Last weekend I wrote a posted titled, The WTFckery Report: Ellora’s Cave Suing Dear Author Blog for Defamation. Why Book Bloggers Should Be Worried. Since that post, there has been some updates on this matter regarding a once admired and respected epublisher (Ellora’s Cave) suing a book blogger (Dear Author) for libel and malice because of this post: The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave.
The Streisand effect has been in full force this week, and has grown. There is a new hashtag regarding the Ellora’s Cave/Dear Author lawsuit thanks to author, Courtney Milan. Courtney’s post, On Limited Public Figures #notchilled explains:
“I believe that this lawsuit was filed for the purpose of chilling speech–and for the purpose of chilling true speech about a matter of imminent public concern. And I think that despite the outpourings of support, it’s working. This lawsuit is about teaching authors to sit down and shut up, even if their livelihood is at stake. o I’m going to be tweeting harsh things about Ellora’s Cave that I believe to be true, and that I am confident will not be held defamatory under the limited public figure test because they are not made with actual malice. If they sue me, they sue me, and I’ll consider it money well spent.
I can’t give you legal advice about what to tweet. I can’t tell you that tweeting is safe and that it won’t harm you. But I’m going to be tweeting these things under the hashtag #notchilled–because I refuse to have legitimate speech about a matter of public concern chilled by a self-important bag of farts who happens to have access to a lawyer.”
Courtney, using the #notchilled invited people on twitter to do the same. Spread the word. Don’t be silenced.
People are not being silenced. Those who didn’t want to get involved initially are now speaking up, including Ellora’s Cave authors. Even those who aren’t fans of Dear Author or Jane are lending their support in big ways.
Jane is going to fight Ellora’s Cave, or rather I should say Tina Engler because Tina is the one of the parties responsible for the lawsuit, not Ellora’s Cave the entity as a whole, meaning the authors who publish there. The authors at Ellora’s Cave are collateral damage in all of this because regardless of how this turns out it’s very ugly for the EC authors. Knowing what you know now as a consumer/reader, would you buy Ellora’s Cave books in the future? What if all the readers who once supported Ellora’s Cave stop buying their books? You have your answer right there.
Recently two authors wrote posts about Ellora’s Cave. That should push those watching the outcome to not to stand back and remain silent or not care. One of Ellora’s Cave’s biggest authors, Lolita Lopez wrote a post on why she won’t finish the Grabbed Series because Ellora’s Cave owns the rights:
“…I’m going to take her at her word and assume that EC doesn’t want even more bad PR about lawsuits after the sh*t storm their current suit against Jane Litte at Dear Author has created. I’d like to think EC doesn’t want to add “sued mother of special needs child who uses her royalties to fund special needs trust that will keep autistic child with severe heart defects out of state run hell-holes after mommy dies” to their long list of PR flubs. I currently have four contracts on proposals for the next four books in the Grabbed series. These contracts provided no advance and have NO DELIVERY DATES on them. My contracts have a provision for termination for non-delivery so my attorney contacted EC and explained my reasons for wanting to terminate these contracts.
EC’s answer? No. But not just no. It was NO with an added: we might consider a buy-out but the figure would be quite high and based on the “potential future income” of these books.
Now, let’s not even get started on how they would figure “potential future income” for books that do not even exist. How do they intend to value possible future sales for a constantly shifting market that EC clearly does not understand considering their Amazon sales have nose-dived when many of us have seen growth?
Most people know this, but for those who don’t: We have a special needs child who had two major heart surgeries before six months of age. She then had belly and mouth surgery at 2. Last year, she was diagnosed with autism and had a heart failure scare. 2014 has been another year of high medical costs and scary moments.
Most of my royalties from the books I write as Roxie and Lo go into a special needs trust that will provide for her future. Every penny that I spend on legal fees, an audit of the EC books or trying to buy-out these contracts is a penny that doesn’t go into mutual funds or life insurance policies that will give the absolute light of my life a bright and happy future.”
“I know what it’s feels like to be defamed. I am naturally sympathetic to anyone who feels their name have been smeared. EC is the Goliath. It has more money and it can draw out the legal battle. DA’s income is not nearly in the same league. I can’t imagine their ad revenue covers much more than their expenses. For better or worse, our justice system is more friendly to people with money. An average citizen with an average income can attempt to sue a large company, but even if their case has merit, the party with the bigger purse often wins. It’s not fair. This case in particular is a slippery slope. What’s next? Bloggers being sued for negative reviews? Authors being sued for speaking about the breach of their contract?”
