Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Please don't buy my Ellora's Cave books

History, like bad sausage, repeats itself. 

Once more I am finding myself in the midst of another publishing nightmare; watching one of my publishers slowly spiral downward. Back in 2011, it was Dorchester. I had written a series of 7 historical romances set in Egypt. They owed me money, not a lot, but enough. They had sold the rights to one of my books to another country and I never saw a nickel. My wonderful agent finally did get my rights back and I published those books myself.

And then I cautioned myself to be careful when signing future publishing contracts.

I have books with Ellora's Cave. I'm not going to get into the lawsuit EC filed against Dear Author, and the chilling effect it has. You can read about the lawsuit here and here.

There have been rumors flying around like snow in Colorado on a winter's day. One says that EC may out all authors who write under a pseudonym. That could jeopardize their day jobs.

I have a day job in addition to writing books. I work for a large charity. I'll out myself here before anyone else can.

My pseudonym is Blair Valentine. 

I won't live in fear anymore. But I imagine for some authors, the thought of being exposed can be hellish, especially if they hold jobs in the public sector, such as teaching.

The irony of the EC mess is that I don't want my rights back because I have not been paid, like author Avril Ashton. Avril relies upon her writing income to pay the rent. 

I bought Avril's new indie book to support her. I will do what I can to support my fellow authors who are in a bind. I know the fear of having the bills come due and being jobless. 

I am not like other EC authors. I have been paid regular royalty checks. Most of my checks amount to around, oh, $6. 

$6. Just enough to buy two cans of dog food for my sick Shih Tzu, Holly (pictured here). Definitely not enough to help pay for the $5,000 in chemo treatments to treat her breast cancer. 

I want my EC books back because I want to rewrite them to make them stronger. Better. As an author, I am constantly evolving in my writing. 

My first EC book was published in 2005. It was fun and exciting to write for EC. They were an erotica publisher who made tremendous strides in the industry, long before Fifty Shades of Whatever Color. I had an editor, and when the book was released, EC did a terrific job promoting it. I didn't have to do much to promote the book. My first royalty check, paid monthly!!! was a healthy four figures.  I was blissful, especially since my "regular" publisher at the time was Dorchester, who paid when the moon was turning into green cheese.

I wrote more stories for them as Blair Valentine. They were different, and had humor. Because I was worried about publishing erotic romance under my real name, I chose a pseudonym. These books were sexier than anything I'd ever written. I did NOT want anyone to find out Bonnie Vanak was writing books where the heroine had sex with ten guys. 

And then a couple of years later, I sold EC another book in that series. When I looked at how much that book was priced on Amazon, I scratched my head. Huh? 

Those royalty checks began dwindling. No matter. By now I was writing for Harlequin, who did pay twice a year, and paid on time. 

In 2013, I started self-publishing a series called the Werewolves of Montana. Those books were fun to write, and sexy as my EC books. 

I didn't pay much attention to my EC books, but did ask for my rights back last year. 


I removed the books from my website and started to divorce myself from Blair Valentine. 

About 10 days ago, I asked again to get the rights back to my EC books. I got a standard reply. I doubt I will ever see those books again, which truly sucks big donkey donuts because I could take those books, rework them, and release them myself.

Watching this whole EC mess unfold is like watching a train speeding toward a wreck, knowing you have a good friend on board, but you are helpless to stop the wreck. All you can do is step away from the tracks and try to move on.  I did this before with Dorchester, and now I'm doing it again with EC.

I don't want readers to buy any books written by Blair Valentine. It's my small way of protesting what's been going on. If you really want to support my writing, buy a book for which I have contributed a story. LAST HERO STANDING features 11 sexy, heroic stories by bestselling authors. We got together to publish this book to raise money for my dear friend Pamela Clare, who is fighting breast cancer. The book is available for pre-order October 1. 

I work a demanding day job five days a week. I travel to developing countries to help poor families who can't even scrape together money to buy a meal, let alone an EC book. And I write romance. My focus has been producing stories in my Werewolves of Montana series that my readers will enjoy. Lately it's been tough, between the day job and Holly's cancer treatments, to write. I finally DID finish Seduction, a new book in the series, and hope to have it available in a few weeks.

And as a gift to readers, I'm working on a new special Members Only webpage that will feature two free short stories. One is an original in my Werewolves of Montana series. It's about Tristan, the Silver Wizard. I wanted to gift my readers with a free read because they have been so supportive and patient while waiting for the next story. 

Readers are amazing. And so are bloggers. Some I don't care for, but they have the right to voice their opinion. I just ignore them, because I'm too busy trying to WRITE books. I think it is cool that the internet gives readers a forum in which to express their opinions of books. 

What's not cool is what's going on. So not cool.

If you are an author and you are considering a publishing contract, take a deep breath and slow down. Like they say in the business, no agent is better than a bad agent and the same goes for publishing contracts. No contract is better than one that ties up your rights until the moon turns into green cheese.

Read Carolyn Jewel's excellent post here on getting your rights back and what to do before you sign that publishing contract. 

And look before you leap before giving your book to a publisher. Read that contract carefully. Hire a literary attorney if you do not have an agent. Protect your rights... because you might just be leaping into the path of an oncoming train. 


Traci said...

You are very brave, Bonnie - thank you for sharing this xoxo

Alyssa Maxwell said...

I'm so sorry this is happening to you. You're a good soul and as Traci said, a brave one. I'm glad you have other projects that won't be affected. Your fellow FRW members are proud of you and your accomplishments!

Jan Washburn said...

Good luck fighting for your books, Bonnie. If EC goes down the tubes, does that free your material?

Candace Colt said...

Thanks for sharing this, Bonnie.

Deborah Schneider said...

I was lucky with Dorchester, they didn't like me and couldn't wait to give me my rights back. Lucky me. I've made 20 times what Dorchie paid me for that book as an Indie published author.
We live an learn, and keep writing.

Bonnie Vanak said...

Traci, I'm not brave. Just upset and wanting my rights back to books I wrote. But thanks.

Bonnie Vanak said...

Thanks Alyssa

Bonnie Vanak said...

Jan, in most cases of bankruptcy, the assets are sold off to creditors and the authors are the last to see a dime. Assets include the books. I went through this with Dorchester. I'm not saying that is happening to EC. I just want the rights to my books back.

Bonnie Vanak said...

Thanks Candace

Bonnie Vanak said...

Deborah, I haven't made much money on my Dorchester books, but every penny feels like a victory because I worked hard on those books. Good for you on making more money!