) is to send take-down letters to sites that are still selling my EC titles.

    This is all very interesting since back in the spring, I received unsolicited rights reversion letters on most of my EC titles.

  6. Thankyou for sharing your experience. I love your books and enjoyed reviewing them, as well as sharing them with friends and family. I hate to think that I encouraged people to buy it, but none of the money was going back to you, instead someone else was pocketing from your hard work.

    I am glad you have more stories to share with us, but I’m sorry that due to another publishing company you’ve not wanted to share anything for 2 years.

    I’m glad they’re getting named and shamed. Let’s hope you find some peace now that it’s coming to a horrifying end.

    I’m excited for your new content xxx

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