How can someone support Jane and help her in her fight with Ellora’s Cave? Jane has to spend money out of her own pocket to the tune of $20,000 and perhaps more. There are a few ways you can do this.
A Dear Author Defense Fund has been set up by Sarah Wendell from Smart Bitches, Trashy Books on Go Fund Me. Donations started rolling in yesterday morning, and in 24 hours over $41,000 has been raised. If you can donate, not matter how small, please do.
A couple of key points:
Jane has set aside $20,000.00 of her own money for her defense, but that money will go quickly as the suit progresses.
Sarah is administering the fund through GoFundMe, and contributions can be anonymous. She will not reveal donor information. If the defense case can be completed for less than $20,000.00, we will attempt to refund donor money through GoFundMe’s refund options.
All funds, minus the fees charged by GoFundMe, will be used for Jane’s legal defense. Sarah is not being compensated for my role in setting up the fund. Any funds that are left over when the suit is finished will be donated to the Society of Professional Journalists Legal Defense Fund.
If you’re not comfortable donating through the Go Fun Me website you can you can send a contribution via Paypal to jane AT dear author DOT com. Please make sure to earmark the funds “Jane Litte/Dear Author Defense Fund.”
If you’d prefer not to use a credit card, please email Sarah at sarah AT smartbitchestrashybooks DOT com.
For those who can’t donate, you can help continue to spread the word (and slap aside any subtweets who are happy Jane is getting sued and use the word “karma” for what Jane is getting. For more about that WTFckery in itself, click here: Jenny Trout: Don’t Do This Ever and click here: Tez Says: Subtweeting)
Speak up. Spread the word. Don’t be silenced. Keep Not Chilled going strong.
Round Up of Websites and Blogs:
Tina Engler has no problem speaking up loudly as she did on the Passive Voice blog in a post titled: A Note About Confidentiality Clauses discussing Courtney Milan’s #notchilled post.
Tina Engler as Jaid Black has a new post titled: For the Silence Victims. She uses “Salem Witch Hunt” and “McCarthyism” to describe what is happening to her and Ellora’s Cave.
Yesterday morning, I was sent a direct message tweet that said the following: “Did you see Ellora’s Cave is suing Jane (Dear Author)?”
As soon as I read that message, I first said, WTF?! and then went on Twitter and clicked on the link to The Digital Reader and the post titled: Ellora’s Cave Sues Dear Author Book Blog for Defamation:
“Romance publisher Ellora’s Cave has been having financial issues for the past year or so, but rather than sit down and fix them this publisher has decided that the best solution was a public and messy defamation lawsuit. Court documents filed today in Ohio have revealed that Ellora’s Cave has filed suit against the author and blogger known as Jane Litte, the proprietor of one of the best romance book blogs. Ellora’s Cave alleges that a recent blog post on Dear Author defamed them, Dear Author has been writing about Ellora’s Cave for many years now (more details),but according to the filing this lawsuit focuses on just the one post published earlier this month. In “The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave“, Jane detailed the rise and fall of this pioneering erotic romance publisher, including discussing the many current financial issues.”
Ellora’s Cave was once considered the top epublisher to publish with. Ellora’s Cave was key in the rise of epubishing, specifically in the romance and erotic romance genre. Ellora’s Cave was the reason I started reading ebooks and sexier types of romance, better known as erotic romance. The first digital book I ever bought, and read was in 2001, and from Ellora’s Cave. Back then the digital copy was sent in a PDF, which I printed out and put in a binder so I could read it. I still have that print out in a binder. Ellora’s Cave was the reason I started reading romances that were written “outside the box”, giving a platform for authors to write and publish erotic and sexy romances (and getting paid) that weren’t accepted by mainstream traditional publishers. Before Ellora’s Cave I could only find these type of stories on Literotica, which is a free site to read sex stories of all kinds, no matter disturbing the material. Ellora’s Cave essentially helped me embrace the erotic romance genre and not be embarrassed by what I read.
I first heard of Dear Author in 2006, which is considered one of the old school blogs dedicated to discussing and reviewing romance. Prior to Dear Author, I only commented on one romance message board and only lurked on blogs. Because of Dear Author I felt comfortable commenting on other blogs, so much so that in September 2008, I started my blog here. This month is Babblings’ 6th year anniversary.
