Monday Mumbles: Small Presses

By the time this publishes, All Romance eBooks/Omni Lit will have closed their website for good. Many authors will be short-changed on royalties and unlucky readers will lose books they’ve purchased because of little advanced notice during a holiday season and/or server crashes making it impossible to download their library. Some readers will be out monies for preorders they’ll never receive. Most know the details already. Even my spouse, who’s not a big reader and definitely not a reader of romance has heard of this mess. 

First a condensed summary: On December 27, 2016, an email went out notifying authors, publishers, and readers of the closure…on December 31. Yes, FOUR DAYS! You can find the contents of that email HERE but the key point is that they’re only offering a pittance for Q4 earnings up to December 27th. I also remember reading that if an author publishes with them and wants their rights back, they must waive ALL Q4 earnings; however, I can’t find where I read that so I could have misinterpreted.

HOWEVER! They were still selling books through December 31. They will not deliver presold books available 2017 nor will they refund the money unless you opened a customer support ticket before Dec 31[1]. They were selling advertising up until December 28 for Q1 2017 (accepting bank transfers only, not PayPal which can be disputed), though they claim they’ll refund[2].

This awful experience, for both readers and authors, comes on the heels of the problematic closures of Ellora’s Cave (2016), Torquere Press (2016), Triskelion (2007), Noble Romance Publishing (2013), Mystic Moon Press (2009), and Aspen Mountain Press (2011) to name just a few and presents an issue not just with authors under their mantles, but all authors with an eye toward small presses.

How do you keep trusting small presses when they keep doing stuff like this so many times?

The final shady dealings of formerly well-respected small presses paints others with the shadow of their taint. When an author is looking to submit their manuscript to a small press, it is growing exceedingly difficult to trust even the best reputation. Because Ellora’s Cave used to have that same shining reputation. So did All-Romance eBooks. I’m sure Torquere, Triskelion, and Aspen Mtn did as well.

Some of the same authors who got burned with one, got burned with another. How are these authors supposed to trust the next one? Word of mouth is great, but I heard great things about Ellora’s Cave…until I didn’t. By that point, had I a manuscript that fit their brand, it could have been too late. I really don’t want it to be too late for anyone else.

I don’t have a dog in this fight. I haven’t bought anything through ARe nor have I used ARe’s publishing services (or any of the others), but I hate to see this happening over and over again to good people whose only “fault” is a desire to have their book published.

To compound the heinousness of this mess, the owner of ARe is a fellow author. She should understand just how craptastic her actions are, how demoralizing it is for her fellow authors and the readers. I can’t force understanding or empathy or ethics on anyone. What I can do is put Samantha Sommersby, S.J. Harper and Lara Williams – the owner of ARe – on my Never Buy list. I can support the authors I love by buying their books from reputable sources, even if it’s just from Amazon – a retailer with its own shady dealings. I can promote those books I love, be a signal boost for those authors I enjoy, and be a fountain not a drain in the romance community.

So I say to those small presses still making a go of it: Please, please if you’re floundering, let your authors know. If you don’t see light at the end of your tunnel, close shop the honorable way. Revert rights. Pay your authors, editors, and cover artists. Do everything you can so that your people, authors and readers and all the others involved in the industry, look on your closing with sorrow and not rage. Don’t be a footnote on another story like this. Don’t keep painting other small presses with this tainted brush.

To those authors affected, know that I am incredibly sorry to hear of this happening. Again. This is not your fault. It is not a reflection on your judgement or your novels. This isn’t proof that you should have “gone legit (meaning trad published with the Big 5)” or should have “just self-published.” This is only proof that shitty people do shitty things in a shitty way which affects others.

[1] Check the edits on this article at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

[2] Check M. A. Church’s comment here

Author: Elaina Roberts

Author of urban fantasy with a dash of romance

2 thoughts on “Monday Mumbles: Small Presses”

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