Blogging allows people to have a platform to talk about topics without censor (or you should hope so). Now with the rise of other social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc… blogs are becoming more obsolete, and that includes book blogs. Book blogging as it is now hasn’t been around that long. The romance book blogs I read, who have become established like Dear Author, are not even a decade old. The same goes for epublishers. Most epublishers are not even a decade old, and some don’t even make it to their 10th anniversary. Ellora’s Cave is the exception.
The powers that be at Ellora’s Cave are suing Dear Author for defamation to the tune of $25,000 and stopping Dear Author from discussing Ellora’s Cave in blog posts such as The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave. The shock waves that occurred yesterday, mainly on Twitter from the on-line publishing community from book bloggers, to readers to authors, is that Ellora’s Cave has done an incredible WTFckery because it may affect the future of book bloggers and what they should or shouldn’t say about publishers and authors, perhaps including the way book bloggers review books in the future.
Ellora’s Cave’s troubles started way before The Curious Case of Ellora’s Cave post on Dear Author. There has been rumblings for years about the behind the scenes problems Ellora’s Cave has been going through. The earliest rumblings I heard on-line about Ellora’s Cave having financial problems was back in 2009 when Karen Knows Best First reported on it. Ellora’s Cave was also involved in a public lawsuit back in 2008. In recent months, well known Ellora’s Cave’s authors such as Cat Grant, and Lolita Lopez, among others have spoken out publically that they aren’t getting paid. Absolute Write’s message board dedicated to Ellora’s Cave also has an open discussion about Ellora’s Cave’s business practices.
So, the big question is- Why should you care? If you don’t read Dear Author or buy books from Ellora’s Cave, why should you care? There’s a lot to care about because as Wendy, the Super Librarian, who has been blogging since 2003, says in her latest blog post titled, Little Miss Crabby Pants Is (Almost) Speechless: “We all need to care because if a publisher can go after a blogger for essentially writing a news story, featuring facts culled from other sources (oh, like the public record since EC has been a part of a few lawsuits already), what does this mean for any of us who want to talk about books?”
Again, why should you care if an epublisher sues a blogger? If you are a blogger, writer who wants to publish, already are a publisher author, or a reader, you should care. If Ellora’s Cave wins their suit against Dear Author, the ripple effects will be felt throughout the book blogger and on-line publishing community.
Imagine if you decided to start a book blog. You not only talk about books you like, but also discuss books, a.k.a. post a reviews about books you don’t like. What if you saw or heard some unsavory practices by a publisher and want to discuss it on your blog, complete with links, screen caps and information you gathered from sources in emails? Now what if anything you “report”, although based on facts posted about a publisher is considered defamation by that publisher or a book you reviewed in a negative way or had strong words against is considered defamation by that author? What if a post you wrote about a publisher or an author behaving badly, regardless if the facts you posted are proof and truth is considered defamation by that publisher or author, and they want to sue, you, a blogger, because they feel your book review or post shows that author or publisher in a bad light? If a publisher or author can sue a blogger and win their lawsuit for a review, opinion piece or reporting bad practices by a publisher or bad behavior on-line or elsewhere from an author at a conference, book signing or public function, book blogs will ceased to exist or become a former shell of what they once were.
Imagine a world without blogging, especially books blogs. What if all the book blogs closed up shop for fear they will get sued for reporting information or posting book reviews that publishers or authors are upset about? That means book bloggers have been silenced.
Silence can override speech. Speech has more power than silence. Speech uses words. Words are power. Word of mouth creates a momentum, which in less than 24 hours has been proven in regards to Ellora’s Cave with their lawsuit in trying to silence Dear Author. In less than 24 hours, word of mouth supporting Dear Author has led to the Streisand effect of Ellora’s Cave.
Have you heard of the Streisand effect? From Wikipedia: “The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet. It is named after American entertainer Barbra Streisand, whose 2003 attempt to suppress photographs of her residence in Malibu, California inadvertently generated further publicity of it.”
There’s also something known as SLAPP “SLAPP is short for “strategic lawsuit against public participation”. This term was coined to describe a certain type of bogus lawsuit which is sometimes used by malevolent individuals to silence their critics. For example, if a publisher wanted to silence a blogger who had been airing said publisher’s dirty laundry, they could file a SLAPP.”
What Ellora’s Cave set out to do is to silence a book blogger “for reporting about business matters and Jane for practicing journalism and also demanding the identity of her anonymous commenters”- Smart Bitches, Trashy Books, from the post titled: Ellora’s Cave Sues Dear Author: Hello Streisand Effect”.
Book bloggers are great at many things, the most important- spreading word of mouth.
Spread the word.
More websites and blogs to read about this issue: